Kaunas

Jul. 27th, 2017 09:15 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I meant for this to be two separate posts: one for the fun stuff, one for the Ninth Fort, which is the most harrowing, emotionally devastating place I have visited since Buchenwald. But of course image hosting isn't cooperating, so unfortunately at the moment, if you want to see the fun pictures, you will also have to see the depressing pictures (which I promise aren't actually that bad, as I only really took exterior shots that are only disturbing if you know the context). This said, here is the gallery, and content/trigger warning for some of the photos being of a place where 30,000-50,000 people were murdered.

(Of course, I have no idea if you can even view the photos. I really need to work out my image hosting issues. Flickr is an impossibility at the moment while I'm out of Canada.)

Anyway! I'm sure somewhere in your mind, you were wondering about the fact that I keep posting pictures of pretty buildings and lovely, walkable cities. Admit it--you expected a bit more Soviet brutalist and you were wondering where it was. The answer is that it's all in Kaunas. Kaunas does have a cute Old Town but the stuff we wanted to see wasn't there, and where we're staying is pure 1960s poured cement. I will admit a slight fondness for it, though I wouldn't want to live there.

Our first stop was the Devil's Museum, which is exactly what it says on the tin. It's an excellent collection of devils of all sorts. Our one criticism is that the gift shop was missing some obvious opportunities as it practically didn't exist.

Then we went across the street to the museum of M. K. Ciurlionis, a Symbolist artist and composer. Cool, not the most exciting, but some lovely work.

We also rode a funicular, which is kind of like an amusement ride except not very good. But it's one of my favourite words now.

The main event was going about a half-hour outside town to the Ninth Fort. It's an early 20th century fort that became a hard labour camp, then a transfer point for deportations to Siberia during the first Soviet occupation of Lithuania, then basically a killing field under the Nazis. The second time the Soviets occupied the country, they turned it into a vast and ghastly monument to the victims of fascism, which subsequently was expanded to include evidence of their own crimes after Lithuania's independence.

I can't really describe it to you properly. Unless you've been in the remnants of a concentration camp or similar, you won't be able to get what it's like to stand in a place that is well and truly haunted by the unquiet dead. The museum consists of one building that's an overview of the atrocities committed on the premises, but focusing mainly on the Soviet occupation, several vast, giant sculptures and plaques describing the Nazi massacres, and the fort itself, which shows prison cells, interrogation rooms, a recreation of a Kaunas Ghetto house, and informational rooms with the requisite belongings of the victims. It's cold, and damp, and good luck ever not feeling that bone-deep chill again. Also, this is why we don't fucking compromise with fascists, okay?

Anyway we coped really well after, which is to say I had 1/3 of a bottle of wine and I'm just about shaking history from my head. Tomorrow it's back to Kiev, and then home.

Date: 2017-07-27 10:24 pm (UTC)
lapinlunaire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lapinlunaire
Thanks for sharing this. I had no idea about the Ninth Fort and this is horrifying. I can see maybe 4 photos in the bottom row, is that what you're talking about?

I've never visited any concentration camps or similar. Even just looking at pictures or whatever makes my anxiety skyrocket, but I don't want to make this about me so I think I'll make myself go at some point. It sounds like a very harrowing experience.

Also, this is why we don't fucking compromise with fascists, okay?

YES. If only taking people to see camps were a sure way of getting them to see this.

*hugs*

The Devil's museum sounds amazing, though, and I hope you've applied to run a proper gift shop there.

Date: 2017-07-29 12:10 am (UTC)
lapinlunaire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lapinlunaire
Yeah, I know... that's why I said "if only". :( It's amazing (in a bad way) to me how people can be confronted with evidence of actual evil and still be assholes instead of shocked into not hating entire groups of humans.

This is why I like animals better than people, animals are usually able to learn and humans apparently aren't.

Date: 2017-07-29 09:51 pm (UTC)
lapinlunaire: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lapinlunaire
Well, yes.

Date: 2017-07-28 07:46 am (UTC)
minoanmiss: (Default)
From: [personal profile] minoanmiss
Wow. I... wow.
*hugs you across the Internet*

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