Czech Holocaust memorial in Lety set to open in 2024

The memorial will include a newly planted forest with saplings donated by the estate of the late politician Karel Schwarzenberg.


Written by ČTK Published on 14.11.2023 14:15:00 (updated on 14.11.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

At a tree-planting ceremony held Monday, Roma Culture Museum representatives announced that a long-awaited memorial to Roma victims of the Holocaust will open on Feb. 3, 2024, at the site of a former German labor camp in Lety u Písku in South Bohemia.

Nearly 14,000 trees donated by the estate of the late member of parliament Karel Schwarzenberg will be planted to symbolize "the lost Roma community," said Jana Horváthová, director of Prague's Museum of Roma Culture.

Horváthová said the mixed forest will offer "a space for contemplation and commemoration," quoting eyewitnesses via audio-visual displays.

Why is the Lety concentration camp significant?

  • According to historians, 1,308 Roma, men, women, and children passed through the camp at Lety between August 1942 and May 1943. A total of 327 died there and more than 500 ended up in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
  • The demolition of the pig farm, which was built in Lety in the communist era, began in July 2022 and finished in December, and cost CZK 10.2 million.
  • One hall of the pig farm that is still standing will be part of the exhibition.

A landmark of the Roma Holocaust

During World War II, over 1,300 Roma were interned at the Lety camp, and many survivors of mistreatment and disease were later deported to Auschwitz. A pig farm was built on the land in the 1970s. The farm's demolition last winter finally cleared the way for the 10-hectare memorial amid efforts to recognize Roma victims.

Preparations for its first visitors

Opening in 2024, visitors will see an exhibition hall with displays on the camp's history. The memorial's outdoor spaces will be separated from outside areas by a barrier. For the first two months, the memorial will be in trial operation, 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 Chamber of Deputies Speaker Markéta Pekarová Adamová. She added that remembering Lety's victims is crucial to confronting abuse still affecting the Roma minority today.

Though beset by delays, the forest memorial will now stand as an overdue tribute to those who perished in Lety during the Nazis' genocide of the Roma and Sinti people in Bohemia.

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