Question about Salaspils

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Oleg Grigoryev
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Question about Salaspils

Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 10 Apr 2004 01:10

Does anybody know about demographics of victims in this KZ?

michael mills
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Post by michael mills » 10 Apr 2004 03:56

I recommend the book "The Holocaust in Latvia", by Andrew Ezergailis.

According to Ezergailis, although Jews deported from Germany were used in the construction of the Salaspils camp, they were not kept as prisoners there. The inmates were mainly Soviet POWs or civilians of various Soviet nationalities arrested for supporting partisans. They included Latvians who opposed the german occupation.

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Oleg Grigoryev
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Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 10 Apr 2004 04:30

Thank you. I'll look it up

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Post by Luca » 11 Apr 2004 03:00

The camp was built by jews from the Riga ghetto and from KZ-Jungfernhof between december 1941 and February 1942. Initially there were only jews in KZ-Salaspils, who numbered 1.550 in March 1942. In September 1942 the camp was finished with a total of 44 buildings, many of them service and workshop barracks.
Gentile Latvian political prisoners, also some from Hungary, Poland and Romania, were imprisoned in KZ-Salaspils. The capacity of the camp was about 2.000, the number imprisoned in March 1943, and by then only a few jews remained.
During 1943, KZ_Salaspils served as a work and transit camp for non-jewish prisoners, e.g. Ostarbeiters from Belorussia on their way to Germany, and in 1944 as a camp for Latvian resistance fighters, draft-dodgers and deserters. There was also a subcamp of KZ-Salaspils in a stone quarry in Sauriesi holding ca. 300 prisoners and 16 guardsmen. The exact date for the closing of KZ-Salaspils is not know, but soviet forces re-occupied Riga district in October 1944.
To a large degree Latvian SD forces served as guards in KZ-Salaspils. Among them was the famous Arajs Command, suspected for killing of 26.000 civilians in Latvia, and another unit know as Madona SD. The camp Commandant in 1942 was Richard Nickel, and from 1943-1944 Otto Teckmemeir.
It is assumed that ca. 7.000 men and women died in KZ-Salaspils.

Luca

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Post by David Thompson » 11 Apr 2004 03:23

Thanks, Luca, for your interesting and informative post. Even the 4-volume Encyclopedia of the Holocaust did not have an entry for that camp.

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Post by michael mills » 11 Apr 2004 04:04

Luca,

What is the source for your statistical information? I would be interested to know.

The Arajs Kommando did provide perimeter guards for the Salaspils camp and other camps, such as Porkhov near Pskov. However, the camp staff were German; Latvian auxiliaries were not usually permitted to enter the camps they guarded.

The 26,000 reportedly killed by the Arajs Kommando were Latvian Jews killed during the massacres of 1941. They were not to any great extent prisoners in Salaspils and other camps.

The above information is from the book by Ezergailis.

An Australian Latvian, Kondrats Kalejs, was accused of being the commander of the perimeter guards at Salaspils and Porkhov camps. He died before extradition to Latvia.

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Post by Luca » 13 Apr 2004 10:59

michael mills wrote:Luca,

1 ) What is the source for your statistical information? I would be interested to know.

2 ) The Arajs Kommando did provide perimeter guards for the Salaspils camp and other camps, such as Porkhov near Pskov. However, the camp staff were German; Latvian auxiliaries were not usually permitted to enter the camps they guarded.

3 ) The 26,000 reportedly killed by the Arajs Kommando were Latvian Jews killed during the massacres of 1941. They were not to any great extent prisoners in Salaspils and other camps.

The above information is from the book by Ezergailis.

4 ) An Australian Latvian, Kondrats Kalejs, was accused of being the commander of the perimeter guards at Salaspils and Porkhov camps. He died before extradition to Latvia.


1 ) "The Holocaust in Latvia 1941 - 1944", Andrew Ezergailis, Historical Institute of Latvia, Riga, and US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, 1996.
"Die vergessenen Lager", Alfred Streim, Dachauer Hefte 5, 1989.
"Juden in Riga", Mangers Vestermanis, Ed. Temmen, 1995.

2 ) Exactly, thank You for the precisation.

3 ) Exactly, thank You for the precisation.

4 ) Kalejs was a big target for the "Nazi hunters" cause he was into the Arajs Kommando but nothing was found for say that he was coupable for any crime. Also Australian special police task force was create for found informations but at the end nothing was found. So when the hunters know that he fly transit for London in the way for Berlin they forced England to make judge actions against Kalejs.
Strange he was accused not for the partecipations in the Arajs actions but cause he was the Commander of the perimetral guards of the Salaspils camp that have the order of shoot the prisoners that try to escape.
So the prisoners was forced to stay into the camp in bad situations.

............

Dzinta Subrowska is spokeswoman for the Latvian Prosecutor's Office:

DZINTA SUBROWSKA: He is being charged with the crimes because in 1942 and 1943 while performing duties of the second guard commando in Salaspils camp, he provided the exterior armed guard of this camp as well as the armed guarding during the hard labour of imprisoned civilians.

IRRIS MAKLER: Let me see if I understand this right. By being a guard at a concentration camp, you can contribute to an extermination policy?

DZINTA SUBROWSKA: Yes, because being armed guards, they provided that the people who were imprisoned, they couldn't get out of this camp. And they lived in terrible conditions. Such living conditions where they couldn't survive or they were killed. And he personally gave orders to kill the people who tried to escape

...............

Karlis Strazds, that was a guard in the Salaspils camp, testified that Kalejs was the Commander of the perimetral guards. He was ordered to shoot prisoners that try to escape and that inmates, mainly Jewish, were beaten.

For these reasons he was accused for crimes against the humanity.

When the 88 years old Kalejs dead before the internationals splits, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, which hunts perpetrators of the Holocaust, has described Mr Kalejs's death as a sad day for justice.
Efraim Zuroff, head of the centre's Jerusalem office, said: "Konrad Kalejs deserved to die in prison not in an old-age home. It was the failure of his homeland, Latvia, and his country of refuge, Australia, that ultimately spared him prosecution."

Luca

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Post by michael mills » 14 Apr 2004 04:00

The Kalejs case was a bit of a scandal, with both Latvia and Australia changing their laws in response to pressure from the International Jewish Establishment.

Latvia changed its laws in respect of what constituted a crime against humanity. According to the changes, a crime against humanity could be simply "contributing" to the crime, not only actually committing it. Thus, a person who was a guard at a camp at which a crime against humanity was alleged to have been committed could be charged with "contributing" to the crime, even if there was no allegation that he had participated in the actual commission of it.

Australia changed its extradition laws. Previously, a state seeking extradition of an Australian citizen had to present prima facie proof of guilt that would be acceptable to an Australian court, ie proof of an offence that was a crime in Australia. Under the changes, all the state seeking extradition had to do was demonstrate that the offence for which extradition was sought was really a crime under its law. The effect was to make the process of extradition easier.

Both countries buckled to pressure from the usual suspects, being highly embarrassed by the whole affair. In truth, I suspect both were hoping that Kalejs would die before the extradition law was fully tested in the courts, making the whole issue go away.

The propaganda spread by the Jewish Lobby here in Australia initially insinuated that Kalejs had been a participant in the mass destruction of Jews perpetrated in Latvia in the late summer and autumn of 1941.

It later transpired, mainly due to information from Ezergailis who was a consultant for the defence, that Kalejs had not joined the Arajs Kommando until early 1942, ie after the completion of the mass-shootings, and that he had been recruited as a former officer in the Latvian Army for the purpose of leading the Arajs Kommando in anti-partisan campaigns in occupied Russia.

Accordingly, the charges against him were reduced to crimes against civilians in anti-partisan operations, and crimes against prisoners while commanding the guard companies at Salaspils, Sauriesi and Porkhov.

Finally, since there was no proof that he had committed any crimes himself, the charge against him was reduced to "contributing" to the commission of crimes against humanity in those camps by commanding the perimeter guard and thereby preventing the prisoners from escaping, which in my opinion is drawing a very long bow.

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Post by Sonntagsforscher » 26 Jul 2007 01:49

The question of the demographics of the Salaspils camp is a real can of worms. A Latvian history book published last year referred to it as a labor and education camp, and I believe that Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, the immediate past president of Latvia, used the same terminology in a speech. Russian media went ballistic, accusing the Latvians of trying to whitewash what they term a "death camp."

Turns out that the official title of the camp was _Arbeits und Erziehungslager_, which means exactly "labor & education camp"; depending on context, it might be argued that an explanation of this term as a euphemism should be supplied, but there is certainly no reason to have fits over it. Moreover, this terminology was invented originally by the Soviets (quite possibly by Stalin himself) for some their own concentration camps, and borrowed from them by the Nazis. And it is the Russian terminology that is misleading: by "death camp" we would normally understand an extermination camp like Auschwitz or Treblinka or Majdanek, with gas chambers and ovens. Salaspils was not a camp of that sort, and it now appears that the number who died there was greatly exaggerated by the NKVD, and the inflation has continued in Soviet and now Russian sources: form 53,000 to 56,000 to 100,000 or even 200,000. The figure given by Luca, around 7,000, is more realistic, and Heinrich Strod, who has made a detailed study, thinks it may not have exceeded 2.000. The lurid stories of Mengele-style medical experiments carried out on thousands of children at Salaspils seem pretty doubtful now too.

Sonntagsforscher

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Post by David Thompson » 26 Jul 2007 02:26

Sonntagsforscher -- Do you have any sources for our readers?

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Post by Ship of Fools » 26 Jul 2007 21:29

I am guessing it will be the 2000 article in the Museum of Occupation's yearbook, although not having read it I cant guarantee that.

I can confirm, however, that 2000 is the number that is now commonly stated in Latvia, including, I believe, the Museum of Occupation in Riga which I visited earlier this year.

As an interesting side note, knowledge regarding Rumbula is not widespread in todays Latvia. I asked at the first tourist information for directions and they gave me directions that would have taken me to the fashionable seaside resort of Jurmala (sp?), when I spelt the name they had not heard of it.

At the second tourist information office, they gave me very precise directions, these directions took me to a train station in the middle of a pine forest that with a broken sign falled on the ground with an arrow that said Salaspils. I did eventually find the village of Rumbula but not the memorial. If anyone is interested I think there is bus you take and get off past a petrol station.

Though Laura Bush didnt seem to have the same difficulties I did.

another interesting side note is the wikipedia article on Salaspils relies very heavily on a PDF called "Latvia under the Nazis yoke", which is a collection of USSR generated documents pertaining to the period, including the absurd death toll for Salaspils. It has an introduction that does not come across very well in translation. It does represent proof of that old proverb that a lie has travelled half way around the world while truth is still putting its running shoes on.

I would also add that 2000 people is still rather a lot of deaths.

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Salaspils biblio

Post by Sonntagsforscher » 29 Jul 2007 03:57

In addition to the Occupation Museum' Yearbook for 2000, mentioned by Ship of Fools, see Andrew Ezergailis, _Nazi/Soviet Disinformation About the Holocaust in Nazi-Occupied Latvia_: Daugavas Vanagi: Who Are They?—_Revisited_ (Riga: Latvijas 50 gadu okupācijas muzeja fonds [OMF], 2005).

Valters Nollendorfs and Erwin Oberländer, eds, _The Hidden and Forbidden History of Latvia Under Soviet and Nazi Occupations 1940-1991: Selected Research of the Commission of the Historians of Latvia, Symposium of the Commission of the Historians of Latvia_, Vol. 14 (Riga: Institute of the History of Latvia, 2005).

Sorry I don't have these with me at present & can't give page refs; and the Ezergailis book has only an index of persons, so you can't just look up "Salaspils."

On the history of the terminology "Labor & Education Camp," I think you can find this easily; Wikipedia probably covers it.

Ship of Fools, that is a disappointing account of your troubles in locating Rumbula. Ojars Vācietis' poem about the mass murder there is fairly well known in Latvia, and the site has a fitting monument, which was never allowed in Soviet times, but it sounds as though there is still a deal of educational work to be done. Your spelling of "Jurmala" (which just means "seashore") needs no apology; if you want to put in the correct diacriticals, the "u" could use a macron. "Salaspils" means "island fortress" or "island town"--pils, cognate with Greek _polis_, reflects in its semantic range the times when cities were fortified with walls, as does the word for "town" or "city," _pilsēta_, where the _sēta_ part means the wall (nowadays _sēta_ is usually 'fence,' and a defensive wall would me _mūris_, which any Latinist will recognize at once).

Sonntagsforscher

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Post by David Thompson » 29 Jul 2007 13:42

Thanks, Sonntagsforscher.

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Post by michael mills » 31 Jul 2007 08:19

The truth about the nature of the Sapaspils Camp is important because it casts doubt on the material contained in the Soviet record of the post-war interrogation if HSSPF Russland-Nord Fritz Jeckeln, which has often been used as an historical source, as for example here:

viewtopic.php?p=768656#768656

It will be seen that Jeckeln claimed, according to the record of interview, that Salaspils was an extermination camp to which large numbers of Jews from many European countries were sent. However, that claim was manifestly false, as the documentary evidence about the purpose of the camp shows.

The question is why Jeckeln made such a false claim to his Soviet interrogators. Obviously he must have known that Salaspils was a labour camp, and not an extermination centre that received convoys of Jews from various European countries.

The answer can only be that it was the Soviet interrogators who decided, incorrectly, that Salaspils was an extermination centre, and gave Jeckeln a script containing that information, which he simply regurgitated at his interrogation. That must cast doubt on the reliability of the record of interrogation as a historical source.

In this post

viewtopic.php?p=773012#773012

I was asked to prove my contention that the record of Jeckeln's interrogation was a Soviet fabrication, full of historical errors. I would think that the facts about Salaspils camp presented in this thread by Sonntagsforscher support that contention.

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Post by Ship of Fools » 31 Jul 2007 18:47

I am always amazed when people take Soviet investigations seriously.

Here is the original post liberation report that estimated the death toll at the camp at 101 000

Medicolegal report on atrocities committed by the Nazi German occupants in the vicinity of Riga, of December 12, 1944.
Considering the results of visual examinations and post-mortems made in the vicinity of Riga, and inspections of burial areas and according to preliminary investigations data and measurements of aforementioned burial areas, forensic medical commission consisting of:
Lieutenant colonel of Medical service Asaturjan A.A.,
Chief of Health Service of 67th Army;
Major of Medical service Krivtsov S.N., Army medical examiner;
Captain of Medical service Kuzyema V.A.,
Chief of Army forensic medical examination service, and
Captain of Medical service Ilyinsky S.P., morbid anatomist,
Having been warned about amenability according the Article 95 of Criminal Code of RSFSR, arrived to the following conclusion:
1. According to investigation materials and examination of areas of mass burial of POWs and Soviet citizens, of killed and deceased during the temporarily German occupation, we can estimate the amount of corpses in uncovered grave pits and in areas of mass burial, examined at the present moment. Total amount of corpses exceeds 300.000 and is dispersed as following:
Place
Amount of killed (according to original evidences)
1. Bikernek /Bikerniyek/ forest
46 500
2. Rumbul forest
38 000
3. Dreilin forest
13 100
4. Shkiratovo /Shkiratava/ railway station
450
5. Ziepnieku-Kalns
39 500
6. Orthodox cemetery
1 500
7. Lutheran cemetery
400
8. Cemetery (Kapu) street
800
9. Bishu-Muizha
4 650
10. Rope factory
13 900
11. New Jewish cemetery
14 500
12. Old Jewish cemetery
6 000
13. Penalty camp (№ 350) Pantzyr Barracks
15 000
14. Salaspils camp
101 000
15. Orthodox cemetery, Varno street
500
16. Remand prison
3 500
17. town of Balozhi
1 000
2. Exhumations were organized from November 24 to December 6, 1944 in the following places in the vicinity of Riga:
1. Bikernek forest
2. Camps of Salaspils
3. Old garrison cemetery of Salaspils
4. New Jewish cemetery
5. Old Jewish cemetery
6. Bishu-Muizha
7. Pantzyr Barracks
8. Ziepnieku-Kalns
9. Rumbul forest
10. Dreilin forest.
58 burials were found in said places. 549 corpses total were exhumed from graves and pits, including 472 men, 64 women and 38 children corpses (of which 13 were examined). Age of the buried has been estimated as following: from 1.5 to 6-8 years for children, from 25 to 50 for women, and from 23 to 60 for men.
Burned corpses have also been found in forests of Rumbul, Dreilin and Bikernek: charred pieces of ribs and tubular bones, and also jaws and half-burned wear and shoes were discovered there. Furthermore, lots of teeth and pieces of dentures were discovered around the mentioned graves.
The dimensions of grave pits in the aforesaid places vary from 2x1.5 meters to 50x5 meters and more. The depth of grave pits varies from 1.5 to 4 meters. Depth of deposition of corpses varies from 1.5 to 2.2 meters. In some cases grave pits were camouflaged with earth hillocks as single graves, and also with old crosses and tombstones taken from another graves (like «Here lies Nikita SAVELYEV, private of training battalion of 15 Schlisselburg Regiment»; «Rest in peace – private of 116 Maloyaroslavets Regiment Pavel Fedorovich DEYEV, died 10.9.1895, from Rostov, Yaroslavl province»). Excavations in such places discovered 20 and more corpses in each (Salaspils, old garrison cemetery). Furthermore, corpses were found in spaces between the graves. In excavated grave pits (Salaspils and other places) corpses were laid out in regular rows (6-12 child corpses in a row in each grave). In mentioned and other places corpses laid without any regular order, i.e. they were thrown down in pits chaotically).
3. Some corpses were found with their hands tied behind the back (areas of Salaspils and Bishe-Muizha). In grave pits where corpses were thrown chaotically, those bodies had their legs and arms placed in every possible position). Some bodies were buried naked or in underwear; in such places we have also found bodies dressed in partially rotten civilian clothes and military uniform. Clothes on the bodies found in Bikernek forest preserved slightly better (made of silk, woolen cloth). Combs,
cigarette holders, pocket mirrors, pencils, rings, spectacles, money, documents and other paraphernalia were found in some clothes, along with identity cards and passports (21) registered in respective post-mortem reports.
4. We date back the burial of examined corpses, buried in the areas of Ziepnieku-Kalns, Pantsyr Barracks, Bikernek forest, Salaspils, Jewish cemeteries, Bishu-Muizha, Rumbul and Dreilin forests, to the period from the end of 1941 to 1944. The fact that bodies of different years were discovered indicates on the systematical killing of POWs and Soviet citizens during the three-year period.
5. Forensic medical examination revealed 116 cases of death from shot wounds of head and thorax, 219 cases of death from multiple fractures of cranial bones and other regions, and 16 cases of burying people alive with heavy damages. Entry holes of shot wounds were located predominantly on the occipital zone.
6. The examination of 199 bodies has discovered no lethal damages, so our commission concluded that in 92 cases (in Salaspils area, where POW camp was located) people starved to death or died from infectious diseases. In 107 cases cause of death could not be determined owing to full corruption of bodies and absence of any damages of the bones.
7. According to the expert conclusions and original evidence, we have precisely determined several methods of extermination of POWs and Soviet civilians:
a) Injuring of head and other regions with heavy and obtuse objects, use of firearms.
b) Starvation that caused fast exhaustion; cases of death from infectious diseases were also confirmed.
8. Having carried out post-mortems and examined the places of mass burial, our commission of medical experts concluded that in 1941-1944 mass extermination of Soviet POWs and civilians had been organized in the vicinity of Riga. Soviet civilians had died of shot wounds and lethal injuries of head and other regions, made by obtuse objects. We have also discovered the traces of tortures (bruises, multiple fractures of ribs). Furthermore, in places of imprisonment people were
starved to death; starvation rations caused quick exhaustion and fast development of infectious diseases. We have discovered that in some places Soviet people died from asphyxia after being buried alive.
Forensic medical commission:
(Signatures, seal of Administrative department of Council of Ministers of Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic).
December 12 1944.
Riga
Four typescript copies were made.
State Archive of Russian Federation, fund 7021, list 93, file 21, page(s) 15-18, original, typescript.

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