“Gewalt! Police!” The muffled cry floated through the silent house in Bernard Street, Russell Square, London, in the dead of night. Unbeknown to the other occupants, Polish prostitute Esther Prager was being strangled.

“Gewalt!” she cried – her last desperate cry. The word is in fact German (many Warsaw Poles spoke German) and means force, rape, or violence.

Esther was only 17. Born to a well-off Warsaw family, she had come to London to be with her married sister, Selina. But every time Selina found a respectable job for her she scornfully rejected it. Esther told her sister: “Look how beautifully girls in London are dressed – and I have to go about like this when I am more beautiful than any of them. How can I afford to be like them?”

There was only one way, she decided. She rented a room in Bernard Street and went on the game. Soon she was parading around in such finery that Selina guessed what was going on. She tried desperately to change her sister’s mind, but the younger girl refused to listen.

The high life came to an abrupt end on Saturday, October 17th, 1908. Esther’s last client was said to have been very short, slimly-built, aged about 24 and had peculiar staring eyes, “with the appearance of a clerk.”