#23: Kaufhalle

To mark 30 years of reunification, we're giving you 30 key German phrases that charted Germany's Cold War division and reunification. Today: Kaufhalle

Shopping on Alexanderplatz.
Shopping on Alexanderplatz.imago images

Berlin-As a colleague here wrote earlier this month, sometimes it's hard to say "supermarket" because it's unclear what's so super about them. In Berlin they're crowded, sometimes lacking key staples and the bottle deposit machine is always full. Perhaps that's why in the former East Germany they were known as Kaufhallen. Literally translated  as "halls of shopping", they sound almost regal.

The large, self-service grocery stores first emerged in New York in the '60s and quickly took over the world. Items were packaged for easy sale and the entire experience became evermore anonymous. In the German Democratic Republic, most were operated by local state-run organisations and were known often as a Konsum or, in rural areas, Dorfkonsum.

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