Hertie department store

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Hertie Waren- und Kaufhaus GmbH

legal form GmbH
founding March 1, 1882
resolution 1993
Reason for dissolution Takeover by Karstadt GmbH
Seat Frankfurt am Main
Branch Department store / retail

The Hertie goods and department store GmbH was until the takeover by Karstadt in 1994 one of the leading department store chains in Germany . The group headquarters was last at Herriotstrasse 4, today Campus Tower , in Frankfurt am Main . Hertie Waren- und Kaufhaus GmbH operated around 115 department stores under the names Hertie, Wertheim , Alsterhaus and KaDeWe, as well as around 35 Bilka department stores. Hertie also included the Le Buffet restaurant chain , the electronics stores Schaulandt , Schürmann and WOM (World of Music) as well as the clothing stores Wehmeyer .


Family company Tietz

The Hermann Tietz company, founded by Oscar Tietz with the capital of his uncle Hermann Tietz , opened its first shop on March 1, 1882 in Gera . It was called " Hermann Tietz's yarn, button, trimmings , white and wool store" and already had some features of modern department stores, such as fixed prices, no deferrals or letters and a diverse, cross-sector offer.

After a start-up phase of six years, the branches were opened in Weimar (1886), Bamberg , Munich (1889) and Hamburg (1896). In 1900 the company's headquarters were relocated to Berlin . Not far from what was then Europe's largest department store, Wertheim am Leipziger Platz , the Hermann Tietz company set up a competing “temple of consumption” with its own winery on Leipziger Strasse . In large, luxurious department store palaces like this one, customers were offered a new kind of shopping experience. The “Lessinghaus” was demolished for the construction of the department store on Alexanderplatz , which was inaugurated in 1904 . Little by little, the company opened ten department stores in the capital and thus had the largest sales area there . In 1912, the “Warenhaus Hermann Tietz” ( Alsterhaus since 1935 ) on Jungfernstieg followed in Hamburg .

The company Hermann Tietz OHG concentrated its business on the south and east of the German Reich, while the corporation founded by Oscar Tietz 'brother Leonhard Tietz and of the same name (from 1933/34: Westdeutsche Kaufhof AG, formerly Leonhard Tietz ) opened its branches in western Germany and operated in Belgium. After Oscar Tietz's death in January 1923, his sons Georg and Martin Tietz and their brother-in-law Hugo Zwillenberg took over the management and ownership of the company. But although Tietz Senior had "warned" urgently "against too large expansion on the basis of loans, they were now" entering into considerable financial obligations ".

Record (1928) from Hermann Tietz OHG under the Hertie own brand

In 1926 the company had 13,000 employees. At the end of 1926, Hermann Tietz OHG agreed to take over the Berlin department store company A. Jandorf & Co. , to which the Kaufhaus des Westens ( KaDeWe ) belonged. From the beginning of 1927, the Jandorf chain added around 3,000 employees. Both sides agreed not to disclose the purchase price, the Jandorf biographer Nils Busch-Petersen suspects a sum "in the high double-digit million range". The purchase price required a corresponding amount of credit from Tietz, "presumably largely with borrowed funds", which, however, were almost carried out by the banks in the 1920s .

In 1928, one year after the takeover of the Jandorf chain and one year before the global economic crisis , Hermann Tietz OHG achieved an annual turnover of approx. 300 million Reichsmarks, about the same as Karstadt . In a company publication marked by “exuberant self-confidence”, Hermann Tietz OHG proclaimed itself to be “Europe's largest department store group in its own right”.

"Aryanization" and the name Hertie

The global economic crisis caused a continuous decline in sales in all department stores due to a massive decline in purchasing power, especially among blue-collar workers and ordinary employees. When the Hitler government came to power in February 1933, the banks, associations and government prepared and enforced the most inconspicuous and smooth expropriation of companies with Jewish owners in the “ Third Reich ”. In the course of the so-called " Aryanization ", a consortium of banks consisting of Dresdner Bank , Deutsche Bank and Disconto-Gesellschaft , Bankhaus Hardy and other creditors, in consultation with the Reich Ministry of Economics, gradually expropriated the Tietz family.

Reich Economics Minister Kurt Schmitt was able to convince Hitler in July 1933 not to nationalize or dissolve the department stores anymore. In addition to maintaining jobs with the suppliers and avoiding “enormous losses by the [creditor] banks”, Ladwig-Winters suspects a third argument for Hitler's change of course: Schmitt made it easier for him to turn around by preparing for a inconspicuous, contractually legitimized departure of all Jewish partners, a contract that the banks had already prepared.

On July 24, 1933, the creditor banks founded the Hertie Kaufhaus-Beteiligungs-Gesellschaft mbH ( Hertie GmbH for short ). On July 29, 1933, the bank consortium forced Hugo Zwillenberg to   immediately resign from management and ownership by means of a formal inheritance dispute agreement. Instead, the banks used the textile department head of Hermann Tietz OHG , Georg Karg , as a representative of Hertie GmbH with a 50,000 Reichsmark deposit as one of the managing directors and shareholders of the department store group. The Hertie GmbH entered without its own capital contribution, however, had a majority share of the vote among the members.

On August 18, 1934, the banking group forced all shareholders of the Tietz family to resign as contractually regulated by the threat of loan cancellations. The Jewish shareholders had to surrender their shares to Hertie GmbH and were reimbursed 1.5 million Reichsmarks for their severely undervalued company assets of 21.5 million Reichsmarks. The "compensation of twelve million marks" rumored by Eglau, Neumann and the Munzinger archive cannot be substantiated. Karg later bought the banks' shares in Hertie GmbH in two installments, in 1936 against payment of 2.5 million Reichsmarks partly on credit and a further 50 percent in June 1940; at the same time Karg took over the debts of the Tietz group in the amount of 129 million Reichsmarks.

The short form of the company name to Hertie from the first letters of the former company name Her man Tie tz previously occasionally as a private label used for products without exact manufacturer's designation. With the establishment of Hertie Kaufhaus-Beteiligungs-Gesellschaft mbH ( Hertie GmbH for short ) in July 1933, they made the banks the official name in order to demonstrate both a change of ownership and continuity.

Post-war period: the Karg era

Department store ruins on Dönhoffplatz in Berlin (1945)

The end of the Second World War marked a turning point in the company's history. In Berlin alone , more than half of the branches were lost. However, the group also lost its locations in the Soviet occupation zone , later the GDR . The remaining branches were often destroyed by the effects of the war. However, Hertie quickly recovered from the losses suffered and expanded again. In 1948 the department stores in Munich , Stuttgart and Karlsruhe were reintegrated into the group, and in 1950 the KaDeWe was reopened. Hertie had already taken over three new branches in Stuttgart, Wiesbaden and Hamburg-Bergedorf a year earlier . The first completely new department store was built in Neumünster in 1951 , and in the same year new sales outlets were taken over in Landshut and Frankfurt-Höchst .

In 1952, Hertie took over the majority of " A. Wertheim AG " and " Hansa AG " and thus expanded its position in the areas of Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Mannheim and also in Braunschweig (new building in 1954). In order to be able to compete against the then well-established low-price department stores “ Kepa ”, “ DeFaKa ” and “ Woolworth ”, Hertie founded the low-price department store chain “ Bilka ” and continuously built up a broad network of branches. The main shareholder of "Hertie Waren- und Kaufhaus GmbH" was the "Karg'sche Family Foundation " , which later became the " Hertie Foundation ". On October 31, 1957, "Hertie Italiana srl" was founded in Milan . In 1959, “Hertie Waren- und Kaufhaus GmbH” decided to relocate the administration from Berlin to Frankfurt. The head office was initially located in building Zeil 42 (today used as the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court ) and then in a building in Frankfurt-Niederrad .

When Georg Karg died in 1972, he left behind a department store group of 72 Hertie department stores and 29 branches of Bilka department stores with a turnover of 5.1 billion DM and around 60,000 employees. Karg's son Hans-Georg Karg took over the group and initially expanded with the establishment of new branches. But “under his leadership, the department store chain mostly only made losses.” Karg's heirs Hans-Georg Karg and his sister Brigitte Countess von Norman transferred 97.5 percent of the company's shares in 1974 to the Hertie Foundation , based in Frankfurt am Main, in order to pay inheritance tax bypass. On March 1, 1982, Hertie celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding. At the time, the group only had around 55,000 employees and generated sales of around DM 6 billion. In 1989, Hans-Georg Karg founded the Karg Foundation , four years before it was sold to Karstadt in 1993.

Hertie logo with “sun” in the 1970s and 1980s

After the department store group had expanded rapidly into the 1970s and numerous new branches had been opened, including in small and medium-sized cities, sales fell massively in the mid-1980s. The Hertie Group had 123 department stores and branches until around 1984. It was not until the following years that numerous loss-making department stores, some of which had only opened a few years earlier, were closed, for example the Hertie branches in Bremen , Castrop-Rauxel , Dortmund , Emden , Hameln , Osnabrück , Ratingen and Herne-Wanne as well as the Wertheim- Branches in Hanover , Essen , Kaiserslautern and Bochum .

In addition, loss-making divisions were spun off into subsidiaries. In 1986, for example, Hertie founded the system catering chain “Le Buffet”, which had over 70 branches, most of them within their own department stores. The "NUG Optimus Lebensmittel-Einzelhandelsgesellschaft mbH" took over the food and confectionery sector.

Signet Preisland City sb around 1986

Hertie tried to convert some Bilka and Hertie branches completely to self-service. For this purpose, the "Preisland-City-SB" was founded in 1986. The Preisland concept was Hertie's inner-city answer to the hypermarkets emerging on the city gates . A total of seven houses were converted in accordance with the “Preisland” concept. The attempt to survive against the competition "on the greenfield " was largely unsuccessful.

In addition, Hertie wanted to benefit from the upswing in electronics stores that began at that time. That is why Hertie acquired the Hamburg electronics chain “Schaulandt GmbH” with 28 branches in Northern Germany and Berlin from its founder Thomas Wegner in 1987, as well as “Schürmann Elektrohandelsgesellschaft mbH”, which operated several electronics stores in North Rhine-Westphalia . In 1988 the " WOM (World of Music) Musikhandelsgesellschaft mbH" was brought into being, with which the sale of sound carriers was to be boosted by means of special music stores in large cities. A subsidiary was also founded in the clothing sector in 1988: "Wehmeyer GmbH & Co. KG", which operated around 20 branches. After the end of the GDR, Hertie took over eleven new locations in the new federal states.

Motto of the 1980s

At the end of the 1980s, Hertie tried to find partners for purchasing in the Far East in order to gain weight in negotiations. Finally, two partners were found who already had experience with purchasing groups. On the one hand there was “ Horten AG ”, which at that time was the fourth largest German department store chain after “ Karstadt ”, “ Kaufhof ” and Hertie, and secondly “ Kaufring AG ”, which had already founded a European purchasing company with Horten. In 1990 the three partners then founded the purchasing company "Sono-Centra", in which each partner held a third of the shares.

In 1970 (as one of the very first customer loyalty programs) the golden customer card was introduced, which also functioned as a credit card . It was free and had 350,000 subscribers in the 1980s . The golden customer card became the generic term for numerous similar programs. As part of the acquisition by Karstadt was this in 1996 with the club Karstadt for Karstadt - Hertie customer card together, and from 1998 to 2002 Karstadt MasterCard . From 2002, the remaining subscribers were offered the HappyDigitsCard .

Hertie published the customer magazine Hertie Journal .

1993: Takeover by Karstadt

Hertie Munich , Bahnhofplatz, from January 2006 to February 2007 the only department store operated under the name Hertie

In November 1993, after months of negotiations, the non-profit Hertie Foundation sold “Hertie Waren- und Kaufhaus GmbH” tax-free to “ Karstadt AG ” for 1.652 billion marks. The tax exemption of this transaction later became the subject of tax investigations by the State of Hesse, which were ultimately discontinued in favor of the Hertie Foundation.

In 1999 Karstadt merged with the mail order company "Quelle Schickedanz AG & Co" and became part of " Arcandor AG". Since the plan to let Hertie continue to exist as a separate division within the Karstadt department store group failed due to the steadily increasing losses of the approx. 35 Hertie stores, all Hertie branches were successively either renamed "Karstadt", closed or sold. Only the Munich department store and the branch in Berlin-Neukölln operated as Hertie until September 2007.

2005: The Hertie brand is revived by "Karstadt Kompakt"

In the late summer of 2005, Karstadt sold the smaller department stores combined in "Karstadt Kompakt GmbH & Co. KG" to British financial investors Dawnay, Day and Hilco UK Ltd. Since March 1, 2007, these branches have been called "Hertie" (see: Hertie GmbH ). On July 31, 2008, the company, which until then had operated 73 department stores across Germany, filed for bankruptcy at the Essen District Court due to the main owner's financial problems . On May 20, 2009, the meeting of creditors decided to close the 54 department stores still operated under the name Hertie and the Hertie corporate headquarters in Essen, as a rescue seemed hopeless.

2009: closings

On August 8, 2009, half of the fifty Hertie department stores were open for the last time. The remaining department stores were closed on August 15, 2009. In a campaign by the ver.di trade union on August 27, 2009, former employees of the three Hertie stores in Berlin symbolically sunk the Hertie Group's logo into the Spree .

In August 2012, the Osnabrück-based company HDK AG acquired the naming rights to the “Hertie” brand from the bankruptcy estate in order to use it for online shops in the future.


1930 in Berlin

Branches department store Hermann Tietz, according to the Berlin address book

Former Hertie department stores

Excerpt ( For department stores later Hertie GmbH from 1 October 2005 see there:  )


  • Hermann Tietz: The largest department store group in Europe in own hands. A book of visible successes. Edited by Hermann Tietz OHG. Verlag Max Schröder, Berlin 1928, 200 pages, (reprinted annually until 1932).
  • Georg Tietz: [Company] Hermann Tietz: History of a family and their department stores. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1965, (breaks off in 1923).
  • Hans Otto Eglau : Georg Karg. The Herr von Hertie . In: The cash register has to be right. So they succeeded in trading . Econ-Verlag, Düsseldorf 1972, ISBN 3-430-12325-9 , pp. 33-49 .
  • Friedrich W. Köhler: On the history of department stores. Distress and sinking of the Hertie group . Haag + Herchen, Frankfurt am Main 1997, ISBN 3-86137-544-3 ( dissertation ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Simone Ladwig-Winters: Wertheim - a department store company and its owners. An example of the development of Berlin department stores up to "Aryanization". Lit-Verlag, Münster 1997, ISBN 3-8258-3062-4 , p. 89.
  2. Inge Braun, Helmut Huber: Seduction on seven floors - The department store of the West and its history. Radio feature , co-production: RBB , DLF , August 2007, 27 p., Manuscript , (PDF; 27 p., 101 kB).
  3. ^ Wolfgang Wölk:  Jandorf, Adolf. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 10, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1974, ISBN 3-428-00191-5 , p. 332 f. ( Digitized version ).
  4. ^ Nils Busch-Petersen : Adolf Jandorf. From the people's store to the KaDeWe. Hentrich & Hentrich, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-938485-10-1 , p. 74.
  5. a b Ladwig-Winters: Wertheim…. 1997, p. 109.
  6. Ladwig-Winters: Wertheim…. 1997, p. 91, quotation from Albrecht Wertheim.
  7. Ladwig-Winters: Wertheim…. 1997, p. 150.
  8. Hermann Tietz: The largest department store group in Europe in own hands. A book of visible successes. Verlag Max Schröder, Berlin 1928, 200 pages, [reprinted annually until 1932].
  9. Ladwig-Winters: Wertheim…. 1997, p. 157.
  10. Ladwig-Winters: Wertheim…. 1997, p. 155.
  11. Ladwig-Winters: Wertheim…. 1997, p. 151.
  12. Inheritance dispute - who gets which part of the inheritance? In: anwalt.org , accessed December 1, 2017.
  13. Ladwig-Winters: Wertheim…. 1997, p. 51.
  14. ^ Friedrich W. Köhler: On the history of department stores. Distress and sinking of the Hertie group. Haag + Herchen, Frankfurt am Main 1997, ISBN 3-86137-544-3 , p. 22.
  15. a b Ladwig-Winters: Wertheim…. 1997, p. 181.
  16. ^ HO Eglau : The Lord of Hertie. In: Die Zeit , No. 48, November 27, 1970.
  17. a b Ina Neumann:  Karg, Georg. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 11, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1977, ISBN 3-428-00192-3 , p. 152 f. ( Digitized version ).
  18. Karg, Georg. In: Munzinger-Archiv , March 19, 1973, accessed on December 1, 2017, only the beginning of the article free.
  19. Ladwig-Winters: Wertheim…. 1997, p. 183.
  20. ^ HO Eglau : Georg Karg. The Herr von Hertie. P. 43.
  21. Cay Dobberke: Jewish trade history in Berlin. The warehouse king. In: Der Tagesspiegel . November 7, 2013.
  22. Ladwig-Winters: Wertheim…. 1997, p. 152.
  23. a b c Thomas Heise, Felix Kurz, Harald Schumann : Affären. Tax tricks of the Hertie heirs. In: Der Spiegel , May 5, 1999, No. 22.
  24. ^ Rudolf Kahlen: Poker for plastic money. In: The time . July 3, 1987, accessed December 1, 2017 .
  25. Gunhild Freese: Department stores: A new merger is driving the concentration process forward: Escape to greatness. In: Die Zeit , November 12, 1993, No. 46.
  26. David Schraven: Hertie Foundation gets away. In: taz , May 19, 2001.
  27. dpa : Half of the Hertie branches are closing. In: Focus .de , August 8, 2009.
  28. Last closing time for Hertie. In: tagesschau.de . August 15, 2009, archived from the original on August 18, 2009 ; accessed on January 27, 2014 .
  29. dpa / bb: Hertie lettering sunk in the Spree. In: Bild-Zeitung , August 27, 2009.
  30. dpa: restart in the network. Serviette.de takes over. In: Handelsblatt , August 2, 2012.
  31. Berlin address book: for 1930: using official sources, p. 790 1930/4795 /
  32. Hertie. (PDF; 1.75 MB) In: Initiative Friedrichstraße e. V. (Wuppertal). October 10, 2006, pp. 3–4 , accessed November 26, 2017 .
  33. Manfred Ulferts: Are department store buildings in Emden “abandoned”? ( Memento from August 2, 2012 in the archive.today web archive ). In: Emder Zeitung , December 23, 2009.
  34. Magdalene Quiring-Lategahn: Old Hertie House: Renovation should start in summer. In: The West. May 13th August 2014.
  35. Lena Stehr: Hertie ruin in Stade becomes the "new horse market". In: Kreiszeitung-wochenblatt.de , May 30, 2013; Retrieved October 10, 2013.
  36. Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Stuttgart Germany: Trading between opportunity and risk: Königstrasse is being rebuilt in many places. Retrieved January 11, 2020 .
  37. New store in Stuttgart: Karstadt Sports: Comeback on Königstrasse. Retrieved January 11, 2020 .
  38. ^ Andreas Helfer: Museum Troisdorf. Looking for a souvenir from the Hertie store on Kölner Strasse. In: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger , May 23, 2016.