Journal By Children of Báťa’s Company Town Workers

Mladý Zlín: časopis zlínských dětí [Young Zlin: a journal of Zlin children]. Vol. I, nos. 5, 6, 7, 9; vol. II, nos. 1, 2, 3, 4.

Zlín: Žáci Masarykových škol, 1931–1944. Quartos (30.3 × 21.6 cm). Original staple-stitched decorative and pictorial self-wrappers; 12–16 pp. per issue. Illustrated from photographs, drawings, and cartoons; with numerous ads for Báťa shoes and other Zlín businesses. Light dust-soiling; rust to staples; still about very good.

Run of eight issues of this scarce journal, published from 1931 to 1944 by the children of employees of the illustrious Báťa Shoe Company, at its main location in Zlín, Czech Republic. “Zlín in Moravia, Tomáš Báťa’s company town, is a showpiece of designed modern living. Its administrative building, a seventeen-story skyscraper built in 1937–38, may well have been the tallest building in Europe at the time. Still more distinctive was Báťa’s provision of standardized family houses and apartments for his workers and a range of social amenities from “Masaryk Schools” to hospitals to community centers… It is an eminently modernist vision, which the visiting Le Corbusier, for one, much appreciated” (Derek Sayer, The Coasts of Bohemia, p. 200). The building housing the progressive Masaryk Schools, built in 1927–1928 after plans by František Lydie, was also a cutting edge construction, which was demolished in 1988. The journal’s design likewise reflects the progressive aesthetics of the “Báťa Empire” and it is a testament to the practical orientation of the school, which allowed students to explore various hands-on projects, rather than following traditional syllabi. Many issues depict students at work in workshops and practicing various handicrafts. And there are other curious similarities to Soviet children’s propaganda: one of the issues discusses a book about Dneprostroi and an article about physical exercise and scouting juxtaposes images of Soviet youth and Zlín children doing gymnastics. Each issue contains texts by the pupils, such as poems, anedcotes, or short reminiscences about patriotic festivals, sporting events, or the students’ arrival in the town of Zlín, as well as personal meetings with Tomáš Báťa. Issue one of the second year commemorates the magnate’s death in Juli 1932. Naturally, the journal also misses no opportunities to advertise the many achievements and benefits provided by the Báťa Company. An interesting document of an altogether different kind of propaganda aimed at children from the interwar period.

These are the first issues of the journal which we have encountered in commerce. As of December 2021, not found in KVK, OCLC.

Book ID: 51748