This publication has two starting points:
- The seminar on the topic Minority Policy in Member States of the EU 25 regarding the Roma and Sinti Minority which was convened on 14 May 2005
- The recent discussion about the former concentration camp at Lety by Písek and the industrial pig farm situated there today, which Roma and Sinti organisations and others have been trying to remove, unfortunately without success.
Respect for rights and the protection of minorities belong among the basic values of all democratic states. The situation of the Sinti and Roma, of course, demonstrates
that on many levels the states of Europe do not always behave democratically: the Sinti and Roma are confronted with no-win situations, social disadvantage, exclusion, prejudices, and racism on a daily basis.
A critical coming to terms with the past is of essential significance, because a past which is ignored, denied, or not reflected upon makes it impossible to face the problems of the present, to understand them, and to develop efforts to solve them. The genocide of the Sinti and Roma is a part of European history with which we must all reckon – together, openly, and sensitively.
This publication does not treat this topic exhaustively. Rather, it hopes to provide an impetus for European dialogue across borders. This was also the aim of the conference Crossing Borders – Lety by Písek is in Europe that took place on 21 October 2005. A summary of this conference is included in the present publication.
We would sincerely like to thank our partners, especially the Committee for the Redress of the Romani Holocaust, the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, and the Goethe Institute in Prague. We also thank Gwendolyn Albert for translating the text into English and our editors Jaroslav ·onka and Eva Jelínková for their active participation.
Eva van de Rakt, Director of the Prague office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, February 2006