Remembrance in Lety
Memorial services have been taking place at the site of a former concentration camp in the town of Lety. This is the 13th year the Czech Republic has marked the Romany Holocaust. But the site in Lety, still borders a pig farm despite repeated calls by various groups for it to be closed down. Radio Prague’s Rosie Johnston joins us from Lety.
“We’re actually only half way through the day’s events. We are going in a couple of minutes to lay some wreaths at Mirovice, a nearby cemetery where many of the Romany who were interned here at Lety were actually buried. But so far we have had a service and we’ve also witnessed a laying of wreaths here at the Lety memorial. Džamila Stehlíková (Minister for Minorities and Human Rights) represented the government and laid a wreath; there was a representative of the president’s office and Petr Pithart was also there representing the Senate. Quite a few speeches also took place, but maybe the most bombastic one came from Čeněk Růžička who is the head of the Committee for the Compensation of the Romany Holocaust. In that speech, he voiced his frustration that it has been thirteen years since such services began being held in this place – thirteen years of calls for the pig farm next door to us at Lety to be moved. And still absolutely no action on that front. Another very strong speech came from Felix Kolber, who is the head of the International Auschwitz Committee and he called for the Romany Holocaust in the Czech Republic to be viewed as the kind of abomination that he personally believes it was. He said that he was in Auschwitz in the Romany family camp a couple of weeks after Romany families who were staying there were exterminated. He talked of the squalor and the sheer misery of that wing of Auschwitz and he really brought home the message that the Romany Holocaust was a recent and shocking chapter in this country’s and also in Central European history.”
So could you describe to us more generally what makes this particular location so significant in Czech history and in the current political debate as well?