NOT two prostitutes in 1920s Berlin

This picture can be found all over the internet being described as two ladies or two prostitutes, a so called Tauentzien team (lower class prostitutes) taking a taxi in Berlin during the Weimar Republic, in the 1920s.

I immediately had my doubts about the description of this picture, unless their job was mentioned in the original description, there was nothing about the picture that supported the claim of them being prostitutes.
But one thing I did know for sire is that it is very unlikely that this scene is taking place in Berlin.
The taxi is English, the horn is on the right hand side and it looks like the ladies are talking to someone who is sitting on the right side, probably the chauffeur as they appear to be scrambling for money to pay him with.
A car with horn and driver on the right is one that is made for driving on the left side of the road.
Something people don’t do in Germany.

But what makes it even more likely for this scene to be taking place in London is that the cab has the old London Public Carriage Office official Taxi Licence Plate.
You can see it in the left corner of the photo.

So until someone finds a story about some London cab somehow ending up in Berlin during the 1920s, all we know is that once two ladies in London took a cab and someone made this picture of it.

Having spotted that there was something wrong with the description of this picture, I started to do some research and found that it was published in the well known book “Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin” (page 28).
I contacted the writer Mr. Mel Gordon and according to him “The photograph and incorrect caption originally appeared in a German monthly UHU (1927) “.

But I couldn’t find it in the UHU magazine.
I eventually contacted the German Ullstein Bild company who owns the rights for the picture and according to their archives the picture was actually published in August 1929.
With this information I was able to find the first (as far as we know) publication of the picture.

As suspected there is no mention of the ladies being prostitutes.
All it says under the photo is; “Wievel macht’s….?”, which means as much as ; “How much is it?”.
So what we’ve got here is two women in London asking a Taxi driver what they owe him.

Interesting to note is that in the original publication the car is on the left side of the road while in later versions the picture has been flipped but the license plate altered to still be readable.

Another interesting note is that the picture was also published in several English publications claiming the photo shows two ladies leaving a polling station with what appears to be a fake ‘Polling station’ sign added to the photo.

With thanks to Yesterday’s Print on Twitter for finding the image.

Conclusion; this photo shows two women paying for a taxi fare in London in the late 1920s.
It is extremely unlikely that this was taken in Berlin and there is no evidence whatsoever that suggests that these ladies are prostitutes.
But we can’t blame those who think the photo depicted that story as it’s even being sold with that description by big photo stock companies like here Alamy;

But I still think that everyone who has shared this photo with that claim this owes the ladies an apology.

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Picture(s) found online, used for (re-)educational purposes only.
I do not own the copyrights to these images, I only share them here for educational purposes to try and make sure the real story behind it becomes known and people will stop spreading false information.
If the copyright owner objects to the sharing here, kindly contact me and I shall alter the article.
If you’re interested in using any of the images here get in touch with the copyright owners mentioned in the article.
Feel free to contact me with questions.

One thought on “NOT two prostitutes in 1920s Berlin

  1. With the flipping of the picture and the change in the license plate, I became a little confused. But, if the first picture from 1929 is the one in the book, it seems like it was flipped before its original publication…and then flipped back later in the other images. If that picture was not flipped, the horn, and presumably the driver, are on the left hand side of the car which would not match the conclusion (based on the license plate) that the photo was taken in London. Also, despite the numbers being the correct way around, the logo on the taxi license plate is backwards in the photo in the book (the unicorn is on the wrong side and the dark versus light sections of the shield are reversed). Maybe because it was published by a German company, they flipped the photo to better match German automobiles?


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