The Battle For Berlin

DOMINIK BUTZMANN/LAIF for TIME

WASTELAND: Skaters ride a barren patch of Leipziger Platz

At the peak of its popularity in the 1920s, the Wertheim department store on Leipziger Platz in central Berlin boasted of being the biggest in Europe, the place shoppers could find "everything under one roof," from French goat cheese to Wagner opera scores. One contemporary writer even hailed the emporium, with its statues and marble columns, as the Berlin Louvre. Like so much else in Berlin, Wertheim fell victim first to the Nazis and then to the postwar communist rulers of East Germany. Most of the Jewish Wertheim family members fled Germany or were killed at Auschwitz, and the property was...

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