Department store Dr. H. Ehrlicher

If you’ve ever been to Munich, then chances are very good that you have walked past this building. But chances are also very good that you did not pay notice to this building (the right building on the picture below) and would not connect this with Sep Ruf. But this department store exactly opposite the Jesuit church St. Michael in Munich’s pedestrian area (“Fußgängerzone”) has been designed by the Bavarian architect 1961-63 and is a major work of the German post-war modernity in Munich. Since 1998 it is under historical preservation protection.

Geschäftshaus Dr. H. Ehrlicher (Sep Ruf, 1961-63)

The building is supported by a steel framework, so that the sales floors do not need any supporting pillars. The floors are aligned as split-floors around an atrium crossing the whole building. Unfortunately this uncompromisingly modern store has been modified: the roof has been extended, the first floor lost its balcony and the layout of the stairs is no longer in its original state.

Kaufhof at Stachus

Kaufhof

When this building had been built in 1950-51 by Theo Pabst, it had a euphoric touch to it. This Kaufhof had been the first new department store that had been built in Munich after Second World War. It was a symbol of the new economic growth and increasing affluence of the citizens. But as historians will tell you, there had not been a complete break with the nazi system (“Stunde Null“). Many of those involved in the daily crimes of the regime were back in power at this point of time. This especially holds true for the architects.

In my opinion this building is a very striking symbol of the mixture of break and continuity after the “Third Reich”. The left and larger part of the building which faces busy Sonnenstraße is modernist cube with grid facade and a flat pillared roof. But the right part of the building facing Bayerstraße looks much more conservative with its pitched roof. Munich city administration insisted on this design. Althogh both parts are joined together by a curved gallery which once had a terrace café, they convey a inharmonic impression. Modernity and tradition does not match all too well in this building.

Kaufhof und Justizpalast

Kaufhof am Stachus (Pabst, 1950/51)

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