All the world Museums can be divided into 2 groups: those where you can come, take a beautiful photo and leave. And more monumental museum complexes dedicated to serious topics. The IX Fort Museum Complex in Kaunas belongs to the second group.
The museum is dedicated to the most acute moments in the history of Lithuania in the 20th century. It consists of 3 parts: a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, the fortress and prison museum and a museum of the occupation.
Few people know this now, but in the past the Lithuanian university city of Kaunas had a significant defensive role in the Russian Empire. The city is surrounded by several defense lines and system of fortifications built by the Russian army from 1879 to 1915 to protect the borders of the empire.
IX Fort is the only fort that has survived to this day. It was the last to be built; construction ended in 1915 before the outbreak of the First World War. Its walls can tell about the most terrible moments in the history of Lithuania in the 20th century.
With the collapse of the empire and the formation of the Republic of Lithuania, IX Fort was used as a branch of the Kaunas Prison.
During the excursion, you can see common cells, interrogation cells, torture cells, here I first learned about the existence of the so-called “damp” cell – this is a basement room where the maximum level of dampness was specially maintained.
During the first Soviet occupation 1940-1941, the fort passed into the department of the NKVD (Early KGB), there was a prison for watered prisoners.
A separate exposition is devoted to the Soviet occupation in the museum, which tells about the fate of people arrested in Lithuania and forever transported to the Soviet Gulags: Vorkuta, Magadan, etc.
During the Nazi occupation of Lithuania, the Fort turned into a place of mass executions, the “Fort of Death” it was called. From June 1941 to the summer of 1944, more than 50,000 people were killed by the Nazis in the Ninth Fort, mainly Jews from Kaunas and Jews deported from Germany.
IX Fort Museum in Kaunas
The museum complex is divided into 3 parts.
The main building of the fortress houses has the most extensive exposition telling about the history of the fortress from the moment of its construction to the present day.
Here you will learn how the fortress was used during wartime, about the conditions of keeping prisoners during the times of the Republic of Lithuania, Soviet occupation and Nazi occupation. About the life of Jews in the ghetto and the work of a special jew police unit.
The second building houses of the museum dedicated mainly to the second Soviet occupation. The exposition begins with references and repressions of 1945-1955 and ends with stands about the movement for the liberation of Lithuania.
The third part of the museum is directly a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.
The museum leaves a strong impression, but the exposition itself lags behind the times. While all large museum complexes use multimedia devices and technologies, here the visitor must read the text on the stands. I recommend visiting Fort IX with a guided tour. Fortunately, their prices start at 10 euros.
Follow the link for the official website.
Working hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00-18:00.
Entry fee: 3 euros.
Adress: Žemaičių plentas 73.