Representatives of the Museum of Roma Culture, which takes care of the site, told journalists today in Lety. Politicians and other people symbolically planted trees on the spot today. Most of the seedlings were donated by the Orlík estate of Jan and Karel Schwarzenberg. The congregation held a minute’s silence for the late Karl Schwarzenberg. Schwarzenberg supported the construction of the monument.
“We will plant trees that will be part of the memorial. The newly planted forest will symbolize the lost Roma communities. It is this forest that will symbolically replace them, and as it grows, we believe that the coexistence of the majority with the Roma minority will improve in our country, which was neglected and whose genocide from the Second World War was completely displaced from the history of our country,” said the director of the Museum Jana Horváthová of Roma culture. It will be almost 14,000 trees. The mixed forest will be a space for contemplation and commemoration of the victims of the local Roma camp.
The monument is being built by the Protom Strakonice company, which won the tender with a price of CZK 98.6 million. A visitor center will be created, the exposition will cost additional money, the cost of the interior will be 10.5 million. The indoor exhibition will be covered by money from Norwegian funds, the German embassy promised 2.6 million crowns for the outdoor one. The memorial will be in trial operation for the first two months, it will be open from Friday to Sunday.
“It is extremely important to remember what happened in these places. The victims that we commemorate here today are often forgotten, and this chapter of our past lies in a kind of shadow,” said Speaker of the House of Representatives Markéta Pekarová Adamová (TOP 09). There will be a permanent exhibition in the visitor center, and a Memory Trail outside. It will include testimonies of witnesses in audio-visual form. “There will be an outdoor exhibition throughout the area. At the top, there will be a commemorative circle, where there will be the names of the victims and prisoners of the camp, which was a concentration camp,” said Karolina Spielmannová, spokeswoman for the Museum of Roma Culture. The wall will separate the memorial space from the outside world, she added.
Most of the seedlings of the new forest were donated by the Orlík Estate. There are 13,917 seedlings of nine types of trees, pines and oaks will prevail. Karel Schwarzenberg supported the creation of the monument. “And he offered that it was his estate that could donate tree seedlings. Karel Schwarzenberg was here with us again in May this year, when we did the traditional act of piety, and in an interview in June he very positively mentioned the participation of Mr. President Petr Pavel, who came to the act, how important it was,” said Horváthová.
Demolition of the pigsty in Lety began last July, the demolition ended in December. The remains of one piggery hall will be part of the exhibition. The outdoor exhibition is intended to point out the history of the place after the war, of which the piggery was a part. Demolition cost CZK 10.2 million.
During the Second World War, there was a work camp for Roma in the place. In the 1970s, a piggery was established there. In 2018, the state bought it for 450 million from the company Agpi, which had 13,000 pigs in 13 halls there. According to historians, 1,308 Roma, men, women and children, passed through the Lety camp from August 1942 to May 1943, 327 of them died there and over 500 ended up in the Auschwitz concentration camp. The campus covers over 100,000 square meters. A memorial was erected in 1995 near the emergency cemetery in Let, which is about 300 meters from the camp site, and the place became a cultural monument in 1998.