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Concrete-filled Brutalism and Historical Memory that Testifies Brutality

Virtual photography exhibition

Geometric shapes and rough surfaces, which highlight the natural materials of the construction, are the main features that characterise the direction of architecture called brutalism. The name of brutalism that prospered in the architecture of the 1960s and 1980s is associated with the technology of finishing the external surface of buildings with raw concrete [french béton brut].

Sculptor Alfonsas Vincentas Ambraziūnas, architects Vytautas Vielius and Gediminas Baravykas, inspired by the style of brutalism, created a memorial complex of Kaunas Ninth Fort, which still commemorates the victims of Nazism. During the construction of the memorial complex near the Ninth Fort, a low concrete fence marked the site of the massacre, a monument to the victims of Nazism, a memorial museum [now the Occupation Exposition], administration building and a path connecting all these objects were built. The architecture of the buildings used a rough reinforced concrete mass that was given the texture of wooden boards.

The monument to the memory of the victims of Nazism consists of a composition of three sculptural groups. The massive sculptures swing towards each other, they intersect and intertwine. They have rough, strong figures and faces tormented with grief, but also filled with determination. The lowest sculptural group symbolises pain – it depicts helpless people, the victims of the brutality of the Nazis and their accomplices, the loss of the loved ones. Another sculptural group symbolises hope and people eager to break out of death. The highest central sculptural group symbolises liberation, depicting a powerful flow of figures emerging from violence and terror, and breaking free from oppression.

The architecture of the memorial museum building symbolises a land that is shattered by the pain of tens of thousands of murdered people. Inside the building, the most characteristic features of brutal architecture are clearly recognisable – huge rough reinforced concrete surfaces with a casting pattern, instead of unnecessary decor – concrete, glass and metal constructions. Integral parts of the building are the unique works of art – Kazys Morkūnas’ thick stained glass “Invincible Lithuania” and the iron gate created by the blacksmith Leonas Glinskis at the entrance and exit.

The virtual photography exhibition presents images from the construction process of the Kaunas Ninth Fort Memorial Complex, which lasted for thirteen years. Kaunas Ninth Fort Memorial Complex was opened to the visitors on June 15 in 1984.