The Consuming Temple: Jews, Department Stores, and the by Paul Lerner

By Paul Lerner

Department shops in Germany, like their predecessors in France, Britain, and the U.S., generated nice pleasure once they seemed on the finish of the 19th century. Their luxurious monitors, ample items, architectural thoughts, and prodigious scale encouraged frequent fascination or even awe; whilst, despite the fact that, many Germans additionally greeted the increase of the dep. shop with enormous unease. In The eating Temple, Paul Lerner explores the complicated German response to department shops and the frequent trust that they posed hidden risks either to the participants, particularly ladies, who frequented them and to the state as a whole.

Drawing on fiction, political propaganda, advertisement data, visible tradition, and fiscal writings, Lerner offers a number of views at the division shop, putting it in architectural, gender-historical, advertisement, and psychiatric contexts. Noting that Jewish marketers based so much German department shops, he argues that Jews and "Jewishness" stood on the middle of the shopper tradition debate from the Eighteen Eighties, whilst the shops first seemed, during the latter Thirties, once they have been “Aryanized” by way of the Nazis. German responses to customer tradition and the Jewish query have been deeply interwoven, and the “Jewish division store,” framed as a substitute and dangerous secular temple, a shrine to trade and greed, used to be held liable for primary alterations that reworked city event and challenged nationwide traditions in Germany's turbulent 20th century.

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Additional resources for The Consuming Temple: Jews, Department Stores, and the Consumer Revolution in Germany, 1880 1940

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A visit to the store was thus transformed into an experience, a new mode of activity and spectatorship structured around commodities, as European and American department stores became safe, respectable places for bourgeois women to spend their time—for many, a more compelling alternative to the church. This in turn generated new concerns about women’s independence, their use of money, and the consequences and power of their desires. By the eve of World War I, department stores were attracting more attention to themselves with special events like fashion shows, performances, and art exhibitions.

Simplicissimus 3, no. 14 (1898). 28 | Chapter 1 of many shopkeepers in the face of the great stores’ rapid expansion. The scene takes place in a department store with ladies and several gentlemen picking through dresses and shoes in the background. On the left, a shopkeeper (tall, wan, clearly suggestive of a non-Jewish German of modest means beaten down by economic struggle) has entered the department store to inform the owner (drawn with stereotypically Jewish features: short, stout, with a bulbous nose and spectacles) that he has given up the fight, that the department store’s low prices have run him out of business.

Key sources include political writings and propaganda from newspapers, parliamentary debates, and agitational literature, such as the “Hammer-Schriften,” a series of anti-Semitic booklets that devoted considerable attention to department stores; professional discourses, such as psychiatric writings on kleptomania and academic treatises on mass consumption and retail in the fields of economics and sociology; and business materials, including published reports, studies, and brochures, and unpublished archival material from department store firms.

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