Roman Vishniac and his daughter Mara, Wertheim Department Store, Berlin, ca. 1930
Wertheim’s flagship Berlin department store had recently installed a Fotoautomat (photobooth) when this photograph, measuring only 2 x 1½ inches, was made.
The Wertheim Department Store was among the largest and most well-known in pre-war Germany. The chain’s innovative flagship store at Leipziger Platz, where this Fotoautomat picture of Roman and Mara Vishniac was taken, was constructed in 1896 and featured eighty-three elevators and a glass-roofed atrium. The Jewish-owned chain was a target of early Nazi boycotts. Mandatory “Aryanization” policies soon followed, forcing an end to the businesses that had been built by the Wertheim family for decades. The Berlin store was severely damaged in World War II, and later situated in the no man’s land between West and East Berlin. The ruins were demolished in the 1950s.
Unidentified Photographer, Interior of Wertheim Department Store, Berlin, ca. 1900
ICP’s extensive collection of Vishniac family photographs spans more than a century, from the 1860s to 1970s. Vintage prints and negatives from pre-Revolutionary Russia, Weimar and Nazi Germany, and photographs taken in America, provide a poignant record of the family’s daily lives, celebrations, and upheavals. This material, along with extensive personal correspondence and ephemera, is currently being digitized and archived at ICP.
Learn more about the Wertheim Department Store here.