9th Fort, Kaunus – The fort of death (Lithuania)

The Ninth Fort in Kaunus started life in 1902 as one of the city of Kaunus’s fortifications. It was built during the days of the Russian Empire.  It was completed in 1912. From 1924 it was turned into Kaunus state prison. During the Soviet occupation of Lithuania between 1940-41 it was used by the NKVD who used it for political prisoners, many of whom were sent to Siberia. Worse was to come especially for the thousands of Jews, when the Nazis swept into Lithuania.

entrance to the 9th fort

Out of the 50,000 people killed here 30,000 of them were Jews, earning the premises the “fort of death”. On the eve of 1944, 62 prisoners succeeded in escaping.

After the Second World War the Soviets again occupied Lithuania and the fort was again used as a prison In 1958 it was turned into a museum cataloging Nazi War crimes and the Soviet occupation. There are two parts to the museum on the premises.

The first one catalogs the events of Lithuania during the Soviet and Nazi Occupation.  It is well documented in English with many personal effects and tragic stories. 

The second part is in the fort itself where you can see the living conditions of inmates and the hell they would have endured.

Lastly at the top of the hill you can see the 30 Meter memorial dedicated to the poor souls who lost their lives here. In front of the memorial stands a sign in several languages with the following message “This is the place where Nazis and their assistants killed more than 30,000 Jews from Lithuania and other European countries.”

The 9th fort is situated several kilometers outside of Kaunus and at first it may not seem that easy to reach. In fact all you need to do is find a bus heading for the Mega shopping center. Once at the center you will easily find the hill straight ahead of you. It will probably take you about 20-25 minutes to walk here but this is one place, given its history you should not miss. The fort is closed on Tuesdays.