Thursday, June 28, 2007

Czechs and Shoes

Canada is acutely aware of the Bata shoe brand. I had no idea when I was in Prague that this litigation was going on and that the 92-year-old Thomas Bata, Jr. had travelled to defend his ancestor's reputation!

For the last decade his descendants, led by the sprightly 92-year-old Tomas Bata junior, son of the company's founder, have fought to clear his name. They say far from being a collaborator, Jan Antonin Bata financed the Czechoslovak government-in-exile to the tune of a quarter of million dollars in anonymous gifts.
A former Jewish employee also testified that he helped her and up to 80 Jewish families escape from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. All of these facts, say his family, were ignored by the court in 1947. They say the post-war Czechoslovak state, buckling under Communist pressure, was primarily interested in seizing the Bata empire and its assets.
Tomas Bata junior travelled from Canada to attend Monday's court hearing. He repeated that his uncle was innocent, and that the whole episode had been a Communist plot to blacken the family's name. The Czech authorities must now decide whether to reopen the case so Jan Antonin Bata's name can be cleared for good.

The Czechs have been in the centre of so much of the 20th century's history, and we continue to work on it.


At 8:50 AM, Blogger rondi adamson said...

I'm surprised this isn't huge news in Canada.


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