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July 16, 2018
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Czech Romani Holocaust survivor relative responds to President Zeman: Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was responsible for Lety

5.7.2017 6:27
Miloš Zeman and Čeněk Růžička (Collage:
Miloš Zeman and Čeněk Růžička (Collage:

Čeněk Růžička, the chair of the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust, responded on 1 July to remarks made by Czech President Miloš Zeman about the pig farm on the site of the former concentration camp at Lety u Písku. Zeman said he disagrees with removing the farm.

According to Růžička, Czech indigenous Roma and Sinti who travel have had great respect for the office of the president since time immemorial and it has allegedly "never" happened that anybody from their community has broken that unwritten law. "After the remark you have now intentionally made about the pig farm on the site of the former concentration camp, however, I am breaking this rule for the first time and, I hope, for the last, because I consider you to be a President of whom I am ashamed.," Růžička wrote in a letter that news server is publishing here in full translation:

Mr President,

The victims of this camp, the Czech indigenous Roma and Sinti who used to travel, always had great respect for the office of the president, since time immemorial. None of them ever broke that unwritten law publicly.

Those of us who are their descendants also have not broken this law. If that ever happened, I ask your assistants to do the work of finding the evidence to convince me of it.

After the remark you have now intentionally made about the pig farm on the site of the former concentration camp, however, I am breaking this rule for the first time and, I hope, for the last, because I consider you to be a President of whom I am ashamed. When I say "for the last" time, my dream is that no other citizens of the country where I and my ancestors and their ancestors were born, as far back as 600 years ago, will ever have to experience a president like you again.

I propose that you try and imagine the hypothetical presence of a pig farm on the site of the demolished, massacred villages of Lidice or Ležáky. How is the concentration camp at Lety any less a place of tragedy?

Mr President, the institutions of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia were responsible for the murders of Romani children, men and women there. There was no Nazi order to murder the members of our families at Lety - the Nazis needed to get them all into the extermination camp at Auschwitz for industrial processing.

The Czech guards at the camp were behind the murders of hundreds of innocent Roma and Sinti, including children, there, and they were never punished. The society of the Communists bears responsibility for building the pig farm on the site of the former concentration camp, and the post-1989 governments cannot rid themselves of their responsibility either.

State institutions, after 1989, were behind the sale of the grounds of the farm into private hands for CZK 3.5 million, despite knowing the history of the location. The ministry that has subsidized the operations of that monstrosity with EU money, and that is most probably still continuing to subsidize it, is responsible for keeping it going.

Politicians are responsible for the shame of this nation, of which I am a part, including those who brazenly doubt the importance and significance of the site of the former camp in order to benefit their own careers, and you, Mr President, are no exception. Politicians, despite all this, still brazenly manipulate the surviving relatives of the victims and make their promises to society.

Mr President, the citizens who actually have information about Lety are ashamed. There is no doubt that your voters are among them.

You should apologize. At the annual commemorative ceremony at Lety, people come to lay wreaths at this site of torture because they care about the symbolism of the place.

Year after year you, too, have sent a wreath there. Why do you even bother?

Čeněk Růžička, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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