Tarnopol, today called Ternopil, was in the former East Galicia. For most of the interwar period (1919-1939) Galicia was under Polish sovereignty.
Before WW I Galicia was a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Yivo Encyclopedia gives a good overview of its history.
Other Galician brewing towns I’ve discussed, such as Kalush, Przemysl, and Rivne, were in the same quadrant of south-east Poland, as Poland was then constituted.
This image shows the main square of Ternopil before World War I, via Wikipedia Commons. In 1939 the Soviets took control of Tarnopol when they occupied part of Poland under the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact. Germany swept that aside when it invaded Russia in mid-1941.
The Soviets pushed the German Army out in a vicious fight in April 1944, as recorded by the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, LA. Tarnopol was left desolate, as artillery was needed to evict the defenders, who fought to the last man.
Tarnopol’s Jewish Community
Tarnopol was a sizeable trading town, about 40% Jewish ahead of WW II. Roger Hudson in History Today set out the circumstances of the community in 1914, and how the great contest between Austria and Russia damaged Jewish life, in particular.
Still, the community continued postwar, numbering some 18,000 by 1939. About an equal number of Poles resided, the remainder Ukrainian. The Jewish fate under Hitler was as terrible, and thorough, as elsewhere in Jewish Ukraine.
The internationally known Yad Vashem, or World Holocaust Remembrance Center, has documented what happened, the grim culmination of a long history.
The Soviets in 1939, for their part, did much to lacerate the Jewish community, although it was not comparable to the German atrocities. They crippled an already weak business base by nationalization, i.e., confiscation without compensation, which included the Tarnopol brewery.
Tarnopol was on a long slide economically from the 1860s. This is one of the points made in the Tarnopol chapter of the Encyclopedia of the Jewish Communities in Poland, Vol. II. A passage reads:
This era was not significantly economically. The Jews grew in number by only 3,000 during the years 1900-1910. There was stagnation in the numbers because the economic situation worsened, and there was emigration to America. The main means of making a living were peddling, small trade, and artisanship. The few Jewish factories were really craft shops that dealt with the processing of agricultural products, (sausage factory), little sawmills, etc. The situation worsened at the beginning of the twentieth century with competition from non-Jewish merchants and artisans, who organized cooperatives and were supported by the district bank. The Jews countered this by new initiatives in organization and mutual help.
In 1905 the Jewish Merchants Union was established. Its members were the merchants of Tarnopol. The union helped its members to get licenses and loans. The artisans had established a mutual-aid organization thirteen years before. There was also a clerks’ union, and a Jewish lawyers union was established in 1912.
In contrast, the town was known for significant contributions to education, culture, and religious thought. Despite the grim economic prospects, which only worsened after WW I, a brewery was established in the city, or rather in Biala, about a mile outside but today part of the city.
Przywalicha was the name of the local hillside and was used as formal name of the brewery.
The ownership history is outlined in a few European websites, run by label or bottle collectors. In addition, the brewery website offers a history page – the brewery is still with us, I should add.
The page is useful but mainly for the post-WW II era. It does however mention some of the early key owners. These resources are not quite consistent, but one gets a picture overall.
The Ukrainian-based Beer-Labels site sets out a timeline stating in part (Google translation):
1880 – The Geographical Directory of the Kingdom of Galicia and Ladomeria mentions the Brewery Przywalicha brewery in Belaya near Ternopil, owned by Samson Goldenberg (possibly Goldberg).
1896 – The plant is owned by Amalia Goldberg. At that time, “Provalikha” became a favorite vacation spot, including local hooligans.
1906 – In the directory, the tenant is Julium Boar, who in the same directory for 1913 is mentioned as the owner of the brewery. He made two types of beer – light and dark. It was mostly poured into barrels, a small part went abroad.
1925 – 5 people worked at the brewery.
1932 – The plant is owned by Lezar Kirchner and Marek Blumenfeld. They have significantly improved the operation of the brewery …
Some sources state brewing started in 1851, but this early period seems undocumented. Belaya is usually rendered as Biala, and Baar for Boar – Julius Baar, whose name appeared this way on interwar labels, as shown in the Polish Beer Labels site.
You see his name in a Galicia business listing, covering 1907-1913, where he is shown as “pachter” (tenant) of the brewery.
Female and Later Ownership
Polish Beer Labels (see link) mentions a Sara Roth as owner before Amalia Goldberg, which Beer-Labels does not. There are other inconsistencies over time as noted, but it is clear that Amalia Goldberg owned the brewery – her name was on the labels – for many years, c. 1890-1906.
She leased the brewery to Baar from 1906 until he acquired it about 1913. In the 20s and 30s further names are associated with the brewery, with the terminal year being 1942. The last prewar owner by some sources was Herman Parnes.
The brewery was managed by the Soviets from their entry to Tarnopol in 1939, then the Germans from mid-1941 until April 1944, then the Soviets again, until privatized many years later.
It is noteworthy that two women, Sara Roth and especially Amalia Goldberg, owned this brewery. The sites which recite the names do not comment on the female ownership, perhaps because so little is apparently known of these women.
I could find no information, except that Amalia was connected to at least one other, and possibly two breweries, in Galicia. Perhaps she was a widow of Samson Goldberg, or his daughter. I like the way her given name is printed on the labels in Polish Beer Labels, with a flowing, elegant script.
The Brewery After World War II
What of the brewery today? It is called Opillia. The website describes a group of beers, including a wheat beer and no-alcohol beer.
This Christmas label via the website is a dark lager flavoured with cinnamon. For views of the brewery today, Google maps depicts what seems the shop or reception centre. (The Opillia website appears not to show the exterior).
To view the brewery early postwar, perhaps late 1940s, this article in the media site Ternepil in the Evening, by journalist Vladimir Okarinsky, has an excellent black and white image. Note the distinctive glassed exterior.
One can see the brewery was built into a hillside – Przywalicha – as so many early lager breweries were, but the building shown was probably erected in the interwar period, perhaps by Kirchner and Blumenfeld. It may still stand on the site although I cannot tell from the Google map views.
Okarinsky tells an entertaining story of brewing history in the city. He refers to the early Jewish owners of Przywalicha, and mentions also the native son Joseph Perl (1773-1839), a famed Jewish educator and author. Perl has been described as a “scion of the Jewish Enlightenment”, see his Wikipedia entry.
Perl is pictured via link noted. If this blog is about nothing else, it is about education.
Note re images: source of each image above is linked in the text. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.