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TIETZ, German family of department store owners. The development of department stores in Germany was largely the work of two brothers from Birnbaum (Miedzychod), leonhardt tietz (1849–1914) and oskar tietz (1858–1923). Each built his own merchandising organization but on the same principle of low but fixed prices, made possible through the direct purchase from manufacturers of a great volume of goods. In 1882, Oskar Tietz, together with an uncle, hermann tietz (1837–1907), opened a dry goods store in Gera, Thuringia. Hermann soon withdrew from the partnership. The store gradually added other lines and subsequently opened branches in Weimar and Berlin. To defend department stores against discriminatory taxation and attacks, Oskar Tietz became a founder of the Verein Deutscher Waren und Kaufhaeuser, and remained its president until his death. He was succeeded in his business by his sons Georg (1889–1953) and Martin (born c. 1895), and his son-in-law Hugo Zwillenberg, who added the five-store Jahndorf chain and the well-known Kaufhaus des Westens in Berlin to their 13 stores. In 1934 they were forced to relinquish ownership of the group, whose name was changed to Hertie. Leonhardt Tietz started his first small dry goods store in the northwest German town of Stralsund in 1879. Ten years later he opened a branch in Elberfeld, in the economically important Ruhr area. Still carrying mostly textiles, this store developed into one of the largest German department stores with branches in various parts of the country, including Cologne, which became the firm's headquarters. The firm was incorporated in 1905 and in 1909 was the first department store chain to become a public company. At the beginning of the century, operations were extended to Belgium, where the firm of Leonhardt Tietz S.A. remained in the founder's hands until 1918, when it was seized as enemy property. A connection with the De Bijenkorf department store in Amsterdam was retained. Leonhardt was followed as president of the corporation by his son, alfred tietz. A new era of expansion began in the 1920s, and by 1929 there were 43 stores with 15,000 employees. In 1925 a chain of variety stores called Ehape was started, the first German enterprise of its kind. With the advent of the Nazis in 1933, the members of the family were forced out of control and the organization was renamed West-Deutscher Kaufhof.


G. Tietz, Hermann Tietz, Geschichte einer Familie und ihrer Warenhaeuser (1965); K. Zielenziger, Juden in der deutschen Wirtschaft (1930), 208–20; J. Hirsch, Das Warenhaus in Westdeutschland (1910); 50 Jahre Leonhardt Tietz (1929).

[Edith Hirsch]

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