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Czech Labor Minister says pig farm must be removed from Roma Holocaust site

14.5.2015 8:04
The annual commemorative ceremony honoring the victims of the Roma Holocaust at Lety by Písek took place on 13 May 2015. (PHOTO:  Jan Čonka, Romea.cz)
The annual commemorative ceremony honoring the victims of the Roma Holocaust at Lety by Písek took place on 13 May 2015. (PHOTO: Jan Čonka, Romea.cz)

On Wednesday, 13 May, the annual commemoration ceremony for the Romani victims of Nazism took place at the Lety Memorial. The gathering is traditionally organized by the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust in the Czech Republic (VPORH), which brings together former prisoners of Nazi concentration camps who are Romani and their  relatives.

The surviving prisoners of Lety and their relatives gather in mid-May every year together with figures of Czech political and religious life for the ceremony. Diplomats, the media and the non-profit sector also attend in large numbers.  

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the opening of the memorial. Czech President Václav Havel unveiled it on 13 May 1995.

This year the ceremony was attended by the Ambassador of the United States of America, Andrew H Schapiro, and by many other diplomats. Czech Labor and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová Tominová was the only Czech politician to attend this year, while the President and Prime Minister each sent representatives.

Referring to the stench of the controversial pig farm that has occupied the site of the former camp since the 1970s, the Labor Minister said:  "We can all very well tell that a pig farm is located here. I would be very glad if, during my term in office, I would manage to see the farm removed."

It is not, however, clear what kind of solution to the issue is at hand. More than one Prime Minister in recent years has said the Czech Government does not have the money it would take to arrange for the farm to be removed.

Former Prime Ministers Nečas and Rusnok made statements to the effect, and last year the current head of the cabinet, Bohuslav Sobotka, said the same thing. Lety was originally established by the Czech authorities as a disciplinary labor camp and was then transformed by the Nazi Protectorate administration in August 1942 into a "Gypsy" camp.    

By May 1943, when the camp was closed, 1 308 Romani people had passed through Lety, 327 of whom died there and more than 500 of whom were transported to Auschwitz from there, where most of them were murdered. After the war, the number of Romani prisoners returning to the Czech lands from Nazi concentration camps did not even number 600 people.  

The Nazis are estimated to have murdered of 90 % of the Czech Roma. The current memorial site for Lety is adjacent to the pig farm, which stands on the site of the former camp.

FOTOGALERIE

ČTK, Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Lety u Písku, romský holocaust, Václav Havel, Válka



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