Lithuania's dark 20th-century history is poignantly told here, 7km north of Kaunas. Begin in the sombre, church-like gallery with striking stained glass and exhibits detailing Lithuania's suffering under the Soviets and the Nazis. Then continue uphill to the Holocaust memorial and the WWI-era fort – a hard-labour prison in the early 20th century and a centre of torture and mass killings during WWII.
Take bus 23 from Jonavos gatvė to the 9-ojo Forto Muziejus stop, then cross under the motorway.
The spot next to the vast stone Holocaust memorial is where 50,000 people – 30,000 of them Lithuanian Jews – were murdered by the Nazis, alongside Jews from other parts of Europe, plus dissident Lithuanians and Russian prisoners of war.
The fort was built in the late 19th century and was occupied by German troops during WWI. When WWI ended, it became a prison; exhibitions detail the brutality with which inmates were treated. During WWII, the fort was used as a holding pen for political prisoners before they were deported to distant parts of the Soviet Union, plus a brief stopover for Jews before they were killed en masse. Heart-wrenching displays pay tribute to individual victims of the Holocaust, detail the privations and horrors of the Kaunas ghetto and honour the Righteous Among the Nations – the Lithuanians who risked their lives to save Jews.
Enquire ahead for guided tours of different aspects of the site, including the early history of the fort and the Holocaust in Lithuania (extra charges apply, usually €5).