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Stella Goldschlag

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Stella Goldschlag
Born(1922-07-10)10 July 1922
Died26 October 1994(1994-10-26) (aged 72)
Cause of deathSuicide by drowning
Known forNazi collaboration

Stella Ingrid Goldschlag, also known by her married names Stella Kübler, Stella Kübler-Isaaksohn and Ingrid Gärtner, (10 July 1922 – 26 October 1994)[1] was a German Jewish woman who collaborated with the Gestapo during World War II, operating around Berlin exposing and denouncing Berlin's underground Jews, after being tortured in Gestapo custody and falsely being promised the safety of her family.[2] After the war, Goldschlag "converted to Christianity and became an open anti-Semite".[3]

The number of people she betrayed or delivered to the Nazis has been estimated at anywhere from 600 to 3,000.[4]

Early life[edit]

Goldschlag was born to Gerhard Goldschlag [de] and his wife Antonie Goldschlag [de] (called Toni/Tony; née Lermer) and raised in Wilmersdorf, Berlin as the only child in a middle-class, assimilated Jewish family.[5][2] Her father worked as a conductor, composer and journalist, while her mother, before her marriage, had pursued a career as a singer. Goldschlag grew up doted on by her parents, but the family often had economic troubles and sometimes had to rely on welfare as Goldschlag's father struggled to find stable work.[6]

Goldschlag went to elementary school and then attended the Hohenzollern lyceum. After the 1933 seizure of power by the Nazis, she, like other Jewish children, was forbidden to attend a state school by Nazi racial policies, so starting in 1935, she attended the Goldschmidt School in Dahlem, set up by the local Jewish community. At the school, she was known for her beauty and vivacity,[5][2] but she also stood out because she studied on a scholarship and was not from an affluent family. Being poor was something Goldschlag resented being seen as and at times she would even reject her Jewish ancestry by claiming that her mother was a Christian.[6]

The family fell on hard times when the 1933 Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service was used to purge Jews from positions of influence and her father Gerhard lost his job with the newsreel company Gaumont. Her parents attempted to leave Germany after Kristallnacht in 1938 to escape the Nazi regime, but were unable to gain visas for other countries. Goldschlag completed her education in 1938, training as a fashion illustrator at the School of Applied Art in Nürnbergerstraße.[7]

Going underground and collaboration[edit]

In 1941, Goldschlag married a Jewish musician, Manfred Kübler. They were former bandmates at Goldschmidt and met again when both were working as forced labourers in the Ehrich & Graetz factory in Berlin.[5] In about 1942, when the large deportation programme of Berlin Jews into extermination camps began, she disappeared underground, using forged papers to pass as a non-Jew — often avoiding ID checks altogether, owing to her blonde-haired, blue-eyed 'Aryan' appearance.[5][2]

In early March 1943, Goldschlag and her parents, who had also been working as forced labourers by then, were arrested as part of the Fabrikaktion. Goldschlag was taken to Bessemerstrasse women's prison where she was interrogated and tortured; on July 10, 1943 (coincidentally her 21st birthday) she managed to escape briefly during a visit to the dentist but was quickly rearrested as she sought refuge in her parents' home which was already being watched by the Gestapo and she was brutally tortured once more after being recaptured.[2]

On August 24, 1943, the Bessemerstrasse prison was bombed during an air raid which damaged her cell and allowed her to escape yet again but this time she went to where her parents were being detained at the detention and assembly camp of Grosse Hamburger Strasse (the site of a Jewish cemetery that was desecrated and destroyed by the Nazis[8]), intending on sharing their fate but she was taken back to Bessemerstrasse.[2]

In order to avoid the deportation of herself and her parents,[2] she agreed to become a "catcher" (German: Greiferin) for the Gestapo, hunting down Jews hiding as non-Jews (referred to as "submerged", German: Untergetauchter).[5][9] Goldschlag at first gave up names of Jewish fugitives only under torture, which happened for the first time after her failed escape attempt when she was captured with a list of names that included that of a Jewish man named Mikki Hellmann who had provided her with a forged passport and whom Goldschlag lured into a trap after which he was captured.[2] However, she would later start to collaborate with the Gestapo more willingly.[2]

After collaborating with Hellmann's arrest, Gestapo investigators found out that Goldschlag had also been in contact with a prominent passport forger named Samson Schönhaus who operated under the alias Günter Rogoff. Rogoff was involved with an extensive Jewish-Catholic Polish resistance network and had provided at least 40 Jewish prisoners (in the camp in which Goldschlag was kept) with forged food ration cards, passports and various other identity documents.[2] Thus, Gestapo officers were desperately looking for Schönhaus and, discovering Goldschlag's connection to him, they offered her a more permanent arrangement collaborating with them and delivering Jewish fugitives to them:[2] Schönhaus was never caught and survived the war[10] but Goldschlag's arrangement with the Nazis continued.[2] She was promised that she and her parents would not be deported plus a reward of 300 Reichsmark for each Jew that she betrayed while she operated mostly around Berlin.[11][2]

Goldschlag proceeded to comb Berlin for such Jews and, as she was familiar with a large number of Jews she knew from her years at Goldschmidt School, she was very successful at locating her former schoolmates and handing their information over to the Gestapo, while keeping up the façade as a Untergetauchte herself. Some of Goldschlag's efforts to apprehend Jews in hiding included promising them food and accommodation, meanwhile turning them over to the Nazi authorities; she would also follow clues provided to her by the Gestapo.[12] She would also monitor funerals of ethnic Germans who were known or suspected to have married Jewish spouses and expose them to Nazi authorities, as pre-war marriages to an "Aryan" allowed some Jews to avoid detection. The data concerning the number of her victims varies, depending on different sources of information, from 600 to 3,000 Jews. Goldschlag's charisma and striking good looks were a great advantage in her pursuit of underground Jews. The Nazis called her "blonde poison"[5] while Jews in hiding knew her as the "Blonde Lorelei".[13] She was also referred to as "the blonde ghost"

The Nazis would break their promise of sparing the lives of Goldschlag's parents. They were deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp on 23 February 1944. Goldschlag pleaded with her superiors to spare her parents but to no avail but was promised to become a honorary Aryan after the war. Her parents were later transported to Auschwitz and murdered. Goldschlag's husband, Manfred, was deported in 1943 to Auschwitz, along with his family. It was the belief of his family that Goldschlag had betrayed even her own husband and in-laws to the Nazis. While the claim is not unbelievable given the circumstances, the Kübler family was deported before Goldschlag's collaboration with the Nazis began.[6][14]

While Goldschlag continued to hunt down Jews, she and her fellow "catchers", numbering around 15 to 20 by this time in Berlin, were also the target for revenge from their potential victims. An organization named Society for Peace and Reconstrution (Gemeinschaft für Frieden und Aufbau or GFA) were actively planning to kill Goldschlag (and Isaaksohn.) A plan to poison her coffee was abandoned, so also was a plan to have her dentist poison her during an appointment and another one where Goldschlag and Isaaksohn would be lured to an address by a rumor of Jews in hiding living there and then kill the pair.[15][16]

GFA instead sent Goldschlag a fake death sentence written on official court document paper and informed her that if she was seen on the streets [after the war] by one of their agents she would be killed instantly.[2][14] Even if the threat was only for intimdation it was seen as a valid one and Goldschlags superior pulled her and the other members of the Search Service from the streets for two weeks and later issued them with pistols for protection.[14]

Goldschlag still continued her work for the Gestapo until March 1945. During that time, she met and married her second husband, Rolf Isaaksohn, on 29 October 1944. Isaaksohn was a fellow Jewish collaborator with the Nazis known also as a Greifer ("catcher").[5] Goldschlag was not as active as a catcher during this time as she had been previously due to the fact that she was too well-known to be of effective use and there were not as many Jews left in Berlin due to the Nazi purges and the zealousness of Goldschlag and her compatriots - and those who remained in the city were too well hidden.

In 1933, the Jewish population of Berlin was estimated at 160,000, but the end of the war the Jewish population who had managed to escape by hiding only numbered somewhere between 1,400-1,700 people.[17]

Goldschlag still continued to scout out addresses where Jews were known to have lived. [18] Her loyalty to the cause was also questioned by her superiors and members of her team after she told her superior Dobberke that she couldn't find anymore Jews and wanted to stop being a catcher. This was dangerous as it put both her and the other catchers at risk of deportation and Isaaksohn vehemently denied Goldschlag's claims and told his superiors that they were operating very successfully in tracking down Jews.[15]

Around this time Goldschlag would also become romantically involved with Heino Meissl, a publicist for a film company and fellow Nazi collaborator[6]

Final months of World War II[edit]

In February 1945, Goldschlag found herself pregnant with the likeliest father being Meissl. While Goldschlag expected him to acknowledge his paternity and take care of her and their unborn child, Meissl instead vanished leaving Goldschlag to fend for herself.

Goldschlag lost the support of any of her lovers and her Nazi superiors having other more pressing concerns with the advancement of the western allies, so in the early stages of the Battle of Berlin in April, Goldschlag went into hiding. The same month, she gave birth to her daughter, Yvonne, in Liebenwalde.

Post-war life[edit]

She was found and arrested by the Soviets in October 1945 for collaboration. In custody, Goldschlag still claimed to have been victimized during the Holocaust, both as a cover and in order to claim Victim of Fascism [de] (Opfer des Faschismus; OdF) status. In an attempt to officiate this, in early 1946, she was accompanied to a Jewish Community office in Berlin to be registered, which would have made her eligible for additional food rations from aid services. Instead, Jewish survivors there recognized her immediately and while an official protected her from being beaten up by an angry mob, the official did allow for her hair to be cut off.[6][16]

Brought to trial, Goldschlag was found guilty and sentenced to ten years of hard labor in June 1946.[16] Her daughter had been taken from her as to not "having to suffer for her mother's sins[6]" and was later placed with foster parents; when they emigrated to the United States, she was placed with another family in Berlin. In an ironic twist of fate Goldschlag would serve out part of her sentence in Soviet Special Camp no. 7 (established at the former Sachenhausen concentration camp) before being transferred to Torgau and Hoheneck fortress. The last part of her sentence was spent at Waldheim hospital where Goldschlag was treated for tubercolosis.[18]

Following the completion of her sentence, she moved to West Berlin to find her daughter, who had been living there with a Jewish family, to no success. There she was again tried, convicted, and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment in 1957 for being an accessory in several counts of murder. During this second trial, Goldschlag denied all charges and claimed she was the victim of a Jewish conspiracy against her. Despite being convicted she did not have to serve the second sentence because of the time already served in the Soviet prison.[19] During the second trial, a psychiatrist diagnosed Goldschlag as a "schizophrenic psychopath".

After the war, Goldschlag, according to author Irving Abrahamson, "converted to Christianity and became an open anti-Semite".[3] Goldschlag also tried to make contact with and gain custody of her daughter. When her first foster parents broached the idea of adopting Yvonne, Goldschlag so vehemently contested it that the adoption was called off.

As she became older, her mental and physical faculties deteriorated. By 1984, Goldschlag lived in Berlin-Spandau with her fifth husband, but after his death the same year, following a failed suicide attempt, she moved to Freiburg.


In 1994, Goldschlag was found dead by drowning in the Moosweiher;[20][21] Her death is generally reported as a suicide, although other sources mention that she accidentally drowned, or that she committed suicide by leaping out of a window.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Goldschlag was married five times: following the deportation of her first husband, Manfred Kübler, she married fellow Jewish collaborator and Greifer Rolf Isaaksohn on 29 October 1944, who was shot dead attempting to escape to Denmark as the Soviets advanced.[23] After the war, she was married to three non-Jews, starting with Friedheim Schellenberg, followed by a cab driver twenty years her junior and finally a Berlin orchestra director who died in 1984.[22]

Goldschlag's only child, Yvonne Meissl, did not want to associate with her birth mother after hearing about her activities during the war, subsequently becoming a trained nurse and immigrating to Israel in 1967.[24]

In biographies and fiction[edit]

Peter Wyden (formerly Peter Weidenreich), a Berlin schoolmate at Goldschmidt School whose family had been able to obtain US visas in 1937 and who later learned about Goldschlag's role as a "catcher" while he was working for the US Army, tracked down and interviewed Goldschlag in 1988 and 1990,[16] to write Stella, a 1992 biography of her. Wyden said that in regards to the book, Goldschlag requested, mostly likely in jest, that he "not write badly about [her]".[24]

Goldschlag is mentioned in The Forger, Cioma Schonhaus's 2004 account of living as an underground Jew in Berlin,[10] and in Berlin at War by Roger Moorhouse (2010).[25]


In the 2001 novel The Good German,[26] the character Renate Naumann (named Lena Brandt in the 2006 film adaptation) is loosely based on Goldschlag.[27][28] The book was adapted as the 2006 film titled The Good German directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney, Cate Blanchett and Tobey Maguire.[29]

Goldschlag appears in Chris Petit's 2016 novel The Butchers of Berlin.[30] Here, her actions as a "catcher" are in the background of the main story.

Goldschlag is a minor character in the 2017 German docudrama, Die Unsichtbaren – Wir wollen leben (English title The Invisibles).[31]

In 2019, the German journalist Takis Würger published a novel based on Goldschlag's life, Stella [de], which was published by Carl Hanser Verlag.[32] It received largely negative reviews.[33] Critics described the work as "Holocaust kitsch", but it sold well.[34]

In 2023, a biopic about Goldschlag, Stella. A Life. [de], was released, in which she is portrayed by Paula Beer.[35][36]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Harran, Marilyn J.; Kuntz, Dieter; Lemmons, Russel; Michael, Robert A.; Pickus, Keith; Roth, John. Weber, Paul; Edelheit, Abraham J. (eds.). "Blonde Poison". The Holocaust Chronicle. 1943: Death and Resistance. Chicago, Illinois, United States: Publications International, Ltd. p. 421. Archived from the original on 17 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Dirks, Christian (2009). "Chapter Fifteen. Snatchers: The Berlin Gestapo's Jewish Informants". In Meyer, Beate; Simon, Hermann; Schütz, Chana (eds.). Jews in Nazi Berlin: From Kristallnacht to Liberation. Chicago, Illinois, United States: University of Chicago Press. pp. 248–274. doi:10.7208/9780226521596-017 (inactive 31 January 2024). ISBN 9780226521572 – via Google Books.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of January 2024 (link)
  3. ^ a b Abrahamson, Irving (3 January 1993). Fuller, Jack (ed.). "She saved herself in the Holocaust by betraying others". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois, United States: Tribune Publishing. ISSN 1085-6706. OCLC 7960243. Archived from the original on 21 January 2021.
  4. ^ Arfa, Orit (24 September 2017). Katz, Yaakov (ed.). "The poisonous blonde of Berlin: The controversial Stella Goldschlag story". The Jerusalem Post. Jerusalem, Israel: The Jerusalem Post Group. ISSN 0021-597X. Archived from the original on 19 April 2021. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Tovar, Diana (6 December 2005). Marcuse, Harold (ed.). Stella: The Story of Stella Goldschlag. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Holocaust. Santa Barbara, California, United States: University of California, Santa Barbara. Archived from the original on 24 November 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Wyden, Peter (1992). Stella. Simon & Schuster. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-671-67361-1.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  7. ^ Schönhaus 2008, p. 140-141, Fortune oblige.
  8. ^ Verhaeghen, Paul (1 October 2008). Schwartz, Morry (ed.). "Doing write by history". Jewish Quarterly. 55 (4). Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Jewish Literary Trust/Taylor & Francis: 4–7. doi:10.1080/0449010X.2008.10707019 (inactive 31 January 2024). ISSN 0449-010X.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of January 2024 (link)
  9. ^ Card, Claudia (1 November 2011). "Surviving Long-Term Mass Atrocities: U-Boats, Catchers, and Ravens". Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association. 85 (2). Newark, Delaware, United States: American Philosophical Association: 7–26. ISSN 0065-972X. JSTOR 41575747. OCLC 1480553 – via JSTOR.
  10. ^ a b Schönhaus, Cioma (2008) [2004]. Ness, Marion (ed.). The Forger: An Extraordinary Story of Survival in Wartime Berlin. Translated by Alan Bance. Hachette Books. ISBN 9780306817656 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ McCormack, David (27 February 2019). "Chapter Five: Blonde Poison — Stella Goldschlag". Year Zero: Berlin 1945. PublishNation. p. 27. ISBN 9780244092092 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Dams & Stolle 2014, p. 71, 4. The Modus Operandi.
  13. ^ Kaplan, Marion A. (1999) [1998]. "8. Life Underground". Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany (2nd ed.). Oxford, England, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-19-513092-8 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ a b c Grunwald-Spier, Agnes (2017-08-15). Who Betrayed the Jews?: The realities of Nazi persecution in the Holocaust. Amberley Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1-4456-7119-2.
  15. ^ a b Meyer, Beate; Simon, Hermann; Schütz, Chana (2009-12-15). Jews in Nazi Berlin: From Kristallnacht to Liberation. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-52159-6.
  16. ^ a b c d Hendrix, Kathleen (21 December 1992). "Saga Peter Wyden and Stella Goldschlag..." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California, United States. ISSN 0458-3035. OCLC 3638237.
  17. ^ Bohus, Kata; Grossmann, Atina; Hanak, Werner; Wenzel, Mirjam (2020-09-23). Our Courage – Jews in Europe 1945–48. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. ISBN 978-3-11-065307-6.
  18. ^ a b McCormack, David (2018-06-25). Year Zero: Berlin 1945. Lulu.com. ISBN 978-0-244-09209-2.
  19. ^ Fontheim, Ernest Gunter (24 January 1993). Written at Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States. Sulzberger Sr., Arthur Ochs (ed.). "More effective than the Gestapo". The New York Times. New York City, New York, United States. p. 26 (Section 7). ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522.
  20. ^ Bloedner, Dominik (27 October 2019). Poppen, Wolfgang; Holz, Hans-Otto (eds.). "Stella Goldschlag, die jüdische Greiferin der Gestapo" [Stella Goldschlag, the Gestapo's Jewish grabber]. Badische Zeitung (in German). 74 (249/43). Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany: Badischer Verlag GmbH & Co. KG: 3. OCLC 11975787.
  21. ^ Moorhouse 2011, p. 304, 14. Against All Odds.
  22. ^ a b Fayanás Escuer, Edmundo (19 September 2020). García, Isabel; Vargas, Pablo (eds.). "Stella Ingrid Goldschlag, la judía que traicionó a su pueblo". Nueva Tribuna (Nuevatribuna.es) (in Spanish). Madrid, Spain: Página 7 comunicación S.L. Archived from the original on 23 September 2021.
  23. ^ dreamer, Mythili the (2020-08-11). "The Jewish Sex Spy Who Betrayed Her Own People". Medium. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
  24. ^ a b Wyden, Peter (1992). Stella: One Woman's True Tale of Evil, Betrayal, and Survival in Hitler's Germany. New York City, New York, United States: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780671673611.
  25. ^ Moorhouse, Roger (2011) [2010]. Berlin at War: Life and Death in Hitler's Capital, 1939-45 (2nd ed.). London, England, United Kingdom: Random House. ISBN 9781446499214 – via Google Books.
  26. ^ Kanon, Joseph (2003) [2001]. The Good German (3rd ed.). New York City, New York, United States: Time Warner. ISBN 9780751534849.
  27. ^ Lake, Anthony (1 January 2016). Holtschneider, Hannah; Jordan, James; Lawson, Tom; Pettitt, Joanne (eds.). ""Blonde poison": the Holocaust and the case of Stella Goldschlag in Joseph Kanon's The Good German". Holocaust Studies. 22 (1). Abingdon-on-Thames, England, United Kingdom: Routledge: 84–99. doi:10.1080/17504902.2015.1117839. ISSN 1750-4902. S2CID 147248046.
  28. ^ Filimon, Eliza Claudia (2012). Frenţiu, Luminiţa; Filimon, Eliza Claudia; Mădroane, Irina Diana; Şerban, Andreea (eds.). "Cinderella's ashes-new women, old fairytales" (PDF). Romanian Journal of English Studies. 9 (1). Timișoara, Romania: West University of Timișoara/Romanian Society for English and American Studies/De Gruyter: 131–137. doi:10.2478/v10319-012-0014-y. ISSN 1584-3734. S2CID 162249674.
  29. ^ Steven Soderbergh (director), Ben Cosgrove and Gregory Jacobs (producers), Paul Attanasio (writer); starring: George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire (2006). Bernard, Mary Ann (ed.). The Good German (Motion picture). United States: Virtual Studios/Section Eight Productions/Warner Bros. Pictures.
  30. ^ Petit, Chris (5 May 2016). The Butchers of Berlin. New York City, New York, United States: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781471143427 – via Google Books.
  31. ^ Claus Räfle (director), Claus Räfle and Alejandra Lopez (writers), Claus Räfle and Frank Evers (producers); starring: Max Mauff, Alice Dwyer, Ruby O. Fee, Aaron Altaras, Andreas M. Schmidt (2017). Hauschild, Jörg; Oehring, Julia (eds.). Die Unsichtbaren – Wir wollen leben [The Invisibles] (Motion picture) (in German). Germany: Tobias Film.
  32. ^ Würger, Takis (2021) [2019]. Stella. Translated by Liesl Schillinger. London, England, United Kingdom: Grove Press UK/Carl Hanser Verlag GmbH & Co. ISBN 9781611854497 – via Google Books.
  33. ^ Bergmann, Björn; Feuchert, Sascha (1 August 2021). "»Verrat an Geschichte und Erinnerung«? Zur literaturtheoretischen und literaturdidaktischen Einordnung der Kontroverse um Takis Würgers Stella" ["Betrayal of history and memory"? On the literary-theoretical and literary-didactic classification of the controversy surrounding Takis Würger's Stella]. Mitteilungen des Deutschen Germanistenverbandes (in German). 68 (3). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Verlage/Brill Deutschland GmbH: 241–247. doi:10.14220/mdge.2021.68.3.241. ISSN 0418-9426. S2CID 243193546.
  34. ^ Lambeck, Petra (16 January 2019). Limbourg, Peter (ed.). "Novel based on Jew 'catcher' Stella Kübler stirs controversy". Deutsche Welle. Bonn, Germany. Archived from the original on 25 May 2021.
  35. ^ Lasky, Shlomit (15 January 2024). "Stella Goldschlag: A Jewish Gestapo agent in Nazi Berlin". Deutsche Welle.
  36. ^ Meza, Ed (28 September 2023). "'Stella. A Life.' Director Kilian Riedhof Discusses Modern Aspects of a Nazi Informant". Variety.


  • Dams, C.; Stolle, M. (2014). The Gestapo: Power and Terror in the Third Reich. Translated by Charlotte Ryland. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199669219.
  • Gross, L. (2015) [1982]. The Last Jews in Berlin. New York: Open Road Media. ISBN 9781497689381.
  • Wyden, P. (1992). Stella: One Woman's True Tale of Evil, Betrayal, and Survival in Hitler's Germany. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780671673611.