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2014 December 20
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 Aukų str. 2A, LT-01113 Vilnius, Lithuania,  tel./fax: (+370 5) 249 81 56, e-mail: muziejus@genocid.lt
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The KGB prison
The Soviet Union occupied Lithuania on 15 June 1940, having accused Lithuania of not keeping the treaty for mutual assistance. People not loyal to the occupiers were arrested, killed or deported to Siberia. To persecute people, special institutions were established, and the network of prisons and detention centres was widened.

The NKVD “inner” prison (a pre-trial detention centre) was set up in the basement of the former courthouse in the autumn of 1940, when the Vilnius board of the NKVD was established here. Now the prison looks the same as it did in August 1991, when the KGB vacated it. The present appearance of the prison hardly resembles the prison in which in the postwar period members of the anti-Soviet resistance were tortured. It was repainted many times (there are 18 layers of paint), the number of cells decreased (in 1964 there were just 23 cells left from the original 50, and later there were only 19 cells).


A prison corridor
Boxes. There are two 1.6-square-metre cells, called boxes, where prisoners were kept while the duty officer processed their documents. These were fitted out in the early Sixties. Before that they were even smaller, and detainees had to stand. Former prisoners recall that there were similar cells on the first and second floors. If the need arose, prisoners were quickly pushed into them, to prevent them from encountering those who were being taken for interrogation.

 

Photographing and fingerprinting room. Cards were filled out for every prisoner. The data was also entered in personal files. The prisoner’s name (sometimes also the name of the prison) was chalked on a small board to be seen in a photograph. The pieces on display were used during the last few decades of the prison’s existence.

Photographing and fingerprinting room. Cards were filled out for every prisoner. The data was also entered in personal files. The prisoner’s name (sometimes also the name of the prison) was chalked on a small board to be seen in a photograph. The pieces on display were used during the last few decades of the prison’s existence.

The room for the duty officer who registered the detainees’ documents and filled out the necessary forms. A central control panel was installed in 1975. The officer could contact the guard posts, interrogators and town institutions. He could also activate the alarm system, watch people entering the prison and check their permits. The portrait on the wall is of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the head of the Extraordinary Commission, a forerunner of the KGB, who started his revolutionary activities in Vilnius. During the early years of the Soviet Union, his portrait could be seen in the office of every secret police officer. Called “Iron Felix” by his contemporaries, Dzerzhinsky fought ruthlessly against the enemies of socialism in Russia. The KGB did the same in the occupied countries.

The guardroom. Among other things, lectures on Marxism-Leninism were conducted here. The military uniforms on the wall are those of KGB officers – a lieutenant and a senior lieutenant. The secret police uniforms underwent several changes between 1940 and 1983, but the light blue band on the service cap, the sign of the secret police, remained.

The scales at the back of the room were used to weigh food parcels brought by the prisoners’ relatives, to see that they did not exceed the allowed weight. Not all prisoners, however, had the right to receive parcels. It depended on the interrogator.

Solitary confinement cells. There were a few cells like this after the war, but by 1991 just one of them was left. Prisoners were thrown into it for breaking the rules: for example, for trying to have a nap during the day, or tapping out messages to each other in Morse code. The interrogators used to lock up here those who refused to give the evidence they wanted to hear. In the immediate postwar years prisoners were kept stripped down to their underwear in the unheated cell. They were given about 300 grams of bread and half a litre of water a day. They were allowed five hours of sleep and were not taken out to walk in the yard. Cold, hungry and weak, they were expected to break down and confess.

Conditions in the special solitary confinement cells with water were even worse. Prisoners had to stand in the ice-cold water (in winter, on ice) or to balance on a small platform. Every time they dozed off they fell down into the water.

The solitary confinement cells with water were set up in approximately 1945. These cells are mentioned in former prisoners’ memoirs. In the Fifties, the cells were re-designed. One was turned into a doctor’s room, another into a library, and wooden floorboards were laid. These cells were only discovered in 1996 when the heating system was being repaired.


A solitary confinement cell with water torture

The padded cell. This is one of the grimmest places in the prison. The walls are padded and soundproofed, with a straitjacket on the back wall used for those who resisted or were deranged with torture. The walls absorbed their cries and shouts for help.

Cell No 1. This is called a smaller cell. In the postwar years, up to 15 prisoners at a time were kept here. Until 1947, there were no bunks or lockers. The prisoners slept on the concrete floor, covered with their clothes.

There was a plastic vessel (called parasha by prisoners) in the corner of the cell, which served as a toilet, because during the period of Stalin’s regime prisoners were taken to the toilet just once a day.

The lights were on round the clock. Prisoners were not allowed to sleep from 7 am to 10 pm, but they also had no rest at night because of routine night interrogations. This was a way of torture: to exhaust people and to make them “confess”.

Tests carried out in 1995 and 1996 showed 18 coats of paint on the walls to cover up the writing left by prisoners. The present colour is one of the oldest.

Cell No 5. In the cell opposite are sacks full of documents shredded in 1990 and 1991 by the KGB before they left the building. Some of the files, especially those marked “Top Secret”, were torn up and burnt in stoves in the building. Many files were taken to archives in Russia. Still, over 200,000 volumes of documents have survived and are kept in the Special Archive of Lithuania.



Documents which the KGB shredded in 1990 and 1991

Cell No 9. Here a view of the cell of the Sixties to the Eighties is reproduced. The armed anti-Soviet resistance has been already broken down at that time, but in the KGB inner prison, the differently minded persons and fighters for human rights were imprisoned. At that time prisoners were given some sort of coverlets, pillows and bedclothes. On the dresser – authentic dishes from the prison. The displayed clothes of the prisoner are the gift of Monsignor Alfonsas Svarinskas, a former inmate of this prison. Such clothes were worn by prisoners in the Soviet special regime camps and by prisoners sentenced to death. Here, in the KGB inner prison, where the detainees were kept only before the so-called trial, they wore their own clothes.

In Cell No 11 is a small exhibition “For God and the Motherland”, concerning reprisals against the Catholic clergy. Some priests were accused of taking part in the partisan struggle or of rendering support and religious services to partisans, but most were accused of anti-Soviet propaganda. Approximately 20 per cent of clergymen were arrested, deported or killed, and approximately 30 per cent of priests were put under surveillance during the Soviet occupation. Their activities were restricted. Regardless of this constraint, many priests worked in Lithuania and abroad. They rendered services to Lithuanians in Siberia and Central Asia, participated in the defence of the Church and believers’ rights, and published and distributed underground publications.

At the end of the corridor is an exhibit acquired in 2000, the door of a Lukiškės Prison cell.
© Lietuvos gyventojų genocido ir rezistencijos tyrimo centras.
Created by: „Teratekas”