The DEFA Foundation in Berlin and the DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst
WWI: A Cold War View
National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial
Kansas City MO
Films treating the subject of the First World War made at the East German DEFA Film Studios emphasize different aspects of the period and the War itself from what American viewers may be familiar with.
This series looks at the First World War from a German and communist perspective. The films focus less on soldiers’ experience of trench warfare on the Western front and more on the wartime experience of individual men and women, of generations and families.
They try to address the overarching questions raised by WWI: How did it come to this? Why did some people support the war and others not? What was the cost to everyday Germans? How did WWI interface with the contemporaneous workers’ movement and concurrent revolution in Russia?
Perhaps most tellingly, these films seek to understand links between the series of wars involving Germany from 1871 to 1945, and to untangle the ways in which the First led to the Second World War, which was the primary formative experience of the East German state and its people.