Kaunas - Fort VII

Soon after the Germans occupied Kaunas on June 24, 1941, about 10,000 Jews were arrested in Kaunas. The majority of these were interned in the seventh fort on the outskirts of Kaunas. The Jews were forced to surrender their possessions and the women, along with the children, were locked in barracks while the men were thrown together in one of the fort’s courtyards. The fort was guarded by units of a Lithuanian battalion called Tautino Darbo Apsaugos (abbreviated TDA). The battalion had been formed in 1941 and was marked by strong nationalist, anti-communist and anti-Semitic overtures and participated in several mass executions of Jews during the war. Both on its own initiative and on the initiative of the German occupying power. At the seventh fort, members of the TDA murdered about 3,000 Jews in at least four documented cases in July 1941. On July 7, almost 2,500 Jewish men were murdered and another 500 were murdered on three other occasions in July. The murders were mostly disorganized and the members of the battalion simply shot down on the Jews from their positions above the courtyard. The bodies of both injured and dead were left behind and only several days later the bodies began to be buried behind the courtyard. The Jews who were injured were shot at the funerals. Several women were also raped by members of the TDA. There were plans to turn the seventh fort into a concentration camp but these were abandoned and in August the remaining Jews were transferred to the ninth fort which was not as centrally located.

Current status: Preserved with monument (2010).

Location: 54°54'56.43" N 23°55'39.55" E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

The fort is in the process of being restored and it is planned to become a museum around 2015. At the moment, the fort is characterized by decay and there is rubble scattered everywhere. The remains of the Jews buried in the fort are still in unmarked tombs covered with debris and vegetation. The monument was established during the communist era and then the fort was military area and that is why the monument is located just outside the fort.

Follow up in books: Arad, Yitzhak: Holocaust in the Soviet union (2009).