Velké Kino in Zlín / Czech Republic


Velké Kino Bata Kino Zlin postcard 1940
Zlín was famous for its shoe industry - Bata shoes.

Tomáš Baťa and his siblings founded a shoe factory there in 1894. During the production gradually increased, as did the number of employees and the population of the town. Due to the remarkable economic growth of the company and the increasing prosperity of its workers, Baťa himself was elected mayor of Zlín in 1923.

Besides producing footwear, the company diversified into engineering, chemistry, rubber technology and many more areas. The factory hired thousands of workers who moved to Zlín. A new large complex of modern buildings and facilities was gradually built by the Baťa's company on the outskirts of the town in 1923–1938. It included thousands of flats, schools, department stores, scientific facilities, a hospital. The development took place in a controlled manner and was based on modern urban concepts with the contribution of important architects of the time. Zlín became a hypermodern industrial city with functionalist character unique in Europe.

Among these building, there was opened Velké Kino (Great Cinema) on September 6th, 1932. With its capacity of 2,270 seats it was the largest pre-war cinema in Czecholslovakia. 

The functionalist building by architect František Lýdie Gahura (1891-1958) was built in 1932 by the Baťa company,  Thanks to this, a unique welded steel structure was used in the construction, to such an extent for the first time in the territory of the then Czechoslovakia.

Bat'a encouraged his employees to go to the cinema: he often showed films there in their original versions in order to learn foreign languages. The cinema was hit by Allied air raids in 1944.

The cinema has hosted the International Film Festival for Children and Youth every year from 1961 till 2016. (The city wears the name Gottwaldov from 1949 to 1990).

The building has been protected as a cultural monument since 2001. It has to  been closed since 2016 due to its bad statics.

Read here more about cinemas and their history in Zlín.

I found there an interesting fact about the shown picture: Above the cinema's entrance you can read the word SABRA. This wasn't the name of the cinema. The author of the website suspects a symbol of resistance of the cinema against the German occupiers in the choice of this word to designate the cinema.

In 1933 there was a Polish film called Sabra about young Polish Jews went to Palestine. But of corse this movie wasn't shown in Zlín during the German occupation. Sabra (or Tzabra) is a Hebrew word for any Jew born in Palestine / Israel. 

The postcard was published during the German occupation 1939-1945. There is written on the backyard "5181. Freigegeben durch RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium)" - Released by the Reich Air Ministry. But the description is in Czech "ZLÍN - Společenský dům a kino Bata" (not kino Sabra!).

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