Read Time: 4 min 29 sec
In Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s -founder of the Republic of Turkey- newly and freshly Turkey, many youngsters were being sent to some European countries such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. The goal of blending the cultures of Anatolia with the culture of European countries was to elevate the Republic of Turkey to the level of contemporary civilization. That was the reason why Sabahattin Ali was on the train which entered Berlin on November 30th, 1928. (He was a Turkish writer and poet who influenced Turkish literature after the Republican period.)
“There is a bazaar called Wertheim. When viewed from one end, the other end is not visible! It is larger than a neighborhood! Rumor has it that there are five thousand employees in it… God bless!” He documented all these feelings in a few words in the Mufassal Germenistan Seyahatnamesi (Joint Germanic Travel Book)
(The Detailed German Travel Book was written in the book "Sabahattin Ali" and published in 1979 in the publication of Cem).
(www.kultur24.de, View of Wertheim Bazaar from Outside)
Sabahattin was amazed as soon as he saw the architecture of the building, whose roof was made of glass, and, within, were 80 elevators indeed carrying people.
Wertheim Shopping Center in Leipziger Square, partially completed in 1896 and perfected by architect Alfred Messel in 1906, was the largest market in Europe with a retail area of 108,000 square meters at that time. The masterpiece of the era, founded by Georg Wertheim, minimized the difference in purchasing power between social strata, in that era, by making clothing products produced by tailors for high sums accessible to everyone. And, also, by offering its visitors a wide range of products and the opportunity to examine and browse the goods freely without the obligation to purchase which caused Wertheim's popularity to increase. Due to the high number of visitors arising from Wertheim’s popularity, the pedestrian traffic created by the store had to be managed by using traffic lights: a first for Europe at this time. Leipziger Street which was a quiet residential area in front of Wertheim had become not only a trade center but also the center of fashion, music, and art.
Unfortunately, this architectural work of art was damaged by Allied bombing during the Second World War and was completely destroyed in 1953 by East Germany, or officially the German Democratic Republic. But the good news is that 69 years after the end of World War II, it was redesigned by architect Sergei Tchoban and rebuilt with modern architectural technologies. Now, its name is the Mall of Berlin…
Even though only a few stores such as Edeka-Aldi-DM, the Pharmacy at Leipziger Platz, the stone corner bakery, the Edeka Bakery, Sparkasse, Postbank, Hello Vape, Phone Tastisch, and Friese Tobacco Lotto Magazines provide service currently—these days will pass—and the Mall of Berlin will re-open its doors to us.
When the day comes and you finally visit the Mall of Berlin, try to imagine the excitement and admiration of Sabahattin Ali when he first saw this masterpiece while looking through the windows of the Sofia-Germany train as it barely passed the Berlin city border, and put a little smile on your face.
Well, maybe you’ll also buy something from the shop where Sabahattin bought his pipe which he always had by his side.
(Ali, S., 1943)
Balcıgil, O., Yeşil Mürekkep, Published by Destek Yayınları, Istanbul, November 2016
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