Sir John Tusa anchored the top UK current affairs show Newsnight in the 1980s before heading the BBC World Service for seven years. Though today a member of the British establishment, he was actually born in Czechoslovakia and moved to England as a small child, when his father, Jan Tůša, was appointed head of UK operations of the Baťa shoe company.
The Constitutional Court has rejected a compensation claim filed by the descendants of the former shoe magnate Jan Antonín Baťa, the Czech News agency reported on Thursday. Baťa’s descendants are jointly seeking compensation to the tune of 56 million crowns for property that was confiscated from Baťa in 1947 under the post-war Beneš decrees for alleged collaboration with the Nazis. In 2007 a court cleared Bata’s name, ruling that no crime had been committed. Prague municipal court earlier rejected the compensation claim on the grounds that the restitution laws pertain to property confiscated after February 25th 1948 and cannot apply to a case that occurred a year earlier.
Worldwide shoe company Bat’a intends to site its global marketing headquarters in Prague, according to the Czech daily Lidové Noviny. The new Prague team will be led by the 29-year-old grandson of the founder of the Czechoslovak shoe empire, Thomas Archer Bata, it added. Bat’a has hitherto had a decentralised marketing philosophy for its worldwide operations but has now decided to unify the image and stress its historical tradition.
The Baťa family – who built a shoemaking empire in Zlín, Moravia – were perhaps the most important industrialists in interwar Czechoslovakia. One of the best-known members of the family was Jan Antonín Baťa, who headed the firm after the death of Baťa founder Tomáš Baťa, his half-brother. After fleeing the Nazis in 1939, the tycoon eventually settled in Brazil, where he established four new cities. His granddaughter Dolores Bata Arambasic, was born in one of those cities, Batatuba. Today in her late 60s, she is a frequent visitor to the Czech Republic.
In this week’s Arts, I talk to Karolína Garguláková, an independent filmmaker who, with her husband Lukáš, is producing Baťa Lives about inhabitants of neighborhoods built by the famous Baťa Shoe Company in cities around the world. Such areas, designed according to the same basic blueprint, still exist in the Netherlands, India, Brazil or Canada. It would be a mistake to think, however, the film was a history of the Baťa business empire.
Descendants of shoe magnate Jan Antonín Baťa are demanding that the Czech state return billions of crowns worth of property to them, Právo reported on Monday. An associate of the Baťa family told the newspaper that they were willing to take the matter to the international courts. The property was nationalised under post-war presidential decrees on the grounds that Baťa had allegedly collaborated with the Nazis. However, in 2007 a Prague court overturned Jan Antonín Baťa’s conviction on collaboration charges. The founder of the international shoe company left Czechoslovakia in 1939 and later settled in Brazil, where he founded a number of towns.
In the immediate aftermath of the political coup in Czechoslovakia in February 1948, the communists were keen to give the world the impression that it was business as usual and that nothing out of the ordinary had happened. In this respect Radio Prague as the international service of Czechoslovak Radio was expected to play its part, and so the communists asked the handful of British nationals working for one of Czechoslovakia’s biggest companies to make a statement in English for the radio. As a result one of the British staff of the shoe-making
The Czech operations of the iconic footwear company Bat’a plunged into a loss in 2009 as a result of the economic crisis. The company made a loss of 16.43 million crowns on shrunken turnover of 2.46 billion crowns. A year earlier the company, which employs around 1,100 people, posted a slim profit of 1.65 million crowns on turnover of 2.76 billion crowns. The company expects an improved result for 2010.