© DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst
Rising Cold War tensions resulted in the building of the Wall dividing the two Germanys in 1961. The East German DEFA Studio contributed to the effort to justify the step with polemical documentaries (Look at This City), as well as more nuanced feature films, such as And Your Love Too and Divided Heaven. Genre films for the now restricted domestic market entered their heyday, with the production of the first spy film (for eyes only), the first sci-fi film (The Silent Star) and—the genre that would prove the most enduring—the first Western (The Sons of Great Bear). Technical breakthroughs enhanced the influential film opera The Flying Dutchman, one of the first films with 4-channel magnetic sound. Films that addressed Nazism and the Holocaust from an antifascist perspective continued to draw international attention (Professor Mamlock, Naked among Wolves), as did two masterpieces on WWII: The Adventures of Werner Holt and I Was Nineteen. In 1965-66, the abrupt reversal of the cultural thaw deemed possible behind the Wall decimated a young genre of critical films that addressed issues of contemporary life in the GDR (e.g., The Rabbit Is Me, Carla, Just Don’t Think I’ll Cry, Trace of Stones).