Czech Deputy PM has cast doubt on Nazi oppression of Roma citizens

2. 9. 2016


During his visit to the North Bohemian town of Varnsdorf, Andrej Babiš, the Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Secretary, an influential oligarch in the Czech Republic, expressed the opinion that the Nazi concentration camp for Roma citizens at Lety "was not a concentration camp". Babiš said:

"There used to be a time when all the Roma people actually worked. When the idiots in newspapers say that the camp at Lety was a concentration camp, that is a lie. It was a work camp. If you did not work, you were sent there straight away."

The Prague Respect weekly asked Babiš about the source for his assertion. Babiš said, "This morning I visited the Kovářská housing estate in Varnsdorf where the local citizens told me how they are being terrorised by their Roma fellow citizens. They are being threatened by them and they are afraid to live there. Their properties have lost their value. I was surprised that there are so many people there and that they do not work. So I mentioned that when I visited the Ravak firm in the town of Příbram, Mr. Vařeka, the founder of that business, told me that he remembers the times when all the Roma people worked. He also mentioned Lety which in his view was not a concentration camp, but it was only a work camp, so I repeated his words. In Varnsdorf, we primarily talked about how [the Roma people] abuse the social welfare system. Citizens told me that in Slovakia, social benefits are given only to people with up to three children and no more. They told me that in their view [in the Czech Republic] some families get tens of thousands of child benefit in the Czech Republic and they do not need to work. So we talked about how social welfare benefits are being misused."

These statements are remarkable because the Czech ministry for social welfare has repeatedly explained on its web pages that the urban myth about Roma families receiving large amounts of money in social benefits, so that they do not need to work, is incorrect.

Czech social democratic Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has sharply criticised Andrej Babiš for his statements about the Roma: "I would like to recommend to Mr. Babiš to go to the Lety concentration camp and to acquaint himself with historical facts, how the Nazis killed the Roma by various methods. Then he should feel ashamed, he should apologise and stop saying such nonsense."

The concentration camp in Lety was transformed into an exclusively Romany camp on the orders of the head of the Gestapo Heinrich Himmler in 1942. Shortly before that, the Nazis had adopted a plan for the extermination of all Jews and Roma. More than 500 Roma people died in the Lety concentration camp.

Source in Czech HERE

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