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The Monument to the Victims of the Ixth Fort

Kaunas, Lithuania
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During the years of independence, the remote fortification building, which was no longer used for military purposes, became a place for a prison. Therefore in 1924, the Kaunas Hard Labor Prison Department was opened here and until the Second World War, political prisoners were imprisoned here. However, the darkest period of this place began during the Nazi occupation (1941–1944) when the fort began to function as a death camp. About 50,000 people – Lithuanian and European Jews, Poles, Lithuanians, and Russians – were imprisoned here and killed in the nearby meadow.

After the war, in 1958 the fort buildings were reconstructed, restored, and adapted for museum use. But in the long run, a need to create a monument for this space appeared. The project of sculptor A. Vincentas Ambraziūnas, and architects V. Vielius and G. Baravykas was chosen. In 1984 a memorial complex was created.

The brutalist-style three-part concrete sculptural composition symbolizes the confrontation with evil, the rise to fight and resistance. The smallest is called “Pain”, the diagonally rising left is “Hope”, and the largest, decorated with smiling faces is “Liberation.” Metal constructions were used for the skeletons of the monument, and reinforced concrete for the outside. It is often thought that a work is made of wood. Such an illusion is created by a texture specially selected to give softness to rough work. Interestingly enough, the authors of the memorial complex managed to avoid the direct use of Soviet symbols.

The sculptural monument of Kaunas IX Fort is the most significant work of A. Vincentas Ambraziūnas' life. And as the author of the sculpture puts it: "There has always been a 'black spot' there, so the monument reflects the struggle, death and rise".

Today, the memorial complex of Kaunas IXth Fort consists of the fort, an administrative building, a new museum, a memorial to the victims of Nazism, a field of mass murder-graveyard and a park. Kaunas Fort IX Memorial is included in the 30 most significant European Monuments list.

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