Traditions and modern design: Glassworks "Neman" in Berezovka

Traditions and modern design: Glassworks "Neman" in Berezovka

12.03.2021 Berezovka

The art of creating glass products was known 4 millennia ago and came to us from Egypt. So the winged expression would be worth paraphrasing: you can endlessly watch how the fire burns, the water flows and how the glass is blown out. It is for this - to observe the magic of the transformation of sand into exquisite works of glass and many tourists go to Berezovka in the Lida region. The legendary glass factory "Neman" is located there. In fact, the entire history of this town is closely intertwined with the production of glass products.

The year of foundation is reliably known - in 1883. The landowner Zenon Lensky organized a glass factory in his dacha in the forest near Staraya Guta, around which a craft village began to form later. However, the real impetus to the development of the enterprise occurred after the owner rented out the production to the engineer Wilhelm Krajewski and the head of the art workshop Julius Stolle, who turned out to have an entrepreneurial streak, and both were well versed in glass production. They ordered German equipment for the plant, rebuilt the furnace, installed a manual cup press and started grinding. By 1895, the enterprise had grown so much that a branch appeared 4 km from it. Now they were called Staraya and Novaya Guty, and the factories themselves were called "Neman A" and "Neman B". In 1902, the production in Staraya Guta was closed, and the plant in Berezovka became the head one.

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In 1905, Wilhelm Kraevsky died tragically - he drowned in the very Neman, after which he named the plant. Julius Stolle bought out the share from the heirs of Krajewski and became the sole owner of the plant. However, the deal was more of a formality. After all, the sons of Stolle - Bronislav and Felix were married to Kraevsky's daughters Yanina and Stanislav. 40 years later, the company was already called "Stolle and Sons", and about 50% of the products were exported. Berezovskie glass blowers produced everything - from tableware to lamp glass to kerosene stoves and bottles for pharmacies. The total assortment consisted of 1828 items. To transport fragile products, modern transport was needed - and in 1909 a narrow-gauge railway was laid to the Neman plant.

Since 1939, Western Belarus became part of the Soviet Union, and the glass factory was nationalized, and the owners, who had done so much for the country, were arrested. Bronislav died in 1941 in the camps near Arkhangelsk, Felix was most likely killed in the Baranovichi prison in June 1941. The families were exiled, and in 1946 they were deported to Poland. But the descendants of the owners of the glass factory "Neman" are alive - in 2018, Julius Stolle's great-granddaughter Olga Rachinskaya, who now has a transport business, came to Berezovka. In memory of her wonderful family, she named the company "GoStolle".

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It is a miracle that the time of great upheavals did not put an end to the production of glass products. After the first and second world wars, the destroyed glass factory was restored. For a long time "Neman" remained one of the largest enterprises in the USSR, which was engaged in the mass production of glass products. At the same time, in the 60s of the last century, a team of talented artists began to gather at the enterprise, who created real works of art. Often they were produced in one copy - nothing like it could be found in the world. This was the beginning of the original school of art glass in Berezovka. They made here a vase with a portrait of dear Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, and services with the coat of arms of Belarus for our embassies around the world, and much more that corresponded to the spirit of that time. 

Now the glass factory "Neman" is going through even not its best times - but it still produces more than 600 product samples. Like a hundred years ago, a fairly significant part of the production is exported to many countries of the world.

Tourists are also welcomed at the factory, who are shown the magic of transforming sand, soda and chalk into elegant glass. The enterprise's museum has an impressive collection of products, the oldest exhibits date back to 1910. And also right on the territory of the plant there is a company store, where you can buy a lot of what the plant produces today.

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