On 25 April, 2018, Martina Maschke, Chair of the IHRA Committee on the Genocide of the Roma visited Lety u Pisku to commend the Czech Government on the removal of a pig farm from the site of the former Roma concentration camp.
During her visit Martina Maschke made a speech in which she addressed the local population: "I understand that this is a heavy history to have at the heart of your community" however "the people of Lety should be proud that they have taken an important step towards remembrance and have set an example of responsible conduct for other countries when it comes to facing a difficult past".
Following high-level political meetings held by former IHRA Chair Mihnea Constantinescu in 2016, Czech Cabinet Ministers adopted an executive order mandating the purchase of the farm. On 23 November 2017 the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno signed the purchase agreement for the site and the last pigs were removed on 14 March 2018. After the removal of the remaining pig waste, an archeological survey is planned to start in June, followed by the demolition of the pig pens.
The Head of the Czech Delegation to the IHRA, Antonín Hradilek, expressed his belief "that the continuous interest in Lety on the part of the IHRA helped to move things in the right direction".
Public discussions between the new administrators of the site, victims' and survivors' families and Roma activists have been held in Lety. The next discussions will take place in Prague.
Image (left): Martina Maschke. Credit: Museum of Romani Culture Brno
The IHRA has made the preservation of sites a key focus of its work for many years, regularly calling upon IHRA Member Countries to fulfil their obligations to mark, protect and research sites. The IHRA sought to amplify the message of civil society organizations such as the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement and the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust and to elevate the case of Lety to the highest political level.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, remembrance and research worldwide and uphold the commitments of the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.