Salaspils


This camp is hardly one of the most famous and it is located just outside a small town called Salaspils just twenty kilometres southeast of Riga. It was established in October 1941 at the initiative of SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Rudolf Lange and was first conceived as a major police detention centre. Soviet prisoners of war from Stalag 350 and Jews from the ghetto in Riga were used as slave workers to build the camp. In 1942, plans were expanded and it was planned to become a collection camp for Jews deported from Germany. But these plans were scrapped and by the end of 1942 the vast majority of prisoners were political prisoners brought to Salaspils from various prisons in Riga. The actual function of the camp partly returned to the original purpose as a police detention centre but it also became a labour camp. The camp also served as a transit camp for prisoners in one direction or another. Members of the Sonderkommando Arajs shall have served in the camp. The camp was dismantled and liberated in the summer of 1944. About 12,000 people went through the camp during its existence, how many died varies depending on the source.

Current status: Demolished with museum (2007).

Location: 56° 52'26" N 24° 18'6" E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The main monument itself is a large long oblique hollow monolith that you can walk inside and listen to the sound of a heart. In the former camp area there are six oversized sculptures that represent, among other things, willingness to sacrifice, resistance and suffering. The whole area is characterized by a wonderful and fascinating classic ugly Soviet concrete architecture in decay, which in a way is a reflection of the society it was built in. Also the town of Salaspils is a typical ”soviet” suburb with dozens of classic socialist residential complexes that despite its gloomy architecture represent a time for the welfare of the socialist worker.

Follow up in books: Ezergailis, Andrew: The Holocaust in Latvia, 1941-1944 (1996).