What would happen, if … ? | Was wäre, wenn …?

UCM.ONE, in collaboration with CineGraph from Hamburg, will be releasing the 1st edition of Edition Cinefest on the Artkeim² label in February 2022. Advance sales will start shortly and the corresponding links can then be found on this page.

The film chosen by the curatorial team is “What would happen, if …?” (German original title: “Was wäre, wenn…?“), a DEFA film from 1960. Gerhard Klingenberg directed this comedy, which features Manfred Krug in one of his first roles, and the screenplay is based on the play of the same name by Hedda Zinner.


In the small village of Willshagen on the inner-German border, mysterious gentlemen appear in a Western car and show great interest in the dilapidated castle. Gossip and speculation flourish, and rumours of a border change circulate. Willshagen is to fall to the Federal Republic, and some expect the count back. Suddenly all the objects stolen from the castle reappear. Some villagers shake their heads at this mischief, others are unsettled. Farmer Gepfert wonders whether he should still join the LPG. His wife and daughter Inge advise him to, while big farmer Dahlke advises him against it and suggests a deal. Inge should marry his son Christian to unite their land. But Inge loves the MTS tractor driver Peter. When the count is due to arrive, pro and con groups are paraded – until a team from DEFA arrives to shoot a film in the castle: that’s the only reason it was renovated!

(Source: The Second Life of the Film City Babelsberg. DEFA Feature Films 1946-1992)

The possible border settlement discussed in the film took place many times after 1945 between East and West. For example, within the framework of the Barber-Lyashchenko Agreement.

About Gerhard Klingenberg

Gerhard Klingenberg was born in Vienna on 11 May 1929 and trained as an actor at the Vienna Conservatory.  From 1948 he received his first engagements at theatres in St. Pölten, Klagenfurt and Innsbruck before joining the Berliner Ensemble in 1956. From 1962 to 1968 he worked at theatres in Cologne, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg as well as at the Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus, the Zurich Schauspielhaus and the Munich Kammerspiele. From 1968 to 1985 he directed plays at the Burgtheater in Vienna, which he also directed from 1971 to 1976. During this time, Gerhard Klingenberg engaged directors such as Jean-Louis Barrault and Peter Hall. Despite his traditional classical orientation in programming, he brought plays by Tom Stoppard, Thomas Bernhard or Harold Pinter to the Burgtheater stage. Under Klingenberg’s direction, Claus Peymann staged the world premiere of Bernhard’s “Die Jagdgesellschaft“.

Following his directorship in Vienna, Klingenberg returned to the Schauspielhaus Zurich as director from 1977 to 1982 and was then artistic director of the Berlin Renaissance Theatre from 1986 to 1995. Following his work in Berlin, he worked as a freelance director. In addition to his work at the theatre, Klingenberg participated in numerous television productions as an actor, director and scriptwriter and also worked as a Shakespeare translator. Gerhard Klingenberg, father of the director Reinhard Schwabenitzky, born in 1947, lives in Austria as a pensioner.

Original title: Was wäre wenn …?

Director: Gerhard Klingenberg

Co-diector: Herrmann Zschoche

Screenplay: Gerhard Klingenberg, Hedda Zinner

Book: Hedda Zinner (Play)

Actors & actresses: Willi Narloch, Gerd Ehlers, Heinz Fröhlich, Trude Bechmann, Hanns Anselm Perten, Fritz Hofbauer Heinz Scholz, Adolf Peter Hoffmann, Dietrich Zimmermann, Horst Lommatzsch, Georg Peter Pilz, Ernst Kahler, Peter-Paul Goes, Peter Marx, Angela Brunner, Manfred Borges, Ursula Braun, Christa Windisch-Grätz, Manfred Krug, Gerd Biewer, Fred Düren, Hans Knötzsch, Ulrich Folkmar, Werner Trögner

CinematographyErich Gusko

Camera assistant: Peter Dietrich

Set design: Alfred Drosdek

Editing: Friedel Welsandt

Sound: Horst Mathuschek

Make-up: Klaus Goede, Anita Hering

Costumes: Rosemarie Wandelt

Music: Peter Fischer

Production management: Erich Albrecht

DEFA photographer: Hans Bernd Baxmann


Production company: DEFA (Deutsche Film AG)

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Year of production: 1960

Country: German Democratic Republic (GDR)

Language: German


Length: 90 Min

Rating: FSK 6

Resolution: Full-HD

Other titles:

English: What would happen, if … ?

Czech: Kdo se smeje naposled…

Film label: Edition Cinefest / Artkeim²


Theatrical release: September 01, 1960

DVD start: March 18, 2022

VoD start: December 10, 2021

Filmography by Gerhard Klingenberg (selection)

1959: Was wäre, wenn …? (Director)

1959: Spuk in Villa Sonnenschein (Director)

1960: Guten Tag, lieber Tag (Director and screenplay)

1962: Tevya und seine Töchter (Director)

1963: Unterm Birnbaum (Director)

1963: Der Mann aus England (Director)

1964: In der Sache J. Robert Oppenheimer (Director)

1965: Ein Wintermärchen (Director)

1966: Die Gelehrten Frauen (Director)

1967: Das schwedische Zündholz (Director and screenplay)

1968: Der Tod des Handlungsreisenden (Director)

1968: Tragödie auf der Jagd (Director)

1969: Der Talisman (Director)

1970: Ardèle oder das Gänseblümchen (Director)

1976: Kabale und Liebe (Director)

1977: Morgen (Director)

1978: Der Spinnenmörder (Director)

1986: Mord am Pool (Director)

1988: Aufrichtige Lügnerin (Director)

Trailer (German)

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Further information

Filmliebhaber und Sammler können sich über eine hochwertige Clamshell-Verpackung aus Karton freuen sowie über das umfangreiche Booklet sowie einen Audiokommentar der Filmhistoriker Ralf Schenk und Hans-Michael Bock.

Technical datas

Aspect ratio : 4:3 in 16:9 | Sound format: German DD 2.0 (Mono) | Extras: Audio commentary by film historians Ralf Schenk and Hans-Michael Bock; 40-page booklet; Short film: “Die Grenze (Der Porzellanladen Teil 1)“. Germany 1995. Director: Franz Winzentsen (2:17 min); Original Trailer | FSK 6

Comments on the film

“To sum up: anyone who wants to be entertained for eighty-eight minutes should watch this film.” (Die Junge Welt 1960)

“It is a comedy that strives for a realistic view of attitudes of consciousness of the GDR rural population and comes to astonishingly honest, critical conclusions, but is aesthetically rather undemandingly staged” (The Encyclopaedia of International Film).

About Cinegraph

CineGraph – Hamburgisches Centrum für Filmforschung e.V. was founded in 1989 as a registered association by staff members of the film encyclopaedia of the same name, an international standard work on German-language film. The aim of CineGraph is to promote film cultural knowledge. To this end, the centre communicates the results of film-historical research through congresses and retrospectives, seminars, exhibitions, publications and multimedia. In addition, the non-profit association supports and advises research projects on film and media history.

CineGraph pursues film history as media history, i.e. as a representation of the complex interaction of aesthetics, technology, politics and economics in a contemporary historical context. CineGraph is an internationally networked film heritage institution. For more than 30 years, its reputation has been based on an impressive series of scholarly publications on film as well as on its precision in researching bio- and filmographic data. Since 2001, CineGraph has been a member of the Cinematheque Network, which brings together the most important German film institutes. In addition to basic research, CineGraph promotes general knowledge about German-language film on a non-profit basis.


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