Czech Republic: Pigs finally leave Romani genocide site
On Thursday, 14 March 2018, at 8:18 AM a truck drove away with the last 150 pigs from the farm in Lety that is located on the site of the WWII-era concentration camp for Roma at Lety. The AGPI firm, which owns the pig farm, transported the 330 animals left that day away from the grounds.
The money from the state for the sale of the facility, a sum of CZK 450 800 000 [EUR 17.7 million] including VAT, has not yet been paid to AGPI. The firm has not yet decided whether to resume the pig-rearing elsewhere.
Jan Čech, vice-chair of the AGPI board, informed the Czech News Agency of the pigs' departure on 14 March. A memorial to the Holocaust and its Romani victims will eventually be developed on the site of the former concentration camp and the firm has until the end of the month to hand the grounds over to the state.
Prior to the facility being demolished and the memorial being created there will be archaeological research undertaken there. ROMEA TV, the first Romani internet television station, broadcast the transport of the last pigs away from the site live.
There were originally approximately 13 000 pigs in the 13 feed halls and the firm has gradually transported them to the slaughterhouses of meat processing plants in Písek, Planá nad Lužnicí and Příbram. Two trucks transporting the pigs stacked three high brought the last animals to the meat processing plant at Planá nad Lužnicí on 14 March.
"This is a serious matter for the firm, these are the last animals, there will be nostalgia about it. The handover of the grounds will be an important moment in relation to the events that happened there during the war, but the moving of these animals does not have anything to do with the camp. Handing the facility over is the symbol, not these last animals, this is just one of the things that must be done to hand over the grounds. This is a serious step, a serious time when the last animals leave a facility in full operation," Čech said.
The exact date for the handover is not yet set. Čech said it depends when the change of ownership will be registered with the cadastral office.
AGPI has approximately 100 employees, nine of whom worked at Lety. The company has let all of the Lety workers go and offered them jobs elsewhere; two staffers will remain with AGPI but the others did not take the jobs offered.
The firm is still considering whether to renew the pig-rearing elsewhere. "Building a new facility would be very problematic and the money is far from enough for that. We commissioned a feasibility study, it might seem like a lot of money, but it includes VAT and construction would cost much more than that. We would like to reinvest the money into different places and expand our other production," Čech said.
The firm still has operations in Přílepov with 600 pigs that it fattens for the production of more than 2 000 tons of pork annually. Its shareholders approved of handing the Lety facility over to the state last year during a general meeting.
The farm began construction in 1972 and grew to 7.1 hectares in area. Buying it out to build a dignified remembrance site has been discussed for more than 20 years.
The purchaser of the grounds is the Czech Museum of Romani Culture. The memorial to the Holocaust and its Romani victims at Lety may eventually involve another replica of the original barracks, an avenue of trees, or a burial mound with a cross.
A minority shareholder of AGPI has sued it over the general meeting vote to hand the farm over. The Czech Constitutional Court also received a complaint in January against the Government's resolution on buying out the farm.
Norway wants to contribute to the memorial at Lety
Norway has expressed interest in contributing to the building of the memorial to the Holocaust and its Romani victims. The support from Norway Grants will be in the amount of EUR 1 million, Simona Cigánková, spokesperson for the Czech Culture Ministry, informed the Czech News Agency on 14 March.
Cigánková said demolition of the farm is estimated to cost CZK 110 million [EUR 4 million]. The plan is to announce a competition for a proposal on how to approach the demolition and then a procurement procedure to implement the plan will be announced.
Norway's interest is in financing part of the future memorial, not the cleanup. "We are genuinely very appreciative of their initiative and interest," Cigánková said.
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