Berlin’s most famous trademark department store is KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens) – or department store of the West. It is Berlin’s shopping paradise, a favorite, easy to spot landmark on Wittenberg Platz. It is the second largest department store in Europe, trumped only by Harrods in London.
The KaDeWe has survived the turmoil of 20th century German history unscathed. Beginning its commercial life in 1907, the store was a constant Berlin presence, its highs and lows reflecting those of the city.
From World War I to the Golden Twenties consumer metropolis – the Depression and Nazi years and World War II – the Cold War and the 1950s “Wirtschaftswunder” – and finally German reunification in 1989. Through all the turbulence, KaDeWe retained its aura – somewhere between consumer temple and Berlin institution – intact.
In the years of Germany’s “economic miracle”, economic recovery was underway and the new-look KaDeWe included the gourmet Food Hall, with a new touch of luxury and flair. In the immediate reunification days in November 1989 it was literally flooded by the largest numbers of visitors in its history, eager for a taste of consumer culture Western style.
KaDeWe has eight floors, each one focused on a different type of merchandise.
- The ground floor is all Beauty Accessories. Some of the services offered include beauty salons as well as nail and foot spas.
- The so-called “Luxury Boulevard” is also situated here, with Bulgari, Burberry, Cartier, Céline, Chanel, Chopard, Dior, Fendi, Gucci, Hermès, Miu Miu, Montblanc, Longchamp, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Rolex, Tiffany & Co., Tod’s, Vertu, Wellendorff and Yves Saint Laurent stores.
- The 1st floor is Men’s Apparel.
- The 2nd floor is devoted to Women’s Fashion.
- The 3rd floor is referred to as “the Loft” and represents Germany’s biggest luxury shoe department. Women’s leather goods and lingerie are sold here, too.
- The 4th floor contains interior and design items, as well as the in-house Wedding and Gift Registry services.
- The 5th floor is arts, entertainment, electronics, toys, office supplies, and souvenirs.
- The 6th and 7th floors are entirely devoted to food, and advertisements tout the place as having two football fields of food. The 6th floor is called delicatessen and is famous for its wide variety of food and beverages. It has around 110 cooks and 40 bakers and confectioners supplying more than 30 gourmet counters. The top floor (added in the early 1990s) includes a winter garden with a 1000-seat restaurant surrounded by an all windowed wall offering a view over the Wittenbergplatz.
The department store, owned by Jewish retail entrepreneur Adolf Jandorf, first opened on Wittenberg Platz in 1907 with a 24,000sqm retail surface. Designed by architect Emil Schaudt, it served the increasingly affluent middle class neighbourhood of the new Tiergarten district.
In 1927 it was bought by the Warenhaus Hermann Tiez AG from whose initials the German retail giant HERTIE gets its name becoming part of the group. Founders of HERTIE, the Jewish family Tietz, in business since 1882, made retail history by pioneering the new business model, acquired by Hermann during his time in the US; large turnovers at small profit and selling at fixed prices.
In 1931 two floors were added to the original five and more extensions came in the 1990s, particularly the top of the world rooftop and Wintergarten where the self-service restaurant is today.
The Karstadt Quelle group took over Hertie in 1994, and the last spurt of renovation in 1996, produced its present retail space of over 60,000sqm and two floors of gastronomic bliss with a view, extremely popular with Berliners and visitors alike.
Address: Tauentzienstr. 21-24, 10789 Berlin