© 2017 The Authors Internal contaminations of 238U, 235U and 232Th in the bulk of high purity germanium detectors are potential backgrounds for experiments searching for neutrinoless double beta decay of 76Ge. The data from GERDA Phase I have been analyzed for alpha events from the decay chain of these contaminations by looking for full decay chains and for time correlations between successive decays in the same detector. No candidate events for a full chain have been found. Upper limits on the activities in the range of a few nBq/kg for 226Ra, 227Ac and 228Th, the long-lived daughter nuclides of 238U, 235U and 232Th, respectively, have been derived. With these upper limits a background index in the energy region of interest from 226Ra and 228Th contamination is estimated which satisfies the prerequisites of a future ton scale germanium double beta decay experiment.