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Former NKVD and KGB holding cells to be turned into museum

Rendering of 1 Pagari St. By now most of the house is renovated, the museum in its basement will open in July 2017.
Rendering of 1 Pagari St. By now most of the house is renovated, the museum in its basement will open in July 2017. Source: (

Work has begun to turn the former NKVD and KGB cells in the basement of Tallinn's 1 Pagari St. into a museum. During and after the Second World War the building was used by the authorities of both the Soviet and German occupying forces, and became particularly notorious for the way prisoners were treated there by the Soviet secret police and later the KGB.

During the Soviet occupation, 1 Pagari St. was a prison for people awaiting trial. The prison's cells are undergoing renovation and conservation, the museum in the rooms of the former prison will open for visitors in early July.

The building was completed in 1912. After the proclamation of the Republic of Estonia, the Provisional Government met there several times. During the War of Independence the building was used by the war ministry and the general staff.

During the first Soviet occupation, the Soviet authorities had cells added to the basement. The facilities were used by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), at the time the Soviet secret police and main authority involved in political repression. After 1946 the KGB followed. The cells were in use until the 1950s, after which the building was taken over by other Soviet authorities.

The building last housed the internal security committee of the Estonian Socialist Soviet Republic (SSR). After the end of the Soviet Union and the Estonian SSR, the building went to the re-established Estonian police.

The building was sold by the state in 2010, after which a real estate developer turned it into a high-end apartment building. It is under heritage protection.

The exposition of the museum to be opened next month is prepared by the Museum of Occupations together with the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory and the Estonian Heritage Protection Society.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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