© DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst
From UFA to DEFA: Soon after the end of WWII, the Ufa studios in Potsdam-Babelsberg—the center of German filmmaking throughout the Weimar and Nazi periods—became DEFA: the Deutsche Filmaktiengesellschaft (or German Film Company). The studio and its directors explicitly sought to make a clean break with Nazi filmmaking, for example by reviving Weimar-era styles and techniques. In the early postwar years DEFA was also an artistic melting pot that brought together strange bedfellows, including: Ufa artists who had worked in the German film industry under the Nazis; artists who had spent the war in Germany in “inner emigration;” and rémigrés who had spent the last years in international exile. As a result, some early DEFA productions exhibit striking formal and thematic similarities to Ufa filmmaking. The films of the postwar period thus defy and complicate the historical relationship between continuity and rupture.