Svatava Billová

* 1944  

  • “I first went to school in the fateful year 1949; the school year was just beginning. I remember the morning. Dad was in the bathroom when the cops in leather coats arrived and arrogantly told us that everything was seized from us. They took our entire business, our family villa, all vehicles including our own passenger car, our deposit books, securities – everything. The paradox was that they stole everything yet ordered us to pay a millionaire tax. They didn’t care where my parents would take the money from. It was a horrible moment and I still remember it today. Since nobody was able to run the plant at the time, they left dad there for a brief stint as a national manager. Then a communist came and he had to give it over to him. A family of strangers moved into our flat immediately. We shared the toilets and bathroom. Luckily, they were decent people, so we managed somehow. They felt bad, like intruders, so they found another place, but then another family moved in immediately. I admired my parents for the way they managed to cope with this.”

  • “I remember the lovely childhood in our plant. Being little children, my brother, my cousin and I used to play on coffee sacks, and everything smelled of peanuts. At the time, tea was shipped in boxes, so we played with the boxes and built things from them. That was the best part of my childhood. I never lived to see my grandfather, and I remember my grandmother as a sick person. She could not bear the nationalisation, it took a toll on her and she followed grandpa soon.”

  • “The communists never built anything, never contributed anything– they lived on what they stole. They stole or nationalised all assets in 1948 – and they lied. Prior to that, they said they would only nationalise large companies and banks. Then they nationalised it all to a T. Around us, in Hungary and Poland, at least small shops remained private. In our country, even the tiniest operator had to leave the shop. Indeed, they knew how to manage others’ assets. And they ruined even that. When they ran out of assets they committed another theft – the currency reform. They seized people’s savings. And they lied again. One day before, president Zápotocký thundered on the radio saying that there would be no reform. And there it was the next day. In addition, the nation’s elite, the most educated people, had to leave if they disagreed. They even took that away from us. What I consider the worst crime is not that they stole farms and fields – they broke the chain of tradition where relationship to land and work was handed down from one generation to the next. It was broken and it is difficult to start over again. Plus we must not forget about StB – the prisons, torture and executions.”

  • “It was more like mitigating the wrong. To give it back to us, there were many terms and conditions. First, we had to pay for the net value and for all the stock. That was an unimaginable amount for us. Then we had to prepare a privatisation project. We were a competitor because the communist director who was at the helm said he was preparing his own project, he would not give it up and he would never give it back to our family. We decided to entrust the project to my husband and he made it. I remember going to Prague to the ministry, led by Vladimír Dlouhý. We were sitting in the lobby along with the communist director. We took our turns before the committee, answering their questions. Then we had to wait for the decision. It was a very tense moment. Then the committee walked out and said they preferred the family project. At the moment, we felt like there was justice after all. Then we heard the terms and conditions and how much we had to pay, and it was obvious that we could never afford that and would have to join forces with a global firm.”

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    Zlín, 26.10.2018

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Communists took everything away and turned us into second class citizens

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zdroj: Petra Sasínová

Svatava Billová, née Dadáková, was born in Ostrava on 5 January 1944. Her grandfather was the founder of a coffee roasting and packaging plant in Valašské Meziříčí, a patriot and Sokol member, Arnošt Dadák. When he died, her father Arnošt Dadák Jr. took over the business. The communists nationalised the firm in 1949 and evicted the family from their villa. The father made his living as a driver and the mother was a worker in the nationalised plant. Having married Rudolf Bill, the witness moved to Rožno pod Radhoštěm, completed a university through correspondence classes and taught at a vocational school. The Dadáks got the family business back as part of restitution in 1993. They had to meet many conditions and defend their privatisation project. Due to a lack of experience and finance, they joined forces with a foreign company and sold the business to it. The Dadák coffee brand was retained.