Kristina Söderbaum

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Kristina Söderbaum
Kristina Soderbaum.jpg
Söderbaum in 1941
Beata Margareta Kristina Söderbaum

5 September 1912
Died12 February 2001(2001-02-12) (aged 88)
Veit Harlan
(m. 1939;died 1964)

Beata Margareta Kristina Söderbaum (5 September 1912 – 12 February 2001) was a Swedish-born German film actress, producer, and photographer. She is most known for her roles in Nazi-era films.


Early life

Born in Stockholm, Sweden; her father, Professor Henrik Gustaf Söderbaum (1862–1933), was the permanent secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Stockholm Capital city in Södermanland and Uppland, Sweden

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the most populous urban area in the Nordic countries; 962,154 people live in the municipality, approximately 1.5 million in the urban area, and 2.3 million in the metropolitan area. The city stretches across fourteen islands where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. Just outside the city and along the coast is the island chain of the Stockholm archipelago. The area has been settled since the Stone Age, in the 6th millennium BC, and was founded as a city in 1252 by Swedish statesman Birger Jarl. It is also the capital of Stockholm County.

Henrik Gustaf Söderbaum was a Swedish chemist and secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences from 1923 to 1933.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is one of the royal academies of Sweden. Founded on June 2, 1739, it is an independent, non-governmental scientific organization which takes special responsibility for ptomoting the natural sciences and mathematics and strengthen their influence in society, whilst endeavouring to promote the exchange of ideas between various disciplines.

After both her parents had died shortly after each other, she moved to Berlin and enrolled in a theatre school.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.


Nazi era

Beginning in 1935, Söderbaum starred in a number of films with her husband, director Veit Harlan, whom she married in 1939. [1] Harlan and Söderbaum made ten films together under Joseph Goebbels. [2]

Veit Harlan German film director

Veit Harlan was a German film director and actor.

Joseph Goebbels Nazi politician and Propaganda Minister

Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. He was one of Adolf Hitler's closest and most devoted associates, and was known for his skills in public speaking and his deeply virulent antisemitism, which was evident in his publicly voiced views. He advocated progressively harsher discrimination, including the extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust.

According to Antje Ascheid, Söderbaum is frequently identified as "most singularly representative of the Nazi ideal, as the quintessential Nazi star". [3] As a beautiful Swedish blonde, Söderbaum had the baby-doll looks that epitomized the model Aryan woman. In fact, she had already played the role of the innocent Aryan in a number of feature films and was well-known to German audiences. [1] [4] :162 Her youth and beauty made her a symbol of health and purity and thus an exemplary specimen of the Nazi ideal of womanhood. [5]

In a number of her films, she had been imperiled by the threat of "rassenschande" ("racial pollution"). [6] Two such roles were Dorothea Sturm, the doomed heroine of the antisemitic historical melodrama Jud Süß , who commits suicide by drowning after being raped by the villain [7] and Anna in Die goldene Stadt , a Sudeten German whose desire for the city (in defiance of blood and soil) and whose seduction by a Czech result in her drowning suicide. [6] As a result of her watery fate in these two films, as well as a similar end in her debut in Harlan's 1938 film Jugend, she was given the mock honorary title Reichswasserleiche ("Drowned Corpse of the Reich"). [8] [9]

<i>Rassenschande</i> Nazi term for sexual relations between Aryans and non-Aryans, punishable by law

Rassenschande or Blutschande was an anti-miscegenation concept in Nazi German racial policy, pertaining to sexual relations between Aryans and non-Aryans. It was put into practice by policies like the Aryan certificate requirement, and later the Nuremberg Laws, adopted unanimously by the Reichstag on 15 September 1935. Initially, these laws referred predominantly to relations between Germans and non-Aryans. In the early stages the culprits were targeted informally, and then later on punished systematically by a repressive legal apparatus.

<i>Jud Süß</i> (1940 film) 1940 German film by Veit Harlan

Jud Süß is a 1940 Nazi propaganda film produced by Terra Film at the behest of Joseph Goebbels, and considered one of the most antisemitic films of all time. The film was directed by Veit Harlan, who wrote the screenplay with Eberhard Wolfgang Möller and Ludwig Metzger. The leading roles were played by Ferdinand Marian and Harlan's wife Kristina Söderbaum; Werner Krauss and Heinrich George played key supporting roles.

Suicide intentional act of causing ones own death

Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Mental disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and substance abuse—including alcoholism and the use of benzodiazepines—are risk factors. Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress, such as from financial difficulties, troubles with relationships, or bullying. Those who have previously attempted suicide are at a higher risk for future attempts. Effective suicide prevention efforts include limiting access to methods of suicide—such as firearms, drugs, and poisons; treating mental disorders and substance misuse; proper media reporting of suicide; and improving economic conditions. Even though crisis hotlines are common, there is little evidence for their effectiveness.

Other roles included Elske in Die Reise nach Tilsit , the wholesome German wife whose husband betrays her with a Polish woman, but finally returns, repentant; [10] Elisabeth in Immensee , who marries a rich landowner to forget her unrequited love, and in the end decides to remain faithful even after she is widowed and her lover returns; [11] Aels in Opfergang , a woman who dies after her love affair; [11] Luise Treskow in The Great King , a miller's daughter who encourages Frederick the Great; [12] and Maria in Kolberg , a peasant girl who loyally supports the resistance to Napoleon and is the only survivor of her family. [11]

<i>Immensee</i> (film) 1943 film by Veit Harlan

Immensee: ein deutsches Volkslied is a German film melodrama of the Nazi era, directed in 1943 by Veit Harlan and loosely based on the popular novella Immensee (1849) by Theodor Storm. It was a commercial success and, with its theme of a woman remaining faithful to her husband, was important in raising the morale of German forces; it remained popular after World War II.

Opfergang is a 1944 German film directed by Veit Harlan. It is based on Rudolf G. Binding's work of the same title, with alterations for propaganda purposes.

<i>The Great King</i> 1942 film by Veit Harlan

The Great King is a 1942 German drama film directed by Veit Harlan and starring Otto Gebühr. It depicts the life of Frederick the Great, who ruled Prussia from 1740 to 1786. It received the rare "Film of the Nation" distinction. It was part of a popular cycle of "Prussian films".


In the first few years after the war, Söderbaum was often heckled off the stage and even had rotten vegetables thrown at her. [13] In subsequent years, she frequently expressed regret for her roles in anti-semitic films.

After her husband was again permitted to direct films, Söderbaum played leading roles in a number of his films. These included Blue Hour (1952), The Prisoner of the Maharaja (1953), Betrayal of Germany (1954), and I Will Carry You on My Hands (1958). Their last joint project was a 1963 theater production of August Strindberg's A Dream Play in Aachen.

After Harlan's death in 1964, Söderbaum became a noted fashion photographer. In 1974 she took a role in Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's film Karl May. In 1983 she published her memoirs under the title Nichts bleibt immer so ("Nothing Stays That Way Forever"). In her later years, Söderbaum faded into obscurity but still took roles in three movies and the television series The Bergdoktor. Her last film was with Hugh Grant in the thriller Night Train to Venice in 1994. She died in 2001 in a nursing home in Hitzacker, Lower Saxony, Germany.


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  1. 1 2 Cinzia Romani, Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich p84 ISBN   0-9627613-1-1
  2. Ascheid, Antje (2003). Hitler's heroines: stardom and womanhood in Nazi cinema. Temple University Press. p. 46. ISBN   978-1-56639-984-5 . Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  3. Ascheid, Antje (2003). Hitler's heroines: stardom and womanhood in Nazi cinema. Temple University Press. p. 42. ISBN   978-1-56639-984-5 . Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  4. Fox, Jo (2000). Filming women in the Third Reich. Berg. ISBN   978-1-85973-396-7 . Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  5. Wallace, Ian (1 January 2009). Feuchtwanger and film. Peter Lang. p. 141. ISBN   978-3-03911-954-7 . Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  6. 1 2 Anthony Rhodes,Propaganda: The art of persuasion: World War II, p. 20, 1976, Chelsea House Publishers, New York
  7. Romani, Cinzia. Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich. p. 90. ISBN   0-9627613-1-1.
  8. Romani, Cinzia. Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich. p. 86. ISBN   0-9627613-1-1.
  9. Koch, W. John (July 2004). No Escape: My Young Years Under Hitler's Shadow. Books by W. John Koch Publishing. p. 155. ISBN   978-0-9731579-1-8 . Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  10. Romani, Cinzia. Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich. pp. 84–86. ISBN   0-9627613-1-1.
  11. 1 2 3 Romani, Cinzia. Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich. p. 87. ISBN   0-9627613-1-1.
  12. Romani, Cinzia. Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich. p. 93. ISBN   0-9627613-1-1.
  13. Ascheid, Antje (2003). Hitler's heroines: stardom and womanhood in Nazi cinema. Temple University Press. p. 43. ISBN   978-1-56639-984-5 . Retrieved 9 November 2011.