Wolfgang Klaue (1935-2024)

It is with great sadness that we must inform you of the passing of Wolfgang Klaue, one of the most important figures in the history of our Federation, on Friday 16 February 2024 at the age of 88.

Wolfgang Klaue was Director of the Staatliches Filmarchiv der DDR (East German Film Archive) from 1969 to 1991, a member of the FIAF Executive Committee for that entire period, FIAF President from 1979 to 1984, and Head of the FIAF Cataloguing Commission from 1969 to 1979.

He began his archival career as Head of the Scientific Department of the Staatliches Filmarchiv der DDR (East German Film Archive), working under Herbert Volkmann, and took over as the archive's Director in 1969. He retained his post until 1991, when the Staatliches Filmarchiv der DDR became part of re-united Germany's Bundesarchiv. In the 1970s he played a key role in the formulation of UNESCO's Recommendation for the Safeguarding and Preservaton of the Moving Image (adoped on 27 October 1980). That achievement was awarded by a UNESCO Silver Medal presented to Klaue in 1987 - a very rare honour. Under his leadership, the Staatliches Filmarchiv der DDR also hosted the very first FIAF Summer School (1973) and four more thereafter. From 1998 to his retirement in 2003, Wolfgang Klaue was the founding chairman of the DEFA Stiftung, which was established on 15 December 1998 to preserve and make accessible the films made at the East German DEFA studios.

Wolfgang Klaue was elected FIAF Honorary Member in 1992, and remained an active member of the FIAF community for many years after that. During the 2008 Congress in Paris, he moderated a Second Century Forum on the topic of African film archives, which led to the “Film Archives in Africa” project. Over the last decade, he was in regular contact with the FIAF Secretariat and was always willing to share his knowledge with the Senior Administrator, in particular on historical matters.

Christophe Dupin

Read More about Wolfgang Klaue

Eva Orbanz andd Karl Griep, "FIAF Oral History: Wolfgang Klaue", Journal of Film Preservation, Issue 89, November 2013, pp. 52-63

Eva Halm, Hans Karnstädt, Wolfgang Klaue, Günter Schulz (eds.), Bilder des Jahrhunderts. Staatliches Filmarchiv der DDR, 1955-1990. Erinnerungen, Berlin: DEFA Stiftung, 2015, 372pp. (Review of the book by Jan-Christopher Horak in the Journal of Film Preservation, Issue 94, April 2016, pp.114-117).

L. Rubenstein, "What Does a Film Archivist Do, Anyway. An Interview With Dr. Wolfgang Klaue", Cineaste, Vol. VII, N° 3,  (Fall, 1976), pp. 28-29.

"Unesco Silver Medal to Wolfgang Klaue", Bulletin FIAF, Issue 35, Jan 1988, p. 12

Wolfgang Klaue, "Wolfgang Klaue on the UNESCO Recommendation for the Safeguarding and Preservation of Moving Images", Journal of Film Preservation, Issue 100, April 2019, pp.40-42

Wolfgang Klaue, "Every film an adventure", Journal of Film Preservation, Issue 72, November 2006, pp. 48-66

Wolfgang Klaue & Jerzy Toepltiz, "Past, Present, Future: A Dialogue Between Two Former Fiaf Presidents", Journal of Film Preservation, Issue 48, April 1994, pp. 2-14

Wolfgang Klaue, "Wolfgang Klaue's speech on receiving Unesco Silver Medal during the Unesco General Assembly", Bulletin FIAF, Issue 35, January 1988, pp. 13-14

Wolfgang Klaue, "First FIAF Summer School - A Success", FIAF Information Bulletin, Issue 5, December 1973,pp.3-4

You can read the tribute (in German) to Wolfgang Klaue on the website of the DEFA Stiftung here.