PRAGUE — A pig farm will be removed from a Holocaust memorial site in the Czech Republic where hundreds of Roma perished in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, a European anti-racism group has announced.
The decision, enshrined in an agreement signed Friday in Prague, came after months of campaigning spearheaded by the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM), and will see the farm removed from the village of Lety, south of Prague, by the end of February.
EGAM president Benjamin Abtan said his organization and the Museum of Romani Culture in Brno, in the southeast of the Czech Republic, will launch an initiative dubbed “Dignity for Lety.”
Activists had long lobbied the European Union to halt subsidies paid to the farm in Lety, where some 1,300 Czech Roma were imprisoned from August 1942 to May 1943.
Some 327 Roma, including 241 children, died at the camp, while more than 500 were sent to Nazi Germany’s infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in occupied southern Poland.
The communist Czechoslovak regime built the pig farm on the site in the 1970s. It reaped scorn at home and abroad ever since communism was toppled in 1989, four years before Czechoslovakia split into two states.
Alongside European Jews, the continent’s smaller Roma minority was a target of Nazi genocide.
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.
In November last year, the Czech government said agricultural firm AGPI would dismantle the farm.
According to AGPI, the farm will stop working by the end of February this year.
“The goal of the initiative is to increase knowledge of the history of Lety camp, and about the people who were persecuted there, and to set out a dignified future for the site, with the participation of as many organizations as possible,” according to Friday’s agreement.
Abtan said activist couple Serge and Beate Klarsfeld, who have dedicated their lives to enabling the prosecution of Nazi war criminals and documenting the Holocaust, along with other prominent figures will also launch a foundation to commemorate the genocide of the Roma.