The King of all Distillers. - Niepospolici
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The King of all Distillers.

In 1782 an entrepreneur by the name of Lajb Baczeles chose the village of Wybranówka (Austrian partition), near Lviv, for the location of his modern alcohol distillery. In 1810 his son, Meyer Baczeles, soon to be known as Leopold Maksymilian Baczewski of his own family crest, moved his distillery to Lviv. It was equipped with the most modern distillery tools, such us the Coffey which was still installed there only two years after its invention in Ireland. Baczewski’s distillery soon gained renown not only thanks to its vodkas but also other aromatised drinks, such as flavoured vodkas, liquors, and Rosolios. The family’s hard work paid off when they obtained the title of KuK Hoflieferant – the official supplier to the Royal Court in Vienna. In 1856 the company was taken over by the founder’s grandson, Józef Adam Baczewski. He was a graduate of the Lviv University who lead his company to become the biggest producer of alcohol in Poland, and one of the leading ones in Europe. He achieved this through new investments but also unprecedented means of advertisement (beautifully crafted bottles and arty labels). He began selling his produce on European markets wining many prestigious international prizes and, therefore, building the reputation of Polish vodka in other countries. Baczewski’s products were exported to such European countries as Germany, France, Great Britain. Moreover, Baczewski’s alcohol reach other continents, such as North America, South America, and Australia. The brand was known under the name of J.A. Baczewski. Alcohol with the company’s trademark enjoyed unfailing popularity among Polish elites of the inter-war period.

After Józef’s death the company went into the hands of his sons – Henryk and Leopold. During the inter-war period it was already his grandsons, Adam and Stefan, who were leading the Baczewski empire.

Stefan Baczewski was born in Lviv on December 1, 1892. He died murdered by the Soviets in Katyn in 1940. He was a lawyer, honorary consul of the Austrian Republic in Lviv, and Lviv City Councillor.

He graduated from a gymnasium in Vienna. He then went to study law at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. From 1916 he was a clerk at the Viceregency Office in Lemberg (Lviv). In 1920 he became the General Commissar, but in later years he moved away from public service.

Stefan Baczewski managed his family owned company together with Adam Baczewski (son of Henryk, Leopold’s brother. Born in 1895). Józef Adam Baczewski, who gave his name to the brand (J.A. Baczewski) was Stefan’s grandfather (1829–1911). His father, Leopold (1859–1924), a chemist and lecturer at the Agriculture University of Dublany, also devoted part of his life to building the company. Stefan Baczewski was therefore a co-owner and General Director of J.A. Baczewski. He enlarged the factory and added to its infrastructure. The company had a very bold and widely-spread advertising campaign. For example, a construction known as the “Baczewski Tower” was erected for the Eastern Fair in Lviv in the 1920s. The construction was in the shape of J.A. Baczewski bottle and designed by architect Erwin Wieczorek.  In the 1930s J.A. Baczewski was the main supplier of off-licence products to the passenger ships of SS Polonia and MS Piłsudski. Baczewski’s products were exported to the Western Europe, including such prime locations as Paris, Prague, and Vienna. The J.A. Baczewski brand was known for its delicious vodka (distilled from potatoes), but his vodkas flavoured with apricots, cherries, berries, oranges, and black berries became equally famous and loved. The company offered rum, whiskey, gin, eggnog, walnuts liquor, absinth, spiced mead, and hierchloe-flavoured vodka.

It was the J.A. Baczewski products that were the first Polish products delivered by air. Starting from 1930 the famous vodkas and liquors made their way by air to Paris, Vienna, and Prague, where the company opened their official branches. But the company took to the sky a little earlier than that, in a manner of speech. In 1924 slogans promoting J.A. Baczewski vodkas were printed on the body of B IIa P-PAWA Albatros aircraft.

On January 4, 1924 Stefan Baczewski was awarded the title of an honorary consul of the Austrian Republic in Poland. His office was assigned to Lviv. At first, he carried out his responsibilities at the Consular Office, however he moved it to his private, newly-built residence in Pelczynska Street No 35 in the summer that same year. In April 1929 the President of Austria, Wilhelm Miklas, awarded him the title of an Honorary Consul General and the Chairman of the Austrian Consular Office in the Lviv, Stanislawow, and Tarnopol Voivodeships with an office based in Lviv. In 1932 the Consular Office was moved to Ossolinscy Street, No 4. When Austria united with the 3rd Reich on March 12-13, 1938, Stefan Baczewski immediately stepped down from office.

Stefan Baczewski was also a City Counsellor in Lviv. He was an Adviser to the Lviv Chamber of Commerce and Industry. On July 12, 1927 he was chosen to become a member of the mediatory commission at the Stock Exchange. In April 1928 he became the Chairman of The Great Distilleries of Quality Vodkas Association [Zwiazek Wielkich Fabryk Wodek Gatunkowych].

After the outbreak of the Second World War and the Soviet aggression on Poland on September 17, 1939, the Baczewski distillery was firstly bombed by the Germans and then plundered by the Soviets. The owners were arrested by the NKVD. In Spring 1940 Stefan Baczewski was murdered during the Katyn Massacre. His name was listed on the so-called Ukrainian Katyn List published in 1994 (he figured on the deportation list 71/2-50, position 122). The bodies of victims of this part of the Katyń Massacre are resting at the Military Cemetery of Bykovnia near Kiev. Adam Baczewski was also murdered during the Katyń Massacre.