Jan Čipera

* 1923  †︎ 2011

  • “…I remember one basic rule that was often quoted at that time. It said: ‘small profit, large income.’ At the time it was quite usual, as it is often nowadays, that a rough calculation of the production price of a certain product was made and then one hundred percent of profit was added to it. That simply didn’t exist in Zlín. In Zlín, the calculation had to be done very precisely, every nail, everything that went into the production had to be included in the production price of the product. And the profit to be added to the price was then agreed upon depending on what the market prices were, and sp on.”

  • “My father was originally a bank clerk of the Lviv branch of a bank in Prague. I don’t remember the name of the bank anymore. The only thing I remember was that there was the word ‘credit’ in its name. My mother lived in Krakow, where she was in charge of sale of footwear and purchase of leather for the shoe company Baťa. My father met her when he went into that shop to buy new shoes. The relationship developed into love and they decided to get married. But at the time it was customary that if a man wanted a woman to be his wife, he had to ask her parents first. My mother was an orphan and therefore my father had to ask her legal guardian, who was Tomáš Baťa. In 1919 my father went to Zlín to ask Tomáš Baťa if he could marry my mother.”

  • “Then there was March of 1939 and our country became occupied. The [Baťa] family members moved out of Czechoslovakia in early 1939. Tomík [Tomáš Baťa Junior] worked in Eastelbury at that time and he then moved to Canada. Jan Baťa with his family and Marie Baťa departed in April. There was the problem of how to protect the company against the Nazis. So the first thing the company did was to hire a well-known German director, Dr. Misbach, who had worked in the footwear industry before. Misbach proved himself to be a good, reliable and moral man who helped to protect the company against the Nazis. When the Nazis later took over virtually all of Europe they insisted that they would deal only with Misbach as the representative of the company in negotiations about the various branches of the company outside of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. That was fortunate because he was doing a good job.”

  • “His mind was very quick. This was manifested in many instances but I’ll tell you one example from the time of the war. There was a poster with a picture of the Prague Castle and an ugly hand towering above it, as if it wanted to grab it. This depiction was directed against the Russians. Someone wrote on that poster with a black charcoal: ‘We are not afraid, we do not live there.’ As I was describing that poster to my father he immediately burst into laughter, even before I finished the last word from that inscription. This is an example of how quickly he was thinking.”

  • “The national court, which was held in 1947, acquitted my father from all accusations, and by law the National Court was a special court whose rulings were final and could not be overruled. Yet in 1950, when my father was already gone, the Communists began a new trial in Uherské Hradiště, which annulled the National Court ruling of 1947. The new verdict said that my father had committed crimes and therefore all of his property was confiscated. Only then they confiscates all his assets." - “Did you claim your property back?” - “When I came back to Czechoslovakia after the revolution, I discovered that the property had been confiscated but I didn’t know on the grounds of which court ruling that had happened. I took several years before I actually found out that the court in Uherské Hradiště had ruled to that effect. Only after I found out that it had been confiscated on the basis of the ruling of that court could I go and claim my property. It took even longer to actually get it back.” - “Can you recall the story of the donation of the villa?” - ”Yes, my father donated that villa in 1947 to Baťa’s fund which sponsored the education of children.”

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    Praha, 13.11.2008

    délka: 01:53:43
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
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My father and Mr. Baťa valued moral character above all else

Jan Čipera was born as the second of two sons of Dominik Čipera on August 7, 1923. His mother, Božena Čiperová, née Klausová, was an orphan. She grew up in Krakow and her legal guardian was Tomáš Baťa. Baťa introduced her to Dominik Čipera. Dominik Čipera was Tomáš Baťa‘s closest associate and after Baťa‘s death he became the managing director of the Baťa Company. He also served as the mayor of Zlín and the minister for public works in Beran‘s government after the Munich agreement as well as in the first governments of the Protectorate era. He supported anti-fascist resistance movement. Jan Čipera has been hard of hearing since his birth. Until 1945 he lived in Zlín where he studied at the secondary school and then he went on to study biochemistry at the University of Agriculture in Prague. In 1948 he emigrated to Canada with his parents. Unlike his father and brother, who fled the country through Bratislava, Jan and his mother‘s attempt to leave the country failed and they were arrested and spent a month in custody in Aš and later in Cheb. They were then released during the general amnesty that took place on the inauguration of the president Gottwald. They lived in Prague for a year and then - this time successfully - escaped from Czechoslovakia. In Canada they were reunited with Jan‘s father and brother. Jan Čipera then worked for one year in a rubber plant in the Baťa factory and then he continued in his study of biochemistry and chemistry at the University of Guelf. After obtaining a PhD degree he started to work in a research institute in Ottawa as a researcher in the field of biochemistry. He married in 1964 and he has two daughters. His father died in 1963, his mother in 1978. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989 he immediately visited Czechoslovakia and he was regularly coming here until health problems prevented him from traveling.