The Pascha was a 12-storey 9,000 square metre brothel in Cologne, Germany. With about 120 prostitutes, over 80 employees and up to 1,000 customers per day, it was the largest brothel in the world. It closed in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The brothel was opened in January 1972 in the Hornstraße, under the name "Eros Center". It was Europe's first high-rise brothel. The city of Cologne wanted to eliminate the red light district "Kleine Brinkgasse" in the city centre and issued a licence to build the new brothel on land owned by the city in the outskirts of town. The prostitutes sued against closure of the Kleine Brinkgasse area and ultimately lost. In 1995 the owner of the Eros Centre changed after foreclosure, and the new name "Pascha" was introduced. They later added houses under the same name in Salzburg, Munich and Linz.
The house rents 126 rooms on 7 floors to prostitutes for a fee of 180 Euro per day, which includes meals, medical care, and the 20 Euro of tax that authorities collect per prostitute per day (including Cologne's "pleasure tax" of 6 Euro). The women come from many countries; about 30% of them are German. They typically sit outside of their rooms and negotiate with customers who wander the hallways. Some of the women live in their rooms, others rent a second room to stay in, while still others stay in their own apartments in Cologne.
The house is open 24 hours a day; customers of the prostitutes pay an entrance fee of 5 Euro and then negotiate directly with the women, who work independently and keep all of the money. One floor is reserved for low-cost service and another one for transgender prostitutes. The house also contains a regular hotel, a table dance nightclub with separate entrance, several bars, and a separate club-style brothel on the top floor.
In 2003, oral sex and intercourse cost about 50 Euro. The brothel advertises a money-back guarantee in the case of unsatisfactory service.
In June 2003 a Thai prostitute was stabbed to death by a customer in the Pascha; she managed to press the alarm button in her room and security personnel caught the murderer. In January 2006, another prostitute was attacked by a customer with a knife. The woman working next-door alerted security and the perpetrator was caught; the victim survived.
After a police raid of the brothel in April 2005, it was reported that a gun and some cocaine was found and 23 people were arrested, most of them because of suspected violation of immigration laws. Further it was reported that four of the prostitutes were between 14 and 15 years old. The brothel was not fined however, since the girls, who were from Africa, looked older and carried fake documents showing an older age.
A bizarre story was reported in August 2005: two women, 19 and 29 years old, had rented two rooms in the Pascha and announced over the internet that they would pay any man 50 Euro for sex; the goal was to find out who could have more partners in one day. In the end they had sex for 11 hours with a total of 115 men, and about 1,700 others had to be turned away. The German tabloid Bild turned the story into a headline the next day. The women insisted that they had paid the men from their own vacation money and had not received any compensation from Bild or Pascha. The 19-year-old woman later worked in the club brothel of Pascha.
Before the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Muslims protested that the brothel insulted Islam when it advertised using a 24-metre-high by 8-metre-wide poster, mounted on the side of its building, showing a half-naked woman and the flags from all of the countries which qualified for the world cup, including those of Muslim nations. The slogan on the poster read Die Welt zu Gast bei Freundinnen (The world as guest with girlfriends), a pun on the slogan for that year's World Cup, Die Welt zu Gast bei Freunden (The world as guest with friends). The protesters compared the poster to the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons. In response to the protests, and threats of violence, which began on 21 April 2006, the owners blacked out the flags of Saudi Arabia and Iran (both of which include words from the Quran), though the flag of Tunisia (which does not show any scriptural text) was left alone.
In March 2007, the Pascha announced that senior citizens above the age of 66 would receive a discount during afternoons; half of the price of 50 Euro for a "normal session" would be covered by the house.
In September 2007, a Turkish customer tried to set fire to the Pascha by igniting gasoline in the entrance area; he also carried a number of Molotov cocktails. He had earlier had a conflict with a prostitute and security personnel and returned with 10 accomplices. He received a suspended sentence of two years in prison.
In 2008, Pascha offered free entrance for life to the brothel and the night club to men who agreed to have Pascha's logo tattooed on their arm; about forty men took them up on the offer.
In December 2008, three of Pascha's bouncers beat up an Albanian man who supposedly had ignored an order to stay away from the house and who might have been involved in the bouncer scene. The three men received fines and suspended sentences of 18 months for aggravated assault.
On Mother's Day 2011, the brothel organised a tour for women; female guests are normally not admitted to the establishment.
The Pascha filed for bankruptcy in early September 2020. Prostitution was outlawed in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia from the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, which led to authorities repeatedly renewing fortnightly closure orders. This, according to owner Armin Lobscheid, made it impossible to continue the business or make financial plans.
Like a Pascha (2010) (Swedish: Som en Pascha) is a documentary by Svante Tidholm looking at the crisis of masculinity from a feminist point of view. It was filmed at Pascha over the course of three years. The film features interviews with the manager, an employee, a prostitute, a customer and some footage of a rooftop orgy at the brothel. Tidholm remained critical of the business.
- „Die Welt zu Gast bei Freundinnen“, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 8 June 2006. (in German)
- "All inclusive" für Mieter und Gäste, Allgemeine Hotel-und-Gaststättenzeitung, 8 October 2005. (in German)
- "Pascha: One of Europe's biggest brothels goes bust". BBC News. 3 September 2020. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
- Lustsilo am "Goldenen Horn", WDR Stichtag, 11 January 2007. (in German)
- "Welcome to the World Cup 2000... and sex", Daily Star Sunday, 16 October 2005
- Andreas Gustavsson (8 January 2010), "Orgasmgaranti i Köln", ETC.se (in Swedish), archived from the original on 17 January 2010 (first published in 2006)
- Steffen Kopetzky (2003). "Im Baumarkt der Lust. Deutschland extrem (13): Ein Besuch im Kölner "Pascha", dem größten Bordell der Republik Archived 23 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine", Süddeutsche Zeitung, 3 April 2003. (in German)
- Prostituierte im Pascha erstochen, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, 14 June 2003. (in German)
- Hilfe für blutendes Opfer, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, 14 September 2006. (in German)
- Pascha-Razzia: Jüngstes Mädchen gerade 14 Jahre alt, koeln.de, 28 April 2005. (in German)
- Keine Strafe für „Pascha“ Archived 19 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Kölnische Rundschau, 23 May 2005. (in German)
- Der Bettkampf, Der Spiegel, 29 August 2005. (in German)
- "German brothel ad angers Muslims". BBC News. 25 April 2006.
- Christian Parth (24 April 2006). "Pascha von Vermummten bedroht". Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger (in German). Archived from the original on 4 September 2012.
- German Brothel Offers 50-Percent Discount to Senior Citizens, Spiegel Online, 15 March 2007
- "Brandanschlag auf Pascha-Frauen", Express.de (in German), 10 September 2007, archived from the original on 18 May 2011
- "Im "Pascha" gezündelt", Kölnische Rundschau (in German), 28 July 2008, archived from the original on 19 July 2011
- "Tätowiert – freier Eintritt im Puff", Express.de (in German), 13 November 2008, archived from the original on 24 July 2011
- "Schlägerei zwischen Bordell-Türstehern". Kölner Stadtanzeiger (in German). 3 February 2010. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012.
- "Für 50 Cent in den Puff", Express.de (in German), 1 December 2009, archived from the original on 11 February 2013
- "Fantasien im Bordell-Hochhaus". Kölner Stadtanzeiger (in German). 10 May 2011. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012.
- "250 Polizisten durchsuchen Kölner Großbordell". Die Welt (in German). 6 September 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
- Oliver Meyer, "Wir sind am Ende" Europas größter Sex-Club: Kölner Pascha stirbt den Corona-Tod, Express, 3 September 2020. (in German).
- Rodney Perkins (10 March 2010), "LIKE A PASCHA Review", Twitch Film, archived from the original on 14 March 2010
- "Som en Pascha", SVT, archived from the original on 19 June 2010
- Official web site
- Press and TV reports
- Interview with Pascha's hair dresser (in German)
- Interview with Pascha's manager (in German)