Whore song

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Book publication: Dirnen- und Gassenlieder. Ed .: Hugo Egon Strasburger. Zurich: 1903

The dirnenlied is a specific genre of song whose subject matter revolves around the life or figure of the prostitute and the prostitution milieu and which flourished in the first third of the 20th century in particular on the stages of cabarets and cabarets . The term appears for the first time in Hans Ostwald's Das Berliner Dirnentum (Leipzig 1905–1907) and in the collection Lieder aus dem Rinnstein (EA Berlin 1903/1908).

Whore songs in the narrower sense are role songs in which a prostitute reports about her own life from a first-person perspective. Whore songs in the broader sense are songs that are thematically related to the prostitute milieu - e.g. B. pimp ballads, milieuchansons u. a.

The genre is born from the spirit of French naturalism in the Cabarets des Montmartres - in particular by the French chansonnier Aristide Bruant , who is the first known chansonnier to sing about the life of prostitutes and pimps on Montmartre. Soon afterwards, his disreputable chansons became known in the German-speaking world through the French Diseuse Yvette Guilbert .

The German bohemian cabaret took over the genre from the French pioneers. The authors who wrote famous harlots' songs included Margarete Beutler , Otto Julius Bierbaum , Bertolt Brecht , Leo Greiner , Leo Heller , Karl Henckell , Jakob van Hoddis , Friedrich Hollaender , Klabund , Alfred Lichtenstein , Sigmar Mehring , Walter Mehring , Egon Hugo Strasburger , Kurt Tucholsky , Frank Wedekind , Erich Mühsam , Georg Latz , Martin Drescher, Ada Christen , Fritz Binde , Oscar Wiener , Ernst von Woliehen , Richard Zoozmann .

In the wench, the bohemian found a radical figure fighting against the moral values ​​of the bourgeoisie. In her portrayal, the prostitute confronts the bourgeois ideal of femininity, the de-sexualized Madonna mother who is an attribute of her husband. She is the anti-ideal, the incarnation of free sexuality, the independent female entrepreneur.


  • Roger Stein : The German dirnenlied in literary cabaret from 1901-1933. Böhlau, Cologne, Weimar, Vienna 2006.
  • Wolfgang Ruttkowski : The literary chanson in Germany. Francke, Munich, Bern 1966.
  • Wolfgang Ruttkowski: The dirnenlied. Description of a genus. In: Acta Humanistica. 25/1, No. 22, March 1995, pp. 296-327.


  • Hugo E. Strasburger: Whore and street songs. Zurich 1903.
  • Leo Heller: From sleeping and pounding. Songs from the north of Berlin by Leo Heller. Delta, Berlin 1921.
  • Hans Ostwald: Songs from the gutter . Rösl, Munich 1920.

Web links

Wikisource: Dirnenlieder  - Sources and full texts