Museum of Genocide Victims

Vilnius, Lithuania

The Museum of Genocide Victims, also known as KGB Museum, was established in 1992. In 1997 it was transferred to the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania. The museum is located in the former KGB headquarters across from the Lukiškės Square, therefore it is informally referred to as the KGB Museum. The museum is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting documents relating to the 50-year occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union, the Lithuanian resistance, and the victims of the arrests, deportations, and executions that took place during this period.

The museum building, completed in 1890, originally housed the court of the Vilna Governorate. The German Empire used it during its World War I occupation of the country. After independence was declared, it served as a conscription center for the newly formed Lithuanian army and as the Vilnius commander's headquarters. During theLithuanian Wars of Independence, the city was briefly taken by the Bolsheviks, and the building housed commissariats and a revolutionary tribunal. Following Żeligowski's Mutiny of 1920, Vilnius and its surroundings were incorporated into Poland, and the building housed the courts of justice for the Wilno Voivodship.

Lithuania was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1940, and following an ultimatum, became a Soviet Socialist Republic. Mass arrests and deportations followed, and the building's basement became a prison. In 1941 Nazi Germany invaded the country; the building then housed the Gestapo headquarters. Inscriptions on the cell walls from this era remain. The Soviets retook the country in 1944, and from then until independence was re-established in 1991, the building was used by the KGB, housing offices, a prison, and an interrogation center. Over 1,000 prisoners were executed in the basement between 1944 and the early 1960s, about one third for resisting the occupation. Most bodies were buried in the Tuskulėnai Manor, which underwent reconstruction and is selected to host the second Museum of Genocide Victims.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 1992
Category: Museums in Lithuania

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Johan Eng (2 years ago)
Very interesting! A lot to read and watch (or listen to if you get an audio guide) It's a must if you ever go to Vilnius! We spent hours there just soaking in the history
Chris Smith (2 years ago)
Very interesting museum, well put together. Lots of information and things to read and see, almost everything has an English-written version too so no problem if you don't understand Lithuanian. I didn't opt for the audio guide but it seems a good option if you want to. Well priced, easy to find, definitely worth a visit if you're in Vilnius.
Gosia M Kwiatkowska (2 years ago)
The Genocide Victims museum is probably the best I have seen for a long time. It is located close to the centre of town and it took me 3 hours to go through. It left a lasting expression on me. I think everyone should visit this museum.
Abi Carter (2 years ago)
Excellent museum. Excellent translations into English, really varied exhibitions and so thought provoking. Having been to many such museums in Eastern Europe, this has to rank as one of the best
Cedric QianYi Sun (2 years ago)
Very heavy history , not just for the locals but a forever warning light for human being in general. Peace is never cheap. KGB prison in the basement gives your the chill, especially the “execution chamber” that still has the actually bullet holes preserved on the wall. Make sure your are psychologically and emotionally ready before you go cos it’s not gonna be easy. But if you think you can handle it, this is a must go place . Note: cash only for the tickets.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Saint Sophia Cathedral

The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.

The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.

The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.

There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).

The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.