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In the first part of the movie he kills her family and she escapes. He is known as the Jew Hunter and never lets any Jews escape him. Later when he meets her under her assumed name Emmanuelle he makes references that suggests that he does recognize her. However the conversation could also have meant nothing. If he did actually recognize her I find it very strange that he didn't do anything about her.

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If you are talking about their first meeting in the hotel, I could not remember that Coln ever talked about the story to Shoshana(Emmanuel)! Please help me remember! –  Mistu4u Dec 31 '12 at 18:04
    
@Mistu4u That's just it he didn't specifically mention the story. He made what could be veiled allusions to it. " You must have the cream." Her family was shot while hiding in a dairy farmer's house. There were other things he mentioned I forget what they were specifically, but it leaves the impression that he knows who she is. –  Kevin Howell Dec 31 '12 at 18:09

5 Answers 5

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I believe it depends on the viewer whether to take it as an indication to the accident or not. When we as viewers of the movie see the whole conversation happening in every moment we feel the fear of revelation of Shoshana's original identity to the Colonel, given we are already been introduced with his cunning and cold but cruel behavior. We feel such because the whole story is shown from the start how she survives from the unnecessary chasing of the Colonel (from her point of view). So when after a long time Shoshana meets with him, we as well as her, feel fear to see the executioner of her family and if he might recognize her! So maybe the Colonel did not identify her (chances is 99%). But we (Shoshana and us) automatically feel fear. His ordering milk for her or the last sentences by him:

I did have something else to ask you. But right now, for the life of me, I cant remember what it is. Oh well, must not have been important.

pushes us in the wrong direction out of this fear. As long as the conversation went on, we hold our breath with her and when he leaves, we loose it! So I think the conversation was nothing regarding him identifying her. He was just trying to dig into her individuality as a quality security officer (Though bad in nature, we can't ignore his responsibility to his work!). But the fear of blowing her cover makes us make out unnecessary meaning and that is how a winning script is!

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Personally, I think he knew who she was. However, by that point he was already making his plan to betray Hitler and make a deal for himself to end the war, so either his letting her go was because he figured she would be taking her revenge herself, or (more likely) he let her go because she was the one person who managed to get away from him, and he let her go out of respect for her remaking her life as she did (remember, for all the atrocities Landa does in the film, he considers himself a 'detective' doing his job rather than someone who wants to see all Jews killed). –  Barry Hammer Jan 2 '13 at 11:03
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@BarryHammer Your comment is different enough that you really should have given it as an answer. –  Kevin Howell Jan 17 '13 at 16:55
    
I 100% agree with Barry Hammer. After conversing with fellow coworkers regarding this particular scene in the movie, and after much debate, we agreed this was the case. Personally, it's as if Barry was listening to what I was saying the whole time! His depiction and interpretation of this scene is exactly that of my own, verbatum! Bravo. –  user6658 Nov 7 '13 at 12:12

I'm almost positive he knows it's her.

Those little things he says are just like his personality to poke at her. Inquiring deeper than most people about her aunt and uncle and how they died. Ordering milk for her knowing she had been taken in and saw her family murdered at a dairy farm, watching her as he said it.

Jews in hiding weren't hiding because no one would notice them, they probably made the mistake of leaving behind pictures, The state probably had photo ideas. And Landa doesn't seem like the type to forget a face.

And that last thing he couldn't remember that must have just not been important. He ended the movie betraying Hitler. That's not a split second decision. He had probably known at that time the state of things in the war and was planning his betrayal at that time

Why exert himself more than needed?

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I seem to be in the minority here, but I actually think Col. Landa did not recognize Shosanna. He did not get a good look at her in the beginning of the film. And if he suspected she would try to get revenge, he would have to think it would be primarily directed at him. Why allow somebody to potentially interfere with his plans to defect? He wouldn't know she planned to burn down the theater only after he left. I think the various pieces of evidence in the restaurant (cream, milk, forgotten question) are just for suspense.

With that said, I'd love to hear a definitive answer from Tarantino.

EDIT: Another answer of "presumably not" is given in the IMDb FAQ:

Did Col. Landa know that Shosanna was the girl he let escape when he meets her at the cafe?

Presumably not. He never saw her face while she was running away from him, so there is no way he could have known that she was the girl, although we don't know how detailed were the files Landa had on the Dreyfus family. It is possible he had a very good description of her or even a photo. Being a very skilled detective and interrogator, he acts as polite and respectful as possible and never shows all his cards until he is certain about the outcome. The beginning of the film showed Landa having a friendly conversation with Monsieur LaPadite whom he suspected of hiding the Dreyfus family, but asked for certain details about them to see how Mr. LaPadite responded, pretending to not really be sure about the details of the Dreyfus family was hint enough for Landa to know he was lying and confirm that LaPadite was hiding the Dreyfuses. Keep in mind that Landa also knew who Aldo, Donny and Omar were simply by interrogating the swastika marked soldiers. So he could very easily have known or suspected that Madame Mimieux was in fact Shosanna Dreyfus, simply by height, hair colour, eye colour and descriptions he had gathered from interrogations of other Dairy Farmers in the area. Perhaps the reason he ordered the milk and the cream was that he suspected she was Jewish, but as she kept her calm and even tried the strudel, cream and all, he either dismissed his theory or chose to ignore it. It's also possible, going with the assumption that Landa did indeed know who she was, that Landa was just testing her nerves. The more he prolonged the stress of him sitting there with her, the more uncomfortable she'd likely become. Not to mention she probably didn't have much of an appetite with him sitting there. While she kept her calm, it was also obvious she was still nervous. Perhaps when he said he had something else to ask her...then he paused...gave her an intense stare was just to gauge her reaction. As a cat toys with a mouse. Either for his own amusement or to see if she would try running at which point he could apprehend her.

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Yet the answer from IMDb isn't completely sure either and gives feed to both theories. –  Napoleon Wilson Jan 26 at 13:24

Of course he knew who she was and would be insulted that you presumed otherwise. Throughout the movie he is 10 steps ahead of everyone. Also, he likes to mess with people and make them squirm. In this case, he wants to make sure everything goes according to (his) plan.

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They werent just hiding in a dairy farm, The Dreyfus family were dairy farmers, this adds significance to the cream.

Second, Landers eyes when he looks at her and says there is something else take on a chilling intensity exactly like when he got setius with the father in the opening scene.

I think he was considering in real time whether to expose her, weighed up his plans as mentioned above and decided aginst it.

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