THE LAST BOTTLE

stefan pŁaŻEk
94 YEARS OLD

13 February 2015

Muniakowice near Kraków

94-YEAR-OLD GIVES BACK BOTTLE OF BACZEWSKI VODKA STOLEN DURING THE WAR

Stefan Płażek junior, a legal advisor from Kraków, sent a letter in German to the company Baczewski in which he informed that his 94-year-old father was in possession of a bottle of Baczewski’s vodka that he had obtained during the Second World War. His father’s dream was to return this bottle to its rightful heirs. The Płażek family comes from Lviv, and the family tomb is even to be found close to the Baczewski family tomb. This extraordinary letter proved so intriguing for the LVOV advertising agency, already working for some time with the brand J.A. Baczewkski, that they decided to bring about a meeting between Stefan and a representative of the brand in order to fulfil the elderly gentleman’s wish and to document the event. Talks with Mr Płażek’s son revealed that his father’s story, as well as the motives behind his desire to give back the bottle, held a fair dose of mystery. All because it turned out that then, as a young man during the war, he had actually stolen the vodka.

Stefan Płażek senior comes from a family with tradition, and has a colourful and rich past. He was a scout, a volunteer during the September Campaign, an officer cadet with the ‘Ghandi’ group of the Home Army, a member of the board of the ‘Fraternal Fellowship of Students’ in which he worked closely with Karol Wojtyła, and a retired and well-respected advocate, imprisoned after the war. So how does a case of theft look in such a worthy biography? Because of Mr Płażek senior’s advanced years, it took a fair time to solve this puzzle. His state of health meant that neither could the bottle be handed over nor the documentary work be organised with any haste.

Finally, in mid-February, in Muniakowice near Kraków, the day arrived when Stefan senior shared his story before the cameras. With a sparkle in his eyes and visibly moved by the experience, he spoke of his job as a warehouse worker at the Spirits Plants in Kraków, the destination for entire shipments of Baczewski’s wares pillaged from Lviv by the Germans. In order to provide for a decent living for himself and his family, Stefan would take a bottle of vodka every day from the warehouse. After all, what goods could be more valuable than vodka in times of war? You could get everything for vodka then, and Stefan admitted that he did not feel guilty because he was stealing from the Germans, who were stealing from the Poles. When the war was over, the Soviets entered the warehouse and the mass robbery of Polish wares began anew. Mr Płażek also began stealing the vodka again; the more he managed to steal, the less there was for the Soviets to take. And thus, over the next few years, our protagonist removed several hundred bottles. Only two bottles survived the turmoil of history; one was finally opened to celebrate the birth of his son, and the second – also the last – survived to star in this documentary. Stefan Płażek senior handed the surviving bottle over to Paweł Gorczyca, Managing Director of J.A. Baczewski in Poland. Ultimately the company decided to entrust the Polish Vodka Museum in Warsaw with this prize. The bottle, containing cherry vodka that lived through all these upheavals, is seen by many as a symbolic reflection of the fortunes of Poland.

The moving black-and-white documentary, in which everything takes place naturally with neither doubles nor practice, was directed by outstanding Polish documentary film-maker Marcin Koszałka.

see also other videos

The J.A. Baczewski and Vodka Monopolowa Story

watch

HEAD OFFICE

Altvater Gessler - J.A. BACZEWSKI GmbH.
Strobelgasse 2/6 A-1010 Vienna, Austria

BULGARIA

Drink Import ltd

Hadji Dimityr bl. 182
Sofiq
Bulgaria

Warehouse Facility
Str. Gurko N:50
Busmanci
Sofiq

Tel.: +359887480457
Tel.: +359884378111
www.drink-import.com

UKRAINE

Kumpel Brewery Ltd

132, Antonovycha Str.
79057 Lviv
Ukraine

Tel.: +38 032 232 93 84
www.kumpelgroup.com

ITALY

SPIRITSGLOBE

Fabrizio Telesca
Managing Director

Località Spini
38121 Trento
Italia

FRANCE

AG Spirits

14 Rue Charles V
75004 Paris
France

Australia

UPSYNTH PTY LIMITED

Peter Eriksen
Managing Director

Suite 1802
45 Clarence Street
Sydney
NSW 2000
Australia

USA

MUTUAL WHOLESALE
LIQUOR INC.

DBA International Import Export

Steve Lukacs
National Sales Director

4510 S. Boyle Avenue
Los Angeles
CA 90058
USA

Tel.: (800) 899 9463
Tel.: (323) 587 7641
Fax (323) 587 0820
mwl@mutualwholesaleliquor.com

Austria

HORVATH'S
Spezereyen Kontor

Gutenbergstraße 7
2232 Deutsch Wagram
Austria

Tel.: + 43 (0) 2247 70 70 12
Fax +43 (0) 2247 70 70 10
office@horvaths.at

POLAND

MASP Paweł Gorczyca
Managing Director

Leśna 19
05-420 Józefów
Poland

Tel.: +48 601 20 20 01
p.gorczyca@agjab.com