Universum Film AG was founded in December 1917 with a mission to make the German Reich’s war propaganda more effective. One year later, Germany was on the road to democracy. Backed by a generous supply of capital from industry and Deutsche Bank, Ufa persisted and started drawing international attention with epic films like Ernst Lubitsch’s MADAME DUBARRY (1919). The company was vertically structured: production sites— including the Babelsberg Studios, which Ufa took over in 1922—a distribution division, and cinemas all operated under the Ufa rhombus logo.
In the mid-1920s, Ufa got into financial trouble with ambitious productions like Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS. The conservative nationalist “Media Czar” Alfred Hugenberg saved the day in 1927 by purchasing the company and having it restructured and modernized by trusted associate Ludwig Klitzsch. The construction of a new studio complex laid out in the shape of a cross in 1929 marked Ufa’s investment in a technological innovation and media revolution: talkies.