The residents of Zlín are commemorating 60 years since the city was renamed.
They celebrated the end of 1948 as Zlín citizens but woke up in 1949 as the residents of Gottwaldov.
The city was named after the first communist president of Czechoslovakia, Klement Gottwald, on the order of high-ranking party members and the government and thanks to the activity of the local communist organisation.
The act of renaming was designed to erase the memory of Tomáš Baťa, the founder of Zlín and the symbol of a successful businessman.
Gottwald was to become the new face of the city. For example, the Gottwaldov ice hockey players had a large letter G on their jerseys.
To this day, disputes are held as to why Gottwald’s home town Vyškov (Gottwald was born in Dědice, the outskirts of Vyškov) was not renamed to Gottwaldov. One theory suggests the KSČ leader had bad memories of his childhood and therefore refused to give the town his name.
Gottwaldov is mentioned in the birth certificate of Ivana Trump as the place where she was born. She was born 20 February 1949, almost two months after the city was renamed.
The city became Zlín again after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. City representatives made a decision in December and the city became Zlín again on 1 January 1990.
Zlín had a Slovak sister city renamed for ideological reasons. The city formerly called Telgárt was named Švermov after the Rudé právo journalist and member of the Slovak National Upraising, Jan Šverma.
The biggest number of renamed cities was in the former Soviet Union. Saint Petersburg became Leningrad, Caricyn became Stalingrad, Samara was renamed as Kujbysev, Königsberg in eastern Prussia was renamed as Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod became Gorkij, Yekaterinburg became Sverdlovsk.
Ghemnitz in the German Democratic Republic was renamed as Karl-Marx-Stadt, Podgorica in Yugoslavia became Titograd and Kucove in Albania became Qytet Stalin (Stalin’s city).
Photographs of the Gottwaldov-era Zlín are available on the website www.staryzlin.cz
Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.