Kadewe neon sign

KaDeWe building





















deli counter

fresh fish


exterior of Kadewe Dept. store

In a class all its own

By Don Heimburger
Photos by the author or as noted


Someone said, "You have to visit Ka De We when you visit Berlin!"

I said, "Excuse me?"

"Ka De We, the Department Store of the West, it's really big."

Kadewe main floor

Celebrating its 100th birthday last year, this mammoth seven-story giant contains 380,000 items in a 200,000-square-foot building on the major shopping street Tauentzienstasse, in the Schoneberg neighborhood of Berlin.

If you've been to Harrod's in London, you'll have an idea of what Ka De We is like. If you haven't, be prepared to be dazzled, and spend a lot of time there. And also drop some euros. It's not inexpensive to buy there, but you can look and be entertained for a whole afternoon, or a whole day if the mood strikes.

Kadewe interior


Ka De We is the largest department store in all of continental Europe, and it draws as many as 50,000 people a day to buy, to gawk, to eat and to keep up with the latest fashions. It's not unlike a fabulous bazaar or market where everything is beautifully displayed, every item offered could be a special gift for someone you know, and the sales people are well trained to help you decide what you want. For example, the store has the largest beauty department in Europe and offers 1,500 classic and designer perfumes. It's hard to leave the store without buying something.

So what would you expect to fine in a store like this? Here's a rundown of the seven floors and what they contain:

Basement--This area is called the "Creative Market" for hobby art supplies and fabrics.

Ground floor--Big-name style goods/watches/jewelry/beauty aids such as Gucci, Cartier, Gianni, Longchamp, Armani, Cavalli, Chanel and Omega

First floor--Men's fashions/shoes/bags/luggage/ young labels and denim

Second floor--Women's fashions/shoes/young labels

Third floor--Kid's fashions/lingerie/linens/beauty lounges

Fourth floor--Electronics/gifts/kitchen tools/table linens/pillows

Fifth floor- Toys/stationary/computers/books/music/videos/ restaurant

Sixth floor--Gourmet foods, 34,000 national and international delicacies, 3,400 wines, fresh fish, 33 gourmet food stands

Bakery dept.
Grab a bite at one of the 33 gourmet stands

Seventh floor--Wintergarten restaurant which features one wall of windows for a great view.


Founded in 1905 by Adolf Jandorf, the store actually opened in 1927 with 78,700 square feet of space. In 1927, ownership changed to the Hertie Company, owned by Hermann Tietz. The Hertie Company was responsible for modernizing and expanding the store. Hertie added two new floors, but because of the Nazi rise to power in the 1930s, their plans came to a halt. The Hertie Company was mainly Jewish owned, and because of Nazi race laws, they were prevented from owning the firm.

During World War II Allied bombs ruined most of the store. In fact, one of the bombers was shot down and crashed into KaDaWe in 1943, causing the store to close. The first two floors re-opened in 1950, and the remaining five floors were completed by 1956. Once completed it became a beacon of hope for Berliners, and KaDeWe soon became a symbol of the regained economic power of Germany during the Wirtschaftswunder economic boom after World War II, as well as emblematic of the material prosperity of West Berlin versus that of East Berlin.

Between 1976-1978 the store's floor space was expanded to 144,000 square feet. Just after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, KaDaWe saw a record number of visitors. By 1996, with another floor and a restaurant added, the sales area had expanded to its present size.

In 1994, the KarstadtQuelle AG corporation acquired Hertie and with it KaDeWe. Most of the floors were renovated between 2004 and 2007 in preparation for the store's 100th anniversary.

The biggest question in visiting Ka De We is where to begin and where to end. You almost need a map of the store (pick up a store guide at the information desk when you arrive).

Happy shopping!


Marilyn, the authors, wife, at store entrance

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