In 1918, on the territory of Austro-Hungarian Galicia, Tomas Bata began to sell shoes. He soon supported his business in Poland by establishing an affiliated company, but he finally settled in the country in 1929 when a new company – Polska Spólka Obuwia Baťa S. A., Kraków – was founded. In addition to expanding the sales network, production was launched in a new factory in Chełmek, which became a pillar of Bata’s business in the country. In 1939, a factory was established in Radom, and an attempt was made to build another plant — Wólka Golębska.
In 1945, along with the establishment of new post-war borders, business activities in eastern Galicia annexed to Ukraine (Lviv) ceased, on the contrary, business was started in the former German Silesia — Otmęt, Kamienna Góra, Gdańsk. Between 1946 and 1948, in the process of nationalization in Poland, all former Bata enterprises were transferred to the ownership of the Polish state.

  • Bata’s first stores were opened in Galicia (Eastern Europe) — in Kraków at the beginning of 1918, in Lviv and Przemyśl at the end of the year; in the territory of the newly demarcated Polish state, a store operated in Łódź in August 1919; the stores ceased to operate after several years.
  • In 1921, the balance sheets of the Bata company recorded financial transactions of the affiliated company Bata Obuwi i Skori Kraków.
  • Between 1928 and 1929 Bata’s exports to Poland fell from 480,000 pairs to 225,000 pairs.
  • On 20 December 1929, Tomas Bata founded the affiliated company Polska Spólka Obuwia Baťa S. A.,  Kraków and, on 26 December 1929, the company was registered with the court in Kraków; an important part of the company was a large factory located in Chełmek (1932), and later on also a subsidiary factory in Radom (1939).
  • At the end of 1942, three Bata enterprises, i.e. the Chełmek factory, the Radom factory and the Kraków trade organization, had a total of 7,223 employees.
  • Nationalization in Poland was carried out under the relevant Act passed in 1946 and in compliance with the subsequent ministerial decrees issued on 30 November 1946 for Chełmek and Ottmuth (“Ota“” Fabryka Obuwia, Spółka Akcyjna – Otmęt; Polska Spólka Obuwia “Bata” Spółka Akcyjna — Kraków); the actual transfer of the nationalized company in Chełmek followed on 4 July 1947, and, in the same year, the same probably happened at the company situated in Otmęt; in 1947, the nationalized enterprises included the plant located in Radom.
  • At the end of the 1970s, the Polish government established cooperation with the Bata company in the design, production and sale of shoes, however, this attempt soon failed.
  • In 1993 the Bata company had a store in Warsaw.

Sales network

  • In March 1930, a Bata store was opened in Poznań, followed by another store in Warsaw in April.
  • In 1932, the following stores were opened: Lodz II, Nowy Sącz, Oświęcim, Wejherowo, Chełmek, Grodno, Siemianowice, Pszczyna, Żywiec, Tarnopol. In total, the Bata company had a network of 49 stores in the country.
Bata sales network in Poland
1934 113
1935 135
1936 176
1937 307
1938 340
  • In 1938, the sales network comprised 340 stores in 235 locations, 371 stores in 1939.
  • Towards the end of 1939, the Bata sales network in Poland comprising 371 stores was fragmented: 102 stores found themselves in Hitler’s German Reich, 150 stores were located on the territory of the General Government, 88 stores were seized by Stalin’s Soviet Union, 31 stores were cancelled.


  • On 29 August 1931, Tomas Bata purchased land for the construction of his factory in Poland; it was agricultural and forest land near Oświęcim, situated in the cadastral area of the municipalities of Chełmek, Libiąż Wielki, Dąb, Bobrek with a total area of 986 ha.
  • In December 1931, 31 Polish employees travelled to Zlín to participate in training for later employment in the Chełmek factory, in the spring of 1932, several female employees followed them.
  • In January 1932, the first production hall in Chełmek was close to completion and being equipped with machines; at the same time, several residential houses and a lodging house for unmarried employees were being built.
  • As a result of the government ban, it was not possible to build Bata-style two-storey standard buildings, but only ground-floor halls, of which a larger number was gradually built here; therefore, the factory premises in Chełmek looked different from other Bata factories; however, a residential housing estate was inspired by the Zlín model and built according to designs by F. L. Gahura; in 1932, three houses were built (two family houses, one hostel for unmarried employees).
  • In the spring of 1932, the factory started production – of rubber shoes at first – and, during the following months, also of leather shoes; in the following period, other production halls equipped with machinery from Zlín were added; in 1932, 580,000 pairs of shoes were produced, a year later it was 1,057,400 pairs.
  • In November 1932, the first group of 14–15 year old boys travelled to Zlín to attend the corporate vocational school (Bata School of Work).
Chełmek Factory — Employees and production (as at 31 December)
1932 498
1933 767
1934 890 811,400 712,000 1,523,400
1935 982 830,800 707,000 1,537,800
1936 1,196 951,800 790,900 1,742,700
1937 1,261 1,184,000 882,600 2,066,600
1938 (as at 30 June) 1,479 683,200 436,700 1,119,900
Employees at the Bata company in Poland
1934 1,315 890 373 52
1936 1,986 1,220 525 241
1938 2,847 1,669 637 551
  • In November 1932, the sports club “Chełmek” was founded (skiing, table tennis, cycling, shooting sports, athletics, theatre section); in the winter of 1934, a ski jumping hill was built, in the summer, a swimming pool and a volleyball and basketball court were added, as well as three tennis courts and a bowling alley; in 1934, a corporate library was established, in 1935, a band composed of staff members was formed.
  • In 1934, the plant provided funding for the completion of the Municipal House, as well as for the construction of a church in 1936.
  • In 1937, the Bata area in Chełmek comprised 8 factory halls, 14 family houses (54 apartments) and 4 houses for unmarried employees; in 1939, there were approximately 250 inhabitants living in the factory colony.
  • In the autumn of 1938, a corporate vocational school was established in Chełmek in accordance with Bata principles; this happened after the return of a hundred-member group of Polish apprentices who had to return from the Bata School of Work in Zlín; in 1938, a nursery school was opened in Chełmek.
  • At the beginning of the war, in September 1939, Chełmek was occupied by the German army, in the period from 1939 to 1943, the enterprise was subordinated to the German Commissary Administration and had a German director, Reinhold Dubberke.
Chełmek factory — number of employees and production
1939 1,656 1,987,200
1940 1,983 2,177,900
1941 2,390 3,233,700
1942 2,585 3,920,700
1943 2,835 3,917,500
1944 2,783 2,557,300
1945 1,896 1,079,300
  • The nationalization of the company was carried out under the Polish Act passed in 1946 and in compliance with the subsequent Ministerial Decree issued on 30 November 1946 for Chełmek (Polska Spólka Obuwia “Bata” Spółka Akcyjna — Kraków); the company was nationalized on 21 June 1947, the actual transfer of the nationalized company in Chełmek followed on 4 July 1947; in 1948 it was renamed to Południowe Zakłady Obuwia w Chełmku.
  • The company published internal newspapers in Chelmek for Bata’s employees – on 14 May 1934 it was Echo Chełmek, another periodical was called Zprzedawca; from January 1939 the newspaper entitled Organ Zwiazku Zawodowego Pracovników Polskiej Spółki Baťa SA in Chełmek-Rodzina Szewska, a monthly magazine of the factory trade union, was published.


  • In May 1939, the Bata company leased a part of unused buildings in Radom after a bent furniture factory owned by Johann Kohn was closed down; the factory buildings were, later on, purchased in 1943.
  • In 1939, the factory operated as a branch of the factory in Chełmek; during the Nazi occupation, it bore the name of Polska Spółka Obuwia Baťa SA w Krakówie Fabryka w Chełmku Oddział w Radomiu / “Bata” Schuh und Lederwerke A. G. Zweigfabrik in Radom.
  • In 1940, 110 people were employed in the factory, 1,100 people in 1941, in the spring of 1942, the number of employees increased to 2,400.
  • In 1942, 3,279 employees were registered by the factory (Bata Schuh- und Lederwerke A. G., Krakau); in 1943, the company had a total of 3,299 employees, out of which 2,502 in the production and 797 in the sales department: the annual production amounted to 2,617,000 pairs of shoes.
Production in Radom during the war years
1940 405,000
1941 1,235,000
1942 2,231,000
1943 2,617,000
  • Under the 1946 Act, the nationalization of the plant was carried out; in accordance with the decision made by the Ministry of Industry and Trade on 21 June 1947, the state enterprise called Radomskie Zakłady Obuwia was established on 1 October 1947.

 Wólka Golębska

  • In the spring of 1939, the Bata company began to build a factory (tannery) here, however, it could not be put into operation before the start of the war. In December, the construction of the factory hall and of other buildings had been completed; two more halls, three warehouses, two residential houses were being constructed. Two tanneries, mechanical workshops, a boiler room and a dining hall were planned to be built. 200 employees were registered to be working in the factory; more information on any type of production is not available.


  • In 1939, after the Nazi occupation of Poland, the sales headquarters Bata Schuh- und Lederwerke A. G. in Chełmek, Zweigstelle Krakau were established in Kraków for the sales network on the territory of the General Government.


  • By the memorandum of association signed on 19 May 1943, the affiliated company Bata Schuhhandelsgesellschaft m.b. H., Danzig was established; it was registered by the local commercial court in June 1943, the director of the company was Heinrich Dubberke in Chełmek.


  • Between 1941 and 1943, the affiliated company in Chełmek was interconnected with the company Max Badura in Lviv / Schuhvertrieb Max Badura, Lemberg (with Reinhold Dubberke and Joachim Schulz-Bundte holding the post of directors); the Max Badura company was founded in December 1941 with the aim of supplying about 25 Bata stores in Galicia (Eastern Europe), the company also traded in chemicals for tanneries and it was still in operation as at 31 December 1943.


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