German Film Posters
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German Film Posters

In order to understand the German movie industry, one must consider the political situation in Germany in various decades.

All movie posters before 1945 carried a big release stamp with the year of publication on it. They were all printed as lithographs. Posters from this time period are hard to find.

After the end of World War II in 1945, Germany was under allied occupation. Until 1949 American movies were distributed by the MPEA and would bear the appropriate stamp. This MPEA material is almost impossible to get.

However, in the eastern parts of Germany that were under Russian occupation, movies would be distributed by SOVEXPORTFILM, the Russian export organization, which would naturally show mostly Soviet movies, as well as the first East German DEFA productions.

Until 1945, German posters came in various (large) sizes and were mostly lithographs. The common size of 23" x 33" (A1) was only fully used after WWII, when offset printing was used.

In 1949 the democratic BUNDESREPUBLIK DEUTSCHLAND was founded in the West, and the communist GERMAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC in the East. So between 1949 and 1990 there were two different German states, each with its own movie industry.

Here's a sample showing the difference in the 1968 movie 'Bullit'.
The East German poster is on the left and the West German poster is on the right.

East German Posters

Fortunately bureaucracy was highly favored with the communists, so all East German movie posters are dated. The date is either clearly stated on older posters, while on newer releases it would be slightly encrypted (for example stating Ag500-189-85, the first part naming the paper stock used, followed by release # and year). Distribution in the East was exclusively in the hands of Progress-Film, so all posters will bear their logo, thus making them easy to identify.

Also, East Germany would soon develop a rather unique "artistic" style, somewhat in the tradition of Polish or Czech posters.
East German posters were produced in the following sizes:

A1 - 23" x 33"
A2 - 16" x 23"
A3 - 11" x 16"
A0 - 33" x 46" very rare size
A00 - 46" x 66" very rare size

West German Posters

West German posters were produced in the following sizes:

A1 (23" x 33" common size)
A2 (16" x 23" rare size)
A0 (33" x 46" rare size)

There are several ways to date West German posters.

From 1946-1950, posters carried an MPEA (Motion Picture Export Association) stamp.

Posters from 1947-1953 did not carry an FSK stamp.

Posters from 1953-1958 carried the following FSK stamp

Posters from 1958 until current carry the following FSK stamp

The paper quality changed over the years, becoming somewhat "smoother" in the 1960s. Usually posters were shipped folded.

German posters can also be an original (EA) or re-issue (WA). Distinguishing originals from re-releases can be difficult. There are some points to consider. Many U.S. movies from the 1930s and 1940s were not shown in Germany until the 1950s, sometimes even later. As they are undated it often takes some experience to tell an original from a re-release, the FSK stamp, the paper stock and the studio logo are ways to identify a poster.

Lobby cards normally measure about 8.5 x 11.6 inches and come 8 or more to the set.


Here are the German posters that we have in the
so far.


Here are the East German posters that we have in the
so far.

The information on the German segment provided by Helmut Hamm of and Karlheinz Borchert from


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