On 14th October 2019 the Czech Museum of Romani Culture in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and ONplan, the competition organizer, announced a landscape and architectural competition for a memorial to the Roma and Sinti Holocaust victims in Bohemia. The memorial is to be set in Lety u Písku, a village where during World War Two a so-called Gypsy Camp was built, a forced labour facility for Bohemian Roma and Sinti before their transport to Auschwitz.
The open call international competition will be held in two rounds. The submission deadline of the first round is 17 January 2019. A jury will select seven design proposals for the second round. The winner is to be announced by May 2020 and the Museum of Romani Culture expects to open the memorial in 2023. The first stage of construction is set to cost over € 1,2 mil (31 mil CZK) and will presumably start in 2021.
“The competition brief is a result of a long participatory process that ONplan organised together with The Museum of Romani Culture. The design brief was prepared during a series of 5 workshops with survivors’ families, experts on Roma history and culture, activist who pushed for the demolition of the pig farm as well as the local Lety community”, explained Petr Návrat from ONplan a planning consultancy that organizes the competition.
New memorial should connect three places, the location of the so called “Gypsy” Camp, the burial ground where the camp inmates were buried after a sudden outbreak of typhus and site of the pig farm that was constructed in the former camp’s vicinity in 1970s. The thirteen pig-sheds (each 60 by 18 meters) as well as other parts of the pig farm will be kept for the moment so that competitors can include these elements into their design proposals.
Experts estimate that The Nazi regime wiped out 90% of Czech Roma and Sinti. Most survivors kept silent about the atrocities as they felt ashamed for being identified with a minority that was ostracized even after the second world war and during the communist regime.
In 1970s a large pig farm was constructed partly on the site of the former forced labour camp. After two decades of protest, in 2018 the pig farm was shut down and acquired by the Czech state. The site is now managed by the Museum of Romani Culture.
“The construction of a holocaust memorial is the most important step so far towards the transformation of this site, not only into a dignified place of reverence but also into a place inspiring all generations to reflect on current issues of racism, xenophobia and the importance of human rights protection,” said Jana Horváthová the director of the Czech Museum of Romani Culture.