Tartu KGB HQ

The KGB had a headquarter 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 handed over the basement where the prison cells are located to the culture ministry 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 is about the Soviet times. The focus is on the Estonian resistance movement called the Forest brothers. However, it is wrong to say that it was the Estonian resistance movement because the Forest brothers came from all thrre Baltic states and not only Estonia. Commonly they fought for independency by fighting the Soviet occupants. 

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 storages 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 is counted to about 50,000 estonians, latvians and lithuanians, while the Soviet losses is counted between 1500 and 2000.

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