Lety genocide exhibit moves from Brussels to Prague, causes political action|
In April, 2005 an exhibit of photographs entitled "Lety - history of
unmentioned genocide" initiated by Mr Milan Horá.ek, MEP for the
Greens/EPA, was displayed in the European Parliament in Brussels. Its
subject is the Romani concentration camp Lety u Písku (which was in the
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia) where during a few months in
1942-1943 hundreds of Roma were killed - most of them children.
On April 27th, 2005, the European Parliament called upon Czech authorities
to remove the pig farm currently situated on this former camp site in Lety.
This was appreciated by Cenek Ruzicka, president of the Committee for the
Redress of the Romani Holocaust (VPORH), at the Annual Memorial Act at the
victims' mass graves in Lety on May 13th, 2005. He commented on why the
solution of the problem takes so long: "The point of view of the
murderers is different from the one of the victims."
Reacting to the resolution of the European parliament, Václav Klaus,
President of the Czech Republic, told the Czech daily Lidové noviny on May
14th, 2005: "Of course many tragic things happened there. However, we
understand that the victims of this camp primarily succumbed to an
epidemic of spotted typhus, not due to what is traditionally understood as
the fate of a concentration camp victim - at least according to what every
child learns in school. Of course it is necessary to appropriately
commemorate this place."
In response on the same day, Romani Rose, president of the Central Council
of German Sinti and Roma said in Prague: "President Václav Klaus is
treating the crime of genocide which was committed against the Sinti and
Roma during Nazism cynically and is distorting the historical fact that
the Nazi system consisted precisely in creating conditions that lead to
people dying, especially for children. Such a remark made concerning the
Jewish victims of Nazism would provoke worldwide debate."
Jirí Paroubek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, said at the opening
of the exhibit in the Czech Chamber of Deputies on June 6th, 2005 :"I
think that Lety is a huge symbol of racism (...). Of course it is a very
complicated thing after 65 years to speak about it, but I think the Czech
nation has a certain debt to the past."
Lubomír Zaorálek, president of the in the Czech Chamber of Deputies, had
opened the exhibit by claiming: "I think the debate about whether
Lety was a concentration camp or not is over."
Václav Havel, former state president of the Czech Republic, was the
special guest of the opening. On June 14th, 2005, he sent a letter to
Czech prime minister stating:"I would like to thank you for the
support of the memorial at Lety by Písek which you expressed during the
opening of the Lety exhibit at the Chamber of Deputies. Through such
support, the Czech government might finally be able to truly and
generously promote the development of a more thoroughly self-reflective
catharsis of the Czech mentality than has so far developed here."
The Czech government has opened negotiations with the company AGPI, which
runs the pig farm in Lety, in order to set the purchase price of the pig
farm and enable the moving of the facilities. R..i.ka commented on these
efforts: "There is a year left to the government before the next
elections. Unless it will achieve an agreement with the owner of the pig
farm by August 31 2005, we will not believe that there is a honest will to
finally honour Romani victims of naziism."
The exhibit is currently being shown in the foyer of the Czech Senate
(until July 4th, 2005).
Press release of the VPORH
Vsehrdova 11, 118 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
tel.: +420 257327871, +420 724 288 076 (Czech, English, German)