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Roma Museum to operate new memorial in Hodonín near Kunštát

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Prague, Sept 18 (CTK) – The Brno-seated Museum of Roma Culture will be in charge of the new memorial established on the site of a former wartime Roma concentration camp in Hodonin near Kunstat, south Moravia, the government’s press department has told CTK, citing the government’s decision on Monday.

Managed by the Education Ministry’s Museum of Teaching so far, the memorial was to be opened in August, but the preparations were suspended due to the lacking decision on how it will look like and who will operate it.

The date of its opening remains unclear.

The government’s Council for the Roma minority has been striving for Roma commemorative sites to be managed by Roma organisations or institutions dealing with Roma history.

The country’s Roma integration strategy also outlines this goal.

Members of the Council have criticised the preparations of the Hodonin memorial, mainly the fact that the formulation “Roma Holocaust” was deleted from its originally planned name.

The organisers argued that the memorial is also to highlight a former internment centre for Germans and a forced labour camp that used to operate in the same complex.

The Council wanted Roma history to be the memorial’s “main agenda” and the memorial management to be transferred from the Education Ministry to the Museum of Roma Culture that falls under the Culture Ministry.

The transfer was proposed to the government by the human rights minister, who said it would not go counter to the memorial’s aim to honour all victims interned in the Hodonin camp.

The Education Ministry, however, previously told CTK that the memorial exhibition is 90-percent focused on the Roma issue and the Roma Holocaust.

In the so-called Gypsy camp in Hodonin near Kunstat, the authorities of the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia gathered Moravian Roma inhabitants before transporting them to Oswiecim (Auschwitz) from August 1942 to September 1943.

A total of 1,396 people, including children, were gradually interned in the camp and 207 died there.

Later, the camp was changed to a labour and correctional camp, and at the end of World War Two, it served as Wehrmacht’s training centre.

After the liberation of Czechoslovakia, the site hosted a field hospital for the Red Army soldiers and later a centre to gather ethnic Germans before their transfer from the country.

The forced labour camp in Hodonin was closed at the end of 1950. During the communist regime, a recreation facility was built on the site.

Former human rights minister Michael Kocab and the facility’s owner agreed on its purchase by the state in 2009. The Education Ministry bought the complex for 20 million crowns and has invested 86 million of the planned 99 million in it so far.

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