A german “prost!” on siberia

The Siberian city of Tomsk is a place with history and full of life. And with a brewery among the most popular in Russia. Founded by a German, it is now owned by a Russian-German.

It was Tsar Boris Godunov who issued the order to build a city on the Tom River in the heart of Siberia in 1604. Thus Tomsk is 100 years older than St. Petersburg and 300 years older than the current political capital of Siberia, Novosibirsk. Siberian Tatars gave the town its still valid symbol – a rearing white horse. For the nomads were highly esteemed breeders of noble horses.

Over the centuries Tomsk grew in a variety of architecture, especially in wooden building styles, which is unparalleled nationwide. About 1800 still stand on difficult, often spongy taiga ground. Some accordingly crooked and crooked, are still inhabited or serve as workplaces. Their preservation is actively ensured by generous, municipal support programs and private initiatives. A particularly impressive former manor house has housed the meeting place of the Russian-German community since 1995.

City and university are one

On 16. May 1878 was the first day of the Tsar Alexander II. the foundation of the first university beyond the Urals with its seat in Tomsk was ordered. Almost exactly two years after the North German-Prussian citizen Karl Kruger from the village of Kaltenborn had already built his brewery there in response to an advertisement from the city. Sensibly, on the later site of the university, whose main building was inaugurated on 26 August 1880. August 1880 was inaugurated. The world-famous chemist Dmitry Mendeleev contributed to the founding charter, the no less famous physician and Nobel laureate Ivan Pavlov taught here, as did a whole phalanx of other highly respected professors of all disciplines, including many of Russian-German origin.

Four years later, however, the German brewer was asked by the city council to move to another location. It is rumored that this was done in order to curb the beer consumption of the student community, which is offered in front of the unit door, so to speak. Nowadays Tomsk State University includes six different state universities and other institutions of higher education. Almost a third of Tomsk's population of about 544,000 (15,000 Russian-Germans) are connected with university life, including 89,000 students alone and their more than 4,000 teachers.

Tomsk citizens proudly say: "We don't have a campus in the city, the whole city is a campus"."The national and international reputation of the Tomsk University is also based on its achievements in future-oriented software engineering and its innovative strength in the technological field. From the very beginning, the university owes its steep rise to the beneficial cooperation of intellectuals living here in exile and the capital of resident businessmen.

Kruger beer was always in the thick of things

And Kruger beer was always there somehow. First tapped by the German Karl Kruger and still 143 years later by the Russian-German Ivan Klein, since 2013 also repeatedly elected mayor of Tomsk, and his Russian wife Galina as general director, both former long-time employees of the house. Karl Kruger, a skilled brewer, quickly caught up with his nephew Robert after his initial successes and signed over his company to him in 1895. He managed the steadily growing company until the beginning of the First World War in 1914. But after he was banned from entering Russia following a bout of illness in Germany, his wife Alexandra struggled to keep the family business afloat by producing a barley coffee drink due to the Prohibition Act of the time. In 1926, the brewery was finally nationalized, and the Kruger era was over.

1985 was the first working day of Ivan Klein, born in Kazakhstan, at former Kruger as a mechanic with engineering diploma. After the anti-alcohol initiative under CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, the brewing of beer became less important. Kruger was now called "Factory for Soft Drinks. Beer as such existed only highly unofficially. In spite of all the loss-making aberrations caused by state policy, Iwan Klein, now 60, stuck to his ancestral business and became director in 1991.

Rediscovery after the fall of the Wall

Only a year later, privatization gave him and the remaining employees 51 percent of the shares. In 1994, he was elected general director – today, the Kleins own by far the absolute majority of the flagship company. A proud 50 million euros have been invested in the last ten to 15 years, as he says. Today, around 800 Tomskers work with. Almost all the machinery and equipment for a modern brewery and beverage plant like "Tomskoye Piwo" ("Tomsk Beer"), the present name of the Kruger parent company, came from Germany.

The hops also grow on German soil. And of course, Kruger beer, now one of the largest breweries in the country, but also exported to Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia, is brewed strictly according to the Bavarian-German Purity Law of 1516. So everything that makes beer a real beer is firmly in German hands again – in 40 drinkable flavors. Last year, two million hectoliters of beer, kvass and soft drinks were sold.

Beer is also popular with celebrities

A sense of sensuality and joie de vivre belonged already around the 19. Turn of the century to Tomsk like the beer from the German Krugers. The central Akimovskaya Street (today Shishkova Street) was lined with neat whorehouses, even officially supervised by the Health Department. Also popular with doctor, writer and playwright Anton Chekhov, who appreciated the drinking habits of the local intelligentsia during his stay in Tomsk in 1890.

Rightly and eternally proud, however, are the citizens and their decades-long Russian-German governor, Viktor Kress, that President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, together with numerous ministers from both sides, held a Russian-German summit here in 2006. The two state leaders had a confidential tete-A-tete lasting no less than three hours at the traditional inn "The Eternal Call". Nomen est omen – would be in these times nevertheless probably long times again announced, so a common, loosening up Kruger beer, find also many Tomsker.

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