Czech minister warns of underestimating xenophobic moods


01.08.2014 14:38

Lety - Zero toleration must be declared to racism, hatred and xenophobia, Czech Culture Minister Daniel Hermann (Christian Democrats, KDu-CSL) said today when commemorating the victims of the Romany Holocaust and the closure of the Romany camp in Lety today.


Pietní akt se konal 1. srpna v Letech při příležitosti vzpomínky na několik historických událostí. Právě 1. srpna 1942 byl založen cikánský tábor Lety, na 2. srpna navíc připadá Mezinárodní den obětí romského holocaustu a ukončení činnosti romského koncentračního tábora v Osvětimi. Na snímku jsou (vpředu zleva) ministr kultury Daniel Herman, místopředseda Českého svazu bojovníků za svobodu Emil Kulfánek a biskup Církve československé husitské Filip Michael Šojdl. ČTK Pancer Václav

He said he does not think that Czech society would lead the standings of xenophobic and racist tendencies. "On the other hand, I believe that the signals that they are also present in our society cannot be underestimated," Herman told CTK.

"I keep speaking about the culture of reminding because racism has deep roots and it unfortunately does not belong in the past only," Herman said.

He added that the crimes, in which people designated a group of inhabitants inferior, must always be recalled.

The Gypsy camp in Lety was founded on August 1, 1942. "In addition to this, on August 2 we mark International Day of Romany Holocaust Victims and the closure of the Romany concentration camp in Oswiecim (Auschwitz)," Milous Cervencl, director of the Lidice Memorial said.

Several women who survived the razing of Lidice, central Bohemia, in retaliation for the assassination of Bohemia and Moravia Reichsprotector Reinhard Heydrich in 1942, were also present in Lety today.

Herman said the Lety camp was very specific minimally in one aspect. "It is not possible to put blame on fascist Germany only. It is necessary to say with all humbleness that it was headed by members of the Czech Protectorate police. They did not differ much in their gross and brutal behaviour from German Nazi hangmen in other concentration camps," Herman said.

The Lety monument is situated close to a pig farm. Survivors of the camp victims as well as others have been fighting for the removal of the farm for years.

Government representatives said several times in the past they do not have money to buy out the farm. "But we are trying together with (Human Rights) Minister (Jiri) Dienstbier to work for a solution," Herman said.

The camp was opened by the Nazis in August 1942 as a disciplinary labour one. By May 1943, a total of 1308 Romanies passed through it. Of them 327 died there and more than 500 were taken to Oswiecim. Fewer than 600 Romany prisoners returned from Nazi concentration camps after the war. It is estimated that the Nazis killed 90 percent of Czech Romanies. The place of commemoration in Lety was opened in 2010.

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