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August 19, 2022

 

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Demolition of the defunct industrial pig farm at Lety u Písku, Czech Republic has begun, memorial to the Holocaust of the Roma and Sinti is one step closer

26.7.2022 8:13
On 25 July 2022 an excavator was used to demolish the first building of the industrial pig farm at Lety u Písku, Czech Republic. (PHOTO:  Tereza Heková)
On 25 July 2022 an excavator was used to demolish the first building of the industrial pig farm at Lety u Písku, Czech Republic. (PHOTO: Tereza Heková)

The demolition of the former industrial pig farm that once covered most of the site of the WWII-era concentration camp for Romani people at Lety u Písku began yesterday, and once it is completed, a memorial to the Holocaust and its Romani and Sinti victims in Bohemia will be built there using a budget of more than CZK 100 million [EUR 4 million]. The demolition of the farm will take approximately three months.

Roman Hrabec, director for trade and production at the AWT Rekultivace firm, which is undertaking the work, has informed the Czech News Agency of the timetable. Yesterday at high noon an excavator was used to first dismantle the sheet metal wall of Building No. 1 and then to demolish its brick side walls.

This week more such equipment will be driven to the site and demolition will begin on other parts of the grounds as well. The completion deadline has been established by the contract at 101 days from the day the construction site was handed over.

"During that time it is possible to complete everything. However, naturally we cannot rule out that there will be archaeological discoveries here, and we would have to adapt the schedule to that," Hrabec said.

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A concentration camp imprisoning Romani people was located at the site during the Second World War, and the industrial pig farm was then built over most of it in the 1970s. The Czech state bought out the farm in 2018 for CZK 372,500,000 [EUR 15 million] exclusive of VAT from the AGPI firm, which kept 13,000 pigs there.

Three years ago, archaeologists ascertained that the biggest part of the former concentration camp for Romani people at Lety was located precisely on the grounds of the former industrial pig farm. The survey at that time unambiguously demonstrated that when the farm was first built, ruins from the camp must still have been visible on the surface of the ground.

A garbage pit uncovered by the archaeologists revealed that when the camp was demolished in 1943, debris and some structures of the buildings had been thrown into the pit. The camp was first annihilated by the occupying forces by setting it on fire.

Archaeologists have ascertained that during the building of the feed halls for the industrial pig farm, part of the former camp was further demolished when laborers dug up and moved the earth around there during the second half of the 1970s. The cost for the demolition of the farm was originally estimated by the Czech state at CZK 110 million [EUR 4.5 million], which it has allocated for that purpose.

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about the concentration camp at Lety u Písku

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As it turns out, however, the demolition will just cost roughly CZK 10 million [EUR 410,000] because, thanks to the growing prices for construction materials, there is great interest in purchasing what will be generated by the demolition. The state will use the money saved to build the memorial.

Construction of the memorial should be partially covered by Norway Grants as well. The Museum of Romani Culture, which will manage it, wants to make the grounds accessible next year.

The center for visitors should be ready in spring 2023. The construction of the entire memorial will take several years.

According to historians, at least 1,308 Romani children, men and women passed through the camp at Lety between August 1942 and May 1943, 327 of whom died there and more than 500 of whom ended up at Auschwitz. Near the unmarked emergency burial ground for the Lety prisoners, about 300 meters from the camp proper, a memorial was installed by the state in 1995 and the site became a Cultural Heritage Monument in 1998.

ČTK, Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Lety u Písku, memorial, Muzeum, Nacismus



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