Czech Republic: Commemorative ceremony for Romani Holocaust victims at Hodonín
Seventy-one years ago, the Nazis transported the largest group of Romani prisoners from the so-called "gypsy camp" at Hodonín u Kunštátu to the extermination concentration camp of Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Few returned from there alive.
A commemorative ceremony is held annually in August at the departure point for those transports to honor the memory of the Romani Holocaust. The ceremony is convened by the Museum of Roma Culture in collaboration with the J.A. Komenský National Pedagogical Museum and Library.
After a mass in the reconstructed prisoners' barracks was said by priest Martin Kopecký, those assembled went to the nearby memorial at Žalov. There a cross, symbolically covered by the spokes of a wheel (the dominant symbol of the Romani flag) stands at the site of the mass grave of the prisoners who died in the camp.
Wreaths were laid at the memorial. Organizers closed the ceremony with a visit to the cemetery in the nearby town of Černovice, where the first 70 victims of the camp at Hodonín were buried.
The cemetery features a plaque in their honor designed by Romani sculptor Božena Přikrylová. The memory of the Roma and their tragic fate during WWII will also be preserved there in future by a new building at the site of the former camp.
The Czech Government decided to entrust the J.A. Komenský National Pedagogical Museum and Library with construction of the building, which should begin next year. On the occasion of the commemorative ceremony, detailed project documentation for the Hodonín Memorial, designed by Richard Pozdníček of the Architecture Faculty at Czech Technical University, who won last year's student contest for its design, was displayed to the public in the prisoners' barracks that were reconstructed in 2012.
The planned facility will not just serve as a memorial to the victims of the Romani Holocaust. It will also be a place for educating representatives of nonprofit organizations and schools who visit the memorial.
FOTO: Lenka Grossmannová, Muzeum romské kultury
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