“So it isn’t some fancy club or something?”
“Well, it’s fancy, its a fancy department stall.”
“So like Harrods?”
“Yea, I guess you could say that.”
From the subversive walls of street art, I moved on to explore the diametric opposite in high life of Berlin, the high-end department stall of KaDeWe. When the advertisement for KaDeWe first appeared in front of me on the train, I brushed it off as an advertisement for some hip event or club. The full name of KaDeWe is the ‘creatively’ named Kaufhaus des Westens, or Department Store of the West. It counterparts include Harrods of London, Nordiska Kompaniet in Stockholm and Galeries Lafayette in Paris.
Despite its name, KaDeWe is more than a century old. It first opened in 1907 with a 24,000 sqm building, although its name is emblematic of what happened after. The store changed hands in 1927 to be owned by a company with a co-founder of Jewish origin. The store was hence under constant political siege during the reign of the Nazi’s. It was heavily bombed by the Allies at the end of the War and was re-opened in 1950, with the building fully ready in 1956. KaDeWe’s rebirth came at the time of West Germany’s economic miracle, its prominence came with political symbolism too – the clear example of the growth in material wealth that West Germany was facing compared to East Germany.
It was, as described by Reuters, Berlin’s temple to consumerism.
A fancy department store is clearly different from a typical one. Just the number of chocolates available…. slurp…slurp…
But that wasn’t really what I wanted to see, even if the chocolates just looked so damn tempting. KaDeWe is particularly well known today not for the shopping to be done but for its amazing gourmet food hall at its top floor (also here and here).
Need I say more? 😉
My eyes were filled, but now my stomach was hungry, and so I went out of KaDeWe to get some street food.
ON THE MAP