Postkarte Warenhaus Gebrüder Kaufmann, Westenhellweg bei Nacht 1925
The “Gebrüder Kaufmann” department store at Westenhellweg No. 40-46, around 1927
Adressbuch Dortmund 1900, Werbung Gebr. Kaufmann
Advertising for the department store in the Dortmund address directory of 1900
Kaufhaus Kaufmann arisiert, 1937 mit-Schriftzug der Harm KG
Sketch by the new owners of alterations to be made after “Aryanisation” of the business, 1937

“Gebrüder Kaufmann” department store

The first department stores in Dortmund were opened and run by Jewish citizens of the city in the 1880s. What would become one of the biggest was the “Gebrüder Kaufmann” department store. Established at Westenhellweg No. 46 by Salomon and Hermann Kaufmann in 1883, the store was extended, following a change of ownership in 1906, right to the corner of Hansastrasse. The new main building with its characteristic rounded bays and the Hansa Arcades was one of the most attractive buildings in this main shopping street, and in the late 1920s also drew in crowds of people with its brilliant Christmas illuminations.

In 1933, however, the popular and financially successful store soon came into the line of fire of the now ruling National Socialists (Nazis). Calls for boycotts, harassment and attacks on the store eventually culminated in its compulsory “Aryanisation”: 1938 saw the business pass into “Aryan hands”, with ownership transferred to the firm of Harm KG. One of the former co-owners, Leo Jonas, who for many years was the leader of the Dortmund Jewish community, and his wife were able to flee to the United States. The other co-owner, the widow Josefine Wertheim, was murdered in Auschwitz.

Skip to content