Shockingly bad English spoils Roma memorial at Lety concentration camp

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The site of a former concentration camp for Roma near the village of Lety in southern Bohemia is again attracting attention: while some time ago a call by the Roma community to close down a nearby pig farm came to nothing, it has emerged that the memory of those who suffered at the Lety camp has been poorly honoured in another way - the English version of the official inscription is in absolutely awful English. Alena Skodova reports:

Roma memorial at Lety concentration camp, photo CTK
The English translation of the text that reminds visitors of the tragic events of 60 years ago simply makes no sense, and was obviously done by somebody with a very poor grasp of the language. The disastrous translation does not respect the basic rules of English grammar, or even logic. Here is an example - "In decline with SS-leader Himler's edict from 8th of December 1938 regarding a solve of Gipsy issue from." And the rest of it isn't much better, like "more than one quarter of them succumbed (sic) thaks local inhuman conditions".

I spoke with American journalist and translator Gwendolyn Albert, who first visited Lety 7 years ago, when the memorial was erected:

Roma memorial at Lety concentration camp
"That inscription has been there since my very first visit to the memorial when it was erected in 1995 and I think I can say without exaggeration that it is the worst translation into English on any public sign I've ever seen in this country - and I've been to many places. 'Unprofessional' is a kind word for it."

The question arises as to how is it possible that such a badly translated inscription can appear in a public place, and who is to blame? Local authorities in the nearby town of Pisek say they had the Roma version translated by the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague. A translating agency was hired to do the English translation. Now the authorities will have to check their records to find out which agency was to blame for the ridiculous translation.

Gwendolyn Albert believes, however, that this whole affair simply reflects the fact that Czech people don't have enough understanding of how significant the Lety memorial is for the country's Roma population.

Photo CTK
"When the monument was originally erected in 1995 one of the things I noticed when it was first put up and we attended the ceremony, was in general the attitude of some other people who were involved in the presentation for example there was a speech and there were people who laid flowers at the memorial and there was a sunken grave, and as everybody was leaving, the soundman turned on the radio, sort of as if we were leaving a soccer match and not as if we were leaving a very moving funeral, a memorial, and I think that's just an example of the fact that people don't really understand what Lety means for the Czech Roma and they don't really respect the issue."