Czech MP marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day by doubting what happened at Romani genocide site
The Czech Museum of Romani Culture is asking that Czech MP Tomio Okamura, a vice-chair of the lower house, publicly apologize for his remark about the WWII-era concentration camp for Romani people at Lety u Písku. In an interview for the online DVTV television channel on Saturday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Okamura referenced a book that he alleged has described the camp as having not been fenced and people being free to come and go from it.
According to experts from the museum, his allegations are untrue, are sparking anti-Romani sentiment in society, and are trampling on the memory of the victims of the genocide and persecution of Romani people during the Second World War. In the interview filmed at the campaign headquarters of the newly-elected Czech President Zeman, Okamura is asked by reporter Daniela Drtinová of DVTV whether he still doubts Lety was a concentration camp and answers: "So now I do not know exactly what this is about, but that camp at Lety, it's true that many Jewish victims have turned to me, I have many friends who are Jewish, and they were Auschwitz victims, and they asked me why in the Czech Republic we are putting the camp at Lety on the same level as the extermination camp at Auschwitz."
"I looked at the quote from [former] President Klaus on this matter, and when I looked at a book from the Academy of Sciences called 'The Lety Camp, Facts and Myths', it states, for example, that the camp was not fenced and that basically those people were free to come and go," Okamura mendaciously said. When the reporter then asked whether that means the people did not die there as a result of genocide, Okamura would not answer and began to vulgarly insult the media outlet she works for.
"We consider it our duty to point out that the allegations made by Tomio Okamura about the Lety camp are untrue and that the source he cites does not exist. The truthless claims of Mr Okamura are used by him as a political instrument to spark anti-Romani sentiment in society and to nefariously trample on the memory of the victims of the genocide and persecution of Romani during the Second World War," the museum's letter states.
Letter from the Museum of Romani Culture (full translation)
The Museum of Romani Culture feels the obligation to comment on the remarks by Mr Tomio Okamura that were made on 27 January 2018 in his interview with Daniela Drtinová for DVTV. In that interview, which Okamura gave in connection with the presidential elections, Drtinová asked him as a vice-chair of the Chamber of Deputies to clarify his views on what was once called the Gypsy Camp at Lety u Písku. She clearly specified which period of the camp she had in mind by asking whether Okamura was doubting the existence of the concentration camp at Lety intended for Romani people. There cannot, therefore, be any doubt as to whether Tomio Okamura was being asked about the times when the site of the Lety camp was used as the headquarters for a labor unit, as a disciplinary labor camp, or as an internment camp. Romani families and others who were considered in the discourse of the time as "Gypsy", including children, elderly people and women, were interned en masse at Lety between August 1942 and August 1943, when the camp was officially called Zigeunerlager I.
Okamura, in his answer to the question, said that on the basis of remarks made by former President Václav Klaus and a book he called 'The Lety Camp, Facts and Myths', allegedly published by the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, he has formed the opinion that the Lety camp was not fenced and the persons interned there were not restricted in their freedom of movement.
The Museum of Romani Culture feels obliged to object in the strongest possible terms to all of the above-mentioned distortions of the historical facts from the mouth of Tomio Okamura about what was called the Gypsy Camp at Lety u Písku. From 1940 to 1943, i.e., from time the disciplinary labor camp was established until the time when what was called the Gypsy Camp was razed to the ground, the facility was enclosed by a high wooden fence with barbed wire on its upper part and was patrolled by armed guards. The evidence for this is not just written sources from the day and eyewitness testimonies, but also photographs. The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic issued a publication called "Historians and the Case of Lety" on the issue of the Lety camp in 1999. That publication does not contain any claims that what was called the Gypsy Camp at Lety was not fenced. Neither the Academy of Sciences nor any other entity has ever released a publication called "The Camp at Lety, Facts and Myths" (Tábor v Letech, fakta a mýty).
We consider it our duty to point out that the allegations made by Tomio Okamura about the Lety camp are untrue and that the source he cites does not exist. The truthless claims of Mr Okamura are used by him as a political instrument to spark anti-Romani sentiment in society and to nefariously trample on the memory of the victims of the genocide and persecution of Romani during the Second World War. In addition, his doubts and his mendacious representations also discredit the historical research undertaken on this subject to date. Given the relentless march of time, we are losing the eyewitnesses to the tragic events of the Holocaust of Romani people, as well as the representatives of the first generation of historians who pioneered research about this subject. We call for the memories of these persons to be honored and we emphatically ask Tomio Okamura for a public apology to the victims of the Nazi-initiated genocide and persecution for trampling on their memories, as well as an apology to the historians and other professionals involved with this subject for mendaciously distorting their writings.
- Czech Parliament marks International Holocaust Memorial Day with Romani speaker
- Czech Museum of Romani Culture officially takes charge of memorial at Romani genocide site in Hodonín u Kunštátu
- Czech Republic: ROMEA plans public debates about future of Roma genocide site once Museum of Romani Culture takes over
- Jana Horváthová: Today Czech society perceives removing the pig farm from the Roma genocide site as necessary
- Co-chair of Green Party says Czech taxpayers should not pay to protect Holocaust deniers visiting Prague
- Čeněk Růžička, recipient of the Alice G. Masaryk Award: Sobotka's Government was brave enough to come to terms with the Roma Holocaust
- Čeněk Růžička receives human rights prize from the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic for his contribution to Romani Holocaust recognition
- Czech legislators attack state's buyout of pig farm on Roma genocide site
- Czech Republic: Mayor of Brno joins march against denial of the Holocaust of the Roma
- Norway Grants to partially finance memorial to Romani genocide victims in Czech Republic
- Czech Social Democratic head recommends removal of lower house vice-chair because of his deceptive remarks about Romani genocide site
- Vice-chair of Czech lower house refuses to discuss Romani genocide with relative of victims live online
- Patrik Banga: How can people in the Czech Republic write about reviving the concentration camps?
- Čeněk Růžička reports crime to Czech State Prosecutor, accuses lower house vice-chair of doubting the Romani genocide
- Outgoing Czech PM backs MP who doubted Romani Holocaust, says he has apologized and his words have been "misinterpreted"
- Czech Gov't Roma Council demands apology, Czech Justice Minister disturbed by MP's remarks about Romani genocide site
- Czech Christian Democrats want to remove Holocaust doubter from vice-chair post in the lower house
- European Grassroots Antiracist Movement calls Czech MP's remarks about Romani genocide site classic Holocaust denial
- Czech MP apologizes for "imprecision", then urges people to read historian who calls the Romani Holocaust a "myth"
- Czech citizens file crime report over MP's remarks denying the suffering of Romani genocide victims
Tags:dějiny, genocide, Lety u Písku, Okamura - popírání romského holocaustu
Outgoing Czech PM backs MP who doubted Romani Holocaust, says he has apologized and his words have been "misinterpreted"7.2.2018 16:32
concentration camp at Lety u Písku, a site of the genocide of the Roma during the Second World War. When asked today whether he supports removing Okamura from his post as vice-chair of the lower house, as the Christian Democrats propose, the PM said he considers Okamura's apology to have been sufficient.
Každý diskutující musí dodržovat PRAVIDLA DISKUZE SERVERU Romea.cz. Moderátoři serveru Romea.cz si vyhrazují právo bez předchozího upozornění skrýt nevhodné příspěvky z diskuse na Romea.cz. Ty pak budou viditelné jen pro vás a vaše přátele na Facebooku. Při opakovaném porušení pravidel mohou moderátoři zablokovat zobrazování vašich příspěvků v diskusích na Romea.cz ostatním uživatelům.