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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 12:50 GMT 13:50 UK
Germany's 'queen of erotica' dies
Beate Uhse pictured with models
Beate Uhse: pulled sex-shops out of the dirt
The founder of Germany's most successful sex-shop chain, Beate Uhse, has died aged 81.

She was suffering from a lung infection in hospital in the Swiss town of St Gallen.

Ms Uhse was buried in a family ceremony. A public memorial service will be held in the north German town of Flensburg on 3 August. The date of her death has not been released.

There are around 80 Beate Uhse shops across Germany selling sex toys and erotica and her name is known to 98% of the population.

Pilot

Born in 1919, Uhse had a remarkable childhood.

She was brought up by her mother who was one of the first woman doctors in Germany and instilled in her an open approach to sexuality.


Beate Uhse succeeded in pulling erotic-shops out of the dirt through her open and serious approach

Company spokeswoman
She left school aged 16 to become a pilot with the Luftwaffe.

In the final days of the war she flew the last plane out of Berlin, landing in the northern region of Schleswig Holstein where she set up her business.

Initially she sold "Script X" pamphlets with information on birth control which expanded into a mail order business.

In 1962 she set up the first sex shop in Flensburg.

Success

Her company was phenomenally successful, despite repeated attempts to crack down on its activities.

It became a public limited company in 1981 and was registered on the Frankfurt stock exchange in 1999.

It now has 1100 employees across Europe, 777 in Germany alone.

Ms Uhse remained chairwoman of her company right up to her death and was still working at her desk a month ago.

"Beate Uhse succeeded in pulling erotic-shops out of the dirt through her open and serious approach," a spokeswoman for the company said.

See also:

05 Jul 01 | Business
Cashing in on porn boom
07 Jun 99 | The Company File
Porn brokers go public
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