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The Prisoners’ Camp museum is located 2 km. from Šilutė in Macikai village. The former Macikai Estate was famous for its large brewery, which, in 1924, was rented to the Ministry of National Defence of Lithuania. A little bit later the ministry bought a portion of the Macikai estate which was turned into barracks.
During Nazi occupation in 1939-1944, the German authorities established Stalag 1C Heydekrug prisoner camp in Macikai. The prison camp was mainly used to imprison Polish military men. However, from 1940, Belgian and French, and from 1941, Russian soldiers joined the Poles. The prison was characterized by differentiated imprisonment conditions that depended on the prisoner’s nationality.
Later the Stalag 1C Heydekrug was reorganized to Stalag Luft 6 Heydekrug. It became specialized air forces of war prisoners. It operated in 1943-1944 when the British, American, and Canadian sergeants were imprisoned there from Stalag Luft I Barth.
When the Soviets occupied Lithuania for the second time in 1944, they established an internment camp No. 184 for German troops. Later it was reorganized to GULAG Šilutė (Macikai) camp No. 3. After the establishment of the GULAG, not only prisoners of war, but also civilians that were undesirable to the Soviet regime were imprisoned. By 1952, it was the largest internment camp in Lithuania, with the capacity of holding 3000 people at a time. Prisoners punished for 25 years of correctional works suffered the harshest confinement conditions and were isolated from other prisoners.
The real causes of death of each individual prisoner are unknown to this day, as the records disclosing such information were concealed not to reveal the true confinement conditions.
According to GULAG’s instructions, when prisoners were buried, their graves had to be marked with a specific number.
Today, the only remaining authentic part of the prison camp is the punishment cell, which was reconstructed in 1995 by the initiative of Šilutė Alliance of Exiles and Political Prisoners.
Right next to the museum you can find the prisoners’ cemetery. Today its territory is significantly smaller due to floods of Šyša river and plowing activity.
- Šilutės Hugo Šojaus muziejus