The forced labour camp in Lety was opened in 1940. From August 1942 to May 1943, 1,308 Roma men, women and children were interned there. Photo credit: Freepik.

Lety, South Bohemia, Dec 21 (CTK) – The demolition of the pig farm built on the site of the former World War II Roma concentration camp in Lety has been completed. The Romany Culture Museum wants to open a visitor centre there in late 2023 or early 2024, the museum’s spokeswoman Karolina Spielmannova told CTK yesterday.

The museum has received three offers for the construction of the visitor centre, but has not chosen the winning design yet. The construction is expected to cost CZK 73.5 million.

The demolition process began in July. “The premises of the former pig farm have been demolished,” Spielmann said. “The facility was used for the factory farming of pigs for many years and contained a lot of dangerous material. Securing the ecological liquidation of the waste materials was demanding, and so the demolition date was postponed.” 

As the pig farm was very close to the original camp, the demolition had to be done carefully, she said.

On 15 January 2023, the area will be prepared for the construction of the visitor centre, which will be the first part of the Roma and Sinti Holocaust memorial. Remnants of two buildings from the pig farm will also be part of the memorial.

According to the online registry of contracts, the costs of the demolition, originally estimated at CZK 110 million, were only CZK 10.2 million. Culture Minister Martin Baxa (ODS) said in July that the state would use nearly CZK 100 million that had been saved for the construction of the memorial.

Money from Norwegian Grants will also be used to build the memorial, the construction of which will take several years. In mid-December, the museum declared a tender for the permanent exhibition.

The forced labour camp in Lety was opened in 1940. From August 1942 to May 1943, 1,308 Roma men, women and children were interned there; 327 of them perished in the camp and over 500 were sent to the extermination camp in Auschwitz, where most of them died. According to estimates, the Nazis murdered 90% of Czech Roma people. Archaeologists discovered three years ago that the majority of the Lety concentration camp was on the site of the pig farm covering more than 100,000 square metres.

The pig farm had been built in communist Czechoslovakia in the late 1970s. The state bought it from the AGPI firm for CZK 450 million in 2018. AGPI had 13,000 pigs in the farm.

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