Nationalization or continuation of traditions?
According to the decision of the People's Assembly, which was held at the Opera House on October 26-28, 1939, a new stage of Sovietization of Lviv began: the elimination of private property and the nationalization of enterprises. On December 1, 1939, both industrial enterprises and small handicraft workshops, shops and kiosks became the state property of the Ukrainian SSR. By the end of the year, 178 industrial facilities were nationalized. There were attempts to demonstrate the democratic nature of the nationalization procedures as workers' assemblies were organized. Decisions taken at "the grass roots level" were later approved by the executive committees.
One of the first nationalized private enterprises in Lviv was the Branka factory, located on modern-day vul. Sheptytskykh 26. This factory was the oldest and most powerful confectionery company in Lviv. It was established in 1882 by confectioner Maurycy Brandstadter as the steam factory of sugars and honey cakes Branka. Before World War II, the factory employed more than 600 workers; in addition to chocolate and sweets, the company produced waffles, cupcakes, crackers, cakes, cocoa and more. After the nationalization, Branka was renamed the Kirov confectionery factory.
Another private industrial enterprise nationalized in 1939 was the Gazet, built in 1910 at the intersection of modern-day vul. Zavodska and vul. Tkatska. The Gazet's main products were chocolate, confectionery, and marmalade. In 1925 the enterprise was equipped with electric motors, machines for grinding chocolate mass, a cocoa grinder, etc.; in 1937 the factory had several buildings: an administrative building, two factory buildings and warehouses. Before the Soviet occupation of Lviv, the factory was owned by Samuel (Salomon) Hammer. After nationalization, it was transformed into the Bolshevik confectionery factory.
In addition to large confectionery companies, the Soviet administration also nationalized smaller factories, including Fortuna Nova. This company grew out of the family business run by Klymentyna Avdykovych-Hlynska. A widow with two children, who had failed to get a widow's pension, she sold her sewing machine, bought a bag of sugar and started making fruit candies, which she was successfully selling. In 1922 she managed to establish a small factory of sweets and fruit candies called Fortuna and transferred her business from Przemyśl to Lviv. Klymentyna Avdykovych opened a shop in the building of the Prosvita society. Later, because of tough competition and problems with the premises, she appealed to the Metropolitan of the Greek Catholic Church Andrey Sheptytsky for help and received an investment of 46,000 dollars from him. From November 1, 1924, the company operated as the Fortuna Nova factory. Before the war, this factory experienced both periods of prosperity and crises; its success, however, was due to developed marketing activities. The Fortuna Nova had shops in Drohobych, Stryi, as well as four shops in Lviv, the most famous of which was on vul. Ruska 20. In addition, Klymentyna Avdykovych's products could be bought in the towns of Volhynia, Kholmshchyna and Podlasie. Among the Ukrainian community of Lviv, a set of chocolates named "A Sweet History of Ukraine" featuring portraits of hetmans and princes was the most popular. At the time of nationalization, 110 people worked at Klymentyna Avdykovych's enterprise. The Fortuna Nova was transformed into the confectionery factory number 3 and became a subdivision of the Kirov factory.
In 1939, on the basis of the three above-mentioned nationalized confectioneries, along with some other Lviv enterprises, the Ukrainian Confectionery Trust of the Western Regions was formed.
In 1962, in accordance with the resolution of the National Economic Council of the Lviv Economic District № 277 of May 10, 1962, it was decided to merge the Chortkiv confectionery factory and two Lviv factories, "Bolshevik" and Kirov (the confectionery factory number 3 was a subdivision of the latter), into one enterprise — the Chervona Troyanda (Red Rose) product company. On August 3 of the same year, the name of the confectionery factory was changed from Chervona Troyanda to Svitoch.
In the first years of its activity, the Svitoch upgraded its technical equipment, developed the factory and expanded its product range. The Lviv Confectionery Factory was one of the few enterprises that did not work for the military-industrial complex, and was an enterprise of a different, non-metallurgical profile, which received more than 2 million rubles for re-equipment and modernization during the Soviet period. Certain experimental innovations were also allowed at this chocolate factory that were not typical of socialist production, such as economic incentives for workers.
From the early 1970s, the products of Lviv's Svitoch factory became the city's trade mark, the pride of Lviv residents, an integral part of the gift package and a scarce product that could open doors to various governmental and social institutions. The products of the Lviv chocolate factory were exported abroad. In addition to the brand shop in the former Zalewski confectionery, at the same address, on modern-day prosp. Shevchenka 10, there also was a chocolate bar, the first one in Soviet times, where guests of the city were taken to taste the hot Svitoch chocolate.
After the declaration of Ukraine’s independence, the Svitoch became a joint-stock company; in 1998 the factory joined the group of companies Nestlé S.A. (Switzerland), where it is still functioning today.
Nowadays, almost every product of the Lviv chocolate factory Svitoch has a date next to the logo — 1882, the year when the pre-war Branka was founded. The Svitoch’s main production facilities are located on vul. Tkatska 10, where Samuel Hammer's Gazet operated before the Soviet occupation. The history of the Fortuna Nova about which much can now be read both in print and internet resources is described as the story of "Lviv's Svitoch predecessor", which continues the traditions of "Ukrainian" entrepreneurship in Lviv. This modern narrative of the factory history is virtually deprived of the Soviet period, when the factory was founded; in fact, it is those times that the longest and most successful period of its existence falls on. On the official website of the company, the page dedicated to the history of the factory begins with the following statement:
Svitoch is a Lviv brand, whose quality has been carefully improved since its foundation in 1882. Svitoch is a classic brand. It is not for vain that Lviv residents love chocolate delicacies from Svitoch as the brand history is more than 130 years old.
How legitimate is the use of names, dates and brands of pre-Soviet private factories in Lviv by a modern enterprise as a proof of the "durability" of traditions is a question worth considering in the context of understanding and appropriating the Soviet period in Lviv. The widespread demonstrative disapproval of the Soviet period in the history of Lviv and the separation of oneself and one's family history from the so-called alien period of "Soviet occupation" coexists peacefully with the histories of enterprises like the Svitoch and the appropriation of prewar achievements by predecessor factories, providing them with a national colouring.