Remembering A Certain Scandalous Mercedes 190SL And Its Owner
Photography by Petra Sagnak
Rosemarie Nitribitt may not ring any immediate bells, but she was arguably at one point one of Germany’s most well-known Mercedes Benz drivers in the 1950s. Her fame was garnered not on the track or in a Stuttgart engineering office though, but instead was the consequence of being Frankfurt’s most prominent and premier prostitute. A profession adopted following a tumultuous childhood marred by abusive foster “care,” Nitribitt put herself on the street, and quickly ascended to minor celebrity status. In part due to her unabashed and rather open practice of her practice, Nitribitt’s notoriety can also be largely a accredited to her commuter car of choice: a black Mercedes 190SL.
Criss-crossing the city in a map dotted with politicians and other denizens of society’s uppermost crust, it was only a matter of time before the young woman in the black Benz about town made a name for herself, and the car for that matter—as 190SLs were commonly referred to as Nitribitt-Mercedes at the time. She had built for herself a lifestyle intertwined with high society and decadence far-removed from her unstable upbringing, and was now galavanting around Frankfurt’s high-end hotels and the like with a rather open character as to how this had come to be.
Especially given the timeline—remember this was happening in the Germany in the decade following WWII, so things were not exactly all free and glitzy at the time—Nitribitt’s escapades were remarkably scandalous for the environment they took place in. Imagine being in a country that’s recently lost a world war and is trying to rebuild in that grim grit-teethed way that follows, and then in that grey and sober mental image plop in a sleek convertible sports car driven by an open prostitute making much more money than the average citizen. In hindsight it seems bound for a breaking point, though there is no telling of the true motives involved in her unsolved murder.
Heightening her salacious reputation, Nitribitt’s eccentric life came to conclusion in her posh Frankfurt apartment, where she was found days after her death in an investigation that ultimately proved fruitless. Her’s is a story of living on the fringes of society to the utmost; the abused and directionless adolescent come high-end call girl who delighted in life’s luxuries when they became attainable. Regardless of your moral stance on the way she conducted her life, she certainly led it with gusto.
In tribute to Rosemarie Nitribitt, the talented Petra Sagnak has put together this beautiful black and white gallery for your enjoyment.