Tartu KGB HQ


The KGB had a headquarters and prison in Tartu called the ”Grey house” after the building’s grey facade. When Estonia became independent in 1991, the ”Grey house” returned to its previous owners.

Current status: Preserved with museum (2007).

Address: Riia 15b, Tartu 51010.

Get there: Walk from central Tartu.

My comment:

The previous owners wanted the function of the house under the occupation to be preserved for posterity. Therefore, they left the basement where the prison cells are located to the culture ministry that was allowed to open a museum. The exhibitions in the former cells deal not only with the Soviet occupation but also with the occupation of Germany, but the majority of them, of course, occupy the occupation of the Soviet Union. The focus is on the Estonian resistance movement called ”skogsbrothers” (Forest brothers). However, it is wrong to say that it was the Estonian resistance movement because the forest brothers consisted of letter as well as Lithuanians who in their respective countries fought the Soviet rule after the second world war.

The name comes from the fact that those who wanted to fight Soviet rule had to flee to the forest and from there fight a guerrilla war where sabotage was the most common method. The forest brothers built underground bunkers as hiding places and stores and received material support from some Western powers. Soviet rule eventually became an overpowering enemy and by the early fifties the Soviet Union had infiltrated the forest brothers. Several of the ”brothers” gave up when promised amnesty after Stalin’s death in March 1953. Sporadic groups, however, continued the struggle on a smaller scale until the sixties. The forest brothers’ losses during the ten years of fighting amount to about 50,000 esters, letters and Lithuanians, while the Soviet losses amount to between 1500 and 2000.

Follow up in books: Andrew, Christopher: The KGB (1990).