Some Romani activists do not want future genocide memorial at Lety to be run by the Czech state
Some representatives of the Romani community agree that the memorial to the Romani victims of the Holocaust at Lety u Písku should not be administered by the state. However, they do not yet have an idea about how the memorial site itself should look.
One possible administrator of the site could be the Museum of Romani Culture, which is a state-sponsored organization. A breakthrough moment after many years of fighting to remove the pig farm now standing on the site of the former Protectorate-era concentration camp for Romani people was last week's decision by the AGPI company to accept the offer of the Czech Government to buy the farm.
"We as Konexe [a Romani organization] believe that the memorial should not be administered by the state. The state has already lost all of its legitimacy to undertake such an endeavor long ago by virtue of how it has behaved these past few decades toward the victims of the camp and their surviving relatives, as well as towards the Romani minority generally. We believe it would be brilliant if an independent institution could be created where the important decisions would be made by the relatives of the former prisoners, by Romani people. That organization would take care of the site and see to it," Miroslav Brož of the Konexe organization told Lidovky.cz.
Čeněk Růžička, chair of the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust (Výbor pro odškodnění romského holocaustu - VPORH), is against the likely assignment of administration of the memorial to the Museum of Romani Culture. He is mainly criticizing the previously-expressed, negative attitude of the director of the museum, Jana Horváthová, toward removing the pig farm from the genocide site.
"She says she is a Romani woman and that members of her family died in a concentration camp. Then, however, she intentionally made a statement to the effect that rather than tearing down the pig farm, it would be important to spend that money on educating Romani children," Růžička told Lidovky.cz.
Karel Holomek, the chair of the Association of Roma in Moravia, who is Horváthová's father, disagrees with that assessment. "The Museum of Romani Culture in Brno is the only contributory organization of the Government with Romani management in the entire republic. It has the full trust of the Government and is overall a firm, relentless advocate for the equal treatment of Romani people. The unambiguous solution is on offer that the administrator of Lety will be the museum and it is considered a done decision. Government officials are already negotiating with Director Horváthová to that end," Holomek told Lidovky.cz.
Challenges for the future
According to Simona Cigánková, spokesperson for the Czech Culture Ministry, currently the ministry is completing its material about the process of the buyout, which the Government should review at the end of August and start of September. "We are presuming that by the beginning of the new school year the purchase agreement could be concluded," she told the media previously.
Demolition of the farm, its decontamination and the subsequent adaptation of the site, however, will be a question of years. In addition to the construction of the memorial, it will be essential to undertake a detailed investigation of the terrain of the former concentration camp in order to locate and look into the mass gravesites of the victims.
"I consider the main findings of our research to be that we have managed to demonstrate that remains of the camp are here, that the camp has not disappeared, its traces have not been erased, it can be found using archeological methods, or rather the remains can be found. I think we have a strong argument, therefore, for this location to be declared a memorial," Pavel Vařeka of the Department of Archeology at the University of West Bohemia in Plzeň, who is the head of research at the Lety site, told news server Romea.cz.
- Czech company accepts state offer to buy pig farm on Roma genocide site
- Czech union demands severance pay for staff at pig farm closing on Roma genocide site, firm says employees are not members
- Czech firm able to negotiate sale of pig farm on Roma genocide site for first time
- Renata Berkyová for DVTV: Even the Czech President doesn't know how to honor the memory of Lety, the pig farm remains
- Czech state's demolition of industrial pig farm on former concentration camp site for Roma to begin in June
- Descendants of Romani victims of the Holocaust and Czech experts discuss commemoration after screening of documentary "LETY"
- Czech Museum of Romani Culture's international competition for new memorial at former concentration camp receives 41 designs, exceeding organizers' expectations
- Documentary film LETY to screen in Czech capital on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day
- Civil society members of the Czech Govt Council on Roma Minority Affairs differ on whether Human Rights Commissioner should remain in office
- Czech Republic's Museum of Romani Culture to educate students at memorial site of former concentration camp at Lety
- Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes honors Romani activist's work to remove pig farm from Holocaust remembrance site
- Documentary film LETY captures the despair and the hopes of those who fought to remove the industrial pig farm from the site of the former concentration camp for Roma
- Czech Republic's Museum of Romani Culture announces competition to design the memorial at the site of the former concentration camp for Romani people at Lety
- Czech court postpones hearing in case of anti-Romani signs posted at site of former concentration camp to hear explanation of mobile phone data
- ROMEA TV: Irrefutable evidence found that industrial pig farm was built on top of former concentration camp for Roma
- Museum of Romani Culture to open Roma and Sinti Center in the Czech capital four years from now