Stella Goldschlag had all the makings of a jazz star. She was beautiful, talented and ambitious. She grew up in a musical household in Berlin. She was not shy about exploiting her female charms – including in the bedroom – to get ahead. There was just one problem: she was Jewish, even though she could pass for “Aryan” with her famous blonde hair. But the Nazis didn’t care if she didn’t look like or consider herself a Jew; in the early 1940s, her greatest hope was staying alive.
Stella Goldschlag’s story is the stuff of books, films, plays, and this month, a musical in Berlin running through the end of September at the Neukoellner Oper. Stella utilized attributes that could have made her a Marlene Dietrich contemporary (had her father not been denied an American visa) for one, pernicious purpose: catching Jews. From 1943, she became a star of the Gestapo’s “Greifer” service, a Jew-catching service set up once Berlin was supposed to be “Judenrein” and all remaining Jews lived underground as “U-boats.” What better way to find the “U-boats” then to inject the Berlin streets with “blonde poison,” as Stella came to be known. Stella is believed to have caught anywhere from 600 to 3,000 Jews.