The Trials of Stella Goldschlag: Nazi Victim, Holocaust Survivor, and War Criminal

German History/Jewish History/Nazi Germany and the Holocaust/History of Postwar Germany/Nazi War Crime Trials/Legal History and Transitional Justice/Women’s History/Gender Studies

This book project explores the tragic story of Stella Goldschlag (aka Kübler-Isaaksohn, 1922–1994), a German Jewish Holocaust survivor, who worked as a Gestapo informer in Berlin from 1943 to 1945, allegedly turning in dozens of Jews who had gone into hiding in the German capital. It analyzes Goldschlag’s story through three court cases against her—a Soviet military trial in 1946, and two criminal trials at German courts in 1957 and 1972. Three times Goldschlag was guilty of “crimes against humanity” and “accessory to murder”. However, Goldschlag for her part saw herself merely as a victim: first of the Nazi regime that had driven her into desperately trying to save herself and her family from deportation; then of a Stalinist justice system that rigorously passed disproportionate sentences on those deemed “Nazi collaborators” irrespective of whether they had actually been victims themselves; and finally of an allegedly vengeful Jewish community seeking to come to terms with its own destruction and vulnerability by “cleansing” its own ranks from those believed to have assisted the Nazis in their persecution of the Jews.

The monograph seeks to carry out a reappraisal of Goldschlag. It will pay particular attention to gender, both in terms of Goldschlag’s wartime choices as well as her postwar trials and later public defamation. Although focusing on a case study, the project touches upon a great variety of subjects, be it the Nazi regime and the Holocaust, postwar Nazi war crime trials in both East and West Germany, the history of the Cold War, the rebuilding of Jewish life in Germany, the role of victims in processes of transitional justice, and women’s and gender history, to name just a few.

I am looking for the participation of a highly motivated student who is willing to think creatively about the contextualization and interpretation of Goldschlag’s case, venture into various subject areas, and dig out the relevant literature.

In return, the student will benefit from exploring the complex and controversial life story of a Nazi victim and Holocaust survivor and analyzing its multifaceted postwar representations. S/he will gain intimate knowledge of the practices of working with archival documents along with audio and video testimony from the Shoah Visual History Archive and the Fortunoff Archive; and acquire skills in creating a database; and summarizing literature. 

I am seeking a research partner with the following skills:

  • Knowledge of and interest in the Holocaust, Nazi Germany, and German Jewish History
  • Experience making and annotating a bibliography
  • Ability to read German is preferred; reading knowledge of Dutch and/or Italian is a plus
  • Excellent research skills including library and online
  • Ability to think creatively and willingness to persist when encountering roadblocks
  • Independent worker; self-reliant