PRAGUE — The Czech government said Tuesday it was in talks to buy out a pig farm built on the site of a former Nazi concentration camp where hundreds of Roma prisoners died during World War II.
Anti-racism activists in May demanded the EU halt subsidies to the farm, part of their long campaign to remove it from the sensitive location.
“No other government has been so close to resolving this issue,” Daniel Herman, culture minister in the left-wing government of Premier Bohuslav Sobotka told reporters Tuesday at the site.
Herman, however, refused to reveal the sum under consideration or when to expect a final deal.
Built in the 1970s in the southwestern village of Lety by the communist Czechoslovak regime, the pig farm has reaped scorn at home and abroad ever since totalitarianism was toppled in 1989, four years before Czechoslovakia split into two states.
“It’s sad that communist authorities built a pig farm on a Roma Holocaust site,” Jozef Miker, a Roma rights activist said Tuesday in Prague.
“What’s worse, is that it’s still there 27 years after communism’s demise,” he said.
Between 1940 and 1943, Nazi Germany and its Czech collaborators imprisoned close to 1,300 Czech Roma at the camp.
Alongside European Jews, the continent’s smaller Roma minority was also a target of Nazi genocide during World War II.
Some 327 Roma, including 241 children, died at the camp staffed by an ethnic Czech commander and guards, while more than 500 were sent to Nazi Germany’s infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in occupied southern Poland.
Of the 9,500 Czech Roma registered before World War II, fewer than 600 returned home after the Holocaust.
The Czech Republic, an EU country of 10.5 million, has a Roma community estimated to number between 250,000 and 300,000.
Of the roughly one million Roma who lived in Europe prior to WWII, historians believe that Nazi Germany killed over half.