© DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst
The British Film Institute credits DEFA with offering "the most consistent and coherent analysis of fascism of any national cinema." In European socialist parlance, the Nazis were considered part of the fascist phenomenon that had also taken hold in Italy and Spain. In East Germany, antifascism thus primarily referred to anti-Nazi resistance activities. A wide range of DEFA films spanning four decades dealt with the Nazi past in one form or another. The classic antifascist films highlight—and often glorify—communist resistance to the Third Reich, although titles like Five Cartridges, set during the Spanish civil war, are also included in the genre. Another strand focuses more on Nazi anti-Semitism and war atrocities, including films by acclaimed German directors, such as Frank Beyer (Jacob the Liar, Naked among Wolves), Kurt Maetzig (Marriage in the Shadows), Wolfgang Staudte (The Murderers Are among Us) and Konrad Wolf (Stars, Professor Mamlock).