Berlin: Major Mall Opens on Nazi-expropriated Jewish-owned Site

Wertheim department store, grand prewar Europe shopping site, was taken by Nazis in 1937. New $1.3B mall is part of city's effort to build tourism and broad economy.

Nice, but not the main attraction: Atrium of the Mall of Berlin shopping center on opening night, September 24, 2014.
Nice, but not the main attraction: Atrium of the Mall of Berlin shopping center on opening night, September 24, 2014.Credit: Reuters

It was prewar Europe's biggest shopping site – until the Nazis forced its owners to sell and seized the property.

On Thursday, a ceremony acknowledging those Jewish owners marked the reopening of that space, the Wertheim department store, now called the Mall of Berlin, media reports say.

Twenty-five years after the Berlin Wall was destroyed, "we've finally managed to close the gap where the great Wertheim store once stood," Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit told some 10,000 people at the opening ceremony, according to Reuters.

The mall, built at a cost of nearly $1.3 billion, covers 100,000 square meters (1 million square feet) and houses 270 stores.

The developer, Harald Huth, plans to add another 30,000 square meters to the mall and add luxury rental apartments to the complex, Bloomberg News reported.

The mall stands east of where the Berlin Wall divided the city during the Cold War and near the site of Hitler's bunker, reports say.

The original store was built in 1896; the Nazis expropriated it from the Wertheim family in 1937. Photos of that original store hang in the new complex, Bloomberg reported.

As a broader economic matter, Berlin has become a popular destination for tourists and has built many hotels to accommodate them. Like Dubai in the Middle East Berlin has also built a number of malls to build its reputation as a shopping site and strengthen the local economy, Bloomberg reported.

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