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“Emotional, moving, worth every ounce of effort to get here...” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Salaspils Memorial Ensemble

Salaspils Memorial Ensemble
Dienvidu iela, Salaspils, Latvia
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Ranked #1 of 3 things to do in Salaspils
Certificate of Excellence
Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
621 reviews
393 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 699 helpful votes
“Emotional, moving, worth every ounce of effort to get here...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 27, 2010

Although not a traditional stop on the tourism trail the camp is, to my mind, a must see.

We traveled by trail, and alighted at Darzini station and set off through the woods. If we had not looked on google earth first we would have been struggling to find the camp as the path winds through the woods and the site is not well signposted so some research is reccomended as to the general direction of the camp.

Having found thesite of the camp it was moving beyond words. Not touristy, not designed to impress or tell a story. The vast opening in a vast tranquil forest instills a mild sense of agrophobia. The low thud from a huge metronome really does sound like the beat of a giant heart beating beneath the earth and is very very evocative, particularly as some of the victims here were burried alive. No complete buildings remain, just the concrete foundations and some brickwork. What was the huts for children have a memorial adorned with cuddly childrens toys and flowers - emotional. Three giant statues show the suffering, and deffiance of the victims of the camp. The solitude, the statues, the toys, the metronome work together to form a memorial which will remain with me. I have visited many historic sites, including Dachau and Auschwitz but this one sums up the suffering more than they do.

Worth the effort to get here. Very much so.

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South London
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110 reviews
82 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 91 helpful votes
“A place for quiet reflection and remembrance”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2009

There are better known former concentration camp sites than Salaspils but none that I have visited so shaped into such a moving memorial to those who lost their lives in these hideous places. Finding the site itself is the first. Buses from Riga central run along the old Moscow Road through Rumbula Forest almost to Salaspils. You can take a car but the train is a pleasant and incredibly inexpensive way of doing the journey. Get off at Darzini (NOT Salaspils a stop later), negotiate the paths and dirt tracks through the forest and listen. Tune your ears and your will hear a monotonous ticking, a metronomic thump like the constant beat of human hearts. As a clearing opens up you come face to face with a giant concrete beam, bearing an inscription in Latvian which translates as "Beyond here the earth groans". This marks the former entrance to the camp and through a door at one end one can walk along the length of the beam to a small, stark exhibition of the history of the camp. Once inside the camp, your breath is taken away by a series of gigantic statues representing those imprisoned here, all defiantly faced towards the beam and its symbolic exit from their hell. Take time to walk around the perimeter of the camp where walls symbolise the former barrack huts and where past visitors have left mementos in memory of those who lost their lives here. Given that many of the prisoners were street children, rounded up as troublesome, petty thieves or beggars, and one can imagine how poignant some of these mementos are. In a strange way there is a disappointment that Salaspils is not more "touristy". A couple of locals who had stopped off on a cycle ride through the forest were my only companions in the site bar the hardworking gardener who kept the grass and flower beds immaculate perhaps for a handful of people to see.

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