"Latvia"
50 Years of Terror Tyranny and Oppression 1940–1991
Home      Salaspils Concentration Camp
 
   
 
Salaspils Concentration Camp "Transit Camp Kurtenhof" 
 
       
 
Set in a pine forest southeast of Riga, near the town of Salaspils, Kurtenhof Concentration Camp was the bigger of two camps built in or near the Latvian capital for civilians and Jews from the occupied territories. Set in a clearing a few hundred meters from the Riga-Salaspils railway line, served first as a transitional camp and later, by personal order of Himmler, as the site of mass executions.
 
  
 
Salaspils Concentration Camp was established in October 1941 till its liberation on the 13th of October 1944 located 18 km southeast of Riga and east of Maskavas iela. The Nazi bureaucracy drew distinctions between different types of camps. Officially, Salaspils was a Police Prison and Work Education Camp “Polezeigegfängnis und Arbeitserziehungslager” to house 15,000 deported Jews and political prisoners. Approximately 12,000 persons went through the camp during its existence. 2,000 to 3,000 people died here.
 
Estimates differ of how many people were murdered at Salaspils. The Soviets claimed over one hundred thousand, Latvian textbooks half that, recent studies offer a figure of under three thousand. What is certain is that this was a dark and terrible place.
 
It was also known as camp Kurtenhof after the German name for the city of Salaspils. Planning for the development of the camp and its prisoner structure changed several times. In 1943, Heinrich Himmler briefly considered converting the camp into an official concentration camp “Konzentrationslager”, which would have formally subordinated the camp to the National Security Main Office “Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA”, but nothing came of this. 
 
      
 
       
 
      
 
As you approach what served as the entrance to the Salaspils Concentration Camp ”Transit Camp Kurtenhof" we see a concrete overhead enclosed walkway with the words inscribed in Latvian “AIZ SIEM VARTIEM VAID ZEME” English translation “Beyond this Gate, the Earth Moans” is located on the front of it. Walking under the overhead enclosed walkway and looking to the right of the entrance we see a black stone wall with marks on it showing the number of dead for each year the camp was in existence. 
 
      
 
At the entrance to the site a rectangular concrete hall, mounted on pillars and tilting down from the entrance “Signifying Life” to a black colored marker showing the numbers of the dead. 
 
       
 
Entering the former camp area and scanning from left to right we will first see four of the eight raised concrete slabs where the camp gallows once were. Scanning further right we will see a black marble block monument with the sounds of a metronome can be heard coming from the black marble block which is called the “Reminding Heart”. These dead heart beats are the only sounds that interrupt the dead silence of this place. Looking to the center of the camp area we see a large open area with six huge stone statues located in the center of it. Still scanning right, we will see two more concrete slabs where more camp gallows once were. 
 
       
 
The sounds of a metronome can be heard, coming from a black marble block which is called the “Reminding Heart”. These dead heart beats are the only sounds that interrupt the dead silence of this place.
 
The gallows and thirty-nine barrack buildings are long gone, but there history and were they once were are marked by foundation stones. 
 
       
 
Moving to the left of the entrance we can see up close the concrete slabs which is all that remains of where the gallows once stood. These gallows were user to hang prisoners for the briefest infractions of the camp rules, which were strictly enforced. 
 
       
 
      
 
Moving to the left and to the rear of the camp we will see the foundation stones, which is all that remains of the camp barracks. Moving on to the left rear part of the camp area, we see the remains of what was once the location of the children’s barracks. These children who occupied the camp were experimented on in the most cruel and barbaric ways to where they died in the most inhuman ways. One of these with daily blood draws to the point they were bled to death. Located in the woods just bordering the camp in one of the burial places by the camp there is a mass grave of 632 corpses of children of ages 5 to 9. Those who weren't Jewish children were what were call "street children". A street child is one that has no place to live and live on the street. [See Authors Note]
 
      
 
As one moves to the rear area of the camp, we can see more foundations stones which are all that remains of the camp barracks. Still moving on to the right we will see more of what once were the barracks that made up the camp. Located on the right side of once was the camp, we will see a carved block which reads, in both Russian and Latvian; 
 
“Here humans have been punished for not having committed a crime. Here humans have been punished for loving their motherland”. 
 
After the war, the Soviet authorities left the camp as a memorial site, constructing huge stone statues called; 
 
      
  • "The Invincible"
  • "The Mother"
  • "Solidarity"
  • "Defeated"  
They stand in groups, square-jawed and arms outstretched, holding each other up in support, kneeling or stretching out in exhaustion across the grass. 
 
        
                                    "The Invincible"                                                                     "The Mother"                                                                       "Solidarity"                                                                              "Defeated" 
 
Moving to the center of the camp area, we will get a much closer look at the six huge stone statues. Standing in the middle of the large area and from left to right the names of the statues are “The Invincible” “The Mother” “Solidarity” “Defeated” Again standing in the middle of the camp, panning from left to the right starting at the entrance and panning right one will get a panorama view of the camp.
 
Today there is currently a memorial complex located on the former camp area, in memory of those who suffered here. Located on the wall next to the concrete overhead enclosed walkway is four signs which are in four different languishes Latvian, German, Russian and English.
 
      
 
These signs read;
“The Salaspils Memorial – a remembrance place of fascist victims. Here, not far from a little town Salaspils, a concentration camp was situated from October 1941 till the 13th of October 1944. Thousands of people from the occupied Latvia, the USSR and many other European countries were imprisoned there in 39 barracks. The principle function of the Sapaspils concentration camp was transportation of the imprisoned to the larger camps of the Third Reich.
 
The prisoners of the camp were employed in peat marshes, aerodromes, in road building and other hard labor jobs.
 
The camp regime was "Exclusively Strict”.
Authors Note:
 
While doing my research for "Latvia" 50 Years of Terror Tyranny and Oppression 1940–1991 and visiting Salaspils Concentration Camp, I have only came across only three articles and comments that even addresses this and not being to confirming this through official documents and Latvian historians', I can only go by my research. Even with pictures showing alleged skulls and bones, there are no reference to the exact locations of this sites or pictures showing the area around said location(s) which could be pictures taken from anywhere, except in the wooded area around Salaspils Concentration Camp. These is mention of such atrocities and the number of persons who have died while imprisoned in Salaspils Concentration Camp, but these numbers have been conflicting depending on the source.
 
Article I
 
Typhoid fever, measles and other diseases killed about half of the children at the camp. [In one of the burial places by the camp, 632 corpses of children of ages 5 to 9 were revealed].
 
Article II
 
Salaspils concentration camp, was built by the Nazis in 1941. Terrible place .. children were brought here for medical experiments. Children were used as donors for the German soldiers. Each child were taken to 500 ml of blood, after which he died and was threw in the woods or burned. After the war, Soviet investigators have studied this part of war crimes. In 1963, the memorial was built. The whole forest around the camp, "a large cemetery". In camp killed 100,000 people.
 
[While visiting and completely walking the area of the Salaspils Concentration Camp and the woods around the camp in 2010, I never found any trace of these large cemetery areas or anyone who could tell me the location of this cemetery or any other cemetery or cemetery areas that were or was connected to this camp, this even included the people who maintained this site.]
 
Comment to Article II
 
I am stunned that they killed Jews in the manner that they did but their blood was considered 'worthy' enough to be used... 'According to the 1946 "Soviet Extraordinary State Commission for the Investigation of the German-Fascist Crimes" however about 12,000 children are to have been arrested, of whom at least 7,000 were Jewish, and they were used as involuntary blood donors to supply German military hospitals'. [Appendix XXV – Soviet Extraordinary State Commission for the Investigation of the German-Fascist Crimes]
 
Unbelievable that you can simply dig these kinds of things up and that they are just under the surface...
 
Article III
 
Soviet Extraordinary State Commission for the Investigation of the German-fascist crimes
 
Controversial communiqués 
 
Some of the reports prepared by the commission are now considered erroneous, or falsifications. Particularly, the first report of the commission was published on 24 August 1944 with the title "Finland de-masked“. This report claimed that Finland had put the whole Soviet population of the occupied territories into Concentration camps in East Karelia during the Continuation War, where 40% had died according to the commission's data.
 
Another falsification concerns the 24 January 1944 communiqué about the "Katyn Massacre", published under the title "The Truth about Katyn". This lengthy document affirmed with "irrefutable clarity" that the mass shootings of the Polish prisoners had been done by the Germans. In fact, the crime was committed by the Soviets.
 
USSR-41 Report of the Extraordinary State Commission on crimes in Latvia, which was sealed by the Soviet NKVD/KGB and sealed and locked away in the Soviet Union NKVD and KGB's archives, even today, they are not really open to the public because today's Russian Government maintains that historians are trying to rewrite Soviet Union and Russian history. 
 
It is well known that the "Soviet Extraordinary State Commission for the Investigation of the German-Fascist Crimes" was greatly inflated with false finding and numbers of deaths as a Soviet Union propaganda for this period of time and the Soviet Union's 50 years of occupation of the Baltic States and other occupied countries. During this period of time, the Soviet Union had and took this time to hide, cover up and rewrite history to the atrocities they had or have committed to the people of these countries. These commission reports were presented during the "Nuremberg Trials" and never questioned. Even today, the Governments of European Countries have never questioned these findings even when evidence has been present to the contrary that the Soviet Union had committed atrocities in large scale against humanity. In the mid 90's, England's Parliament passed a law that even made it a crime to pursue such crimes or War Crimes against Humanity. So if you are a Soviet War Criminal from the Soviet Union or now Russia go to England you have amnesty from prosecution.