II WW2, III National partizans, IV Soviet occupation

The heritage of Soviet Occupation in North Vidzeme and South Estonia

Exhibition in the KGB Building "History of KGB Operations in Latvia"

The former USSR State Security Committee (commonly known as Cheka) building is open for visitors. Here chekists imprisoned, interrogated and murdered Latvian citizens who were considered opponents by the occupation regime. There is also an exhibit from the Latvian Occupation Museum on the activities of Cheka in Latvia. Guided tours of the prison cells, corridors, basement and courtyard are available. The house was built in 1911 and it is one of the most beautiful buildings in Riga. Called the ‘Corner House’ by the people, it was the scariest symbol of the Soviet occupation regime in Latvia, and also one of the pillars of power of the USSR. Cheka operated from the Corner House during the occupation from 1940 to 1941 and then again from 1945 to 1991. Tens of thousands of Latvians were affected by direct political persecution. The fight against enemies of Soviet rule continued also after World War II. Cheka’s approach towards its operation slightly changed after Stalin’s death. Physical torture was replaced by psychological terror. The majority of Cheka agents were Latvians (52%). Russians were the second largest group – 23.7%. 60.3% of the agents were not members of the Communist Party. 26.9% of the agents had higher education. The system was designed in a way to involve local people and thus have greater control over the society. Staff documents and service records are located in Russia. And these materials have not been made available to Latvian authorities and researchers.

Museum of the Occupation of Latvia

The museum exhibits the history of Latvia from 1940 to 1991, under the occupation of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. ‘House of the Future’ is a reconstruction and expansion project of the Occupation Museum designed by the well-known American Latvian architect Gunārs Birkerts as well as the new exhibit of the museum. The exhibit ‘History of Cheka in Latvia’ was created by the Occupation Museum and it is located in the ‘Corner House’, which is the former USSR State Security Committee (KGB) building. Latvian Occupation Museum was founded in 1993. It tells the long-hidden story of the fate of the Latvian state, nation and land under the occupation of two foreign totalitarian powers from 1940 to 1991. At the end of 2020 the museum had more than 70,000 different historical items (documents, photographs, written, oral and material evidence, objects and memorabilia). Museum specialists have recorded more than 2,400 video testimonials, making it one of the largest collections on occupation in Europe. The events that unfolded in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia clearly show us what the nations had to endure under the two totalitarian regimes.

Aizkraukle museum of History and Art, exposition "Soviet years"

The exhibit is located in the former culture house of Aizkraukle parish. It reflects the everyday social, recreational, professional, educational and cultural life in Soviet times, as well as the history of how Aizkraukle (during Soviet times – Stučka) and the Pļaviņu HPP came to be. Visitors can view the ‘Red Corner’ with its historical propaganda materials, the office of a party functionary and a typical Soviet apartment with a living room, kitchen, bathroom and toilet and their corresponding attributes. Some rooms are dedicated to Soviet medicine, tourism and sports as well as repression tactics. There is a spacious hall in the centre of the exhibit for Soviet-made vehicles. This was started in 2016 by the Aizkraukle History and Art Museum by setting up the exhibit on three floors. Nowadays it is the largest exhibit in the Baltics dedicated to this period of Soviet occupation.

Museum of Battles in More

The museum is located in More, on the side of the V319 motorway. It is dedicated to the Battles of More between the Red Army and the Latvian Legion of the German Army in the autumn of 1944. The exhibit includes a mock-up of the battlefield, weapons, awards, soldiers’ uniforms and military equipment. The Battles of More Museum and Memorial Park was established by former soldiers of the Latvian Legion who participated in the Battles of More. The memorial park features trenches, dugouts and battlefields. The battles in the More area were only part of a large-scale operation of the Red Army Baltic Offensive involving a total of 900,000 soldiers and large numbers of military equipment units. A part of the German Army fortification system where Latvian legionnaires prevented the Red Army’s attempt to break out to Riga was located in the vicinity of More. This allowed the German Army to withdraw its forces from Estonia and avoid defeat. Red Army leaders expected the enemy’s resistance near More to be short-lived and stubbornly continued its unprepared and uncoordinated attacks, suffering heavy losses. Local advantages and the combat capabilities of the Latvian legionnaires played a significant role in the subsequent course of the war. More is home to the Latvian Legionnaires’ Brothers’ Cemetery and a Red Army Soldiers’ Cemetery.

Museum of Melānija Vanaga and Siberian dugout

The Melānija Vanaga Museum is located in the Amata village school in Cēsis municipality. The museum showcases materials about the life, literary activity, family and destiny of writer and cultural historian Melānija Vanaga: video content about Siberia and the deported Latvians living there and a Siberian dugout taking its visitors on a trip to the writer’s place of deportation in Tyukhtetsky district, Krasnoyarsk region. The appearance and layout of the dugout form a realistic idea of life away from home. The dugout features unique historical objects brought there from the Tyukhtet Museum: a birch-bark dish known as ‘tuyesok’, a clay mug known as ‘krynka’ and a kerosene lamp. The museum features video interviews with politically repressed people from the municipality and 18 characters from Melānija Vanaga’s book Suddenly, a Criminal: Sixteen Years in Siberia. The museum’s virtual exhibition ‘BE YOURSELF!’ (http://esipats.lv) shows the experiences of five deported children and their parents who were wrongly accused by the Soviet authorities of ‘betrayal of the motherland’.

Secret Soviet Bunker in Līgatne

Located in Līgatne parish, Cēsis municipality, the Soviet Secret Bunker lies 9 metres below the Līgatne Rehabilitation Centre building and its adjacent territory. The bunker is open to visitors and offers guided tours, meals in the bunker canteen, Soviet-style parties and the reality game Object X. The purpose of the bunker was to provide the minimum necessary conditions for long-term work for the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR, the leadership of the Communist Council of the LSSR and the management of the LSSR state planning committee in the event of a nuclear war threat. The 2,000-square-metre underground bunker was the strongest autonomous structure with all the required and most state-of-the-art equipment of the time, and also one of the most strategically important sites in Soviet-era Latvia in the event of a nuclear war. The site has a protected underground workspace (shelter), a sanatorium-type sleeping block for 250 people, security facilities and a 24-apartment residential house for service staff. All of the authentic underground equipment and plans have been preserved to this day. Highlights include an autonomous power plant with diesel generators and fuel storage, conditioning equipment for air purification with oxygen reserves, water supply and sewerage equipment operating on the submarine principle, a telecommunications unit capable of providing direct contact with the Kremlin in Moscow and autonomous communications with all major services in the country, a unique map with historical names of collective farms, an authentic canteen with typical Soviet-era meals, as well as various Soviet-era attributes and household items.

Soviet Army Missile base in Zeltiņi

The former Soviet Army Missile Base is located in Medņukalni, Zeltiņi parish, Alūksne municipality. This nuclear missile base was a particularly secret military facility of the Soviet Army, and it operated in Zeltiņi, Alūksne municipality, from 1961 to 1989. The facility housed P-12 (8K63) and P12Y (8K63Y) surface-to-surface medium-range ballistic missiles with 4 launch pads. Their travel distance was 2,200 kilometres. During this period the army used barbed-wire to secure an area of about 300 ha less than a kilometre from the Sinole-Silakrogs P34 national regional highway. The living and top-secret areas have remained a legacy even today. Concrete roads lead to places hidden from the eye at that time: hangars, launch pads and bomb shelters. Various structures for the maintenance and servicing of nuclear missiles are located on an area of dozens of hectares. Facilities providing the area with the autonomous supply of power, water and heat were destroyed with the withdrawal of the army. After the army left, some of the equipment was handed over to the local municipality. Visitors currently have access to 20 ha of the former territory of the missile base, the south-western part of which is a tourist attraction. Tourists visiting the base can choose between the core exhibit about the history of the missile base, which is located in the Zeltiņi Museum, and a tourist route in the base area. Friends in a group of up to 12 people can enjoy a game of laser tag here.

Gulbene Railway Station

The Gulbene Railway Station is located in the city of Gulbene. During World War I, in 1916 to 1917, the narrow-gauge railway line to Pļaviņas was reconstructed to 1,524 mm width to ensure that it can serve as a connection to the Rīga-Daugavpils line. In addition, a railway line to Ieriķi and to Sita was constructed, thereby establishing a connection with Pytalovo. As a result, Gulbene became a railway hub. The current station building by architect Pēteris Feders was constructed in 1926. During the War of Independence, on 31 May 1919, when Gulbene was liberated from the Bolsheviks, the 1st (4th) Valmiera Infantry Regiment collected a significant number of war trophies here. On 14 June 1941, both civilians and Latvian Army officers arrested in the Litene Summer Camp were deported from the Gulbene Railway Station. As a key hub, it was bombed in the spring of 1944. After the war, it was restored to its original form. An educational and interactive centre named ‘Railway and Steam’ was opened in 2018. Next to the Gulbene station is the company SIA Gulbenes – Alūksnes bānītis, which offers interactive lessons and tours. Visitors have access to the station building and platform, a memorial plaque and a monument to the repressed ones by sculptor Indulis Ranka.

Latvian Army Summer Camp in Litene

The Latvian Army Summer Camp in Litene is located in the forest in Litene parish, near the Pededze River. The beginnings of the Litene Camp can be traced back to 1935 when the construction of a summer camp complex for the Latgale division of the Latvian Army was started. From May to autumn, several thousand soldiers learned combat tactics and shooting skills in Litene. In the summer of 1941, Latvian Army officers were arrested by Red Army and NKVD troops at an army summer camp in Litene. Several officers were shot on the spot, while others were deported to Siberia. On 14 June 1941, at least 430 officers were arrested and deported to Siberia in the Litene and Ostrovieši camps about 10 kilometres from Litene. The only historical building that has survived from the camp is a food storage facility. Only the foundations remain from the other buildings. There is a viewing platform with the Latvian flag, benches and a well-maintained place for a fire. A demilitarised cannon was installed with the support of the Ministry of Defence and the National Armed Forces. Information boards are in place. The Wall of Pain memorial in the Litene graveyard is also connected with the events at the Litene camp. The YouTube channel of the Latvian Army features a video named ‘Litene, Katyn of the Latvian Army’.

Alūksne Museum

The Alūksne Museum is located in an architectural monument of national significance: the neo-Gothic Alūksne New Castle built in the late 19th century. The museum features an exhibition named ‘Memorial Room for Victims of the Totalitarian Regime’, which tells about the fate of the inhabitants of Alūksne municipality in Siberia and the Far East, while the time periods from prehistory to the present meet in the Alūksne history exhibit ‘Feast of the Ages’. It features a separate section devoted to the contribution of the 7th Sigulda Infantry Regiment to the military, culture and public life. The formation of the 7th Sigulda Infantry Regiment began on 20 June 1919 in the Naukšēni Manor. Initially, a battle group of 22 officers and 1,580 soldiers was formed from the reserve battalion of the Northern Latvian Brigade, and was named the Dankers Division. It was included in the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Jelgava Regiment. On 23 August, following an increase in the number of companies, it became part of the 7th Sigulda Infantry Regiment. Having taken part in the battles against Bermondt, on 5 January 1920, the regiment was transferred to the Latgale front to fight the Bolsheviks. After the signing of the Peace Treaty with Soviet Russia, the regiment guarded Latvia’s eastern border. The Latvian War of Independence saw the deaths of more than 200 soldiers of the regiment, while 85 were awarded the Lāčplēsis War Order. In 1921, the 7th Sigulda Infantry Regiment was stationed in Alūksne. The regiment’s headquarters were set up in the Alūksne New Castle. After World War II, the castle was taken over by Soviet security institutions. As of the late 1950s, the castle housed various cultural institutions: the Culture and Cinematography Department of the Executive Committee, a pioneer house, a library, a cinema and a museum.

Vana-Võromaa Museum and Art Gallery

This museum is situated in the city centre of Võru.

The exhibition showcases the history of Võru County from the prehistoric era to the mid-20th century.

It also provides an overview of the birth of the Estonian Republic and the events of the War of Independence in the county. Moreover, the museum boasts one of the most detailed displays on the Forest Brothers in Estonia, including a replica of the interior of a Forest Brother bunker.

Exhibitions on a variety of subjects are regularly displayed in the exhibition hall, where history-themed museum courses can be attended.

Estonian Aviation Museum

The museum is situated in the village of Lange and covers 10 hectares. It was officially opened in 2002. Its goal is to preserve aviation history related to Estonia and to showcase and promote aviation.


Its main partners are the Estonian Aviation Academy, the Estonian Air Force, the Border Guard Aviation Group and the Estonian War Museum.


The exhibition displays five helicopters and 33 planes, including anti-aircraft missiles. Most of these rare exhibits date from the Cold War era. The museum has a fine collection of aircraft and missiles, with over 600 exhibits.


The Aviation Museum holds an annual aviation-themed event on the second weekend in June.

KGB Cells Museum

This museum is situated on the corner of Riia and Pepleri streets in Tartu.

It is a branch of Tartu City Museum. The museum is located in the infamous grey building on Riiamägi Hill that the KGB used as their base of operations in Tartu during the 1940s and 1950s. The basement here was used as a pre-trial detention centre for political detainees. Now, many years later, it is open to visitors. Some of the cells (including those used for solitary confinement) and part of the corridor have been restored to their original appearance. The exhibition in its former jail cells provides an overview of World War II, the post-war anti-Soviet resistance in Estonia, the crimes committed by the communist regime and the conditions in the detention centre. The idea of opening the museum came from members of a former underground student resistance group in Tartu called Blue-Black-White, who discovered upon visiting their former cells that the basement had been abandoned and that it would not be very difficult to restore the former look of the jail. The museum was officially opened on 12 October 2001.

Former Raadi Military Airfield

This airfield is a former air base on the north-eastern outskirts of Tartu.

On 14 April 1912 Russian pilot Sergei Utochkin made history by completing the first motorised flight in Estonia, in a Farman biplane above Raadi Manor. Baron Liphart, the lord of the manor, had his farmland converted into a runway in summer 1914. During the interwar period of Estonian independence, the 2nd Squadron of the Aviation Regiment was stationed in Raadi. During the 1950s and 1960s the airfield was refashioned into one of the largest air bases in Eastern Europe, at which strategic long-range bombers were stationed. The last landing in Raadi is believed to have taken place in 1996. Plans for renovating the airfield were abandoned in 1999. The airfield has since been decommissioned.

It is situated next to Raadi Manor. In 1922 the Estonian National Museum was established in the manor, which had been expropriated from the Lipharts in 1919. Aerial bombings in August 1944 set fire to the manor, and it burnt down. In 2016 the new building of the Estonian National Museum was opened in Raadi, located at the end of a former runway. The building, which is 350 metres long and rises from the ground, gives the impression of being an extension of the runway.

Military theme park in Valga

This museum and theme park showcases the internal security and military history of Valga and Estonia. The place is perfect for organising summer camps with field activities and a field trip to a World War II battle site near the Väike-Emajõgi River. The programme includes learning to cook pea soup (a popular dish in the military), using camouflage face paints and orienteering in the woods.
The exhibition at the theme park includes military equipment, artillery, an Mi-8 helicopter, a fire engine and various types of machine gun pillbox and naval mine. The tour ends at a Forest Brothers’ bunker, where, on prior request, an alcoholic beverage drunk by the Forest Brothers and smoked lard sandwiches with onion are served. For more serious enthusiasts, the museum displays the largest collection of weapons in Estonia. The Estonian Defence Forces, Police and Border Guard Board, Defence League and Internal Security Service organise demonstrations at the museum of the duties they carry out. They are joined in doing so by the Latvian Police, Border Guard and Fire and Rescue Services.

Valga railway station built by German prisoners of war

The main building of Valga railway station (Leningrad Transport Planning Office, architect: Viktor Tsipulin) was completed in 1949. It is an elongated two-storey structure with an avant-corps and a hipped roof, its architectural showpiece being its seven-storey square tower. It is one of the best and most remarkable examples of Stalinist architecture in Estonia. Its original state having been so well preserved further elevates its significance. The railway station was built shortly after World War II in place of a building from the imperial era that Soviet bombing had razed to the ground. Since German prisoners of war were detained in Valga, it is plausible that they were used to construct it.


Valka train station

The Valka Railway Station is located at the end of Poruka street, next to a set of train tracks that are out of use. The station building can only be viewed from the outside where information stands of the importance of the railway in Valka and Valga are in place. Near the station building is a memorial stone devoted to the people deported to Siberia on 14 June 1941. The station building was constructed around 1896-1897. Narrow-gauge railway lines in the Valka-Rūjiena-Pärnu section were put in place here initially. During World War I, the railway was severely damaged. After establishing the state border, the Valka Railway Station (Valka II) became a border station. In late September 1920, the special Railway Board Commission arrived in Valka. The commission was authorised to negotiate and conclude an agreement with Estonia on the transfer of passengers from the station of one state to the other. The tracks between the triangularly placed Lugaži, Valka and Valga stations were strategically important, as they allowed armoured trains to turn around and move in the opposite direction. During the Soviet period, the USSR Army used this station to deliver ballistic missiles to Valka. A mass deportation of the Latvian people to the inland areas of the USSR took place on the night of 13-14 June 1941. More than 90 people from Valka and the surrounding areas were put in cattle waggons to be deported from the Valka Railway Station without any court judgement, prior warning or explanations. In September 1944, the station was destroyed by the retreating German Army.

Underground Military bunkers in Valka

The Valka bunkers are located in the centre of the city of Valka, on the left side of Ausekļa street, next to the Ādams Tērauds School. Visitors can only view the bunkers from the outside. The Soviet Army bunkers in Valka were among the most secret places in Soviet Latvia only accessible to people with special permits. From 1953 to 1989, they were home to the Soviet Army’s strategic missile communications reserve. Large 16 wheelers were used to deliver massive reinforced concrete blocks for building the bunkers. Once completed, all three bunkers were covered with gravel for additional reinforcement and insulation. The bunkers housed a strategic missile communications reserve subordinated to the Leningrad Communications Centre. Silos with army missiles were controlled from these bunkers. There were 20 such silos in the Valka and Valga area. In October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, these missiles were combat-ready and aimed at Florida. Legend has it that they were a couple of hours shy from actually being launched. Right next to the Ādams Tērauds School and the underground bunkers is the Swedish (Sheremetyevo) Fortification. The artificial wall of earth was built at the beginning of the Great Northern War, around 1702, to protect Valka against the Swedes. The steepest wall of the fortification faces the village of Ērģeme, while the other side faces Ausekļa street.

Seda cultural heritage (1953-1990) exposition and Stalinist architecture

The town of Seda was originally built as a workers’ village, together with the construction of a peat factory in 1953. The peat factory was declared part of the All-Union Komsomol Shock Construction Project, with young people from all over the Soviet Union coming here. This defined the character and face of the village. In 1954, Seda was granted workers’ village rights. In 1961, the workers’ village was named a township. On 14 November 1991, the township with a rural area acquired the status of the town of Seda with a rural area. An exhibit of cultural and historical heritage is on display at the Seda Culture House. The panels in the exhibition hall showcase the history of development of the Seda area, starting from the historical period when the Salānieši farm property extended across the territory of the town of Seda to the construction of the town. The exhibit features stories about the reasons for and process of the creation of the town, the history of the Seda Peat Factory and other documentary evidence. In terms of core content, the exhibit mainly includes historical archive materials: protocols, decisions and orders. To help visitors gain a better sense of this period of history, the exhibit includes a ‘manager’s office’ featuring items from that time. The exhibit is also visually enhanced by Soviet-era household items that are on display in addition to different documentary evidence.

Memorial to the soldiers fallen in World War II

The memorial ensemble in Valmiera was unveiled in 1985. World War II Soviet soldiers who fell in the vicinity of Valmiera and victims of Nazi terror have been reburied in the Brothers’ Cemetery. The authors of the memorial ensemble are sculptors Zigrīda Rapa and Juris Rapa, architects Ēvalds Fogelis, Jānis Lejnieks, Jānis Rutkis and Andris Vītols, and Design Engineer Ivars Veldrums. Limestone from the village of Allaži was used to decorate the memorial ensemble. Its main image is the split linden tree of the Coat of Arms of Valmiera city. Two sculptures on each side of the ensemble symbolise the rhythm of life and death. The figures facing the Gauja river form a semi-circular space, marking the boundary between the past and the present. The main image facing the city is part of an intense arch-shaped form. The figure of a soldier faces the visitors approaching from the side of the city by the bridge, with the diagonal shape formed by the soldier’s hand supporting his deceased companion. On the burial terrace, soldiers have been laid down in rows for those who fought shoulder to shoulder in battle to lie under the same turf. A composition named the Golden Apple Tree lies separately on the lower terrace of the memorial. A granite plaque commemorates the Jews reburied here. Some of the elements, including bronze apples with the ensemble’s message encrypted by the authors, which had been placed under the growing apple tree, disappeared in the 1990s. A QR code next to the memorial gives visitors access to an audio guide with the information available in Latvian, Russian, English, Estonian and German.