- "Do you think you can stop people from needing drugs, Detective?"
- ―Elsa Lichtmann
Elsa was born in Germany in 1917. During Adolf Hitler's rise to power, she fled to United States with her friend Lou Buchwalter after both their parents were killed by Nazis. She was detained with Lou for four years on Ellis Island in New York. She described Lou as her best friend and the "only man who ever loved me without putting his hands on me," implying that she may have been sexually abused in the past. By 1947, Elsa worked as a singer in The Blue Room nightclub. She became a drug addict and sought help from Dr. Harlan Fontaine.
Events of L.A. Noire
Traffic and Homicide
She was first introduced to Cole Phelps by Roy Earle after his promotion from Traffic when Roy took Cole out to the The Blue Room to celebrate his excellent case-cracking skills. The first time Cole saw Elsa, she was crying about Lou's death. Roy then slapped her. Cole developed a love interest in her, and frequently visited the club after solving cases to see her sing.
When Cole got the chance to speak to her about the stolen morphine, however, she was far from forthcoming. Phelps later tailed Elsa's cab at night back to her hotel with the intent to get a lead from her, though this was merely an excuse to get close to her. Despite him being married, Elsa welcomed him into her room and the two began an affair.
However, Roy Earle knew of this, and betrayed Phelps by revealing his affair with Elsa to the press in order to draw attention away from the LAPD's corrupt Vice department. After being kicked out by his wife for his adultery, Phelps went to stay with Elsa. As the two spent more time together, Elsa genuinely came to love Cole and felt a sense of joy that helped her overcome her grief for Lou and her drug addiction. Elsa was named beneficiary of Lou's life insurance, and was given a $20,000 payoff. This aroused Cole's suspicion, hence requested her to personally see Jack Kelso to help his investigation.
Elsa visited Jack at California Fire and Life and rejected the settlement. She told Jack that she had reason to believe that Elysian Fields Development was trying to cover up something that was more than an accident, and asked him to investigate. Despite the press coverage of Cole and Elsa's affair, Jack appears to be initially unaware of the connection and the two and flirts briefly with her, with Elsa agreeing to give Jack her phone number (though other than striking up a friendship, there is little to indicate that Elsa was being unfaithful to Cole; Jack, however, was clearly attracted to the singer). Jack's initial findings indicated a conspiracy involving the Suburban Redevelopment Fund and he later relayed them to Elsa around the back of The Blue Room. Elsa was then confronted by Cole due to his indirect relationship with Jack, with Cole in part expressing jealousy. Elsa, in turn, told Cole to be honest and to talk to Jack.
Later, a wounded Jack arrived at Elsa's hotel room and collapsed. After taking Jack to a hospital, she stayed by his side until he awoke. She apologized for not being completely honest, explaining that both she and Cole needed him to get to the truth of Lou's death and the conspiracy. Jack promised to continue his investigation and hoped to meet her again under better circumstances. Elsa's efforts ultimately helped Cole in many ways, providing him comfort and assurance since his disgrace and helped him settle his past with Jack.
Elsa later went to an appointment with Fontaine. She explained her recovery as well as briefly mentioning Cole and Jack, causing Fontaine to worry and stutter on his words. Catching him off-guard, Elsa confronted Fontaine by stating she knew of his involvement with Leland Monroe and that he suggested Lou worked at the housing site; insinuating in a sense Fontaine was responsible for Lou's death. Fontaine then attacked Elsa, viciously knocking her out with a crystal ball and prepared to silence her for good. She was rescued by the intervention of Ira Hogeboom who killed the evil doctor and carried Elsa to safety.
Ira took Elsa to the river tunnels and protected her by fending off Monroe's henchmen. Jack and Cole later arrived to rescue Elsa. The reunion between the three former Marines ended with Jack performing a mercy kill on Ira, who was completely mentally insane. Herschel helped by pulling out both Elsa and Jack safely out of the tunnel, however, they didn't have enough time to rescue Cole, who simply uttered a final goodbye before being killed by a violent torrent of water.
Elsa attended Cole's funeral, during which Roy Earle stated that the rumors about Phelps as lies, causing her to jump up, yelling that he was sullying Cole's memory and walked out in a fit of sorrow and rage. On her way out, Jack tried to stop her, to which she responds "You call yourself his friend".
Elsa is deeply troubled by her past. Her family were killed by Nazis, hence she fled to the United States with her friend, Lou Buchwalter. From escaping Nazi Germany to being detained on Ellis Island for four years, Elsa described her odyssey to America as going through hell. She became addicted to drugs, however, her only consolation was Lou, who was her best friend, and who remained positive and kept up Elsa's spirits.
Despite being a prominent Jazz singer in L.A., Elsa was treated with poor regard due to the fact that she was a woman, German, and a drug addict. Roy Earle is prime example of this, as he often refers to Elsa as "a German junkie whore." She is, however able to respond with equally acid remarks, once calling Earle an "Untersturmführer" (an SS rank which is roughly the same as a 2nd Lieutenant), presumably to expose his pseudo-fascist views in regards to women and foreigners. After Lou's death, Elsa effectively lost her only solace and companionship in her life, driving her further into depression and addiction. Her relationship with Cole ultimately helped her overcome her addiction and her grief for Lou, giving her inner strength to move on with her life. Her relationship and events with Cole gives her the role of a femme fatale mixed with a tragic heroine. She is a desirable woman who has a dangerous romance with the main protagonist, and is comprised from a very tragic and difficult past.
Cole Phelps: "Hopheads appear to get a free pass at this club. You all know about the morphine."
Elsa Lichtmann: "And how do you expect to prove that?"
[Lack of evidence.]
Elsa Lichtmann: "I have a rehearsal to finish. It's time for you to leave."
Cole Phelps: "I don't believe you. You knew these men."
Elsa Lichtmann: "And how would you like to prove that, Detective?"
[Lack of evidence.]
Elsa Lichtmann: "You're out of your depth here, Detective, and you're asking the wrong questions of the wrong people."
- Elsa is left-handed, as demonstarted when she writes her telephone number down for Jack Kelso.
- She is the only person to be interviewed by both protagonists.
- Despite Australian actress Erika Heynatz being a singer - she released her first album around the time L.A. Noire was first released - she does not perform Elsa's songs in the game; instead, German singer Claudia Brucken provides those vocals backed by the musical group The Real Tuesday Weld.
- Elsa resides at an apartment building, situated at 6005 West Sunset Boulevard. Her phone number is MI 221.