“TheCeļotājs” –
 “Beginning of the 1941 Terror Against the Jews in Riga Latvia”
 
Transit Camp Kurtenhof “Salaspils Concentration Camp” 
 
               
 
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 in 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.
 
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 thirty-nine barrack buildings and gallows are marked by foundation stones. 
 
               
 
     A carved block 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”.
 
               
 
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. 
 
    
 
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.
 
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 October 1944. Thousands of people from the occupied Latvia, the USSR and many 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 labour jobs.
 
The camp regime was exclusively strict”.
 
    
 
As we approach what served as the entrance of the Transit Camp Kurtenhof “Salaspils Concentration Camp” we see a concrete overhead enclosed walkway with the words inscribed in Latvian “AIZ SIEM VARTIEM VAID ZEME” English translation “Beyond this Gate the Ground is Crying” 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. 
 
                         
 
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. 
 
               
 
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 on, we get a much closer look at the black marble block memorial. At the end of this memorial we see two more concrete slabs where more gallows once stood. 
 
               
 
Moving on 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 hid dies and inhuman ways. One of which was daily blood with draws to the point they were blood to death. 
 
               
 
Moving on 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”. 
 
                                   
                         "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.
 

 
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