Thursday, 18 October 2018

Museum of Romani Culture to take over Lety in March

ČTK |
10 January 2018

Brno, Jan 9 (CTK) - The site of a Czech pig farm facility to be removed in place of a former Nazi concentration camp for the Roma will be passed to the Museum of Romani Culture in March, the museum's spokeswoman Kristina Kohoutova said in a press release on Tuesday.

The facility in Lety, south Bohemia, will be converted into a memorial site.

The museum is to discuss the site's design with experts and the public.

Following international pressure by institutions advocating human rights such as the UN, the Czech state's plan of two decades to purchase the pig farm from the AGPI firm, its owner, was eventually realised in November last year when it was bought for 450 million crowns. The purchase agreement was reached during the term of former cabinet's Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL).

The costs of restoring the grounds and constructing a new memorial are estimated at over 100 million crowns.

The site will be passed onto the state Museum of Romani Culture in January, including an authorisation to restore the site into a memorial. The pig farm itself will be passed to the organisation in March.

By the end of the year, the farm began phasing out its operation. The pig stock is to be removed completely by the end of February, leaving one month for the farm's ultimate handover to the new owner.

The museum is to deal with the removal of the farm, commissioning of an archeological research and adaptation of the memorial site.

"The elimination of the pig farm will be done by a professional company based on a public tender," the museum's director Jana Horvathova said.

The call for the tender will need to be harmonised with the timeline for the architectural and artistic design of the memorial site to be.

Since the museum intends to engage both the public and experts in a discussion over its appearance, it is unlikely that the farm would be demolished as soon as it passes on the museum.

"We aim to see during 2018 which form of adaptation of the memorial site would be the most suitable and appropriate," Horvathova added.

The pig farm facility began to be built in Communist Czechoslovakia in 1972. It contained 13,000 pigs in 13 halls. It occupied an area of 7 hectares.

The camp in Lety was set up in 1938, but its function changed several times. About 1,300 Roma, including children and old people, were interned in it from August 1942 to August 1943.

The people in the camp were forced to work hard in a quarry and the sanitary conditions were poor because the camp was projected for 300 people and was overcrowded. More than 300 Roma people died in the camp, others ended up in the Auschwitz camp and some were released after the camp was demolished in 1943.

According to estimates, the Nazis exterminated 90 percent of Czech Roma.

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