Memorial to Roma and Sinti Holocaust Victims in Bohemia to Open on February 3, 2024

In a significant step towards remembrance and reconciliation, the Memorial to the Roma and Sinti Holocaust victims in Bohemia is set to open its doors on February 3, 2024, as announced by representatives of the Museum of Roma Culture. The memorial is currently under construction on the grounds of a former pig farm in Lety, which served as a Roma labor camp during World War II.

At a symbolic ceremony, politicians and other attendees planted trees at the site, contributing to a planned new forest that will symbolize the lost Roma community. The seedlings for this forest were generously donated by the Orlik Estate of Jan and Karel Schwarzenberg. The event also included a minute of silence to honor the late Karel Schwarzenberg, a former MP and foreign minister, who ardently supported the memorial’s construction.

Jana Horvathova, the director of the Museum of Roma Culture, emphasized the symbolic significance of the newly planted forest, stating, “It is this forest that will symbolically replace them, and as it grows, we believe that the coexistence of the majority of the population with the Roma minority will improve.”

The memorial, built by Protom Strakonice, won the tender with a project cost of CZK 98.6 million. A CZK 10.5 million visitor center will complement the memorial, with the indoor exhibition costs covered by Norway Grants and an additional CZK 2.6 million contributed by the German embassy for the outdoor exhibition.

During the initial two months, the memorial will be in a trial operation, open from Friday to Sunday. The space, encompassing almost 14,000 trees, aims to serve as a contemplative area for commemorating the victims of the local labor camp. It will feature audio-visual testimonies, outdoor exhibitions, and a commemorative circle with the names of the victims.

The history of the site, including the demolition of the pig farm that stood there since the communist era, will be showcased in the outdoor exhibition. The pig farm, purchased by the state in 2018 for CZK 450 million, was built on the grounds of a labor camp where historians estimate that 327 Roma prisoners died, with over 500 transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. The completion of the pig farm demolition marked a crucial step in the establishment of this memorial, which aims to shed light on a dark chapter in history that is often forgotten.

Article by Prague Forum

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