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Access Type

Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



DEFA, film, East Germany, memory, Third Reich, Second World War


This study will explore how East German films released from the 1940s to the 1980s played a central role in both reinforcing and chipping away at the national foundational narrative of the German Democratic Republic. This narrative looked back at the memory of the Third Reich and classified communists as heroes, Nazis as villains, and the majority of Germans as dangerously apolitical while also emphasizing the contemporary Cold War division between the east and the west. This thesis argues that DEFA films utilized the memory of the Third Reich to support, question, and expand this dynamic foundational narrative which remained malleable and contested throughout the state’s existence.


First Advisor

Jon Berndt Olsen