Missing Link: 75 years of DEFA – the science fiction films from the GDR


75 years ago, on May 17, 1946, DEFA, Deutsche Film AG, the GDR’s state film company, was founded. Europe’s largest studio and studio ensemble is growing on the former UFA site in Potsdam-Babelsberg. More than 700 films will be made by the end of the GDR. The first: “The murderers are among us” with Hildegard Knef. There are also many documentaries, cartoons and several thousand dubbed versions.

In addition, some utopian feature films are made. The main work comprises only four titles, shot from 1960 to 1976: “The Silent Star”, “Signals – A Space Adventure”, “Eolomea” and “In the Dust of the Stars”. They look to a socialist future, without aliens and without space battles.

What is missing: In the fast-paced world of technology, there is often the time to rearrange the many news and backgrounds. At the weekend we want to take it, follow the side paths away from the current, try different perspectives and make nuances audible.

  • More on the “Missing Link” feature section

In 1957 the era of space travel began with the Soviet Sputnik satellite, the first man-made celestial body to orbit our celestial body. In 1959 the first probe lands on the moon, Luna 2. In 1961, the first human, Yuri Gagarin, flies into space.

The successes also give wings to the socialist part of Germany. The height of the enthusiasm: In 1978 the GDR was allowed to send the first German to heaven, Sigmund Jähn. This makes it the fifth country to ever take part in manned space travel. Only five years later did the Federal Republic of Germany follow with Ulf Merbold (who, ironically, left the GDR in 1960).

Utopian themes are omnipresent in the GDR. In the tenth grade you learn astronomy as a school subject. A good number of East German writers devote themselves to science fiction, for example the couple Angela and Karlheinz Steinmüller on the generational spaceship “Andymon”. Many foreign writers, especially from the Eastern Bloc, are also being relocated to the GDR. In 1956 the children’s book “Fair Adventure 1999” gives a humorous look into the future, illustrated with drawings by Erich Schmitt and filmed as “Adventure with Blasius”.

From 1958 the GDR comic mosaic draws a colorful idea of ​​the future with the space series. In 1967 a forum on “Fantasticism and Prediction” takes place in Leipzig. The fantastic novels by Jules Verne, such as “The Journey to the Moon”, are particularly popular. The futuristic is also offered on the radio. The GDR radio broadcasts relevant radio plays on a regular basis; 1982 for example “Rochade mit dem Computer”, the debut of the former Yugoslav programmer Pál Böndör.

To home page