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The Ury Department Store: Modern Shopping in Leipzig

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The storefront of the Ury department store in Leipzig is brightly lit to draw customers’ attention to the “White Weeks” in February 1930. The businessman Hermann Tietz first devised this campaign in 1901, a sale during which linens and other white products were offered at special discounts. Outdoor electric lights, illuminated advertisements, and elaborate shop-window designs bathed department stores in radiant white from inside and out during the “White Weeks.”

Black-and-white photograph of the department store at night

Nighttime view of the Ury department store in Leipzig during the “White Weeks,” February 1930; Jewish Museum Berlin

Innovative Ideas and Low Prices

The Ury department store, the first in Leipzig, was founded by the Jewish brothers Moritz and Julius Ury on 24 March 1896. With innovative ideas, modest prices, a good selection, and excellent service, they led their business to great success. In 1913–14, the store at Königsplatz 15 was extensively remodeled and emerged as a magnificent six-story building around a sunny courtyard. The original range of notions, linen, and woolen goods was expanded considerably.

Hermann Tietz

Hermann Tietz (1837–1907) was a German-Jewish entrepreneur and the namesake of the Hertie department store company.

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Black-and-white photograph of a display window with white linens

A display window of the Ury department store in Leipzig during the “White Weeks,” February 1930; Jewish Museum Berlin

An Attractive Workplace

The department store was a very attractive workplace, as the Ury brothers looked after their staff well from the outset. There was a staff library and a training center. Obligatory training courses were organized for young employees, who had access to all the learning materials free of charge. There was a charity fund to support staff in times of financial hardship, and every employee received a savings account after five years of employment. Employees were given three weeks of fully paid annual vacation as early as 1913.

Expropriation and Exile

In 1938, as a result of “Aryanization,” the Ury department store was turned into a fabric trade fair hall with a wholesale flower market and a tax office. The new owner was Leipzig’s government office responsible for trade fairs. The founders Moritz and Julius Ury were forced to resign from their business in 1937. Moritz Ury died in 1939 in exile in Switzerland. Julius Ury fled to France, where he died a year after his brother. The building was destroyed in December 1943.


“Aryanization” is the Nazi term for the forcible transfer of Jewish property into non-Jewish, so-called “Aryan” hands and the tightening restrictions that were placed on Jews’ professional lives.

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More on LeMo (in German)

Title The Ury department store in Leipzig during the “White Weeks”
Collection Photography
Location and year of origin Leipzig, February 1930
Medium Silver gelatine print on baryt paper
Dimensions 16,2 x 22,2 cm

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Selected Objects: Photographic Collection (6)

Photographic Collection

From an early promotional photograph by Yva to documentation of Jewish life in Germany before and after the Shoah, discover selected objects from our Photographic Collection and the stories behind them.

"Amor Skin"

The vintage print is an example of early promotional photography. Using multiple exposures, the photographer Yva was able to produce unreal and dreamlike images.

“White Weeks” at the Ury Department Store

With a brightly lit façade, the Ury brothers promoted “White Weeks” to their customers in February 1930. The promotional campaign testified to their modern business practices and their resulting success.

Hugo Spiegel as Champion Shot

The photograph by Leonard Freed depicts the father of Paul Spiegel, who would later be president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. The Holocaust survivor was probably the first Jewish champion marksman in Germany.

Synagogue in the Jewish Retreat Center in Lehnitz

The synagogue was one of the last in Germany to be dedicated before the Second World War. For many, the retreat center became a place where Jews could assert their identity and culture in a hostile environment.

Rededication of the Synagogue at the Jewish Hospital

One year after the end of the Second World War, in 1946, the synagogue at the Jewish hospital on Iranische Strasse in the Berlin district of Wedding was rededicated. Gradually, it became the center of community work in Berlin.

Sally Israel in a Bavarian Costume

Three vacationers in folk costumes gather around the Berlin businessman for a souvenir photo from Bad Reichenhall. The spa town had been a prime destination for Jewish vacationers since the mid-nineteenth century.