Consumer cooperative Berlin

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Consumer cooperative Berlin and the surrounding area
legal form registered cooperative
founding 1899
Seat Berlin - Lichtenberg , Germany
management Chairman of the Supervisory Board:
  • Karl Kauermann


  • Heiderose Reimer
  • Mareen Joachim
Number of employees 14 (end of 2014)
Branch Trading company

Main building of the consumer cooperative Berlin on Josef-Orlopp-Straße

The consumer cooperative Berlin and the surrounding area e. G. - also Konsum Berlin for short - is a retail trade or consumer cooperative that was founded in 1899 from several predecessor cooperatives and consumer associations . The consumer Berlin was up to the political changes in 1989, the largest consumer cooperative in the GDR and the fourth largest worldwide. Today Konsum Berlin is particularly active in the area of ​​administration and management of real estate owned by the cooperative.


Founding and development until the end of the Second World War

The first producer-consumer cooperatives emerged in Great Britain , with which the small craft businesses protected themselves against the products of the fast growing industry. In Germany, the first cooperatives were founded as civil associations around 1850. In the 1860s, small purchasing cooperatives emerged in Berlin and the outlying communities at the time, which mainly bought large quantities of food and items for the household and sold them to registered members at low cost. Any surplus was distributed to the members at the end of the year. This concept developed simultaneously with the establishment of numerous factories and was mainly used by working-class families. Over the course of several years around 40 such consumer cooperatives came into being, with names such as Konsumverein Berlin-Nord ( Wedding ), Biene, Caution, Voran . Around 1895 the members intensified their efforts to combine the numerous small cooperatives into one larger one. The association promised to achieve even lower purchase prices, but this entailed a greater administrative burden. At the social level, state reforms were announced in these years, parties were founded. Its supporters wanted to use the political influences that a strong consumer cooperative could exert for their socialist ideas, as the following appeal makes clear:

“The man in the union, the wife in the consumer cooperative! So both complement each other in the struggle for the social uplift of the working class. "

- forward from April 4, 1909

So in 1899 the consumer cooperative Berlin und Umgegend e was founded. G . , from which the consumer cooperative Berlin und Umgegend e. G. arose.

Drawing by Heinrich Zille on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Berliner Konsumgenossenschaft, 1924

In 1908, the consumer cooperative Berlin and the surrounding area , based in the municipality of Lichtenberg, already had more than 10,000 members and had an annual turnover of one million marks (adjusted for purchasing power in today's currency: around 6 million euros). After the end of the First World War , the consumer cooperative experienced a steady economic upward trend. Sales rose, further delivery points were opened and land and the Sperenberg estate as a children's rest home were acquired. In 1927, members without a purchase were supported by the consumer cooperative with a total of 60,000  Reichsmarks from surpluses. In the 1928/1929 financial year, around 170,000 people were members of this community of solidarity ; the equity totaled almost six million Reichsmarks (adjusted for purchasing power in today's currency: around 21 million euros).

During the Nazi era , the new rulers persecuted consumer cooperatives as “remnants of Marxist economic forms”. Even before they came to power , the National Socialists formed the fighting community of the commercial middle class against department stores and consumer associations . The SA and the Kampfgemeinschaft purposefully smashed window panes from consumer shops. After Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933, the attacks and repression intensified. The law on price reductions (Discount Law) passed on November 25, 1933 limited reimbursements to three percent of sales, which significantly reduced the attractiveness of membership in a consumer cooperative. Members of consumer cooperatives were put under pressure by Nazi organizations with "de-registration offices". In 1934, National Socialist propaganda began to undermine trust in the security of savings deposits at the consumer cooperatives. As a result, numerous members withdrew their savings. This was followed on May 21, 1935 by the law on consumer cooperatives, which ordered the dissolution of all “non-viable” cooperatives. Like a number of other, especially large, consumer cooperatives, the Berlin consumer cooperative was also affected and announced the decision to liquidate it on September 25, 1935 .

The consumption in Berlin from 1945 to 1989

New consumer sales point in Berlin, 1946

When the Second World War came to an end, all occupying powers had banned associations, mass organizations and parties. But the order No. 176 of the Soviet military administration of December 18, 1945 enabled the immediate re-establishment or continuation of the consumer cooperative , which was now called Verband Berliner Konsumgenossenschaften GmbH . Numerous houses, especially in downtown Berlin, were destroyed and food was scarce. The city administration had to issue ration cards so that every family received the necessities of life. This was the situation in which the members of the consumer cooperative were also able to shop in their own shops, but special services or reimbursements were out of the question for the time being. To this end, the cooperative organized cultural events, as can be learned from a newspaper advertisement: “International cooperative day from 27.6. until July 4th, 1948 in Friedrichstadt-Palast , Theater am Schiffbauerdamm , Circus Barlay and housewives afternoons in the individual districts. "

The founding of the GDR and the special role of the East Berlin districts led to the fact that from 1950 onwards, Konsum Berlin was almost exclusively made up of residents from the eastern districts of the city or who joined them. (In the western districts, the members of the former Berlin consumer cooperative were monitored by the police and therefore mostly left this solidarity organization. With the Co-op , a consumer cooperative was later created.)

Consumer sales point from the 1960s in Berlin-Treptow; Outside (above) and inside view

From the 1950s the consumer cooperatives were incorporated into the GDR planned economy; their cooperative independence was thus only formal and legal. The guidelines from the Ministry of Trade and Supply were implemented from 1949 onwards by the "Verband Deutscher Konsumgenossenschaften eGmbH" (later: "Association of the Consumer Cooperatives of the GDR") as the "central executive and economic organ of the consumer cooperatives".

The consumer societies handled about 20 percent of national retail sales around 1950, which increased to about 30 percent by 1958 (when grocery cards were abolished). In 1952 the organization now known as Konsum Groß-Berlin eGmbH opened its first self-service shop in Berlin-Treptow .

At the beginning of the 1950s, the company's own meat and canning factory began to produce and the first self-service shops were set up. In 1952, the Berliner Konsum had 848 sales outlets and opened its first self-service shop in Berlin-Treptow. In 1960 the cooperative wholesale had to be given up in favor of the state wholesale trade. In 1968 the Lichtenberg bakery had to be transferred to state ownership. In the following years, the Berlin consumer cooperative was deprived of other important objects such as the arable hall, the market hall, the construction workers hotel and the construction workers supply.

With the full price alignment between the new sales outlets of the trade organization (HO) and consumption, as well as the gradual disappearance of private businesses, membership in consumption became attractive. The members had to pay a one-time share of 50 marks when they joined the cooperative, but at the end of each year they received a pro rata remuneration for sales, which for a long time amounted to three percent of the value of the items purchased in the consumer shops and was settled with consumer brands . In 1989 it was a uniform 1.6 percent.

Until the end of the GDR, sales outlets in large Berlin companies were added to the existing grocery stores. At the end of 1989, the Berlin consumer cooperative had around 280,000 members, 14,000 employees, 785 sales outlets, 62 department stores, 11 department stores and 79 club restaurants, a hotel and two production facilities. In addition, the Berlin consumer cooperative operated eight kindergartens, a day nursery, a medical center, five children's holiday camps and five holiday homes. Overall, it achieved a turnover of around three billion marks .

The time between 1990 and 2001

From 1990 onwards Konsum Berlin entered the economic and monetary union from the system of state planned economy, with dramatic effects. Suppliers were no longer able to provide the required goods on time and sales fell by around half. The losses were offset by high personnel and material costs.

The first meeting of representatives met on November 24, 1990 and among other things decided to give the cooperative its traditional name “Konsumgenossenschaft Berlin und Umgegend eG” (Konsum Berlin).

The attempt to improve the market position by buying the West Berlin Bolle food retail chain failed, whereupon Konsum Berlin separated from Bolle after a short time.

In 1991, increased competition and a lack of own funds made the situation of the cooperative even worse. As a result, Konsum Berlin gave up the operation of numerous sales outlets, restaurants and its own production facilities and parted with around 7,000 employees. Soon afterwards Konsum Berlin was forced to give up its own trading activities completely and closed the last sales point on September 18, 1992.

Project development and property developer activities now formed the main business areas of the Berlin consumer cooperative, and a cooperative-owned travel company (K-Tours) was founded. In 1999 Konsum KIB Investitions- und Beteiligungs GmbH was founded as a subsidiary of the cooperative to manage the new activities .

First losses and bankruptcy proceedings in 2004

In 2002 it became known that in the 2001 financial year for the first time in seven years the real estate business had generated an operating loss of 4.6 million marks .

The KGB and its subsidiaries in 2006
The KGB and its subsidiaries in February 2009

An expert opinion by Ernst & Young from 2003 showed that liquidity gaps that had appeared in previous years could only be filled by attracting new members. At first, little of the problems penetrated the outside world, because the member credit was shown with dividends of 6 percent, and for the centenary of the KGB even an additional bonus percent. A minimum share was 50 marks, up to 500 shares could be acquired. In the years up to 2001, double-digit million amounts of member credit were raised annually, with the six percent dividends that seemed a lucrative investment for many members. The limit for business credit was doubled when the euro was introduced , so it was now possible to subscribe to 25,000 euros. It was not clear to many underwriters that this was not a deposit-protected capital investment, but the cooperative's liable equity, i.e. entrepreneurial risk capital .

In October 2003 the Berlin consumer cooperative had to file for bankruptcy. In March 2004 insolvency proceedings were opened, which led to the temporary dissolution of the company. During the insolvency proceedings, parts of the real estate assets had to be sold and the members' contributions of 57 million euros had to be fully offset against the losses. Only on this basis were the creditor banks willing to waive part of their claims. The responsible district court in Charlottenburg approved the continuation of the consumer cooperative , which was to be financially restructured by around 2012.

Due to the mismanagement, the consumer cooperative had lost thousands of members; at the end of 2007, 103,129 members were still counted. Own real estate company was spun off (HRA 39213), the consumer Berlin Immobilien GmbH & Co. KG . A second and a third real estate company followed in March and April 2007.

In the course of the bankruptcy or through the insolvency plan, the total member credit of 57 million euros was offset against the above-mentioned liabilities of around 110 million euros. Thousands of members lost their nest egg, some of which had been saved for a long time, for their old age. Although the full liquidation of the cooperative could be prevented by new contracts with the banks, according to a calculation by the board of directors it will take about 42 years until these member credits are fully valuable again. According to rough, simplified calculations by cooperative experts, it will even take up to 114 years for the business assets to regain their full value. This was confirmed to the rbb in a later interview by the CEO, who is still in office today. The increase in value begins with the addition to the business assets from current profits from 2012. So the entire member capital will not be fully valuable until 2054 at the earliest, if company profits actually arise. The results of 2009 make this positive development appear rather improbable: The consumer cooperative with its three real estate subsidiaries reported a loss of around 2.7 million euros; according to the business plan, a profit of 1.2 million euros was planned.

Consumption Berlin since 2007

The renovation in terms of economic reconstruction began in 2007, the basis of which was completed in 2007. To this end, the Charlottenburg district court granted the application for the annulment of the insolvency proceedings. In the Berliner Zeitung you could read about the status of the renovation: “The consumer cooperative Berlin und Umgegend eG, which is active in property management, will be continued. This was decided by the association's meeting of representatives on Wednesday evening after the bankruptcy proceedings were lifted. After the restructuring, which is now considered to be completed, the company can now work independently again. ”In the first few years, any surpluses generated should remain in the company to build up reserves .

With the end of the 2011 financial year, the statutory reserve of around 14 million euros was set up as planned, so that the replenishment of the written-off business assets from the cooperative's annual surpluses could begin from the 2012 financial year. Since then, an annual write-up has been made from the full distribution of annual surpluses.

The cooperative closed the 2013 financial year with an annual result of around 366,000 euros, Erste and Second Konsum Immobilien GmbH & Co. KG with around 600,000 euros, and Third Konsum Immobilien GmbH & Co. KG with around minus 1.3 million euros.

Construction of own buildings

Middle part of the administration building
Side entrance with KGB cartridge

Around 1900, the Berlin consumer cooperative acquired an area of ​​around 124,000 square meters between Rittergutstraße (today: Josef-Orlopp-Straße ), Ruschestraße and Bornitzstraße. The architect Leberecht Paul Ehricht was commissioned to design a representative administration and board building as well as a row of apartment buildings and a bakery in the courtyard. On May 29, 1910, the foundation stone was laid for the commercial building, which was completed in 1913. A four-storey building wing in the style of neoclassicism with a three-axis central risalit and a hipped roof was created. The plastered building is emphasized on the street side by three portal-like entrances that lead to the apartments of the board members. Above it is a bay window with four larger than life male figures made of sandstone, which depict work and trade in an antique form .

A loggia on the top floor with a segmented arched gable and a copper-clad angular roof tower form the further decoration of the building. In the foxer of the reception hall with wall and ceiling decorations, the jewelry fountain 4 youngsters and the staircase systems have been preserved. Wooden wall paneling, built-in cupboards and a large meeting room are also part of the original equipment that has been preserved.

Staircase in one of the first consumer residential buildings

In addition to the administration building, five equally high residential buildings were built in an adapted but simplified architectural style, which were ready for occupancy in 1914 and whose apartments were given to members of the consumer community . Several warehouses for textiles, glass and ceramics as well as their own large bakery were built in the extensive courtyard area. The bakery delivered 100,000 fresh breads to the consumer sales points every day . Later, the cooperative had its own sausage factory built in Rittergutstrasse.

After the First World War and the overcoming of inflation , Konsum , as it was now briefly called, had complete apartment blocks built in Ruschestrasse and Bornitzstrasse and a welfare building in steel frame construction as an intermediate building between the administration building and the residential row in Rittergutstrasse . A second bakery, a boiler house and a workshop building with its own gas station, designed by the architect Otto Wettstein , completed the development on the Lichtenberg area. All production buildings and workshops are equipped with yellow or red bricks blinded. The industrial railway in the courtyard area parallel to Rittergutstraße , which was built at the end of the 19th century and also served as a railway connection to the other factories in this new industrial area, provided a good transport connection to the consumer facilities.

View from the courtyard of all buildings of the Berlin consumer cooperative in Josef-Orlopp-Straße
(from left: corner of the workshop building, behind the DHL car the main building, welfare building, left brick building bread factory with connection to the second bread factory, boiler house with chimney)

The buildings mentioned have survived the wars and extensive use for almost a hundred years. After 1990 the former workshop building on Ruschestrasse was sold and reconstructed by the investors. It now serves as an office and commercial building.

The administration building still belongs to Konsum Berlin. The first residential buildings on Josef-Orlopp-Straße and the residential buildings built in the 1920s on Ruschestraße and Bornitzstraße were transferred to independent housing associations. The entire building ensemble and the residential buildings are under monument protection .

Other properties owned by the consumer cooperative were (selection): a large bakery in Berlin-Spandau (1929–1931) and a consumer department store at Oranienplatz 4/10 (1930–1932) (both complexes executed by Max Taut and Franz Hoffmann ). After 1990 a hotel on the Müggelsee , several shopping arcades and a few smaller sales outlets in larger buildings were added.


  • Jan Feustel : Walks in Lichtenberg. (= Berlinische Reminiszenzen , Volume 75.) Haude and Spenersche Verlagbuchhandlung, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-7759-0409-3 , pp. 36–38.
  • Institute for Monument Preservation (Ed.): The architectural and art monuments in the GDR, capital Berlin, II. Henschelverlag, Berlin 1984, p. 160, 187 f.

Web links

Commons : Konsum Berlin and surroundings  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Short biography of H. Reimer ( Memento from September 2, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  2. Cooperative Register , Berlin
  3. ^ A b Jan Feustel : Walks in Lichtenberg. P. 36.
  4. ^ Chronicle on the cooperative's website, 1845–1914
  5. a b Chronicle on the cooperative's website, 1930–1935
  6. ^ Burchard Bösche , Jan-Frederik Korf: Chronicle of the German consumer cooperatives. 150 years of consumer cooperatives in Germany. 100 years of the Central Association of German Consumer Cooperatives V. Hamburg 2003, pp. 23-45.
  7. a b website showing the consumer cooperative in the Wedding district; on; accessed on January 16, 2016.
  8. ^ Gerhard Rönnebeck: The consumer cooperatives of the former GDR - a critical analysis , Institute for Cooperatives at the Humboldt University in Berlin, 1994, ISBN 3-929603-15-2 , pp. 13-17
  9. ^ Chronicle on the website of the cooperative, 1945 to 1989
  10. ^ Burchard Bösche, Jan-Frederik Korf: Chronicle of the German consumer cooperatives. 150 years of consumer cooperatives in Germany. 100 years of the Central Association of German Consumer Cooperatives V. , Hamburg 2003, pp. 23-45
  11. Wolfgang Fabricius: History of economic self-help , point 2.4.2
  12. Stefan Loipfinger: Comrades ran to capital ( Memento from June 24, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  13. a b Chronicle on the cooperative's website, 1990–2003
  14. ^ Burchard Bösche, Jan-Frederik Korf: Chronicle of the German consumer cooperatives. 150 years of consumer cooperatives in Germany. 100 years of the Central Association of German Consumer Cooperatives V. Hamburg 2003, pp. 23-45.
  15. a b Consumer Fund 1 . In: Welt am Sonntag , July 22, 2000, Welt-online; Retrieved February 5, 2009
  16. ^ Chronicle on the cooperative's website, 1990 to 2003
  17. ^ Burchard Bösche, Jan-Frederik Korf: Chronicle of the German consumer cooperatives. 150 years of consumer cooperatives in Germany. 100 years of the Central Association of German Consumer Cooperatives V. , Hamburg 2003, pp. 23-45
  18. ^ Welt online, news from July 3, 2002; Retrieved February 5, 2009
  19. Ewald B. Schulte: 11 Konsum Berlin can start again. Insolvency proceedings ended / shares of the members initially without value . In: Berliner Zeitung , March 2, 2007.
  20. Press release of March 1, 2007: Berlin consumer cooperative successfully restructured; Insolvency proceedings ended / the meeting of representatives approves the restructuring plan ( memento of September 2, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  21. History on the website of the consumer cooperative Berlin; Retrieved February 5, 2009
  22. Short history of the consumer cooperatives in Germany ; Page 4 (PDF; 426 kB)
  23. Information about the establishment / existence of the second consumer real estate company as an extract from the commercial register (HRA 39262)  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ; Retrieved February 5, 2009@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  24. Information about the establishment / existence of the third consumer real estate company in a company database; Retrieved February 5, 2009
  25. rbb , Politmagazin Klartext, 2008, Abgesahnt despite insolvency
  26. rbb , Politmagazin Klartext, November 24, 2010: Consumers disappointed members of the cooperative
  27. Electronic Federal Gazette
  28. Information on the fundamentally fulfilled condition for averting insolvency; Membership circular of April 25, 2007.
  29. Konsum Berlin can start again. In: Berliner Zeitung , March 2, 2007.
  30. Membership circular from January 2014.
  31. Membership circular from June 2014.
  32. ^ Chronicle on the cooperative's website
  33. Annual financial statements of the Berlin consumer cooperative and Konsum Immobilien GmbHs & Co. KGen;
  34. ^ Jan Feustel : Walks in Lichtenberg , p. 38
  35. Building ensemble of the KGB in Josef-Orlopp-Straße 32-54 and adjacent streets (five individual buildings)
  36. KGB residential buildings on Josef-Orlopp-Strasse
  37. Consumer department store in Berlin-Kreuzberg
  38. Consumer magazine from August 2003

Coordinates: 52 ° 31 '22.6 "  N , 13 ° 29' 11.6"  E