The museum located in the very heart of Riga is hard to miss - it is located inside a huge concrete slab which looks very much at odds with the much more sophisticated architecture all around it. Indeed, this 'monumental' structure was erected to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Lenin's birth in 1971 and served as a museum of the Red Latvian Riflemen until 1991.
As the Soviet Union fell apart, it was decided to use the building to house the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia in the memory of Latvia's continuous occupation from 1940 to 1991 by Soviet and Nazi forces.
The museum's exhibition is split into 3 stages in accordance with the history of the occupations. The first deals with the initial Soviet occupation in 1940 following the signing of a Nazi-Soviet pact, the second dedicated to time under the Nazis during the Second World War and the third documenting the country's 50 post-war years under the Kremlin.
The exhibits range from photographs and descriptions of events during these years to items that poignantly remind people of the war and repressive rule that ensued for decades. If you go to one historicaly museum in Riga, this really should be it to truly understand the transformation of this small nation over the last century.
The museum is notorious for presenting a number of artefacts and documentation in a controversial manner omitting any of Latvia's involvement during the Second World War or the persecution of Jews.
Throughout the Year
Museum of the Occupation of Latvia