Trebinje taboo sex: From oriental fantasy to brothel

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If Amsterdam is known worldwide for its street red light district, where everything happens in public, with us in Trebinje is things are a little different—everything happens in, secret, and sex is a taboo which is rarely spoken of in public. Nevertheless, Trebinje  does have its sex stories that have come to light over the years.

One of them  goes as follows in 1890,the father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, came to Trebinje. He had been in correspondence with a friend who was a military doctor stationed in Trebinje. This friend complained to Dr. Freud that his patient, an older Turkish Bey, was expressing certain forms of depression and apathy, and he wanted Dr. Freud’s professional opinon on the matter. Freud theorized suppressed feelings in humans (as base problems, sex) from which he derived his well-known theory of the Oedipus Complex.

Dr. Freud and the military doctor visited the old Ottoman Bey at his house near Trebinje. It was summer, and the Bey sat in the garden in front of the house, smoking tobacco and drinking Turkish coffee. The Bey looked old and sad. In an interview when questioned by Freud about his feelings, he told him that he had a harem of women, and that he imagined having relationships with them, but he was old and could not physiologically have intercourse – and for this reason, he felt sad.

This fascinated Freud,  corroborating even more his theory that repressed feelings were based on the problem of sex. Later, Freud discovered several more such cases and put forward a new theory called “Oriental fantasy.”

According to Trebinje writer Ljubisa Anđelića  in his book Gold Necklace, the first brothel in Trebinje was opened in 1942 at the height of World War II. The brothel was run  by a Trebinjac named Hiko and his Hungarian wife,  Etelka.

On the ground floor there were the public rooms of the house, each with a number on the door, and a larger bar. At the bar, which served  various drinks, was  a flamboyantly designed  album whose pages were pictures of girls posing in the nude. The album was available for customers to choose  a girl to take back to one of the numbered rooms. The girls often appeared at the bar themsleves  in tight dresses of various designs and colors.  At the beginning, mostly   Italian officers and soldiers in green uniforms took advantage of  brothel services. These men were always noisy and cheerful, looking for entertainment.

But there were also young men from the town who hid from relatives, and acquaintances in order to go to the “wartime brothel “.

The girls who earned their living at the brothel , came  from various parts of the country to Trebinje. Most of them were from Slavonia, Bosnia, and Vojvodina. They were young and beautiful. But since they were continuously working nights, they were also very tired. Laura was the most beautiful girl that Mama Etelka used for advertising. On Saturdays,  the main market day, she went shopping with Laura, who wore an almost transparent dress, under which were outlined her harmonious curves. The girl was so eye-catching that  she was a walking advertisment  the brothel.Unmarried Trebinjci were not immune to the brothel and  devised ever new ways  to arrive unnoticed at the brothel. One wealthy craftsmen from the Old Town Trebinje even dressed in women’s clothing in order to disguise himself while entering the brothel. These men didn’t complain about spending money to “win” a young girl from the brothel, and so experienced a change in their monotonous married lives. Even some married men from Dubrovnik came to the brothel.

Before the capitulation of Italy (at the end of 1943), an Italian captain named Mario took , a black-haired girl named , racial Rosalia , took her out of the public house in Dubrovnik with the intention to marry her in Italy. Later, it was rumored that the handsome captain after spending a few days with  Rosalia in Dubrovnik, the handsome captain secretly  sailed the Adriatic Sea to the Apennines!

Sometimes two men would even get into a fight at the brothel over a girl and they were pulling out their guns,girl would have to come between them and reconcile the two man!

In order to ensure that the girls maintained their health,  a small man in a black suit, Doctor Rudolf Levi, would come to the house to check on them.

At the beginning of October 1944, when the partisans entered the city, thoroughly frightened girls greeted the liberators -on the stairs , under the house.  What later happened to them was never exactly known.It was been said that partisans took them in Dubrovnik when they liberated city. Someone say that some of the girls were accused for providing sexual services to the occupying soldiers, but it is not known with certainty what happened to the brothel girls in the end.