Kristi Söderbaum
Fictional Character
"Shtetl Days"
POD: c. 1940
Type of Appearance: Direct
Nationality: Germany
Religion: Judaism (convert)
Date of Birth: Early 21st Century
Occupation: Actress
Spouse: Veit Harlan
Relatives: Ilse Söderbaum (sister)
Affiliations: Wawolnice tourist attraction
When in character, Söderbaum used the name "Bertha Shlayfer"

Kristina "Kristi" Söderbaum was an Aryan actor in the Grossdeutsches Reich. In the 21st century, Söderbaum and her husband, Veit Harlan became historical re-enactors in the village of Wawolnice, a tourist attraction established by the Commissariat for the Strengthening of the German Populace, near Lublin, in what had once been Poland. Harlan and Söderbaum played Jewish residents of the shtetl. Harlan and Söderbaum played "Jakub and Bertha Shlayfer", the village grinder and his wife.

All the actors associated with Wawolnice were method actors, and the government insisted on near perfect attention to detail. Thus, Harlan, Kristi, and every other performer became fluent in various languages, including Hebrew, Aramaic, and Yiddish; they grew very familiar with the Torah and the Talmud and attended shul; they dressed as the historical Jews did; and they became experts in their respective fictional trades, all for the benefit of the tourists who came to stare. Kristi, a natural blonde, even changed her hair color.

Harlan and Kristi's devotion to their craft continued even after the work day had done. They used Yiddish off and on around the house, publicly stating their need to keep practicing the language or lose it, should anyone be listening in. Nonetheless, Kristi still used Yiddish words like meshuggeh while conversing with her sister.

Kristi, much as her husband, soon came to identify with her Jewish character more than her Aryan life. Initially amused by incidents such as Harlan's interrogation by an SS Hauptsturmführer, she and Harlan grew more immersed in Judaism, even going so far as to fast on Yom Kippur. She also agreed to her husband's decision to get a circumcision. While she did not always fully understand Harlan's thinking, she did join Wawolnice's de facto conversion.

Literary comment[]

Kristina "Kristi" Söderbaum (1912-2001) was an OTL Swedish-German actress who starred in the Nazi-produced "hate film" Suss the Jew (1940), directed by her husband Veit Harlan and starring Ferdinand Marian as the title character.