Wehrmacht Brothel Glass Ashtray "Le Sphinx"
Original glass ashtray from Le Sphinx, a Paris brothel that was commandeered by the Wehrmacht during the war. The Wehrmacht and SS commandeered no fewer than 22 well known brothels (Le Sphinx was in the top 5), turning them into establishments for the exclusive use of military staff and a few compliant French officials. Le Sphinx was one of the famous upscale brothels in Paris and the occupation was its heyday.
The ashtray is in great condition, there are some minor flaws in the glass but they are not a result of aging or wear but part of the glass. They almost look like cracks but they are not. It measures about 5 1/2" across.
BRIEF HISTORY OF LE SHPINX AND BROTHELS IN PARIS:
Le Sphinx was an Egyptian themed brothel (maisons de tolérance) that opened in 1931. Brothels in Paris served all manner of perversions and oddities. Le Sphinx kept a dwarf as a permanent resident to help the girls out and entertain them if business was slow. Several accounts mentioned prominent businessmen frequenting the establishment to drink and not necessarily to partake of the ladies; sometimes men would bring their wife and children to the bar area with them. By French law, brothels were to be run by a madame (to eliminate pimps) who used to be a prostitute herself.
During the Occupation, German medics examined the girls 3 times a week to make sure they were clean. They published an official guide to the houses, and had guards posted outside the major ones when senior officials were visiting. Fees paid to the madams in charge were some of the highest in the history of the sex industry, with single visits often costing the equivalent of a senior officer's weekly pay.
Working women seemed to prefer the Germans over their own countrymen. They acted like gentlemen and tended to bring luxury gifts (champagne, chocolates and cigarettes) for their favorite girls. Madame Jamet (who ran a different brothel) said she only had good memories of the invaders, especially of the SS: "I'm almost ashamed to say it, but I've never had so much fun in my life. Those nights of the Occupation were fantastic. The brothels of France were never better looked after than when the Germans were here." Martoune, the madame of Le Sphinx, claimed that that Eva Braun visited with friends in 1932 and that Hitler himself stopped by in June of 1940 (although there is considerable doubt as to whether this is true)
All brothels were shut down in 1946 by De Gaulle because they were considered too closely tied to the Nazis. Very little remains from Le Sphinx.