Maetzig, Kurt


Kurt Maetzig was born in Berlin-Charlottenburg in 1911. His father owned a film duplication facility, and his mother came from a wealthy family of tea merchants from Hamburg and Denmark. During the First World War, Maetzig lived in Hamburg-Harvestehude with his grandmother. After completing secondary school, he studied chemistry, business administration and political economics in Munich, and he also studied for a year at the Sorbonne in Paris. He completed his studies in Munich in 1935 with a degree in business and then worked for his father.


Meanwhile, in 1932, Maetzig also began a series of internships with filmmakers. In 1934, he was denied work by the Nazi Reichsfilmkammer (Reich Film Chamber) because his mother was Jewish. He nevertheless worked as a film technology and photochemistry specialist for a number of Berlin firms and eventually ran his own laboratory in Werder, near Berlin.


In 1944, Maetzig joined the underground German Communist Party in Berlin. He made some of the first films in Germany after WWII ended and was one of the members of the Filmaktiv involved in the founding of the DEFA Film Studio. He worked as a director and author, and also became DEFA’s artistic director in 1946.


Maetzig was a member of the Academy of Arts of the GDR and became the first president of the newly founded Film Academy in Potsdam-Babelsberg, where he was professor of film directing. In 1974, he became vice president of the International Federation of Film Societies (FIAF), to which he was elected lifetime honorary president in 1979.


Maetzig directed more than 20 feature films before retiring in 1975. His first feature film Ehe im Schatten, the first film that was shown in all four occupied zones of Germany, reached over 10 million people and gained worldwide acclaim.


Some of Maetzig’s work has been described as East German propaganda, especially the two-part feature film about the life of German Communist leader Ernst Thälmann. But his film Das Kaninchen bin ich, along with nearly all films in production in 1965/66, was banned by East German authorities and started a debate among artists and officials. This film earned critical praise after 1989 as one of the most important and courageous works ever filmed by DEFA. Kurt Maetzig died on August 8, 2012.


[See also:]




Festivals & Awards:

1954 Peace Prize, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for Ernst Thälmann – Sohn seiner Klasse
1954 National Prize, Class 1 for Directing for Ernst Thälmann – Sohn seiner Klasse
1949 Nation Prize, Class 2 for Ehe im Schatten and Die Buntkarierten
1948 Porcelan Bambi for Ehe im Schatten


1975 Mann gegen Mann (Man against Man)
1972 Januskopf (Janus Face)
1970 Aus unserer Zeit: Der Computer sagt: nein (Our Time: The Computer Says No)
1967 Die Fahne von Kriwoj Rog (The Banner of Kriwoj Rog)
1967 Das Mädchen auf dem Brett (The Girl on the Diving Board)
1965/90 Das Kaninchen bin ich (The Rabbit Is Me)
1965 Die Fahne von Kriwoj Rog (The Banner of Kriwoj Rog)
1963 Preludio 11 (Prelude 11)
1962 An französischen Kaminen (At French Fireplaces)
1961 Der Schatten (The Shadow, TV)
1961 Der Traum des Hauptmann Loy (Captain Loy's Dream)
1960 Septemberliebe (September Love)
1960 Der schweigende Stern (Silent Star)
1958 Das Lied der Matrosen (The Sailors' Song, co-director)
1957 Vergeßt mir meine Traudel nicht (Don´t Forget My Little Traudel)
1957 Schlösser und Katen (Castles and Cottages)
1955 Ernst Thälmann – Führer seiner Klasse (Ernst Thälmann: Leader of the Working Class)
1954 Ernst Thälmann  – Sohn seiner Klasse (Ernst Thälmann: Son of the Working Class)
1952 Roman einer jungen Ehe (The Story of a Young Couple)
1950 Familie Benthin (The Benthin Family)
1950 Immer bereit (Always Ready, doc.)
1950 Der Rat der Götter (Council of the Gods)
1949 Der Bibermantel (The Beaver Coat)
1949 Die Buntkarierten (Girls in Gingham)
1947 Ehe im Schatten (Marriage in the Shadows)
1946-69 Der Augenzeuge (The Eyewitness newsreel series, doc.)
1946 Einheit SPD-KPD (Unity SPD-KPD, doc.)
1946 Berlin im Aufbau (Rebuilding Berlin)
1946 Leipziger Messe 1946 (The 1946 Leipzig Fair)

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