In the heart of Europe, a pig farm currently sits on the site of a concentration camp. It is the duty of the European Union to finally act and put an end to this “locucide”, this crime against the place.In Lety, Czech Republic, the camp established in 1939 to detain different types of prisoners was transformed into a concentration camp exclusively for Roma in July 1942 until its closing in August 1943. Hundreds of Roma were reduced to a state of forced labor, died in the camp, or were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Since 1973, an industrial pig farm has been operating on the site of the camp. This means putrid odors, an ignorance regarding the history of the site, a lack of effort to find the remains of the dead, an absence of tombs,…
This locucide resonates with the genocide of the Roma during World War II, the “Samudaripen”. It reflects the persecutions and discriminations of which they are still targets today in numerous countries in Europe. It symbolizes the lack of knowledge relative to this part of our history. While the European flag is displayed on the fence of the farm, which receives subsidies from the EU, this locucide has become a symbol of the unbearable indifference of public institutions for these dead, the survivors and their descendants.
For several years, European civil society, led by the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM) and its partners in the Czech Republic, has fought to restore dignity which suits to the site and to the history of the Samudaripen.
It shows the path to follow: international commemorations involving Roma as well as non-Roma, historical research, collection of testimonies, transmission of the history and the memory of the genocide, construction of a dignified memorial,…
Successive Czech authorities have continually promised, for over thirty years, to relocate the pig farm. Yet, it has never moved. A stele was built, but on the mass graves, deepening the symbolic violence of the site. Recently, the Deputy-Prime Minister and Finance Minister has even publicly denied the nature of the concentration camp, before being forced to apologize.
The Czech government has evaluated the cost of the relocation at between 10 to 20 million euros, in other words, a trifling sum for the budgets of the Czech Republic and Europe. Its lack of will, or at least action, cannot endure.
The involvement of the European Union is imperative. It is a site of genocide perpetrated in Europe, by European countries, against citizens of a European country, in a concentration camp constructed by a European country, guarded by the police of a European country.
Europe cannot decently walk away from this history.
Therefore, we ask you, Mr. President, to not cast the responsibility unto others but to fully engage the European Commission to put an end to the locucide of Lety.
Along with the European civil society, we want to work with you towards this end.
It is a question of dignity. For the dead, for the survivors, for their descendants, for the Roma, for all. For Europe.