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Norway confirms it will give EUR 1 million to create memorial to Romani genocide at Lety

17.4.2018 10:58
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Norwegian Ambasador Siri Ellen Sletner confirmed yesterday at Lety u Písku that Norway wants to contribute one million euro to building a memorial to the Holocaust and its Romani victims at the site of a former concentration camp which until recently was being used for a pig farm. The Museum of Romani Culture, which is managing the remembrance site, has now opened an information center at the Lety municipality about the genocide of Romani people in Bohemia.

Kristina Kohoutová, spokesperson for the Museum of Romani Culture, informed the Czech News Agency of the news today. The farm was built in close proximity to the site of the WWII-era concentration camp for Romani people.

The facility was taken over at the beginning of this month by the Museum. The state will be paying CZK 450 800 000 [EUR 18 million] for it to the AGPI firm, which has already received 80 % of the purchase price.

According to Museum director Jana Horváthová the farm will be demolished by the end of the year, a process that is estimated to cost CZK 110 million [EUR 4 million]. A new memorial to the Holocaust of the Roma will be created at that location.

The state is negotiating support for building the memorial from Norway Grants. Sletner told representatives of the Czech Culture Ministry and the Museum that Norway will support the construction.

"She said this is actually a very important project for the Norwegian side, that they are counting on it, and that they want to support it. Madame Ambassador greatly appreciates the fact that the Czech Republic has bought out that farm," Kohoutová said.

An archaeological survey of the site will first be implemented on the part of the former camp that until now has belonged to the farm for a cost of CZK 1.5 million [EUR 60 000], beginning in May and taking two months. The Museum has already organized an information center at the local authority in Lety.

"It's newly painted and features a small exhibition about the Genocide of the Roma," the spokesperson said. This summer the Museum wants to establish the criteria of the artistic/architectural competition for the design of the future remembrance site and visitors' center at Lety.

There will also be a commemorative ceremony at Lety on Sunday, 13 May, organized by the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust in the Czech Republic. There should be a visitor's center and exhibition on the grounds of the former camp featuring archaeological finds and a lecture hall for schools and group tours.

The form of the memorial itself will be discussed tomorrow night, 18 April at the VI PER Gallery, and again on 25 April at a public meeting in Lety. The Museum says attendance of the 25 April public discussion has been promised by Czech MP Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09), artists and experts.

The AGPI firm transported the last 330 pigs away from the farm at Lety on 14 March, where the capacity was for 13 000 pigs in 13 feed halls. The 7.1 hectare facility first began construction in 1972.

Buying out the farm to create a remembrance site has been discussed for more than 20 years. The memorial to the Holocaust and its Romani victims could feature a replica of the original barracks, an avenue of trees, or a burial mound with a cross.

agw, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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