Kaunas has experienced its share of anti-Jewish violence, both during local pogroms and then under the Nazis. During World War II, the city’s large Jewish population was all but wiped out; all that remains is the city’s sole surviving synagogue in the New Town, which sports a wonderful sky-blue interior and a memorial to the 1700 children who perished at the Ninth Fort . The small and austere former Japanese consulate is now a museum to Chiune Sugihara, the consul who saved thousands of Jewish lives during the war by issuing Japanese visas against orders.
The Ninth Fort Museum, at Žemaičių plentas, is housed in the tsarist-era fortress where the Jews were kept by Nazis while awaiting execution in the killing field beyond; exhibits cover extermination of Jews and deportation of Lithuanians by the Soviets. A massive, jagged stone memorial crowns the site.