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Czech Republic: ROMEA plans public debates about future of Roma genocide site once Museum of Romani Culture takes over

12.1.2018 9:25
The pig farm on the grounds of the former WWII-era concentration camp for Romani people at Lety u Písku. The roses were put on the fence on 24 June 2017 by advocates of removing the farm. (PHOTO:   František Bikár, Romea.cz)
The pig farm on the grounds of the former WWII-era concentration camp for Romani people at Lety u Písku. The roses were put on the fence on 24 June 2017 by advocates of removing the farm. (PHOTO: František Bikár, Romea.cz)

Kristina Kohoutová, spokesperson for the Museum of Romani Culture in the Czech Republic, announced in a press release on 9 January that the Museum will be assuming ownership of the grounds of the soon-to-be closed pig farm at Lety (Písek district) in March. During WWII the location was used as a labor camp and as a detention camp for Romani people.

A new memorial will now be created at the site and the Museum wants to debate the form that it could take with experts and the public. The Czech state bought the farm for CZK 450 million [EUR 17.6 million]. The cost of rehabilitating the grounds and then building a dignified remembrance site is estimated at more than CZK 100 million [EUR 3.9 million].

Administration of the existing Lety u Písku cultural monument located nearby will also be transferred to the state-established Museum, and during this month the Museum will also begin to adapt that remembrance site. The grounds of the farm will be taken over by the Museum in March.

By the end of last year the farm had already begun to wind down its production and to send its animals to slaughterhouses. The last animal should leave the grounds in February and there will then be a month for handing over the grounds.

The Museum will be in charge of demolishing the farm, commissioning archeological research there, and adapting the remembrance site. "The demolition of the pig farm will be performed by a professional firm on the basis of a public tender," Museum director Jana Horváthová said.

The director also said it is necessary to coordinate the announcement of that tender with the creation of the architectural and artistic design of the future remembrance site. To decide on what form that should take, the Museum wants to invite input from experts and the public, and for that reason it is not possible to anticipate that the farm will be immediately demolished in the spring once the AGPI firm clears the premises.

"Our aim is, during the course of 2018, to clarify what kind of reverent adaptation of the site will be most acceptable and appropriate," the director said. The ROMEA organization, in connection with the Museum taking over the farm, is planning to support a constructive public debate by facilitating several discussions of the issue.

"In close collaboration with the Museum of Romani Culture, we would like the guests to meet at three discussion round tables at least, so that everybody who is interested in the transformation of this agricultural facility into a dignified remembrance site gets a chance to express their views, a chance to contribute towards creating it," Eva Zdařilová told news server Romea.cz.

"The possible specific architectural and landscaping form of the remembrance site at Lety u Písku will be the topic of the first discussion planned for February," she said. The grounds of the farm at Lety were built during communism beginning in 1972.

There were approximately 13 000 pigs raised there in 13 halls. The grounds cover more than seven hectares.

The buyout of the farm and the building of a dignified memorial on the territory of the former camp has been discussed for more than two decades. Former Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats) managed to negotiate the purchase agreement last year.

ČTK, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Holocaust, Lety u Písku, pietní místo, Vláda



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