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Czech Government releases funds to demolish pig farm on Romani genocide site, archaeological survey will happen

5.9.2018 7:28
On 3 April 2018 representatives of the Museum of Romani Culture took possession of the industrial pig farm at Lety u Písku from the AGPI firm. (PHOTO:  Czech News Agency)
On 3 April 2018 representatives of the Museum of Romani Culture took possession of the industrial pig farm at Lety u Písku from the AGPI firm. (PHOTO: Czech News Agency)

Yesterday the Czech Government decided to release CZK 111 million [EUR 4,311,600] for an archaeological survey, cleanup and demolition work on the grounds of the defunct pig farm at the site of the former concentration camp for Romani people at Lety. Czech Culture Minister Antonín Staněk (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) informed the Czech News Agency and Czech Radio of the decision after yesterday's cabinet session.

Funds to clean up the grounds will be sent to the Museum of Romani Culture, and the Czech Culture Ministry is also counting on an archaeological survey going forward there. Research will be done to ascertain where the graves of those who died at the camp, both the guards and their victims, are located.

Last year the Government approved the buyout of the farm for CZK 372 574 380 [EUR 14,472,065] (or CZK 450 814 796 with VAT). The VAT paid on the purchase in the amount of CZK 78 240 416 [EUR 3,038,971] will return to the state coffers.

The firm that owned the facility has already been paid 90 % of the purchase price. The previous administration of Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD) promised to fund the demolition of the pig farm, including removing environmental waste and rehabilitating the site.

Staněk said the funds had been set aside in the Government's reserves. "We were waiting to make sure the money would be invested effectively, which has now proven to be the case," the Culture Minister noted.

Compared to the original assumptions, the minister said the cost of the demolition will be CZK 17.5 million [EUR 679,730] lower. The grounds of the farm were handed over by its former owner, the AGPI firm, to the Museum of Romani Culture in April.

The farm first began construction in 1972 and eventually housed 13 000 animals in 13 feed halls over 7.1 hectares. The buyout of the farm to create a remembrance site has been discussed for more than 20 years.

According to the Culture Minister, the second phase of the project can now be launched, which involves cleaning up the grounds. The Museum will announce a selection procedure for a firm to carry out the demolition.

The demolished structures will be used for landfill or will be otherwise made use of in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport, the Culture Minister said. He called the Government's decision important to requesting co-financing from Norway Grants for the building of a memorial.

The Culture Minister also said he believes the construction of a small remembrance site with a memorial will cost approximately CZK 12 million [EUR 466,117]. The Museum will also receive funds now for a non-invasive archaeological survey of the grounds of the former camp.

According to previously-published information, that investigation should cost approximately CZK 1.5 million [EUR 58,270] and should last about two months. At the same time, the Culture Ministry, according to the minister, is planning other research that should focus on the graves that may be located at different places around the grounds.

The remains of victims from the concentration camp, as well as the remains of guards or soldiers who were interred there, may be underground. "From the standpoint of the reverential nature of the site it is important to at at least somewhat attempt to identify where the victims actually are buried and where those who may have been responsible for their victimization are buried," the minister pointed out.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Lety u Písku, Muzeum romské kultury, Vláda, Výběrové řízení


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