As we traveled through Eastern Europe late last year we got a detailed idea about the soviets and communism and how it shaped these peoples lives, and still has an impact to this day. Soviet history, museums and prisons are something more unique to Eastern Europe, where the Soviets occupied. What is fascinating about Ninth Fort is that it has seen several changes over its 100 year history - it has been a regular prison, a Soviet prison and also a Nazi prison. It is now a museum where visitors can learn about the atrocities that took place here.
We visited alone, but it is also possible to take a guided tour. There is ALOT of information about what happened in Kaunas (where Ninth Fort is located), and information about the victims of the crimes. As you can see, the place is very grim looking. There are no numbers on how many people were killed here, but it is suspected to be in the 10s of thousands. The Soviet prisoners were kept as political prisoners, and those who disobeyed or spoke out against the state in any way) among many other things, were brutally murdered and often tortured. While when the Nazis occupied the majority of the prisoners were Jews.
The prisoners (as you would expect= were kept in very inhumane conditions. Yes those are beds - the lucky ones got a hard matress, but many got nothing and were cramped in small overcrowded rooms. Prisoners were kept in there cells many hours a day, and were given little, if any, access to the outdoors. Escape was out of the question, as there were guard towers, and massive fences with barbed wire. Despite this, many tried to escape, and some even succeeded.
The solitary confinement cells were particularly sad to see - they were so small! And prisoners would be locked in here sometimes for months at a time, completely locked off from reality. There were many stories of prisoners going mad while in solitary! One of the cells was even below the popular stairwell, as and added piece of torture - prisoners could hear other prisoners all day and knew that reality was just above them.
Walking the halls at Ninth Fort was hard, as it was dark and there was limited, if any access to natural light for the prisoners. There is a window here in the picture, but they were barred over many times to reassure people here that they were in a prison.
As part of visiting Ninth Fort there is also a memorial nearby, which is very moving. It is a memorial to those lost here during the Nazi rule, often referred to as the ¨Kaunas Massacre¨. It is impressive, and is also an incredible piece as a reminder of the atrocities that took place here.
These places are sad, but serve as a reminder as to what humans are capable of. If you are interested in the history of Nazis and Soviets then this is a great place to visit.
All photos taken by me. Will be posted on my Hive blog aswell.