The Big Tobacco Merchants

Tobacco label

In his book "The Eccentrics of Plovdiv" Ivan Dionisiev writes: In the big business between the two world wars nobody doubts that the most powerful company for tobacco trade is AKA (Anastas Kutsoglu - Amsterdam). The sole owner is Anastas Kutsev –a Bulgarian from Raykovo that holds the tobacco market in Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey and the Turkified Kutsooglu or Kutsoglu and some called him Kutsoolu is a name well accepted in all the three countries. We see the buildings that he owned. In other memoirs, we read that the most developed economic centre of Western Trace was Xanthi. The main wealth comes from the production and export of high-quality tobacco with yearly turnover is between 30-35 million BGN. The trade before 1912 was entirely in the hands of 30 foreign and local companies that owned a total of 143 warehouses. Except for the companies of Kudoglu and Kutsooglu, all other companies were foreign.

In January 2020 The Bulgarian National Television Plovdiv had a special episode dedicated to the descendant of the Tomasyan family. You can see a recording here /only in  Bulgarian language/.

Administrative building

In the first half of the last century, the wealth of the tobacco traders leaves a mark upon the city landscape – the houses of Carlo and Edmondo Vaccaro, of the Turdoglu brothers, of Obreykovi, Kaishevi, Docho Angelov... The big tobacco trader and philanthropist Dimitar Kudoglu donates to one of his nephews – Dimitar Turdoglu a three-story house at the beginning of the Gladstone street. In fact, this is the beautiful building with the vase inhabited by Dr Bratanov with his wife Maria with maiden name Turdoglu and now there are their successors.

In 1920 Kudoglu buys the building in the corner of Ivan Vazov street and Krakra street to make it home in Plovdiv. Here he moved a big part of the furniture from his Xanthi home. In 1923 he donates the building to his second nephew Constantin Turdoglu. Today in this palazzo – bijou in Plovdiv and the Ivan Vazov street with a small premise for servants and a garage in the yard on the second floor there is are guestrooms and on the first floor is a company office.

Tobacco Warehouses Dimitar Kudoglu, Plovdiv

Dimitar Kudoglu

"Here in Plovdiv are settled most of the refugees from the Aegean Trace and more specific from the village Gabrovo, Xanthi region, where the big Bulgarian philanthropist Dimitar Petrov Kudoglu has been born. Aiming at supporting his fellow villagers in 1926 he starts his idea for the first Bulgarian Public Health Establishment called House of Charity and Public health. In December 1926 the National Assembly accepts unanimously a Law for this donation and for creation of the house. Kudoglu buys the building of Hotel Tzar Simeon, funds its reconstruction, buys the two warehouses on the former Stantsionna street and with the income of nearly 800 000 BGN he funds the health establishment. Since 1926 until 1944 Dimitar Kudoglu donates more than 39 million BGN for the activity and support of the health establishment. The most dangerous diseases of the era are healed. The poor are healed for free. The rich pay for their hospitalization and the income regenerates again finding for the House of Charity and Public health."

| Stefan Shivachev |

The big family Kutsooglu

In search of more information in the State Archive – Plovdiv I received a round metal box with the written word tobacco. The film tape could not be deciphered and we relied on the help of the Film Studio in Sofia. With the comparative analyses, I have concluded that the frames are unique testimony for the time of the tobacco gods/magnates that are filmed from a team of the German film studio UFA in 1922 brought by Vasil Kutsooglu the biggest son of the family. The main character of the documentary is the old Anastas Kutsooglu and his sons and experts. The old Kutsooglu/1854-1945/ has 9 children from his first wife and three from the second. The daughters and the smallest son stayed in the homeland, the other two left Bulgaria. The biggest – Vasil /1886-1975/ was the most educated, his memoirs have been post-mortem published in 1989 – Memories and thoughts – written in Switzerland. The second – Constantin /1888 – 1986/ has emigrated in USA just before the war, he lived and died in Los Angeles. The daughter of Constantin Vasilka (Ilka) /1938/ lives in California. She is a wife of the conductor Master Bojidar Avramov, daughter-in-law of Prof. Vladimir Avramov, her son Dorian /1970/ is American. Vasilka and Bojidar donated to AMDFA the royal and books from their big library from Prof. Vladimir Avramov. The third brother Georgi was married to the daughter of General Nicola Nedev. The sisters Nevena, Nedialka, the twins Dora and Maria and the smallest Elena as well as the following from the second marriage – Shina, Vetka and Ana, were married to a man from famous and less famous families. Today the successors of the old Kutsoglu are more than 30 of the count. They reclaimed part of the huge heritage and some of them live until now in one of the most interesting architecturally houses in the Plovdiv center.

The buildings carry something from the people who commissioned and paid for them, from the people who designed them and from the people who inhabited them. They are covered in their spirit. The buildings are like people.

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