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July 15, 2020
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Here is the winning design for the new memorial to Holocaust victims of Roma and Sinti origin at the former concentration camp in Lety u Písku, Czech Republic

9.6.2020 13:33
Winning design for the new memorial to the Romani and Sinti victims of the Holocaust at Lety u Písku, June 2020. (PHOTO:  Museum of Romani Culture)
Winning design for the new memorial to the Romani and Sinti victims of the Holocaust at Lety u Písku, June 2020. (PHOTO: Museum of Romani Culture)

The Museum of Romani Culture in the Czech Republic has announced the winner of the landscape-architecture competition for the design of the future memorial to the Holocaust victims of Roma and Sinti origin at Lety in Bohemia. The winning design was a joint production by Jan Sulzer and Lucie Vogelová of the terra florida v.o.s. studio and Jan Světlík, Vojtěch Šedý and Filip Šefl from the Ateliér Světlík studio; Roman Černohous and Petr Karlík also contributed to the winning design.

The jury assessed all the designs according to the architectural and artistic qualities of their approach, how they situated the memorial in the landscape, and to what degree they expressed the subject matter and handled the theme of the memorial. A crucial factor was the degree of respect expressed by the design for the culture of the Roma and Sinti of Bohemia.

Second place went to a design by Jakub Kopec of the n-1 project, Klára Zahradníčková and Tomáš Džadoň. Others who worked on that design are Paly Paštika, Luboš Zbranek and Lynda Zein.

Third place goes to the Andrea Govi Architetto studio in Italy for a design by Karolina Chodura, Joanna Rozbroj and Marta Tomasiak. “We are very glad that we have managed to choose a design that the jury agreed on practically unanimously,” said the director of the Museum of Romani Culture, Jana Horváthová

PHOTO GALLERY

“The winning project was highly appreciated for its sensitive approach to the subject itself and to that of the surrounding landscape where the memorial will be situated, as well as for fulfilling the conditions of the economic suitability of the design,” the director said. The assumed costs for building the memorial are, according to expert estimates, CZK 31.5 million [EUR 1.18 million] during the first phase of realization.

The memorial will be financed by multiple sources, with most of the budget covered by the EEA and Norway Grants. Now that the competition is completed, the next phase involves negotiations between the Museum of Romani Culture and the architects which will result in a contract on their mutual collaboration and the creation of the project documentation for the implementation of the design.

The building of the memorial is connected to the demolition of the now-defunct industrial pig farm in that location, which was bought out by the state on the basis of Decree no. 609 of the Government of the Czech Republic on 21 August 2017.  Some of the preparations to announce the tender for the demolition work have already begun and the demolition itself will begin in the second half of 2020.

The opening of the new memorial to the public is planned for 2023.The new exhibition and memorial are meant to honor the memory of the Romani and Sinti victims of the Holocaust, to commemorate, educate, inform and spark discussion of both the past and also the present social situation, and to cover the subjects of discrimination against minorities and of human rights.

HISTORY OF THE FORMER CONCENTRATION CAMP AT LETY U PÍSKU

During the Second World War, a concentration camp for Romani people was run at Lety. During the communist regime in Czechoslovakia an industrial pig farm was built at the site in the 1970s.

In 2018 the Czech state bought out the industrial pig farm for CZK 450 million [EUR 17 million] from the AGPI company, which had 13 000 pigs there at the time. The camp was established in August 1940 by the authorities of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia as a so-called "disciplinary labor" camp.

When it first opened, the camp at Lety just housed adult men who were 100 % healthy and 100 % able to work. The number of Romani people among the forced laborers was between approximately 10 % and 20 %, with the population rising in the winter, when communities did their best to rid themselves of "inconvenient" inhabitants.

Lety was called a "disciplinary labor" camp for roughly a year and a half, until January 1942. At that point such camps were rather formally renamed as "collections" camps, but those imprisoned in them were still just adult males.

In the summer of 1942, however, a radical adjustment was made to the focus of the camp, and on 10 July 1942 the General Commander of the Plainclothes Police of the Protectorate issued an order to "combat the gypsy plague". On the basis of that order, the existing "collections" camps were closed, and in their place were opened, as of 2 August 1942, the so-called "gypsy" camps, and all of the prisoners of "collections" camps were released with the exception of prisoners who were "racially gypsies" and who became the first prisoiners of the newly-opened so-called "gypsy camps".

During the first days of August 1942, entire Romani families were sent to these camps, i.e., including all of the members of those families, for an unlimited amount of time. The camp at Lety saw 1 308 Romani people pass through it, including very young children.

At a minimum, 327 Romani people died in the camp and more than 500 Romani people from Lety ended up in the Auschwitz death camp. The Lety concentration camp was part of the machinery used by the Nazis and their collaborators to murder 90 % of the Romani people in Bohemia and Moravia. 

brf, th, vhl, ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Lety u Písku, memorial, Muzeum romské kultury, Občanská společnost



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