Germany does not have an established national film archive. One reason that such an institution is lacking is rooted in the country's federalistic structure: cultural activities fall under the jurisdiction of the individual states. Another cause is the fragmentation of the cinematic records of the Third Reich. Large amounts of film material were transported to the USSR and the USA after the end of the Second World War. The feature film collection of the former Reichsfilmarchiv, which was set up in 1934, went to the national film archive of the GDR, and only became accessible to joint archiving following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Unlike the GDR, which succeeded in creating a central archive, the Staatliche Filmarchiv, the Federal Republic of Germany left it up to states and cities to establish film libraries (such as those in Hesse, Berlin and Munich). In 1978 certain tasks were delegated to the Bundesarchiv Koblenz, the foundation Deutsche Kinemathek Berlin and the Deutsches Institut für Filmkunde - DIF in Frankfurt/Wiesbaden to enable these facilities to fulfil the role of a central German film library jointly. Over time this has yielded a cooperative group of film libraries that addresses such concerns as archiving problems related to German film.
In 1999 the DEFA Foundation was set up to manage the rights to DEFA film productions.