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The Attack on Berlin Department Stores (Warenhaeuser) After 1933

Simone Ladwig-Winters

  1. In addition to archival material of the Deutsche Bank, available in the Bundesarchiv, Abt. Postdam (in the meantime moved to Berlin-Lichterfelde) for the first time in the wake of reunification, I was able to use the copy of Georg Wertheim's diary in the Archiv Stuerzebecher (cited in the following as: Wertheim, Diary). I am grateful to Georg Wertheim's son for permission to use this material. The unpublished diary has three parts: a family history that must have been compiled around 1905; a chronological diary that notes important business events but focuses primarily on personal events such as travel, illness, and the like; .and some comments by Georg Wertheim on his relationship to Kaiser Wilhelm II.
  2. This article is based on my dissertation, which goes into greater depth on the complex of problems discussed here; see Simone Ladwig-Winters, Wertheim — ein Warenhausunternehmen und seine Eigentuemer. Ein Beispiel der Entwicklung der Berliner .Warenhaeuser bis zur ”Arisierung,” Muenster, 1997.
  3. Peter Stuerzebecher, "Warenhaeuser,” in: Berlin und seine Bauten, Architekten- und Ingenieurverein zu Berlin, ed., Berlin, 1978, part VII, vol. A, p. 4.
  4. Dr. F. Wollny, "Die Frage der Warenhaeuser,” in: Berliner Fragen — Etwas auf dem Weg in das neue Jahrhundert , Berlin, 1901, pp. 110-111.
  5. Stuerzebecher, “Warenhaeuser,” p. 8.
  6. Wertheim, Diary, pp. 26, 27.
  7. David Landes, The Unbound Prometheus, Cambridge, Mass., 1969, p. 243.
  8. For a detailed account of this, see Klaus Strohmeyer, Warenhaeuser, Berlin, 1980, p. 80; .see also Ladwig-Winters, Wertheim, p. 37.
  9. According to Georg Wertheim's sales account book, which can be found in the Archiv Stuerzebecher, sales rose from RM1.3 million in 1890, the first year business was conducted in Berlin, to RM33.6 million in the year 1901!
  10. The information in this table was drawn from a variety of sources; on Hermann Tietz, its sales, and its number of stores, see Hermann Tietz, Warenhaeuser — ein Spiegelbild volkstuemlicher Verkaufsstaetten, vol. 31 of the Industrie-Bibliothek, Berlin, 1928, p. 83. The information was derived from other information, since this source is very reticent in providing particulars. For Wertheim, the information was taken from the sales book. Otherwise, see Heidrun Homburg, "Warenhausunternehmen und ihre Gruender in Frankreich und Deutschland oder: eine diskrete Elite und mancherlei Mythen,” Jahrbuch fuer Wirtschaftsgeschichte (1992), p. 208.
  11. In 1932, the Wertheim company applied to defer its payments on its tax debt, but the application was rejected; Bundesarchiv, Abt. Potsdam (hereafter BAP), R 80 Ba 2 P 5200, Doc. 16, Georg Wertheim's statement to the banks from the year 1936.
  12. Wertheim, Diary, p. 72.
  13. The protective society of the larger businesses (Schutzgemeinschaft der Grossbetriebe und verwandter Gruppen e.V.), made the various decisions jointly; see BAP Reichswirtschaftsmininsterium (RWM), P 13859, Doc. 3-18, entitled "Der Boykott in der  Judikatur". 
  14. ADGB-Restakten, Archive of the former HistorischKommission zu Berlin, NB 430, Doc. 004 from 3 March 1932, "Arbeitsbericht des Vorlaeufigen Reichswerberates.”
  15. Heinrich Uhlig, Die Warenhaeuser im Dritten Reich, Cologne, 1956, p. 207.
  16. ADGB-Restakten, Historische Kommission zu Berlin, NB 429, Doc. 014, n.d.
  17. Ladwig-Winters, Wertheim, pp. 111-126, 161.
  18. Interview with Ulrich A. Tietz, son of the chief executive Leonhard Tietz, in November 1994, New York; see also Uhlig, Warenhaeuser im Dritten Reich, p. 76.
  19. Uhlig, Warenhaeuser im Dritten Reich, p. 76; but also BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 24404, Aktennotiz Stauss/Frank from 13 March 1933.
  20. Comité des Délégations Juives, ed., Das Schwarzbuch, Paris, 1934, p. 365.
  21. Das Schwarzbuch, p. 366.
  22. Supplement to the Hannoverschen Anzeiger, 4 February 1933.
  23. Central Verein Zeitung, 23 November 1933.
  24. See Chronologie, Ladwig-Winters, Wertheim, p. 457-458.
  25. BAP, RWM 31.01 P 13862, Doc. 363, 11 September 1933. This ruling was reaffirmed on 16 December 1933 with a circular of the Ministry of Economics; see Uhlig, Warenhaeuser im Dritten Reich, pp. 100-101.
  26. BAP RWM 31.01 P 13860, Doc. 59, 1 September 1933. In a circular, Schmitt, the Minister of Economics, came out against a shopping ban for National Socialist party members; see the documents of the Ministry of Economics.
  27. Einzel-Handel - Amtliches Organ des Handelsschutzverbandes der Pfalz, vol. 34, pp. 52- 54, in BAP RWM 31.01 P 9227, Doc. 15-17.
  28. Einzel-Handel, vol. 34, pp. 52-54; however, skepticism is justified regarding these numbers.
  29. Ladwig-Winters, Wertheim, p. 163.
  30. Ibid, p. 206.
  31. Wirtschaftsblatt der Industrie- und Handelskammer zu Berlin, 22 August 1936, vol. 23/24, p. 1122.
  32. Enacted 1 June 1933 (RGBl. I, S.326).
  33. BAP RWM 31.01 P 13862, Doc. 332, response on 27 April 1934 of the Ministry of Finance to the letter of the Ministry of Economics (30 January 1934)! Total sales for the branches of merchandise affected by this were estimated at RM 2.4 to 2.5 billion; see P 13861, Doc. 244- 248, manuscript of a letter of the RWM, 30 January 1934.
  34. BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 5218, Doc. 42, appendix to a report for Hertie advisory board members (Beiratsmitglieder), dated 3 January 1934.
  35. Uhlig, Warenhaeuser im Dritten Reich, p. 116; and BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 11482, 25 January 1935.
  36. Contract from 29 July 1933; Appendix 7 of the claim for reparations (Klage auf Wiedergutmachung), filed in 1948.
  37. BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 11482, articles of incorporation (Gesellschaftsvertrag), 24 July 1933.
  38. Ladwig-Winters, Wertheim, pp. 149-158.
  39. The central source on this point is Uhlig, Warenhaeuser im Dritten Reich, pp. 115-119. All other authors cite this source.
  40. The volume of these deliveries had come to RM132.8 million in 1932; see Uhlig, Warenhaeuser im Dritten Reich, p. 115.
  41. BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 5218, Doc. 124, "Motivbericht.”
  42. Wertheim, Diary, pp. 33.
  43. The highly informative files of the Deutsche Bank in the Bundesarchiv Potsdam on the process of "Aryanizing” Wertheim consist mainly of the personal collection of Emil Georg von Stauss. As the person in the center of events, he carefully recorded and filed the most important details. The precise documentation ends with his death in 1942, so it is scarcely possible to reconstruct the dramatic events between 1942 and the war's end, as well as during the post war period.
  44. His role was first appreciated in the OMGUS documents (Office of Military for Germany, United States Finance Division - Financial Investigation Section); see Ermittlungen gegen die Deutsche Bank, 1946/47, reprinted Noerdlingen, 1985, especially pp. 45-47. Later, Henry A. Turner also devoted attention to him in German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler, New York, 1985. Recently his position was portrayed in a more critical light (albeit only to a limited extent), in Harold James' commemorative publication on the Deutsche Bank; see Die Deutsche Bank 1870-1995, Lothar Gall, Gerald D. Feldman, Harold James, Carl-L. Holtfrerich, Hans E. Bueschgen, eds., Munich, 1995, especially p. 352.
  45. BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 57, Doc. 91, Der Abend, 18 October 1930.
  46. BAK, Aussenstelle Zehlendorf (former Berlin Document Center), see Personalakte Franz von Papen (1080076713), for a query from a representative of the Fuehrer to the Reich Treasurer of the NSDAP, from the year 1938, as to whether various representatives, including Stauss, had become members by then. Since no party member's card existed at that time, it seems reasonable to conclude that he did not join the NSDAP. However, this illuminates only the formal level, because Stauss did support the substance of NSDAP policy.
  47. OMGUS, in Ermittlungen gegen die Deutsche Bank, p. 46.
  48. BAK Aussenstelle Zehlendorf, 29 November 1939, Akte Ahnenerbe (8260001465).
  49. Wertheim, Diary, p. 69.
  50. BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 24404, Notation Stauss 11 and 13 March 1933; see also Ladwig-Winters, Wertheim, p. 113-114.
  51. The author conducted a number of interviews with him, in Berlin and at his home in Switzerland.
  52. Ladwig-Winters, Wertheim, pp. 189-195.
  53. Rudolf Lenz, Karstadt. Ein deutscher Warenhauskonzern 1920-1950, Stuttgart, 1995, pp. 173, 176.
  54. Ladwig-Winters, Wertheim, pp. 141-142.
  55. At Wertheim, this was the Deutsche Revisions- und Treuhandgesellschaft; Ladwig-Winters, Wertheim, p. 203.
  56. ADGB-Restakten, Archiv Historische Kommission, NB 430, Doc. 021, n.d. under the title: "Das Warenhaus in der deutschen Volkswirtschaft.
  57. Ladwig-Winters, Wertheim, pp. 142-143.
  58. BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 5200, Doc. 78/81/96, 1936.
  59. BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 5200, Doc. 138, 7 November 1936.
  60. Interview with A. Wertheim, 1987.
  61. According to an internal report on Wertheim's sales. No figures exist for the year 1934.
  62. BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 5200, Doc. 88, Bankenkonsortium to Wertheim, 27 July 1936.
  63. BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 5200, Doc. 42, 6 February 1934.
  64. The properties were located at Voss Str. 7/8/9/13/14/17/18, see Zentrales Grundbucharchiv Hohenschoenhausen, Berlin, which contains the land register entries for these properties.
  65. BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 5201, Doc. 156, 5 May 1938, Stauss to Wintermantel and Wieland, Deutsche Bank.
  66. On these events, see Ladwig-Winters, Wertheim, pp. 229-296.
  67. Interview with A. Wertheim, 1987.
  68. BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 5205, Doc. 37, 9 March 19.
  69. Ladwig-Winters, Wertheim, pp. 281-282.
  70. BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 5205, Doc. 29, 16 December 1937.
  71. Avraham Barkai, Vom Boykott zur Entjudung, Frankfurt a.M., 1988, p. 94.
  72. BAP R 80 Ba 2 P 5201, Doc. 261, 6 August 1938.
  73. Wertheim, Diary, p. 85.
  74. Dirk van Laak, "Die Mitwirkenden bei der "Arisierung.” Dargestellt am Beispiel der rheinisch-westfaelischen Industrieregion 1933-1940,” in Die Deutschen und die Judenverfolgung im Dritten Reich, Ursula Buettner, ed., Hamburg, 1992, pp. 231-257, especially 249.
  75. Avraham Barkai, "Max Warburg im Jahre 1933. Missglueckte Versuche zur Milderung der Judenverfolgung,” in: Juden in Deutschland. Emanzipation, Integration, Verfolgung und Vernichtung, Peter Freimark et al., ed., Hamburg, 1991, p. 391.
  76. Helmut Genschel, Die Verdraengung der Juden aus der Wirtschaft im Dritten Reich, Goettingen, 1966.