Kaunas Fortress

Kaunas, Lithuania

The Kaunas Fortress was a military project implemented by Russian government. In 1879 Russian Emperor Alexander II accepted a suggestion to build military fortress in Kaunas in order to defense the western border of Russian Empire from German invasion. In the general plan of fortifications there were many objects intended to be built like a surround of 7 fortresses and 9 interjacent artillery batteries, defensive centers, military train station, workshops, stores and many more.

Fortresses were built at the approaches to Kaunas city in distances of 2-2,5 km. The line of set fortresses formed almost a regular oval by 4000 workers annually. Total of 250 wooden and 200 stone buildings serving for military purposes were erected in the territory of Kaunas fortification. However, as building works were slower than modernization of technique, the Kaunas Fortress had to be modernized several times too. In 1912 the Kaunas Fortress had to be double widened, but a broke out of the First World War stopped the works. In the World War I (1915) an army of 90 000 soldiers was garrisoned in the Kaunas Fortress to sustain a siege of German military forces. After 11 days of siege, Germans finally smashed into the Kaunas Fortress. During the assault 4000 defenders and more than 4000 German soldiers died. 20 000 defenders were taken captive. More than 1300 various cannons, guns and military stores were taken by Germans.

After the First World War, some of fortifications were dismantled and the rest served for the troop and Kaunas city. During the Second World War Kaunas Fortress was not used for defensive purposes any more. The Sixth, the Seventh and the Ninth forts were used as concentration camps by German army. About 50,000 people were executed there, including more than 30,000 victims of the Holocaust.

In the postwar period Soviet occupants established military bases in most of these forts. The old buildings of fortification were not preserved as they were demolished and rebuilt. After Soviet military forces were pulled out, military bases located in forts were liquidated. As Kaunas city expanded, some of these forts got into territory of Kaunas city and were surrounded by living houses and city streets, interblending into an environment of Kaunas city.



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Founded: 1879
Category: Castles and fortifications in Lithuania


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Don Perkal (3 months ago)
Israel Sanders (2 years ago)
Very sad to hear what happened there
Pule (3 years ago)
The fort has an asymmetrical quadrangular structure, its right wing almost repeating the typical 1879. example of a Russian fort project. The left wing of the fort has been simplified by stretching the defensive positions of the facade and flank into one line. The fort is equipped with barracks, a capital traverse with a pottery, five ammunition depots, and two rifle galleries. The facades and flanks of the fort are surrounded by a defensive ditch with a counter-cut wall. There is no rear escalator wall. The ditch is flanked by two capons and one half captain. The feature of Fort VII is four casemates for cannons, built under a fosebria traverse. Later, the fort buildings were supplemented by wooden houses for officers, company commanders, gendarmes and a warehouse for cannon platforms, built next to the fort. The fort is equipped with a drainage system, 4 water wells have been dug. The fort was never modernized (apart from the addition of an extra layer of soil to heavy artillery barbets in the 20th century to accommodate anti-storm artillery, and during the mobilization period, i.e. the outbreak of World War I, three small concrete observatories were built on the artillery embankment). Fort VII differs from other fortresses of Kaunas Fortress in that it does not contain all the elements characteristic of a classical fort - this fort is equipped with smaller barracks than other forts, abandoned pottery over the entire capital (up to the capon) and there is no half-captain in the left wing. As in other forts of the first stage of construction, the positions of infantry and artillery on the flanks of the fort were swapped.
dalelle benboutrif (4 years ago)
Beautiful place
Péter Daczi (5 years ago)
Interesting museum, and the fortress can be walk around, this place worth a visit!
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