A conference entitled “Salaspils Camp, 1941-1944, History and Memory” has been organized in the Latvian city of Salaspils by the local authorities, the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia and the Daugava Museum.
According to EADaily, the occasion was Sept 27, 1944, the last day of the Salaspils camp (the shooting down of the last 17 prisoners).
After having read out the message of Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, representative of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, historian Uldis Neiburgs noted that it was a scientific conference and added that the history of the Salaspils camp had not been studied well before. Most of those present were of the opinion that there were lots of myths about the camp.
It is a fact that during the WWII the Nazis killed over 100,000 people, including 7,000 children in the camp. Those people were not only Soviet citizens but also Czechs, Poles, Austrians, Dutchmen, Frenchmen. The most horrible fact about Salaspils is that its organizers killed lots of child prisoners by taking their blood for wounded German soldiers.
But during the conference some Latvian historians claimed that the figures given by the Soviet sources were exaggerated. The real figure, according to them, is just 3,000. Member of the Latvian President’s Historical Committee Karlis Kangris even said that Salaspils was not a death camp as there were no reports about systematic mass annihilations there. The Salaspils camp was not controlled by the SS but was just “an enlarged lock-up.”
Kaspars Zellis from the Latvian Institute of Philosophy and Sociology said that in official papers Salaspils was even called a camp of labor nurturing.
Some of the conferees said that the Soviet propaganda machine created lots of myths about Salaspils though there were no grounds for comparing it to Oswiecim or other death camps.
According to Riga-based historian Igor Gusev, the problem with Salaspils is that it has no graves. “So, today we are forced to restore them so as to prove the reality of Nazi atrocities. The Nazis acted as professional criminals – no body no crime. They tried to destroy the graves of those they killed so as to cover up their traces. As a result, some crums now claim that Salaspils was a sanatorium. Recently, we organized a kind of clean-up action. As a result, we exhumed lots of remains. It was a real shock for us to see the bones of those killed here. I was really upset to see a girl’s shoe there. It was a young girl! And some monster killed her! We have collected all those bones so as to bury them. Such actions are important as this is also a form of fight against Nazism,” Gusev says.