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Czech Republic: Commemoration next month at former Romani concentration camp in Hodonín

Hodonín by Kunštát, 13.7.2012 18:30, (ROMEA)
ilustrační foto

A building that served as a prison barracks more than 70 years ago at the site of the former internment camp for Romani people in Hodonín by Kunštát is now being restored to what it was like during the Second World War. After the war, the site would become the Žalov recreation center.

Reconstruction of the building is part of the ongoing development of the Romani Holocaust Memorial there and should be finished in August in time for the anniversary of the transport of Romani people from Hodonín to Auschwitz. Most of them never returned.

What was then called the "gypsy camp" at Hodonín by Kunštát served as the site for the forcible concentration of Romani people living in Moravia. Just like at Lety, Romani families were driven into the camp at the start of August 1942 in numbers that significantly exceeded its capacity, which was set at 800 persons. The conditions of accommodation, food and hygiene were just as catastrophic as those in the concentration camp at Lety by Písek and the camp's rules were identical.

The Hodonín camp also featured guard staff from the Protectorate police, just like at Lety. The camp was run by Štefan Blahynka, who temporarily left Hodonín in the winter of 1943 to work at the Lety camp and help ameliorate the results of a typhus epidemic there. He also made sure conditions were ready for the transport of the prisoners to Auschwitz. After performing this task he returned to Hodonín, where he performed the function of camp commander until the camp was liquidated.

Two mass transports were sent to Auschwitz from the Hodonín camp. The first transport of 46 men and 29 women (referred to as so-called "anti-socials") left on 7 December 1942 for the Auschwitz I concentration camp on the basis of a decree on the "preventive elimination of crime". The second mass transport took place on 21 August 1943, during which 749 prisoners were sent to Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

After the departure of the second transport, only 62 prisoners remained in the camp. A non-Romani family in Olešnice adopted an eight-year-old girl prisoner from the camp, sparing her future suffering. Only some of the remaining prisoners were eventually released. The rest were transported to Auschwitz in the winter of 1944. A total of approximately 1 400 persons passed through the camp during the Second World War, of whom 300 perished in the camp.

The commemorative ceremony will take place on Sunday, 19 August 2012 at 11 AM. The Museum of Roma Culture will organize the ceremony honoring the victims' memories.

Program:

9:30 Departure by bus from Brno (meet at the Museum of Roma Culture).

11:00 Holy Mass at the former "gypsy camp".

12:00 Honoring Holocaust victims at the Žalov memorial.

13:00 The Hodonín by Kunštát Memorial: History of the site and future vision. Opening of the Lidice Memorial exhibit "Porrajmos".

14:30 Honoring the Holocaust victims buried at the cemetery in Černovice.

15:30 Departure to Brno.

Visitors to the commemorative ceremony can travel there for free on a bus that will leave on 19 August at 9:30 AM from Brno. Please reserve your seat by 10 August at the latest through email - sekretariat@rommuz.cz - or telephone - +420 545 571 798.

František Kostlán, Gwendolyn Albert, František Kostlán, Holocaust.cz, Deník.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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