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BREAKING NEWS: Contract for Czech state to buy pig farm on Romani genocide site has been signed

23.11.2017 12:03
The signing of the contract to buy out the pig farm at Lety u Písku, Czech Republic on 23 November 2017. (PHOTO:  Richard Samko)
The signing of the contract to buy out the pig farm at Lety u Písku, Czech Republic on 23 November 2017. (PHOTO: Richard Samko)

Just after 11:30 AM today the contract on buying out the pig farm in Lety u Písku that stands on the site of the former concentration camp for Romani people was signed at the Czech Culture Ministry in Prague in the presence of Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats - KDU-ČSL). The contract was signed between the Museum of Romani Culture director, Jana Horváthová, and the owner of the farm, represented by the vice-chair of the board of AGPI firm, Jan Čech.

The state will pay CZK 450 814 796 inclusive of VAT for the pig farm (CZK 372 574 380 without VAT). The purchase was approved by the Government in August.

The operation of the farm should be, according to previous information, closed within several months. According to an earlier statement by the Culture Ministry, after operations wind down the farm should be demolished, the grounds rehabilitated, project documentation for a new memorial elaborated, and a new memorial built.

It will take years for the grounds to be adapted to their new purpose. The purchase of the farm and the building of a dignified remembrance site on the grounds of the former camp have been discussed for more than 20 years, but previous Governments have always passed the buck on the problem.

The Czech Republic has garnered criticism from both domestic and international organizations over the pig farm on the site where the Romani genocide victims died and are commemorated. The European Parliament has also called for the farm to be removed several times.

The camp at Lety was opened in August 1940 by the Protectorate authorities as a disciplinary labor camp. It was first intended for men who were unable to document their sources of income to the authorities.

Persons living a traveling way of life were also meant to end up in the camp. A similar facility was opened in Moravia at Hodonín u Kunštátu.

In January 1942, both camps were changed into internment camps, and in August of that year both were set up as "Gypsy camps". From that time until May 1943 the Lety camp imprisoned, according to historians, 1 308 Romani people, 327 of whom perished there and more than 500 of whom ended up in Auschwitz.

Less than 600 Romani prisoners returned from the concentration camps to the former Protectorate after the war. According to estimates, the Nazis murdered 90 % of the Romani people indigneous to Bohemia.

The farm was built at Lety during communism, beginning in 1972. During the first phase, 10 feed halls were built, with three more added later.

From 2013-2015 the firm installed new technology in half of the feed halls. The farm occupies 7.1 hectares, where 13 000 pigs are fed in 13 halls.

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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