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Zigeunerlager Lety (Gypsy Camp Lety)

Article about: One of the groups often ignored when considering the victims of Nazi persecution, and the concentration camp system in particular, are the Roma and Sinti - often referred to as "Gypsies

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    Default Zigeunerlager Lety (Gypsy Camp Lety)

    One of the groups often ignored when considering the victims of Nazi persecution, and the concentration camp system in particular, are the Roma and Sinti - often referred to as "Gypsies". The persecution of the Zigeuner, as the Germans called them - derived from an old Greek word meaning "untouchable", spread through the Reich and occupied territories as the Nazis strengthened their grip on Europe.

    Within the occupied Czech lands, known as the Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren (Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia), the Nazis established two camps - one in each territory, to hold the gypsy population. Viewed as both racially inferior and asocial by the Nazi regime, their fate was to be determined in the worst possible manner.

    In Moravia, a camp was established to hold the Moravian gypsies at Hodonin (Hodonín u Kunštátu). Meanwhile, at Lety, a village in southern Bohemia, another camp was established.

    Originally, Lety was used as the site for a disciplinary labour camp, which later became an internment camp and then finally, during August 1942, it was transformed into a Gypsy Camp under the direction of SS-Standartenführer Horst Böhme, the commander of the Sicherheitspolizei and SD in Prague. Böhme had earlier suggested the liquidation of the village of Lidice, following the death of SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich.

    From August 1942 until May 1943, Lety saw more than 1,300 men, women and children pass through its camp. Over 25% died within the camp, mostly due to the squalid conditions and poor treatment they received by the camp staff, all of whom (over 50 men) were Czech.

    As the attachment below shows, rows of small wooden barracks measuring 2.5 x 3 metres, were used to hold the prisoners, who received three small meals a days and worked ten hour shifts - mostly on nearby road construction and agricultural work. The barracks, mobile wooden constructions, were designed to hold three or four people. After the gypsy camp was established however, this capacity was stretched way beyond its design, with up to four times the number held within the small huts.

    Head of the staff was Josef Janovský, who held the position of Kommandant and head of administration of the camp. Janovský had delayed reporting the poor conditions - despite the outbreak of typhus, until December 1942, resulting in the immediate closure of the camp and the enforcement of strict restrictions regarding outside contact. The following month, in January 1943, Janovský was replaced by Štefan Blahynka.

    The victims, many of whom died during a typhus outbreak, were buried in either hastily dug graves near the camp - nowadays site of the memorial, or in a nearby cemetery in the village of Mirovice. Over 30 children were born at the camp, none survived. Those who survived the experience at Lety were later transported to Auschwitz-II, Birkenau, where almost all died in the gas chambers. The first transport to Auschwitz left during December 1942, with a larger transport departing in spring 1943.

    Following the transports, over 200 people remained in the camp. Orders came to liquidate the camp during summer 1943, with a small number of inmates being freed, others sent for medical treatment and the majority of the remainder being transported to the gypsy camp at Hodonin and forced labour facilities in Prague and Pardubice. Some fifteen prisoners were left behind to destroy the camp. Food and clothing was disinfected and forwarded to other camps, whilst the wooden structures and other materials were torn down, burned and then - as with the entire camp site, covered with chlorinated lime.

    In post war years, a pig farm was established partly covering the former camp site. This farm remains present today, along with a modern memorial area and information learning path through the woods that leads to the former location of the camp.
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

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    1. Map of Bohemia indicating location of the gypsy camp at Lety.

    2. Plan of the former camp at Lety (click to enlarge).
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture map-lety.jpg   ZL-LETY.jpg  

    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

  3. #3
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    3. Josef Janovský, head of staff at Gypsy Camp Lety.

    4. Period view from the roof of the main administration building, looking over the yard and barracks.

    5. The mobile wooden barracks at Lety, shown here in another period image.

    (credits: romea.cz, radio.cz, holocaust.cz)
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Josef Janovský-Lety.jpg   lety camp.jpg  

    LETY-LAGER.jpg  
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

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    6-9. The memorial area at Lety, located on the site of the prisoner cemetery.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Lety (3).JPG   Lety (5).jpg  

    Lety (1).jpg   Lety (6).JPG  

    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

  5. #5
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    10. The modern exhibition area, housed within several barracks reconstructed to the specifications of the former mobile barracks used to hold the prisoners at the camp.

    11. Model depicting the former camp at Lety.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture LETY-EXH (11).jpg   LETY-EXH (10).jpg  

    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

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    12-16. Exhibits on display within the reconstructed barracks including heater, washing facility and other accommodation features.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture LETY-EXH (9).JPG   LETY-EXH (8).JPG  

    LETY-EXH (7).JPG   LETY-EXH (5).JPG  

    LETY-EXH (3).JPG  
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

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    17. The former camp grounds at ZL-Lety, taken at the location of the administration HQ.

    18. View of the former camp grounds, this time from the former infirmary and garages area.

    19. Another view of the former grounds at ZL-Lety.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture ZL-LETY (2).jpg   ZL-LETY (4).jpg  

    ZL-LETY (6).jpg  
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

  8. #8

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    Very informative thread as usual, Carl.

    Is it known which company made the original modular barrack system? I presume these barrack units were built off-site in a factory and transported pre-fabricated to wherever they were needed. I wonder if the standard size of the unit was based on a specific transport vehicle much like prefabricated buildings are designed today. I had not seen this barrack construction system before so again many thanks for posting.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

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    thank you Carl.

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    Thank you for your kind words gents, as ever, glad that you found the thread of interest.

    Stefan, I too found the construction and form of these modular units very interesting - however, as yet have not found any information regarding who supplied them. Like you, I believe that they most probably arrived at the site prefabricated and ready for quick installation. Having witnessed many various forms of KZ barrack first hand, these are one of the few that certainly stay in the mind due to the much smaller size and design. Many regular barracks, such as the long wooden structures that were used at Auschwitz-II, Birkenau, were also transported and used at other camps - typically following evacuation in the face of advancing Soviet forces. The reconstructed barrack present today at KZ-Mittelbau-Dora was actually pieced together using three separate barracks from a former Außenlager (sub-camp) of the Stammlager (main camp) near Nordhausen. I have been intending to create a new thread addressing the various types of barracks used within the KZ system - as ever, when time permits...will do so.
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

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