Pig farm demolition on Lety concentration camp site finally launched
The demolition work at a former pig farm at Lety in South Bohemia that was the site of a concentration camp for Romanies during the Second World War was officially launched on Friday. A new memorial to the Holocaust of Romanies and Sinti in the Czech Lands will be built on the site and should partly open to the public already next year.
The former Roma concentration camp at Lety, where hundreds of Czech Roma perished during World War II, has become the centre of international controversy in the past decades due to the pig farm built on the site.
Following years of debate around the subject, the Czech state finally purchased the pig farm in 2018, but it took another more than three years to start its demolition.
Jana Horváthová is the director of the Museum of Romany Culture, which will be in charge of the future memorial:
“The children of the survivors and activists have fought for nearly three decades for the demolition of the pig farm. We wanted to involve the public in the debate about the future of the site, which took about a year. In 2019, we announced an international architectural and landscape competition for the monument.”
The demolition of the Lety pig farm was also delayed by an extensive archaeological survey on the site, led by Jan Vařeka from the West Bohemian University in Pilsen, which has brought some important discoveries and which took longer than originally expected, says Mrs Horváthová.
The winning competition design for the new memorial was won by Czech studios Terra Florida and Atelier Světlík. The main motif of the memorial will be trees, which are meant to symbolise both growth and understanding.
The plan is to plant a forest covering five and a half hectares of the premises, including the torsos of the buildings where pigs were kept for over 40 years. Jana Horváthová outlines the plan for the memorial’s construction:
“The site is really huge, covering an area of around 104,000 square metres, so the construction of the memorial will take place in several phases. We would like to compete the first phase next year, so that we can make it accessible to the public.
“It involves building a visitor centre with a permanent exhibition, as well as the restoration of the provisional mass graves, where the victims are buried in a very undignified way. We also want to build a small car park.”
The site of the actual concentration camp, as it was located by archaeologists, will only feature an empty space lined with a concrete circular path with beams bearing the names of the prisoners.
The symbolic event, marking the demolition of the Lety pig farm, took place on Friday afternoon and was attended, among others, by the speaker of the lower house Markéta Pekarová Adamová and the Minister of Culture Martin Baxa. The actual demolition work is due to begin on Monday.