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Salaspils

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Salaspils Concentration camp memorial complex, about 15km southeast of Riga, is a memorial for the people who died there during the Nazi regime in Latvia.

History[edit]

Salispils concentration camp (in Deutsche: Kurtenhof) was built by the Jewish labourers captured by the Nazis during 1941. Thousands of people including 12,000 children, Jews, Russian POWs, and political prisoners from the Baltic states were held here. Most of the children were sent to the concentration camp without their parents and were used as involuntary blood donors for the German military hospitals.

Understand[edit]

The memorial consists of a museum and huge statues signifying the psychological, physical and emotional turmoil of the inhabitants.
The Humiliated (One of the statues at Salaspils)
The life on the camp is shown by the statues: Namely, The Mother, The Humiliated, The Unbroken, and Solidarity. The barracks for children have a memorial adorned with toys and flowers. The barracks were all destroyed by the Germans. The solitude of the statues, the deserted camp and the toys, gives it a dreary feeling, and makes one feel very humble of one's own existence.

Get in[edit]

Getting to the Salaspils in not very easy and needs a little effort on the traveler's part. But when one visits the place, every effort put into journey seems worth it.

By train[edit]

Taking a train from Riga is the best way of getting to Salaspils.

  • Take the train from Riga and get down at Darzini (20 min). Buy your ticket at the Riga Central Railway station, and they will tell you the train timing and the platform number. Return ticket costs 1 LVL.
  • Alight the train at Darzini. Cross the rail tracks, and take the path to the right of the train shelter into a dip over the hump and down to a track.
  • There is an unpaved path which after a while merges with the bicycle path. The bicycle path runs somewhat parallel to the train track. You are met with a beautiful green pine forest and solitude.
  • On your way you will see a small football field on your left. Keep walking on the same path, till you reach a large gravel road that leads to a paved road and junction with railway. Turn left and follow this to the end of the road and entre the site by passing through some wooden bollards. Keep to the tracks through the woods as the area is very boggy and wet!

This is a beautiful walk through the green forest and should take you about 15-20 min. In late November 2011, there were small, paper signs tacked to trees along this path. They don't have arrows leading you, but provided they are still posted, you will know you're going in the right direction if you see them.

In Feb 2014 the signs have gone, the football field is just a clearing in the woods now! Just keep the railway to your right and follow the main path until you hit the main road!

Note the many large holes and built up mounds as you walk to the main site either side of the track. These holes in the ground were dug and used by prisoners who could not be accommodated in the main camp. It was the only shelter they were allowed. They died in their thousands, exposed to the elements, starvation and illness regardless of the time of year.

If you buy a one-way ticket to Darzini, you can buy your return ticket on the train on the trip back to Riga. An official will come around and check tickets and you may buy a return ticket from them.

June 2014. A bit more advice on directions above. Follow the instructions for behind the train shelter, turn right on the road/path. Then keep walking along that all the way until you reach the crossroads at the level crossing. The train tracks are always on your right just beyond the trees. At the cross roads, turn left, and walk up to the square car park where the wooden bollards are.

About halfway to the crossroads, nailed to a tree on the left just above head height there is an A4 page in a plastic holder labelled Salaspils. But you have to be eagle eyed to spot it!

The football pitch is a small square area badly overgrown with weeds.

By Bicycle[edit]

There is an unpaved bicycle path from Riga to the memorial. Ask at the tourist information center and they will hand you the map.

By Bus[edit]

There are several mini-buses which leave from Riga for Salaspils, at higher frequency during the day. But it is difficult to get from the Salaspils bus station to the memorial.

Bus number 18 in the direction "Dārziņi-2" can be caught from the stop "Centrāltirgus" or the bus depo "Abrenes Iela" towards the Dārziņi railway station. There are several "Centrāltirgus" stops - the required one is on Gogoļa Iela, not the one immediately outside the back entrance to "Origo" but one has to walk a bit further away from the railway along Gogoļa Iela in order to find it. The bus will run a long way along a main road "Maskavas Iela" (A6/E22). The bus will turn off the main road to the right (onto "Taisnā Iela") at a guesthouse named "Visdari". There is a bus stop on the main road at this turning, which is the best place to get off, but if you miss it you can get off just down "Taisnā Iela" and walk back to the junction. Following the paths through the forest behind & to the right of "Visdari", one comes to the railway line, with a railway station just a few hundred meters further down the line (to the right when viewing the railway line from the road). Then follow the directions given elsewhere in this article.

Bus times and other details can be checked here: [1]

All in all this is an important reminder of history and deserves a visit, but this is a deserted place and having company is always advisable.

See[edit][add listing]

The statues and the museum are the two main attractions at this memorial. The barracks are all destroyed.

This place is neglected by the tourists and the officials, and needs to be revived for the sake of the history. Because anyone who forgets the history is bound to live it again.

In Feb 2014 the main memorial at the entrance is padlocked, so you cannot get inside it any longer. There is no information about the site there, except in the German Cemetery and their memorial to 146 dead; so it is worth reading about the place beforehand. Local people still find bodies in the woods. Children were used for medical experiments and as living blood donors for German troops.

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