The KGB Museum in Vilnius – known currently as the Museum of Occupation and Freedom Fights and formerly as the Museum of Genocide Victims – is a non-negotiable stop on any trip to Lithuania. Learn all about this haunting, somber, and deeply important place.
Vilnius, Lithuania is an international city full of charm and history. From the cobblestone streets of Old Town to the grand churches to the delicious food, most travelers fall in love.
Being Lithuanian by heritage myself, I appreciate this city on a deep level. The first time I visited, I came in search of my past. I wanted to not only experience the vibrant culture myself, but also learn about my own people’s history.
The Museum of Occupation and Freedom Fights – also known as the KGB Museum in Vilnius or the Museum of Genocide Victims – is a non-negotiable stop when you are sightseeing in Vilnius.
It was here that I was first introduced to so many important historical events, brutal occupations, and incredible victories of the Lithuanian people. It is a sobering stop, but arguably one that you cannot understand the country without experiencing.
Let’s dive into exactly what to expect at the KGB Museum in Vilnius!
Visiting the Museum of Occupation and Freedom Fights (KGB Museum in Vilnius)
The Museum of Occupation and Freedom Fights in Vilnius, Lithuania, commemorates the country’s struggle for freedom. It covers the 19th century rule of Czarist Russia to the Nazi occupation to the Soviet Union occupation. It also chronicles Lithuania’s return to freedom and the struggles that led there.
Formerly known as the KGB Museum, it holds an extensive collection exploring the troubled past of this small Baltic nation. Expect to see original documents, posters, photographs, and even spy equipment, which gives visitors an in-depth look at the Soviet era.
Room after room of photographs and displays vividly illustrate the way in which Lithuania fought against oppressive forces over the years. First, against Czarist Russian rule with two massive uprisings (1831 and 1863), then civil resistance during Nazi occupation and, most notably, against Soviets as they repeatedly sought to retake Vilnius throughout the Cold War.
The exhibits here tell a powerful story of courage and resilience that stands as a testament to Lithuanian people’s ability to persevere through difficult times.
And – make no mistake about it: these struggles are from Lithuania’s recent past. Lithuania has only been free again since the 1990’s, when the Soviet Union broke apart. This recent past should be, and needs to be, experienced first-hand.
You May Also Like: Visiting Trakai Island Castle in Lithuania
How much does it cost to visit the KGB Museum?
Here are the KGB Museum prices for entry:
Adults – 6 €.
Children, students, and seniors – 3 €.
Free admissions for museums employees, disabled persons, children under 7 years, teachers and guides leading organized groups.
Tour prices for the KGB Museum:
- Guided tour in Lithuanian language – 15 €
- Guided tour in English – 25 €;
- Audio guide in English – 5 €;
These are all booked through the museum itself. I highly recommend calling to set these up ahead of time, to be sure that someone who speaks English is on site if needed.
KGB Museum Open Hours and Contact Information
- Operating Hours: Sun – Sun 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Wed – Sat 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. *Holiday hours may vary.
- Phone number +370 602 87022
- e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
You May Also Like: The Top 10 places to Visit in Lithuania
The Former KBG Headquarters
A tall but unassuming building on Gediminas Avenue, the KGB Museum is found in Vilnius’ former KGB headquarters. When the KGB left – and recently so, just since 1991 – much of their equipment was left behind. The interior remains largely unchanged.
Time seems frozen here.
I’ve visited other dark yet necessary sights over the years. The IX Fort over in Kaunas, the Killing Fields in Cambodia, and a concentration camp in Serbia, for example. They are always a very somber yet important stop. The KGB Museum is no different.
This museum showcases former KGB offices, exhibits from the Nazi occupation period, the ruthless Soviet Era dictatorship, and – most chillingly, the KGB prison cells and execution chamber. Here I will break down the three main floors and exhibits.
You May Also Like: Things To Do in Kaunas, Lithuania
The main exhibits at the Museum of Occupation and Freedom Fights:
Beginning chronologically, expect to learn about Lithuania across several periods of occupation. From Stalin’s deportations in the late 1930s to the Gestapo’s brutal atrocities and the long years of Nazi occupation.
After the Nazis finally left this tiny country after three years of terror, the Soviet army returned once again in 1944. Lithuanians resisted and their courageous war for independence lasts nine years.
Photo and Artifact Rooms
The daily life of the freedom fighters is documented in chilling exhibitions. From underground magazines, to handmade personal items, to raw and brutal photographs, visitors gain a deep insight into what life in Lithuania was like in these years.
Some items touched me deeply. There were the personally carved rosaries and prayer books, created by Lithuanians in the prisons and labor camps. It is a testament to the Lithuanians deep commitment to their faith, families, and country.
And it goes on and on, room after room. There is so much. It’s hard to comprehend that all of these items barely scratch the surface.
You May Also Like: Traditional Lithuanian Foods to Try on Your Visit
The KGB’s spy equipment
On the upper floor, visitors can see first hand some of the spy equipment and eavesdropping equipment used during the Soviet Era. Radio equipment, phone tapping, secret cameras – the works. And it is not from a spy movie – it was daily life under the Soviet rule!
The KGB prison
The bottom floor of the museum housed the KGB’s prison cells. Many of them have been left exactly as they were. Peeling green paint, dark and damp, with no window to the outside world.
Some are solitary confinement cells. Some of the cells are not even wide enough to lift your arms straight out from your body. Tiny holding cells with a small ledge and a single light above the door. That is all.
And some are simply cruel. For example – in the middle of one cell is a tiny metal platform, maybe eight inches wide, just big enough for your feet to fit. The KGB would fill the room up to the platform ledge with ice cold water. Prisoners had a choice: either balance on the small cold platform or step off of it into the freezing water or ice.
One cell that I cannot forget is the padded soundproof cell. Beatings and screams were muffled in this room, but evidence that they happened remains. You can still see dark stains from blood in the fabric – a snapshot of the torture that went on here.
Every time I visit Lithuania, this museum cuts me deeply. And yet, on every visit to Lithuania, I choose to come back. It is that important.
The Execution Chamber
Darkest of all is the execution chamber.
Inside, visitors head down a small staircase. A glass floor allows you to view items from those who were executed – from glass es to human bones. It is just the beginning.
Inside, a reenacted film details exactly how the executions took place. Two guards drag a prisoner into the concrete room. Once inside the room, a third officer immediately shoots him in the back of the head. The dead prisoner is then dragged from the room and a bucket of water is poured on to the floor to clear away the blood.
The process is then repeated with the next prisoner, with only seconds in between each execution. It is cruel, and unfeeling. Execution after execution.
I am not ashamed to admit that every time I visit here, I feel my eyes well up with tears. These were my people, after all. My heritage. And even though it is dark, it is necessary to see.
Where is the KGB Museum?
The KGB Museum is in Vilnius, right off of Gediminas Avenue.
The address is: Aukų g. 2A, LT-01113 Vilnius, Lithuania
How much time should I spend at the KGB Museum in Vilnius?
If you really want to learn by reading plaques and looking at photographs, you need a minimum of two hours here. And I have spent well over four hours once, when I was reading deeply about each and every photograph.
There will be a point that you need to exit, and see the sun, and breathe the fresh air outside. It is that haunting.
Is Visiting the KGB Museum / the Museum of Genocide Victims / the Museum of Occupation and Freedom Fights worth it?
One billion percent yes.
Experiencing this museum will give you a true, deep understanding of Lithuania’s struggle and perseverence.
Places like Gediminas Tower and the War Museum in Kaunas teach you about the history of the country and leaders. But places like the IX Fort in Kaunas and KGB Museum in Vilnius give you an undeniable deep understanding of what it means to be Lithuanian.
The Museum of Genocide Victims is a somber but important place. When you finally exit, you feel the heaviness lift just a bit in the sun and light. But the feeling will stay with you.
Arguably one of the most important places to see in Lithuania, you must add the KGB Museum to your itinerary.
More Planning Resources for Lithuania:
- The Top 10 places to Visit in Lithuania
- The Best Things to Do in Vilnius, Lithuania
- Visiting Gediminas Castle Tower in Vilnius
- A Complete Guide to the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania
- 25 Interesting Facts About Lithuania
- Visiting Trakai Island Castle in Lithuania
- Visiting the KGB Museum in Vilnius
- Things To Do in Kaunas, Lithuania
- Traditional Lithuanian Foods to Try on Your Visit
Pin Me for Later!