Weird postscript to Berlin Station 1.6: the Wertheims …

Anyway, I noted a while back that there’s no Wertheimerstr. in Wannsee and just now that there’s no Max Wertheimer Klinikum there either. However, I was wondering why so much “Wertheim” in this show or if that is just coincidence. If you combine Wertheim with Berlin you think about the famous department store (the equivalent in its day of Harrods or the Galeries Lafayette). The Wertheims were not originally from Berlin, but made their name there. They were also Jewish (the most famous Wertheim was Georg, but he had several brothers who were also involved in the business) and after attempting various legal dodges (like giving their shares in the business to non-Jewish wives), they were expropriated during the National Socialist period. Their stores were renamed. But after the war, the company still existed (without the Wertheims, some of whom had died in concentration camps, some of whom had survived concentration camps, and some of whom had ended up in the U.S.), and two stores kept that name (even though they were eventually bought out by a different retailer). One of them was on the Schloßstr., rebuilt in 1952 — the location of the Boulevard Berlin mall where the op takes place.

The attempts of the Wertheims to regain their property (see previous post about Esther’s apartment, in which I refer to the struggles over twentieth-century property seizures and the search for compensation) have been quite complex — they took part in the whole movement to attempt to sue German concerns with assets in the U.S. that took on a lot of speed in the last decade or so). My understanding is that Karstadt (the successor firm to the successor firm that operated the Wertheim stores in the postwar period) finally settled with the Wertheim heirs for about EUR 88M, with a lot of the money to be donated to charity. Here is the interesting story of the legal aspect of the whole thing.

~ by Servetus on November 21, 2016.

3 Responses to “Weird postscript to Berlin Station 1.6: the Wertheims …”

  1. Yes, former Wertheim is called Karstadt these days. and the KaDeWe would be the one department store in (West) Berlin that is also part of that chain but other than your next-door Karstadt sells more designer and high-end brands which you’d also find at Harrods or Harvey Nichols in the UK.

    • They have that wonderful food hall. Mmmmm. But I remember the jokes about it in the 90s.

      • 😉

        (The food hall is pretty good. It’s where I had my first proper ‘death by chocolate’ cake including gold shimmering decorations – Sacher Torte didn’t even come close despite being quite rich too – and my first oysters and champagne with my Mom in the early 90s.)

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