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Archaeologists find remains of wartime camp for Czech Roma

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Lety, South Bohemia, July 14 (CTK) – Archaeologists have found remains of the premises of a former Nazi internment camp for the Roma people in Lety, which burnt down at the end of WWII, as well as some belongings of its inmates, Pavel Vareka, head of the archaeologists’ team, told CTK today.

The aim of the project was to gain material on the basis of which the camp could be declared cultural heritage, Vareka, from the University of West Bohemia in Plzen, added.

“We have clearly proved that the remains of the camp really exist. This is why we are striving for the site to become cultural heritage,” he said.

Test pits have revealed traces of the buildings of the wartime camp. Besides, archaeologist found some other items, mainly remains of the prisoners’ clothes, but also buttons and shoe heel irons, Vareka said.

The findings will be given to the Museum of Roma Culture in Brno, south Moravia.

The archeological research started on a meadow of the Lety village last autumn.

The team could not enter the pig farm that is now situated at the major area of the former camp. However, the findings prove that the camp was at the same site as the current farm, Vareka added.

The private pig farm at the site of the former Nazi concentration camp for the Roma has long stirred up controversies.

Roma organisations have been striving for the farm’s relocation for years. The European Parliament (EP) as well as other international organisations have called on the Czech Republic repeatedly to remove the farm from the commemorative site.

Several Czech governments have dealt with the problem in vain.

The current government of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) has been negotiating with the owner of the pig farm, the AGPI firm, about its possible purchase since January 2015. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) said his cabinet would like to complete the negotiations.

On Thursday, representatives of the government and AGPI handed over to one another their offers for the sale of the farm. No particular purchasing price of the farm has been set as yet.

The labour camp in Lety was opened in 1940. A similar facility existed in Hodonin u Kunstatu, south Moravia. In 1942, both facilities turned into internment camps and in August of the same year, Romany camps were established there.

Until May 1943, 1308 Roma men, women and children were interned there, 327 of whom perished in the camp and over 500 were sent to the extermination camp in Auschwitz where most of them died. According to estimates, the Nazis murdered 90 percent of Czech Roma people.


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