Salaspils camp was established at the end of 1941 at a point 18 km (11 mi) southeast of Riga (Latvia), in Salaspils. The Nazi bureaucracy drew distinctions between different types of camps. Officially, it was the Salaspils Police Prison and Re-Education Through Labor Camp (Polizeigefängnis und Arbeitserziehungslager). 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. The camp has had a lasting legacy in Latvian and Russian culture due to the severity of the treatment at the camp, especially with regards to children.
Nazi propaganda photograph of Salaspils camp in 1941
|Also known as||Kurtenhof, Salaspils Police Prison and Re-Education Through Labor Camp|
|Location||Salaspils, near Riga, Latvia|
|Incident type||Imprisonment without trial, forced labor, starvation|
|Perpetrators||Rudolf Lange, Otto Teckemeier|
|Organizations||Nazi SS, Latvian Auxiliary Police|
In October 1941, SS-Sturmbannführer Rudolf Lange began planning a detention camp to be built at Salaspils to confine people arrested in Latvia by the police and also to house Jewish people deported from Germany and other countries to Latvia. Lange, who originally was the coordinator of Special Assignment Group A (Einsatzgruppe A), a mobile squad of killers, started a new job in December 1941 as commander of both the security police (Sicherheitspolizei) in Latvia and also of the Security Service (Sicherheitsdient). The place selected, near the city of Salaspils, was readily accessible from the main railway connecting Riga and Daugavpils, the two largest cities in Latvia. The plan was to work the prisoners harvesting peat and also, as part of what soon became known as the Final Solution, to separate Jewish men from Jewish women to prevent them from having children. In February 1942 Lange, probably because of his deeds in Latvia, became a participant in the Wannsee Conference where the final plans for the murder of the Jews of Europe were established by the Nazi hierarchy.
The first rail transport of German Jews arrived unexpectedly in Latvia in October 1941 before the Salaspils camp was complete. The train had been rerouted from its original destination of Minsk to Riga. The Jewish people on the train were housed temporarily in Jungfernhof concentration camp ("KZ Jungfernhof") or a little later in a Nazi-delineated part of Riga which later became known as the Riga Ghetto.
The camp site was prepared in October 1941 by Soviet prisoners of war from the Salaspils branch camp Stalag 350/Z of the Riga of base camp 350 and by deported Czech Jews as well as few German Jews from KZ Jungfernhof. In the middle of January 1942 at least 1,000 Jews from the Riga Ghetto were forced to work building the camp. Insufficient accommodation and sanitary conditions, lack of nutrition and severe cold weather caused an extraordinarily high number of deaths.
The Nazis had planned to deport the last remaining Jews from Germany by the end of the summer of 1942. To support this, the plans for the Salaspils camp were revised in an effort to allow the camp to accommodate 15,000 Jews deported from Germany. The camp by then played three roles, general police prison, later the security police prisoner camp, and then a forced labor camp. However the last expansion plan was not carried out.
In the autumn of 1942 the camp comprised 15 barracks of the 45 that were planned, housing 1,800 prisoners. Although a police prison and work education camp, Salaspils became comparable to a German concentration camp in the way the work was organized, the types of prisoners, as well as their treatment, as they recounted later.
By the end of 1942 the Salaspils camp held mainly political prisoners (who had originally been incarcerated at the Riga central prison without due process under "protective custody orders") and interned foreigners such as Latvian returnees from Russia, whom the Nazis considered politically suspect. Furthermore, work education prisoners and recruits to local Latvian collaboration units (Schutzmannschaften) who had committed routine crimes. There were in the camp only twelve Jews; many had died or been returned to Riga in weak condition.
Starting in 1949 legal proceedings were brought against some of the persons responsible for the Nazi crimes in Latvia, including the Riga Ghetto, and the Jungfernhof and Salaspils concentration camps. Some accused were condemned to life imprisonment. Gerhard Kurt Maywald is one such Nazi, convicted of crimes committed in the camp.
In 1967 a Memorial of the Salaspils Police Prison was established in Salaspils, which included an exhibit room, several sculptures and a large marble block by architects Gunārs Asaris, Ivars Strautmanis, Oļģerts Ostenbergs, in 2004, thanks to a donation by Larry Pik, a former prisoner at the Salaspils concentration camp, a separate monument to commemorate foreign Jews who died there was erected. The monument bears the Star of David and an inscription in Hebrew, Latvian and German: “To honour the dead and as a warning to the living. In memory of the Jews deported from Germany, Austria and Czechia, who from December 1941 to June 1942 died from hunger, cold and inhumanity and have found eternal rest in the Salaspils forest”.
Albert Sauer (17 August 1898, Misdroy – 3 May 1945, Falkensee) was a German commandant of Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.Arajs Kommando
The Arajs Kommando (also: Sonderkommando Arajs), led by SS commander and Nazi collaborator Viktors Arājs, was a unit of Latvian Auxiliary Police (German: Lettische Hilfspolizei) subordinated to the German Sicherheitsdienst (SD). It was a notorious killing unit during the Holocaust.Else Hirsch
Else Hirsch (29 July 1889 – 1942 or 1943) was a Jewish teacher in Bochum, Germany, and a member of the German Resistance against the Third Reich. She organized transports of Jewish children to the Netherlands and England, saving them from Nazi deportation to concentration camps and death. Hirsch perished in the Riga Ghetto, at the age of 53 or 54.Fritz Dietrich (Nazi)
Fritz Dietrich (August 6, 1898 – October 22, 1948) was a German SS officer and member of the Nazi Party. He held a doctoral degree in chemistry and physics. His name is also seen as Emil Diedrich. He was hanged for war crimes.German occupation of Latvia during World War II
The occupation of Latvia by Nazi Germany was completed on July 10, 1941 by Germany's armed forces. Latvia became a part of Nazi Germany's Reichskommissariat Ostland—the Province General of Latvia (German: Generalbezirk Lettland). Anyone not racially acceptable or who opposed the German occupation, as well as those who had cooperated with the Soviet Union, were killed or sent to concentration camps in accordance with the Nazi Generalplan Ost.Hinrich Lohse
Hinrich Lohse (2 September 1896 – 25 February 1964) was a Nazi German politician and a convicted war criminal, best known for his rule of the Baltic states during World War II.Jungfernhof concentration camp
The Jungfernhof concentration camp (Latvian: Jumpravmuižas koncentrācijas nometne) was an improvised concentration camp in Latvia, at the Mazjumprava Manor, near the Šķirotava Railway Station about three or four kilometers from Riga (now within the city territory). The camp was in operation from December 1941 through March 1942, and served as overflow housing for Jews from Germany and Austria, who had originally been intended for Minsk as a destination.Jānis Lipke
Jānis Lipke (also Žanis Lipke; 1 February 1900, Jelgava – 14 May 1987, Riga) was a Latvian rescuer of Jews in Riga during World War II.
Lipke, a dock worker in the port of Riga, was determined to help save Latvian Jews from capture by the Nazis after witnessing actions against them in the streets. He retrained in order to become a contractor for the Luftwaffe, and then used his position to smuggle Jewish workers out of the Riga ghetto and camps in and around Riga, whom he concealed with the aid of his wife Johanna until the arrival of the Red Army in October 1944. The Lipkes and their various helpers saved forty people in this way, one fifth of the approximately 200 Jews who survived the war in Latvia.
When he died in 1987, the Jews of Riga arranged his funeral, and he is honoured as one of the Righteous among the Nations.Kaiserwald concentration camp
Kaiserwald (Ķeizarmežs) was a Nazi German concentration camp near the Riga suburb of Mežaparks in Latvia.
Kaiserwald was built in March 1943, during the period that the German army occupied Latvia. The first inmates of the camp were several hundred convicts from Germany.
Following the liquidation of the Riga, Liepāja and Daugavpils (Dvinsk) ghettos in June 1943, the remainder of the Jews of Latvia, along with most of the survivors of the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto, were deported to Kaiserwald.
In early 1944, a number of smaller camps around Riga were brought under the jurisdiction of the Kaiserwald camp.
Following the occupation of Hungary by the Germans, Hungarian Jews were sent to Kaiserwald, as were a number of Jews from Łódź, in Poland. By March 1944, there were 11,878 inmates in the camp and its subsidiaries, 6,182 males and 5,696 females, of whom only 95 were gentiles.Karl Jäger
Karl Jäger (20 September 1888 – 22 June 1959) was a Swiss-born German mid-ranking official in the SS of Nazi Germany and Einsatzkommando leader who perpetrated acts of genocide during the Holocaust.Konrāds Kalējs
Konrāds Kalējs (26 June 1913 – 8 November 2001) was a Latvian soldier who was a Nazi collaborator and an alleged war criminal during World War II. He gained notoriety for evading calls for his prosecution across four countries, more than once under the threat of deportation.Latvian Auxiliary Police
Latvian Auxiliary Police was a paramilitary force created from Latvian volunteers by the Nazi German authorities who occupied the country in June 1941. It was part of the Schutzmannschaft (Shuma), native police forces organized by the Germans in occupied territories and subordinated to the Order Police (Ordnungspolizei; Orpo). Some units of the Latvian auxiliary police were involved in the Holocaust. One of its units, the Arajs Kommando, was notorious for killing 26,000 civilians during the war, mostly Jews, but also Communists and Romas.In addition to regular stationary police (patrolmen in cities and towns), 30 Police Battalions were formed. These mobile groups carried out guard duties of strategic objects or building fortifications, participated in anti-partisan operations and fought on the Eastern Front.Operation Winterzauber
Operation Winterzauber (Operation "Winter magic") was an anti-partisan operation from 15 February to 30 March 1943 aimed at creating a depopulated zone of 30 to 40 km along the Belarussian–Latvian border. It was mainly conducted by the Latvian collaborators under German command in the period in the triangle of Sebezh–Osveya–Polotsk in Northern Belarus (Drissa, Osveya, Polotsk, Rasony districts) and in Sebezhsky District of Pskov region in Russia; in the USSR it became known as "the Osveya tragedy." According to the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation, justice of Germany qualified operation "Winter magic" as a crime against humanity.
During this operation about 3900 partisans and local inhabitants were killed, over 7000 were deported for forced labor or imprisoned to Salaspils concentration camp, 439 villages were burnt down.Riga Ghetto
The Riga Ghetto was a small area in Maskavas Forštate, a neighborhood of Riga, Latvia, designated by the Nazis where Jews from Latvia, and later from Germany, were forced to live during World War II. On October 25, 1941, the Nazis relocated all Jews from Riga and the vicinity to the ghetto while the non-Jewish inhabitants were evicted. Most of the Latvian Jews (about 24,000) were killed on November 30 and December 8, 1941 in the Rumbula massacre. The Nazis transported a large number of German Jews to the ghetto; most of them were later killed in massacres.
While the Riga Ghetto is commonly referred to as a single entity, in fact there were several "ghettos". The first was the large Latvian ghetto. After the Rumbula massacre, the surviving Latvian Jews were concentrated in a smaller area within the original ghetto, which became known as the "small ghetto". The small ghetto was divided into men's and women's sections. The area of the ghetto not allocated to the small ghetto was then reallocated to the Jews being deported from Germany, and became known as the German ghetto.Rollkommando Hamann
Rollkommando Hamann (Lithuanian: skrajojantis būrys) was a small mobile unit that committed mass murders of Lithuanian Jews in the countryside in July–October 1941, with a death toll of at least 60,000 Jews. The unit was also responsible for a large number of murders in Latvia from July through August, 1941. At the end of 1941 the destruction of Lithuanian Jewry was effectively accomplished by the Rollkommando in the countryside, by the Ypatingasis būrys in the Ponary massacre, and by the Tautinio Darbo Apsaugos Batalionas in the Ninth Fort in Kaunas. In about six months an estimated 80% of all Lithuanian Jews were killed. The remaining few were spared for use as a labor force and concentrated in urban ghettos, mainly the Vilna and Kaunas Ghettos.Rudolf Batz
Rudolf Batz (10 November 1903 – 8 February 1961) was a German SS functionary during the Nazi era. From 1 July to 4 November 1941 he was the leader of Einsatzkommando 2 and as such was responsible for the mass murder of Jews and others in the Baltic states.Rudolf Joachim Seck
Rudolf Joachim Seck (15 July 1908 – 1974) was an SS-Oberscharführer (staff sergeant) during World War II during the course of which he committed a large numbers of crimes against humanity, for which he was later sentenced to serve life in prison by a West German court.Rudolf Lange
Rudolf Lange (18 April 1910 – 23 February 1945?) was a German SS functionary and police official during the Nazi era. He served as commander in the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and all RSHA personnel in Riga, Latvia. He attended the Wannsee Conference, and was largely responsible for implementing the murder of Latvia's Jewish population. Einsatzgruppe A killed over 250,000 people in less than six months.Šķēde
Šķēde is a suburban settlement near Liepāja, Latvia, in Medze parish. It is located on the north border of the city. Šķēde was the biggest dacha cooperative in Latvia in the time of the Latvian SSR. One of Šķēde's notable features is its street names, which are known as "lines" and numbered from 1 to 18. Typical Šķēde addresses may thus appear as: Šķēde 1-15-2. Until 2005, the main Liepāja landfill was located near Šķēde.
|Nazi occupation and organizations|
|Ghettos and camps|
|War crimes investigations and trials|
|Righteous Among the Nations|