Prague, Feb 3 (CTK) – The Czech-Roma Konexe association has lodged a criminal complaint against SPD movement chairman Tomio Okamura over his comments on the wartime Roma concentration camp in Lety, south Bohemia, which it considers denial of genocide, Konexe’s spokesman Miroslav Broz told CTK today.
In an interview on the DVTV media a week ago, Okamura, head of the opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD), said the camp remained mostly unguarded and the inmates could freely move around. He also said the camp was not fenced, but he apologised for this statement as untrue on Friday.
“We feel strongly concerned by the fact that the denial of the Roma Holocaust is tolerated in the Czech Republic though it is a criminal act,” Broz said.
He said the Lety camp’s purpose was to gather Czech Roma people with the aim to subject them to the “final solution”.
“According to the wardens’ documents, at least 326 inmates died in the camp, including more than 200 children. The Roma prisoners who survived the Lety hell were handed over to SS units, transported to the Auschwitz II extermination camp and killed in the gas chambers there,” Broz said.
As arguments in support of his words on DVTV, Okamura cited the book “The Lety camp, facts and myths” allegedly issued by the Academy of Sciences.
No such book does exist, experts from the Brno-based Museum of Roma Culture said earlier this week.
Broz said today Okamura’s statements were at sharp variance with historical facts and amounted to Holocaust denial.
Okamura said the reactions to his words are “an expedient attack” on him, triggered by DVTV and the Open Society Foundations organisation established by businessman George Soros.
Okamura refers to Czech historian Jan Rataj’s web article saying that Lety was no concentration camp and the regime and organisation there were incomparably softer than in camps like Dachau or Buchenwald.
Rataj also wrote that instead of the political use of the myth of the Roma Holocaust in the labour internment camp in Lety, money should be spent on measures to “prevent social decline of a large part of the Gypsy population.”
According to server Romea.cz, Rataj’s arguments were refuted by Roman Slacka, historian from the Museum of Roma Culture, some time ago.
Slacka said the internment of Romanies in Lety was the preparation for the Nazi “final solution to the Gypsy question.”
The wardens in the wartime period of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia often beat and maltreated the inmates, many of whom died due to poor hygiene conditions and meals, and many others perished in Auschwitz, Romea.cz wrote, citing Slacka.
According to historians, the Lety camp was opened by the Protectorate authorities in August 1940 as a correctional labour camp for the men who could not prove their source of livelihood. A similar facility operated in Hodonin u Kunstatu, south Moravia. In January 1942, both camps changed to internment camps, and Gypsy camps were established in both in August of the same year.
From August 1942 to May 1943, a total of 1308 Roma people gradually stayed in the Lety camp, where 327 of them died and over 500 ended up in Auschwitz.
Experts say the Nazis exterminated 90 percent of Bohemian and Moravian Roma people.