Around the World in 80 Clicks

inspiring you to travel

Latvia: Salaspils concentration camp

Mission accomplished image

Salaspils concentration camp | Latvia | Europe

[Visited: June 2013]

When I walked through the pine forest between Salaspils and Riga, I could hear nothing but the wind blow through the tree tops. Still, I had a heavy heart, as I was about to visit a former concentration camp. The entrance gate is impressive enough - a huge slab of concrete diagonally across the forest, on one side resting on a black block of granite in which markers indicate the number of people killed in the camp, and on the other side, on the ground. On the concrete, big letters saying "AIZ SIEM VARTIEM VAID ZEME" in Latvian, or: Behind this gate, the earth groans. It is a line from a poem by a Latvian poet who also lived in this concentration camp. I entered the small exhibition of the camp, with some grim black-and-white drawings depicting the hardships those unfortunate enough to end up here endured at the hands of the Nazis. I walked up the stairs, and through the Way of Sufferings, exited at the other side of the concrete tunnel.

Picture of Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia): Foundation of one of the barracks of the concentration camp

From a distance, I could already hear a peculiar sound, and when I got closer to a rectangular slab of black marble, on which I saw flowers, and a small doll. From the opening below, the sound never stopped: a heartbeat, going on forever. It gave the open space with the few memorials an almost haunting feel. I walked a large circle around the concentration camp of Salaspils, where the barracks have gone, but the foundations remain, as well as parts of walls with pointed bars in them. Even though I was not able to see what the barracks had really looked like, the hint of their presence was so strong, it was perhaps even more impressive. The numbers vary widely, but it is believed that between 2,000 and 100,000 people perished on these premises, undoubtedly leaving the survivors with a trauma for the rest of their lives.

Picture of Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia): Entrance of the camp:

There are several places and memorials where people have left flowers or fluffy animals, all of them are low-profile. One remarkable feat of Salaspils concentration camp is that giant statues have been erected on the middle ground. They represent the forces that made people survive the brutal camp experience. One is a man half lying on the floor, but with his upper body raised, supported on the ground: the Defiant. There is a strong woman with child: the Mother. Three men with determined faces, raising their arms to the sky: Solidarity. And one on his knees, the Defeated. Their rough appearance and the material they are made of, make them anything but fine samples of sculpture art; rather, they impress precisely by their harsh appearance. The silence, the space, the statues had all combined to leave a lasting impression in me.

Picture of Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia): The Unbroken - one of the statues on the field of the former concentration camp
Picture of Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia): Solidarity, three statues grouped together
Picture of Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia): Detailed look of one of the statues of the Solidarity group
Picture of Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia): Statue of the Solidarity group
Picture of Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia): Inside the concrete Way of Sufferings, at the entrance of Salaspils concentration camp
Picture of Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia): Looking up the Mother, one of the statues of the concentration camp
Picture of Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia): The concrete entrance with the number of people who perished in the camp
Picture of Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia): An eternal heartbeat comes out of this memorial stone
Picture of Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia): Massive statues scattered around the field of the concentration camp, with the Defeated in the foreground
Picture of Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia): Bars once used in the barracks can still be found
Picture of Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia): Black and white drawing of a scene involving Nazis on display in the small museum

Around the World in 80 Clicks

Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Salaspils concentration camp (Latvia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Salaspils concentration camp.
Read more about this site.

Follow us