A Local Hero – Lieutenant Gustav Klaebisch
Not much has been written about the story of Lieutenant Gustav Klaebisch, a German Nazi Lieutenant, who was stationed in the Cognac region during World War II…and about how this man saved the Cognac industry from being destroyed by his own armies during German occupation. He was a local to the region since birth and therefore knew the Cognac trade well.
During the Second World War, many of the cognac stocks were commandeered by the German troops. If it hadn’t been for Lieutenant Klaebisch’s appointment as administrator of the Cognac region, the industry would most probably have been destroyed and would not exist as we know it today. As his own armies were threatening to take over and consume the entire Cognac production, Klaebisch stopped any further plundering of stocks and instead made sure that these were only released in limited and controlled quantities. He protected the existing stocks and introduced a quota system, assuring that the liquor’s future was safe and qualitative blends with old eaux-de-vie could continue to be made.
If all the stocks would have been consumed by German soldiers and exported to Germany, we would be without vintage Cognacs today! We can all count ourselves lucky to have had someone like Klaebisch protect the legacy of Cognac, as some of the very finest cognacs around today date back to way before World War II.
The “reign” of Lieutenant Gustav Klaebisch lead to an unforgettable success story in the history of the Cognac industry, with business booming and production flourishing. Ironic that this happened while the country was at war…
Gustav Klaebisch died in 1962 in Germany and up until this day, some local Cognac producers and locals would still like to name a town square after the “lord of wartime Cognac”.
1) http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4409878735/