Today is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day – Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
The Holocaust is World War II genocide of European Jews. Nazi Germany brutally murdered 6 million Jews and 11 million others of different ethnic and social groups between 1941-1945, destroying around two-thirds of Europe’s population.
When I visited Riga, Latvia I had a guided tour to Salaspils Concentration Camp Memorial Ensemble.
Emotionally, it was a very difficult tour and almost impossible to hear these tragic stories without tears. Being on the territory of the memorial, I really felt that the soil was groaning… Every inch of it was filled with pain and suffering… The sound of the metronome, which was played continuously, sounded like a beating heart… People brought flowers and toys to the place where the children’s barracks were located… At that moment my emotions reached the limit. I cried. I couldn’t breathe from anger and compassion. How such violence and cruelty can happen? It is impossible to believe that people are capable to do these terrible things.
I will never forget my visit to Memorial Ensemble, and I would like to honor the memory of victims.
Salaspils Concentration Camp
Salaspils concentration camp was built during World War II on the territory of Latvia occupied by Nazi Germany. The camp located just several kilometers from the city of Riga and was active until the end of the summer of 1944.
Initially, the camp was built for Jews deported from Germany, but in March 1943, civilians, women and children, were brought to the camp from different occupied parts of the Soviet Union. Most adults were forced to Germany to work, but the kids were taken from their mothers and kept in Salaspils camp.
Salaspils wasn’t a death camp like Sobibor (Poland) and was described as a labor camp, but inhuman living conditions in it caused mass deaths of prisoners from hunger, severe disease and cold. Executions, torturing, hanging and other forms of murder were the usual punishment.
It also was a concentration camp for children. Lots of little kids were held there, who were used for medical experiments and for taking blood for wounded German soldiers.
More than 3,000 children under the age of 5 were killed in the camp in the period from 1942 to 1943.
According to Soviet sources, over 100 thousand people were killed in the Salaspils concentration camp, including 7 thousand children.
In 1967, the Salaspils Memorial Ensemble was established on the site of the camp.
Salaspils Concentration Camp Memorial Ensemble.
In 1967 Salaspils Memorial Ensemble was open and this a memorial complex devoted to the victims of Nazism. It is established on the site of a former Nazi concentration camp. The soil from 23 similar concentration camps that operated in Latvia during the German occupation was collected and laid under the memorial tombstone.
At the entrance of the memorial complex is a huge asymmetrical concrete wall with a narrow entrance symbolizing the gate to life and death. On the wall inscription from a poem by Latvinian poet Eijen Veveris, who was a prisoner of the camp says: Aiz šiem vārtiem vaid zeme (English: The ground groans behind these gates).
Also, on a large field installed seven concrete figures. Each of the figures stands right on the ground, without any pedestal, and has their own name: Unbroken, Humiliated, Protest, Oath, Rot Front, Solidarity, Mother.
The metronome sounds, which played continuously symbolizing rhythm of beating heart.
Along the edges of the field, on concrete cubes, engravings in Russian and Latvian languages: Here people were executed because they were innocent… Here people were executed because each of them was a human being and loved their Motherland.
My Dear Friends and Young Generation !
War is the worst and most disgusting thing that can happen. It always brings a lot of suffering, tears, pain and takes many lives away.
We must visit such places, so nobody will forget the terrible history and prevent others from rewriting it.
Hopefully past mistakes of our ancestors be a good lesson for all of us and teach us to be more sympathetic, kind, respect each other and appreciate the peace.
We can’t change the past. We can only accept it. Learn history, educate yourself and never repeat these awful mistakes. Remember, that a bad peace is still better than a good war.
I wish every country and each of you health, peace and happiness. May the younger generation will never know the horrors of war and will live in a happy future.
Take a care of Peace ! It is very fragile !