Category Archives: Nazis

Armed and Dangerous

Let’s face it, the Russians love to have a good fight. Whether it’s a war against the Western world or a backyard scrap between two boozed-up homeless blokes, these proud Slavic people are always getting stuck into someone. Moscow’s Central Armed Forces Museum serves as a tribute to their history of hurting people, and has one of the world’s largest collections of wartime memorabilia, so I loaded up a hip flask with vodka and headed out into the snow to check it out.

The main halls of the museum hold more than 700,000 relics dating back to the start of the 20th century, with all the usual war-related stuff such as machine guns, blood-splattered uniforms and miniturised battle scenes. There are also some truly incredible artifacts such as bullet-riddled tanks, captured Nazi flags and medals, and the shattered remains of Yank pilot Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane. Of course, I only found out what everything was after I got home and jumped on Wkipedia, because none of the signs are in English. Unless you’re an expert on Soviet history or can read Pусский, you’ll struggle to work out what anything is. But, much like having sex with a woman, it’s a lot of fun even if you don’t know what’s going on.

Among the awesome things I missed due to not knowing the lingo were a strip of tattooed human skin from a prisoner of the Maidenjak Concentration Camp, the victory banner the Soviets flew over Berlin to signal the end of the Second World War in Europe, and a ping pong set once owned by Adolf Hitler. Alright, maybe that last one’s not right (Hitler strikes me as more of a shuttlecock player), but there are plenty of items once owned by the so-called ‘Naughtiest Boy in Nuremberg’.

Despite being unable to read any of the signs or work out what anything was, one thing was made perfectly clear; the Soviet/Russian Army are the biggest bunch of badarses ever, they’ve smashed every country they’ve fought,and everyone else is a bit shit in comparison. Yes, it’s all a bit biased and patriotic, which is no surprise seeing as the Russians love their propaganda. It’s a facinating collection of trinkets, but don’t expect to find a balanced assessment of Russia’s wartime efforts.

The real stars of the show can be found outside the building, because around the back are dozens of tanks, missiles, anti-aircraft guns, planes and trains. It’s an awesome display of Soviet power and pride, and most of the vehicles are very well preserved – in fact, I’d be worried about littering or jumping on the metro without a ticket in case they govenment send one of the big, scary tanks after me.

It was fucking freezing and I was getting covered in more white stuff than a Japanese porn star, so I started drinking heavily from a bottle of vodka I had stored in my jacket. It was doing the trick, too, because I started to regain feeling in my fingers and my cold, frozen heart slowly started to beat again. The world looked a little brighter, the birds songs sounded a little sweeter, and I skipped gayly throughout the exhibits, finding beauty in their ferocity. Needing to have a slash, I ducked behind one of the gigantic missiles, dropped my pants and let fly with a stream of bright orange piss that sizzled in the frigid conditions.

As I was shaking my willy, I slipped on a patch of ice and bumped into the missile, sending it rocking on its foundations in the gloomy afternoon. Scared that it would topple over, I raced around the other side and pushed it back, but that only caused the missile to swing the other way. I hightailed it back around to the other side, miraculously managing to avoid going arse over tit on a patch of black ice, and shouldered the missile back again. This went on for a minute or two, with the rocket weedling back and forth just a little bit further each time. Not even Jesse Jane has worked so hard to erect a massive missile.

The doors of the museum burst open and a group of heavily-armed security guards scrambled out into the ice and snow, making a beeline for me and the rogue missile. Shouting incomprehensibly and spinning their arms around like windmills, they managed to get the WMD under control, before turning their attention to me. The furious Slavs gripped their weapons and grit their teeth, ready to add one more name to the long list of Russian conquests. I just shrugged, tucked my doodle back into my pants, and raised my flask to them. “If Vlad cracks the shits about this, let him know I’m from New Zealand,” I chuckled, and then swaggered out into the night.




The name alone conjures images of death and despair. Auschwitz is the most infamous of all the Nazi concentration camps, a place where one and a half million innocent people were brought to be gassed, shot or hanged by an insane regime. Today, the site stands a memorial to those who died, as well as a warning about the depth to which the human race can plunge. It’s a sad and moving place, and the main reason I’m in Krakow, Poland at the moment.


As an all-too-brief history (trust me, you won’t have any trouble finding more information on this place), Auschwitz was a series of extermination and labour camps run by the Nazi Turd Reich from 1940-1945, in and around the Polish town of Oświęcim. Jews, as well as Soviets and anyone else disliked by the Nazi scum were transported from all over Europe to be slaughtered at Auschwitz as part of the worst atrocity the world has ever known. Hundreds of thousands were gassed within hours of arriving, their bodies burned and their ashes thrown into pits. It’s an evil place where horrible things happened, and a lot of it is still standing today.


Auschwitz is a tourist attraction these days, attracting visitors from all over the globe. Because of this, I was a bit surprised by the lack of info on the internet regarding getting there. The official website suggests that bookings are necessary and, with all slots filled for today by the time I bothered booking, I thought I might miss out. I’m going to go into generic travel blog mode here and give you the info you need – bookings are only required between 10am and 3pm, and during those times you need to go with a guide. Don’t do that, because from what I could see they rush you through, while Auschwitz is a place that needs to be explored slowly, at your own pace, with time to reflect on the horrors.


Don’t book a tour, either, because they’re expensive and waste of time. My advice is to simply trot along to Krakow’s main bus station and jump on the next bus to Oświęcim (the original Polish name of Auschwitz), which costs only 14 Zlotys and drops you off at the door. The fascinating Auschwitz II–Birkenau camp is free to explore all day, so take the free shuttle up to that and have a look around, returning to the original site at three to see it at your own pace.


The Birkenau camp is an astonishing and heartbreakingly tragic place to visit, and certainly the highlight of the Auschwitz experience for me. It’s far larger than the original site, with the ruins of what were essentially holding pens for prisoners extending as far as the eye can see in all directions. Numbers can’t do the genocide of the Jewish people justice, but seeing this huge site really put it all into perspective.


At the rear of this camp stand the remains of two giant gas chambers that were used to murder hundreds of thousands of people, before being destroyed as the Nazis ran like little girls from the advancing Red Army in 1944. Each was only a few metres wide, by maybe 50 metres long, but they usually held 2000 people at a time. When the innocents had been herded inside – under the promise of a shower – containers of the pesticide Zyklon B were dropped inside, killing everyone inside within minutes. It was no different to exterminating bugs.


The more famous Auschwitz – I site didn’t have as much of an effect on me, but was still fascinating. Unlike Birkenau, with its bleak rows of shattered buildings, Auschwitz is largely intact, and looks and feels remarkably pleasant. The brick buildings, originally built by the Polish Army, look cute amongst the green trees and lush gardens. Seeing it today, with tourists being herded this way and that, it’s hard to imagine the nightmarish acts that took place there.


There are plenty of reminders, though, including one that hit me harder than any other. Hidden away in a room on the second floor of one of the many buildings, is nearly two tonnes of hair shaved from the corpses of victims of the atrocity. The disturbing piles of fur are something tangible, a true link to the terror, and it’s a stomach-churning part of the museum that really affected me.


The most shocking part of my trip was venturing into an intact gas chamber, where countless people died horrible deaths. I walked into the chamber behind a tour group, and when they were rushed out a few minutes later, I had the place to myself. It was weird, standing in that room of death, and when I touched my hand to one of the walls, I felt a brief but powerful wave of emotion wash over my body. It lasted less than a second, but some of the pain and terror transferred into my body for that moment, and I was left shaking and thinking it was an experience I never would’ve had if I was on a tour.


A day at Auschwitz isn’t fun, but it is worthwhile. It’s impossible not to be moved by what happened there – both the disgusting nature and number of the deaths, but also the unbreakable spirit of those who somehow survived. The time I spent there will remain with me for the rest of my days, because Auschwitz is unlike anywhere else on the planet.

The worst way to spend three hours in Krakow


Wanting to get a sense for Krakow’s long and tragic history during my time here, today I wandered into the centre of town and joined a free group walking tour. I was looking forward to learning about the ancient buildings, beautiful churches, and Jewish ghettos populated during the Second World War, and was pleasantly surprised when the guide started the tour by talking in Polish. It added an air of authenticity to the experience, and really set the mood.

Twenty minutes later, when the guide was still jabbering on in a language I couldn’t understand, I started to become concerned. I turned to the little bloke next to me, who was busy nodding his head and taking notes in a book, and said, “So when’s this dickhead gunna stop fucking around and start speaking English?” The little bloke just gabbled back to me in the same weird language as the guide.


I was now faced with a conundrum. If I stayed with the group, I wouldn’t understand a single fuckin’ word the guide was staying, but if I left halfway through, she would be highly offended, especially as she makes a living off the tips people give her. Figuring the tour couldn’t last that long, I hung in there, nodding away at everything as if I understood what was going on.

Three bloody hours that thing ended up taking. Three bloody hours of hanging around with that group of grinning imbeciles, looking at stupid bloody buildings and learning not a lick about them. Krakow might have an interesting past, but I didn’t pick up on any of it, and to me it looks like any of the other cities I’ve been to. A fancy church here, a town square there, oh look, a bridge! Don’t get me wrong, it’s pleasant, but visiting so many European cities in a row is like watching 15 episodes of MASH in a row – fun at first, but by the end of it you just wanna smash Radar O’Riley’s stupid face in.


We ended the tour by singing some sort of stupid song that I obviously didn’t know the words to (I pretty much just sang “Poo, poo, wee, wee” to the same tune) and I handed the tour guide a pile of Slotzkys. She smiled and said something in Polish, and I just gave her a wink and said, “Luv, I didn’t understand a fuckin’ word you said all day, but you’re alright.”


Thirsty and in need of a drink, I headed to the nearest supermarket – and it was massive! Aisles of beer and vodka stretch to the sky, while the market stretches out as far as the eye can see. It took me half an hour just to walk from one end, then another halfa just to pick out which bloody beer I wanted. If there’s one thing Polish people really, really like to do, it’s shopping.


On the way back, I stumbled upon a peaceful park that sits above the city, providing commanding views out over the river. People jogged along tree-lined tracks, or sat and ate from picnic baskets, creating a truly serene scene. It wasn’t until later that I realised I was walking through the Płaszów concentration camp, where thousands upon thousands of people were worked to death or executed during the 1940s. More than 8000 innocent people were marched to the nearby Hujowa Górka, hill, where they were shot, and their bodies tossed into mass graves. When the Red Army advanced on the site, the bodies were exhumed and burnt, with the ashes filling several trucks.


Once I realised where I was, the signs of terror became obvious. The terrain shows signs of once holding mass graves, and there’s a giant stone statue commemorating the dead. I came across a gigantic quarry that still houses watchtowers, and scattered around the site are the remains of Nazi-era buildings. But the camp has been turned into something positive, that the locals (and survivors) can enjoy. Płaszów isn’t a sad place anymore, but is definitely somewhere worth checking out.


Tomorrow, I visit an even more infamous concentration camp; Auschwitz. Well, that’s if I can work out how to even get there…

My time in an Estonian prison


If there’s a more miserable place on Earth than Tallinn’s Patarei prison, I’m yet to find it. With a long history of bloodshed, cruelty, torture and pain, this former fortress and jail is a wet, smelly, harsh reminder of Estonia’s bleak history – and it absolutely should not be missed.

Built in 1840 as a sea fortress for the Russian Empire, the conditions inside the concrete nightmare proved to be uninhabitable, with disease running rife through the halls as temperatures remained below freezing year-round. With soldiers dying from simply spending time there, it was used as a monstrous storage facility until, in 1920, it was turned into one of the most notorious prisons the world has ever known.

Patarei had a number of operators over the years, and each put their own horrible spin on the experience. The Nazis used it as an internment and death camp in the 1940s, and the Soviets kept the party going when they took over in 1944, sometimes cramming as many as 5000 poor bastards into its walls at a time. Even after Estonia achieved freedom from the Soviet Union in 1990, the centre was still used as a prison, until finally being closed in 2005.

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The prison is open all day, every day (except Mondays) during the summer, but during the colder months it’s only available as part of a tour company. Thankfully, they cost only eight Euro Spacebux, are easy to book, and the tour guide provides a fascinating insight into the brutal history of the site.

Life as a prisoner in Paterei sounded like a riot, with pretty much every human right set out by the United Nations well and truly stepped on. Tiny rooms that could barely fit 16 prisoners were regularly used to hold 40 or more at a time, and murder, butt-rape and bashings were a part of everyday life. Due to the wet and cold conditions, disease flowed freely through the prison, with little treatment for the inmates, who were usually left to die. The entire precinct was shut off from natural light and, in winter, the temperatures regularly dropped below -20, with not a lot in the way of heating or even blankets. As my tour guide say, “It wasn’t a place where any human should have been.”

And if the drab concrete citadel is rough, the creatures who once inhabited it were far worse – and I’m not just talking about the rapists and murderers who were locked up in there. The guards were brutal, regularly bashing prisoners, or pouring boiling water on them, or starving them. It should come as no surprise that there was a suicide attempt every couple of days, and prisoners regularly chopped off their own limbs just to spend a few weeks in the facility’s hospital. It’s incredible to think this place was in use just 11 years ago.

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Today, the prison is every bit as harsh as it ever was, but thankfully it’s a lot easier to get into and out of it. Hallways lay silent, with Soviet-era typewriters and telephones rotting away in dark corners. Cells piled to the ceiling with rubbish stare back through rusting doors. Everything stinks of rotting wood and stagnant water, and voices echo down corridors that once heard nothing but screams.

Torture chambers that look like something out of a horror movie, and were once a secret shame of the Soviet Union, now lay open to visitors. Execution rooms, buried deep in the bowels of Patarei are riddled with bullets and heaving with ghosts. If not for the peeling paint, it would look like it was abandoned yesterday. One wing is closed off due to being infested by some sort of terrifying mold that causing anyone who enters to spontaneously vomit blood.

While insane prison guards and bloodthirsty inmates are long gone from Patarei, it’s still home to an assortment of weirdos. It’s become a favourite haunt of loopy artists, who wander the grounds collecting bits of wood and metal to build hulking robots and all sorts of other strange stuff. Don’t startle them, because I’m sure they bite.

The tour took nearly two hours, and was a fascinating look into a deranged and horrible place. Yeah, I reckon I might be on my best behaviour for the rest of my time in Estonia!

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When the Nazis came to Latvia


A trip to Europe can’t all be about beer and kebabs – although that sounds like a bloody good way to spend a few months! There’s so much history in this magical land, and a lot of it isn’t particularly happy, as I found out today when I took a trip out to the site of Salaspils Concentration Camp, just south of Riga. It was an unpleasant trip, but one that I’m certainly glad I took.

Salaspils was opened by the Nazis in 1941, and over the next four years, tens of thousands of innocent people passed through there. It wasn’t a death camp, instead it was mainly used for either processing victims before they were sent elsewhere to be killed, or for forced labour to help the German war machine. Yeah, that’s bad, but it gets worse. Salaspils was the site of a bizarre and putrid act that sounds like it’s straight from a science fiction film.

As well as Jews, Russians and other prisoners of war, a large proportion of the inmates at Salaspils were children. The main reason they were kept there was to serve as forced blood donors for Nazi soldiers. These poor, innocent children were basically farmed as blood bags, a concept that will probably keep me up at night for a long time to come.


The memorial to the camp is fairly easy to get to and definitely worth going to, but it’s not really in any of the tourist guides and basically kept out of sight, out of mind, which is a shame. To get there, simply jump on a train from Riga Central to Darzini, and follow the signs to the memorial. Darzini is in the middle of nowhere and I was a little bit worried about getting stabbed by some inbred Baltic sicko as I left the station and started walking down a lonely path through the forest.

It’s not a bad walk actually, and there are signs pointing the way to the memorial, so it’s nice and easy. It was really peaceful, with no sounds but the birds in the trees. But as I covered the two kilometre journey, the clammy sense of evil started to descend upon the forest like a fog. When true evil happens it never really leaves, and the ghosts of the tortured still haunt the forest outside Darzini.


The memorial is certainly confronting, and without thinking I held my breath for at least a minute as I walked through the large concrete gate at the entrance. The Nazis razed everything when they abandoned the camp, so there are no original building, but what is there is remarkable. Four gigantic statues stand in the grounds, dedicated to those who suffered so much. The are impressive and heartbreaking in equal measure.

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I spent an hour of so just walking the grounds, thinking about what had happened in this remote spot in the woods. There is no sound but the wind in the trees and the never-ending thump of a heart, resonating from a stone monument and representing the unbreakable spirit of the Latvian people. People still leave toys at the site of the children’s barracks, which is creepy. In fact, the whole place is, and what makes it so much more powerful than, say, Sachsenhausen, is that it hasn’t become a tourist attraction. While few people visit Salaspils, it’s one of the most moving monuments I have ever been to, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.


Wondering where all the bad jokes, kebab reviews, and updates on my love life are? Due to the subject matter of this post, I’ve decided to chuck all that in a separate entry, which I’ll put up if and when I get back from having a well-earned drink in Riga. Cheers.