© DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst
After WWII, western occupation forces were leery about letting Germans start to make films again. In the Soviet sector, in contrast, filmmaking was seen as an important way to rehabilitate the population after twelve years under Nazi rule.
German film artists and technicians who had spent the War in exile were joined by others who had survived within Germany to found the DEFA Studio in May 1946. Their primary concern was to address the horrors that had been perpetrated in their name and lay the foundations for a better world. The pioneers of DEFA’s first generation include Slatan Dudow (Destinies of Women), Falk Harnack (The Axe of Wandsbek), Georg C. Klaren (Wozzeck), Gerhard Lamprecht (Somewhere in Berlin), Kurt Maetzig (Marriage in the Shadows, Council of the Gods) and Wolfgang Staudte (The Murderers Are among Us), among others.