Why was the fourth season of Stranger Things filmed in a Nazi prison?

At the end of May, the long-awaited fourth season of the Netflix show, stranger things was released. The story picks up where it left off three years ago in the teenage lives of many beloved characters as they battle evil monsters, alternate dimensions and diabolical Russian villains. The sci-fi show was also praised by Jewish fans for its Jewish cast and themes, with the three most prominent characters Joyce Byers, Mike Wheeler, and Dustin Henderson being played by Jewish actors Winona Ryder, Finn Wolfhard, and Gaten Matarazzo, respectively. some storylines are also central Jewish themes. Another storyline with Jewish connections began in the fourth season, but this one is much more controversial: scenes filmed in a former Lithuanian prison that housed generations of Jewish and non-Jewish victims of persecution, torture and executions.

The former Lukiški prison is now a thriving arts center, home to 250 artists, musicians and creators, and studios. The prison is also a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can go on tours, watch concerts and relax with a cocktail. There are cultural events, film screenings, music festivals, bars and restaurants where people can enjoy their holidays. But this charming TV generation it housed the President of Israel and Jewish Nazi prisoners.

With the release of the fourth season, the prison received new recognition Stranger things, which depicts the building as Russian. Now guests can enjoy waffles inspired by the character Eleven’s favorite food, participate in a Q&A about the filming of the show, and even stay Stranger things a themed Airbnb that includes a tour of the prison and the show’s filming locations.

This modern tourist center looks very different from a few years ago. The prison was still in operation until 2019, when it was closed and transferred to the state company Turto banka Turto banka. This was done in order to reorganize and humanize the Lithuanian penal system, removing prisoners from deteriorating infrastructure and poor living conditions. Lukiški prison is a century-old prison complex located in Vilnius. Before World War II, Vilinius was known for its thriving Jewish community. More than 30 percent of the population was Jewish, and the city was even created. “Jerusalem of Lithuania”.

The Lukiškii prison was built in 1904, when Vilinius was ruled by the Russian Empire. Czar Nicholas II built the prison to solve the overcrowding problem caused by the changes The Criminal Code that the prisoners had to serve a longer sentence for the crimes. This enormous complex was formed to include a penitentiary, a detention center, housing for the warden and guards, kitchens, laundries, and even a house of worship for the prisoners, including an Orthodox church, a Catholic church, and a Jewish synagogue. At the time, the prison was very advanced, with its own water supply, sewage system and heated and ventilated rooms.

Despite modern conveniences, Lukiškii prison was far from luxurious. It was a place of extreme physical and psychological torture, causing more than 40 percent of its inmates to commit suicide during its lifetime. These tortures began the moment the inmates entered the gates, as the inmates were taken to holding cells to wait while prison officials processed their cases for hours. In these “shoebox rooms” up to four prisoners were crammed into a space of about four feet square.

The Lukiški system was famous for its own torture; depriving prisoners of adequate food, sleep and privacy, and subjecting them to severe humiliation through invasive searches and harsh punishments such as standing in icy water. Those convicted of minor crimes, such as simple theft, were placed on top of each other in extremely small rooms that squeezed dozens of bunk beds into the narrow spaces. For more serious crimes, such as murder and political opposition, prisoners were kept in solitary confinement, only allowed outside for one hour a day. Prisoners were not closely monitored and cared for. Despite the scant supervision, not a single prisoner escaped, a statistic that tourism officials still brag about to this day.

The beginning of World War II was a dark turning point for the prison. In 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union and NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs) was tasked with evacuating political prisoners of the USSR. The NKVD was known as the secret police of the Soviet Union and was responsible for overseeing the country’s prisons and labor camps. These political prisoners consisted mainly of those who were suspected of being disloyal to the Communist Party. One such prisoner at Lukiškės was the former Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin, who was imprisoned for his Zionist beliefs. He was sent to a labor camp Pechora in northern Russia before the German invasion. Instead of evacuating these prisoners, the NKVD often ended up torturing and executing them. Massacre of NKVD prisoners. More than two-thirds of political prisoners were killed, including prisoners Lukiškės. They were either shot en masse or, in alarming cases, burned alive and brutally stabbed with bayonets.

During the Nazi occupation following these massacres, the Gestapo used Lukiške as a holding cell for Jews and political enemies until they were sent to Mrs, located a little south of Vilnius, must be fulfilled. Ponary was a strategic location for mass executions due to its proximity to train tracks for efficient transfer and deep pits, which was excavated by the Soviets in 1940 for emergency fuel storage, corpses. Over 100,000 people were killed there during the four years of German occupation. When the Germans started losing the war, they tried to burn all the bodies to cover up their crimes.

In the later half of the 20th century, the prison became overcrowded. It was originally built for 421 prisoners in prison cells and 278 in the detention center, but in 2007 the complex housed more than 1,000 prisoners. The death penalty was abolished in Lithuania only in 1998, so executions on the territory of the prison were quite frequent. Until the 1970s, prisoners were publicly hanged in the yard, but in the later years of the prison, inmates facing the death penalty were shot in their cells. The the last execution took place in 1995

Given the prison’s past, the present can be a little unsettling. Although Stranger things provides the audience with fantastic entertainment involving fictional villains and monsters, and because they filmed that entertainment, there are real horrors that cannot be swept away and forgotten. The prison’s current cultural efforts are a way to move beyond the country’s dark past and create a space of culture and hope for the future. But her tragic story may be hard to forget.

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