Sunday, February 6th 2005

Not far from Riga is the site of the Salaspils concentration camp. Here, 100,000 people were killed during the Second World War. I can scarcely take in the fact that such a huge number of people died in one place, and it's unbearable to think that was only a tiny part of what went on.

I got the train to Dārziņi, the nearest station to the site. It cost me just a few pence for the short journey, and I almost got more value for money when I nearly missed Dārziņi station. The stations on the line out of Riga were just halts in the forest, and I didn't realise we were even at a station when the train announcer said "Dārziņi". I jumped up but didn't make it to the door in time. At the next stop I got off, and was relieved to find that they had been announcing the stop we were going to and not the one we were at. I headed off into the silent forest, and found the path to Salaspils.

At the site, there was a small museum overlooking the fields which are all that remain, with a few huge memorial statues where the concentration camp once stood. In the pale wintry evening light it was very sombre. I was the only person there.

I walked back through the forest as the sun set, and caught the train back to Riga. I accidentally got off the train one stop too early, fooled again by the announcement of the next stop. I heard them say "Riga" and thought I was about to get whisked off to some part of Latvia I didn't want to go just yet. But I was at a stop a few miles from the centre of the city, and I had a long cold walk home.

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