Europe's biggest store marks 100 years

1st March 2007, Comments 0 comments

1 March 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Europe's biggest department store and one of Berlin's most famous landmarks celebrated its 100th anniversary on Thursday with a giant birthday cake. Thousand of locals and foreign visitors scrambled to grab a slice of the six-metre-tall delicacy as portions were dished out at the KaDeWe, a stone's throw from the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm boulevard. "The KaDeWe has a great deal of flair," enthused Masha Aleschina, 20, after a tour of the six-storey building. "I've lived in Lon

1 March 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Europe's biggest department store and one of Berlin's most famous landmarks celebrated its 100th anniversary on Thursday with a giant birthday cake.

Thousand of locals and foreign visitors scrambled to grab a slice of the six-metre-tall delicacy as portions were dished out at the KaDeWe, a stone's throw from the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm boulevard.

"The KaDeWe has a great deal of flair," enthused Masha Aleschina, 20, after a tour of the six-storey building. "I've lived in London, Paris and New York, but for me it still ranks as one of the leading stores in the world."

Rob Haring, 46, from Zoetermeer in Holland, visiting Berlin with his wife and two children, agreed. "We've only been here three hours, but already we can say we've shopped at the KaDeWe," he said.

Businessman Adolf Jahndorf first opened the "Kaufhaus des Westens" in 1907. Although the store was located in a less well known shopping area of Berlin at that time, it soon caught on with the public.

The whole of Berlin came to admire the fashions and decorations in its brightly lit windows. "You did not go to the KaDeWe just to buy things, you also went there to see and be seen," said Antje Gless, 65.

The biggest store of its kind on the continent, the KaDeWe's history has been turbulent, like that of Germany's. It was struck by wartime bombs and also had an American airplane crash into its patio in November 1943.

Although something of the glamour and grandeur of the prewar years was absent, some 180,000 visitors turned up for its "re-opening" in July 1950.

Located in the western part of the city, the KaDeWe soon become a proud symbol of West Berlin's postwar recovery.

The store sold just about everything, and its food department on the sixth floor became legendary. If the wild boar roast you wanted for a special occasion was too small, you could purchase the whole animal, hide and all.

Its fashion, perfumery, porcelain, and music departments also helped give the store an aura of exclusiveness.

Dozens of congratulatory messages have been arriving at the KaDeWe in its centenary year, including one from Kaethe Boehm, 97, a former Berliner, now living in Australia.

She first paid a visit to the KaDeWe 80 years ago in 1927 when, she claimed, she was treated to a "new dimension in shopping. It was an experience I was never to forget."

When the store first opened in 1907 customers could shop to their heart's content over a sales space of around 24,000 square metres, purchasing anything from pins to model dresses and cooking pots to caviar.

Today it occupies almost 50,000 square metres of sales space - an area big enough for an Olympic Stadium, and two soccer stadiums as well.

DPA

Subject: German news

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