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Czech PM to attend commemorative ceremony at the Hodonín u Kunštátu Memorial to the Holocaust of the Roma and Sinti

17.8.2022 21:19
The commemorative ceremony at Hodonín u Kunštátu, Czech Republic, 19 August 2018. (PHOTO: Zdeněk Ryšavý, Romea.cz)
The commemorative ceremony at Hodonín u Kunštátu, Czech Republic, 19 August 2018. (PHOTO: Zdeněk Ryšavý, Romea.cz)

On Thursday, 18 August 2022 at 11:00 a commemorative ceremony will be held to honor the memories of Holocaust victims at the Hodonín u Kunštátu Memorial to the Holocaust of the Roma and Sinti. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala will address the gathering, as has been confirmed to news server Romea.cz by Jakub Tomek, press spokesperson for the PM. 

"I can confirm that the Prime Minister will attend the commemorative ceremony on Thursday, 18 August 2022 to honor the memory of Holocaust victims at the Hodonín u Kunštátu Memorial to the Holocaust of the Roma and Sinti," the spokesperson told Romea.cz. Another commemorative ceremony will also be held in Černovice at the local cemetery, to which those attending the gathering will be driven by chartered bus. 

2022 marks 79 years since the forced mass transport of Romani children, men and women from what was then called the "Gypsy Camp" at Hodonín u Kunštátu to the Auschwitz II-Birkenau Concentration and Extermination Camp. Most of those forcibly imprisoned at Auschwitz never returned to their home countries. 

More than 207 persons, including children, died at Hodonín u Kunštátu before it was closed. The camp was one of two locations (the second of which was the camp at Lety u Písku) where entire families of Roma and Sinti from Bohemia and Moravia were forcibly concentrated during the Second World War. 

A memorial has been created at this authentic site of suffering and is administered by the Museum of Romani Culture. "The commemorative ceremony will begin in the Atrium at 11:00 and will feature a performance by singer Erika Nováková and the Romens Pardubice ensemble," Karolina Spielmannová of the Museum of Romani Culture said in a press release. 

"This year the speeches will be given by the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Fiala and Culture Minister Martin Baxa. Vice-Governor Lukáš Dubec of the Region of South Moravia and the Mayor of Brno-sever, Martin Maleček, will also speak, and greetings will be heard from the Ambassador of Canada, Ayesha Patricia Rekhi, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Andreas Künne, and the president of the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust, himself a relative of the prisoners, Čeněk Růžička," Spielmannová said.         

The program this year will also include a presentation of the publications of the KHER press, which specializes in literature by Romani people, including the first Romani graphic novel in the Czech Republic, entitled Žofi Z-4515. Radka Patočková, director of KHER, told news server Romea.cz that "Žofi Z-4515 is one of the very few testimonies by Romani survivors, of which just a few have been preserved worldwide."

"She focuses on more than her wartime experiences, though. She also feels the need to explain her life during the interwar period, which was absolutely legitimate, and also how survivors built their new lives after the war," Patočková said. 

At 12:30 the commemorative ceremony will be held at the Žalov Cultural Heritage Memorial, the site of the mass graves for prisoners who died in the camp. The memories of the victims will be honored with prayer, the laying of wreaths, and the lighting of candles.

The museum is also offering the opportunity to attend a guided tour of the permanent exhibition there, "Hodonín u Kunštátu Camp: Intersecting Tragedies 1940-1950. Central Europe". Another, temporary exhibition is also on view there about the Lidice tragedy, explaining how the Nazis burned down the Central Bohemian village of Lidice on 10 June 1942 and its postwar development to the present.

"On the occasion of the commemorative ceremony at Lety u Písku in May we filmed a new video to accompany Gejza Horváth's song 'Romani dukh'," director of the Museum of Romani Culture Jana Horváthová said. "That song was first performed in Brno during our honoring of the memories of the Holocaust victims in March."

The program will close with a bus trip at 14:45 to Černovice. The memories of the child victims of what was called the "Gypsy Camp" who are buried at the cemetery there will be honored. 

Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Government of the Czech Republic, Hodonín u Kunštátu, Muzeum, Pietní akce



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