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Czech private foundation will raise money to honor Romani victims of the Holocaust - including from Roma

13.11.2016 17:46
Romani activist Karel Holomek speaking at the memorial to the former concentration camp for Romani people at Hodonín u Kunštátu Czech Republic. (PHOTO:  ROMEA TV)
Romani activist Karel Holomek speaking at the memorial to the former concentration camp for Romani people at Hodonín u Kunštátu Czech Republic. (PHOTO: ROMEA TV)

In August of this year the Foundation for Memorials to Victims of the Romani Holocaust (Nadační fond památníků obětem romského holocaustu) was established with the aim of raising money for new memorials or the reconstruction and renovation of existing ones to the Romani victims of the Holocaust on the territory of the Czech Republic. The members of the administrative board of the foundation include Alica Sigmund Heráková, an expert at the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno; Karel Holomek, chair of the Society of Roma in Moravia, based in Brno; Gejza Horváth, a musician and staffer with the IQ Roma servis NGO in Brno; former Czech Human Rights Minister Michael Kocáb; and former Czech Foreign Minister and current MP Karel Schwarzenberg.

The foundation was officially registered with the Regional Court in Brno on 10 August. Its establishment was motivated by efforts to familiarize the public with the Romani victims of the Second World War as one component of the great struggle for liberation that was part of the efforts made by all of the right-minded forces during the resistance to Nazism.

The idea of the foundation is that Romani people will make their own financial contributions toward the creation of dignified remembrance sites for Romani victims of the Holocaust and will advocate for representation of how they themselves perceive such victims as part of general awareness-raising about the dignified remembrance of all Holocaust victims on the territory of the Czech Republic. "The horrors of the Holocaust must be commemorated constantly and repeatedly, because to to do so demonstrates that the path that led to those horrors was a wrong one and must never be repeated. Look at the fascisization of our own political and social spheres here," Karel Holomek, the foundation's establisher, told news server Romea.cz.

"Whoever judges that the purpose of this foundation is worthy of support can provide any level of contribution to it by bank transfer or by mail. Please tell us your name or institution when contributing. The public will be informed regularly, once every half a year, as to how much money has been donated to the foundation and for what purpose, precisely and strictly, the money was spent," Holomek said.

The foundation intends to cover the cost of installing memorial plaques at the site of thbe former "Gypsy" settlement of Hranička in southeastern Moravia between the villages of Kyjov and Svatobořice; to fund research into possible remembrance sites there and the establishment of new remembrance sites to Romani victims of the Holocaust; and will strive for the relocation of the buildings and constructions at Lety by Písek that desecrate the existing memorial there to the Romani victims of the Holocaust. The Czech Government decided at the beginning of last week to commission an appraisal of the value of the land beneath the pig farm at Lety by Písek so the state can buy the plots.

"The Government has approved a proposal to close the operations of the industrial pig farm near the remembrance site at Lety by Písek," Czech Government spokesperson Martin Ayrer recently wrote. Holomek commented on that plan as follows: "The Government proposal to close the operations of the pig farm at Lety by Písek is good news. The farm is far from being removed. Even in the best-case scenario, it will still take some time, and in the worst-case scenario other barriers to removing it might arise. I personally am also for closing the farm in its current location, but I am also for relocating it somewhere else in the area to preserve the employment it offers. The farm management is insisting on that."

Tereza Heková, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Holocaust, Nadační fond, pietní místo, Romani people, Vláda



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