KGB headquarters to open doors

  • 2013-10-07
  • From wire reports

RIGA - In 2014, when Riga becomes the European Capital of Culture, the notorious former headquarters of the Soviet KGB in Riga, also known by locals as the “corner house,” will be opened to the public, reports LETA. The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia has already begun work on setting up the exhibition, which will tell about the activities and atrocities committed by the Soviet State Security Committee (KGB) in Latvia, said the musuem’s public relations specialist Liga Strazda.

The exhibition is scheduled to be open to the public on April 30 next year.
A silent reminder of the decades of horrors it witnessed, the massive building on the corner of Brivibas Street and Stabu Street stares blindly at the city with dusty and dark glass eyes, its walls retaining hundreds of terrifying stories and secrets.

After the occupation of Latvia on June 17, 1940, the building became the headquarters of the State Security Committee of the Latvian SSR, commonly known as the ‘cheka.’ It did not take long for part of the basement and the ground floor to be reconstructed as prison cells and a place of torture and execution.

The “corner house” has two courtyards, both still there – a large one with massive metal gates and a smaller one, where prisoners could walk, “protected” from the adjacent residential building by overhead barbed wire.

The building used to hold a total of 44 prison cells with about 175 beds. Later, when the number of prisoners grew rapidly, the cells were packed and up to 36 people were confined in cells with six beds.

The State Security Committee remained in the building until 1991, when Latvia regained its independence and the State Police moved in. Since 2008, the building has stood empty.

In 2014, when Riga becomes European Capital of Culture, this building will undergo true purification by becoming one of the city’s cultural and historical sites and a museum with a distinctive and unique concept. While there is no intention to undertake major renovations, the building will be cleaned up to the extent that it can host a number of Riga 2014 projects.