Rosalie Marie Auguste Nitribitt (February 1, 1933 – October 29, 1957), better known as Rosemarie Nitribitt, was a German luxury call girl whose violent death caused a scandal in the Germany of the Wirtschaftswunder years. The case gave rise to a novel, three movies and a musical.
Early life and career
Born in Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, "Rosemarie" Nitribitt and her two younger half-sisters were raised in poor conditions by their mother in Ratingen and Düsseldorf. The girls were placed in a juvenile home and after 1939 lived with foster parents. There she was raped at the age of 11. Still in her teenage years, she began working as a prostitute. She was later sent to juvenile correctional homes, from where she escaped several times. She then moved to Frankfurt am Main, where, after a brief interlude of waitressing and modelling, she took up prostitution again and was arrested at the Frankfurt railway station in 1951.
According to people who knew her at the time, Nitribitt tried hard to disguise her humble origins in order to be able to keep up conversation in posh society and to attract more sophisticated customers. For example, she started learning English and French.
One of her regular customers gave her a car — a used Opel Kapitän — as a present. Others invited her to spend a Mediterranean holiday with them. Accordingly, she became very wealthy rather quickly, a fact which she demonstrated by buying a black Mercedes-Benz 190SL (a roadster which was to be colloquially referred to as the Nitribitt-Mercedes) with red leather upholstery in 1956; she would drive around in Frankfurt in this car to solicit customers. Also in 1956, she moved into a luxurious apartment at Stiftstraße 36. The police later estimated that she had earned about 80,000 DM in 1956 (building a single family house cost about 25,000 – 30,000 DM in Germany at the time).
On November 1, 1957 she was found dead in her apartment in Frankfurt. Her death was alleged to have occurred three days earlier. Her body showed signs of strangulation and a head wound.
She was interred at the Nordfriedhof ("north cemetery") in Düsseldorf. Her head however, was kept in police custody as evidence and later exhibited in the Kriminalmuseum ("criminal museum") in Frankfurt; it was eventually buried on February 10, 2008.
Police investigations and the trial of Heinz Pohlmann
Police investigations into the case were conducted very sloppily, with much evidence being destroyed during the first days. Several prominent citizens were exposed as her personal acquaintances, including Gunter Sachs and her close friend and benefactor Harald von Bohlen und Halbach, brother of the head of the Krupp company.
Heinz Pohlmann, a businessman and friend of Nitribitt's, became the prime suspect. He had visited her on October 29. A few days after the murder he was able to settle high debts and bought an expensive car, but could not explain the origins of the money; he provided contradictory information during questioning. He had embezzled money at his job. He was charged with her murder but acquitted in July 1960 on grounds of reasonable doubt. Pohlmann's lawyer had argued that the police had failed, on examining Nitribitt's apartment, to measure the precise temperature there, a fact which he claimed would have been essential in determining the exact time of her death. The prosecution did not appeal the acquittal.
When it became clear that the police would not be able to find the murderer it was insinuated in the media that high-ranking personalities were trying to thwart any attempts at solving the crime.
There's no evidence for the claim that Pohlmann wrote a book about the Nitribitt case after having served his prison sentence for embezzlement. In 1958, before his imprisonment, Pohlmann published some articles in the tabloid "Quick" instead, giving an explanation about the last days with Rosemarie Nitribitt from his point of view.
Nine years after Nitribitt's murder, a very similar case occurred in Frankfurt. The high-class prostitute Helga Matura, who also solicited customers by driving a Mercedes, was murdered, and the case was never solved.
In 1968, a forged stamp circulated in Germany, showing a murdered Nitribitt and the text "Zehn Jahre Trauer um R. Nitribitt" ("10 years mourning for R. Nitribitt").
Rosemarie Nitribitt in popular culture
In 1958 Erich Kuby published a novel entitled Rosemarie: Des deutschen Wunders liebstes Kind which was based on the Nitribitt case and which was used as the basis for a 1958 black-and-white movie by Rolf Thiele, Rosemary. The film starred Nadja Tiller (in the title role), Peter van Eyck, Gert Fröbe, and Mario Adorf. In this fictional film, Nitribitt is presented as just one of many entrepreneurs during the Wirtschaftswunder who wants her piece of the new fortune. She uses her charms to bring members of the West German industrial elite to her bed. There she finds business secrets and later sells them to French competitors. However, when a scandal looms on the horizon, Rosemarie realizes that she cannot beat the system.
The 1959 film Love Now, Pay Later is also based on the Nitribitt case.
In a 1996 remake of the 1958 film by Bernd Eichinger, Nina Hoss played Nitribitt. Other actors included Heiner Lauterbach, Hannelore Elsner, Katja Flint, and Til Schweiger.
2004 saw the première of the musical Das Mädchen Rosemarie at the Capitol Theater, Düsseldorf.