The Soviet occupation hall in Georgia is dedicated to seven decades of Soviet rule. (1921-1991). It also showcases the history of the anti-occupation, national-liberation movement of Georgia and the victims of Soviet political repression throughout this period. This facility brings a clear anti-Soviet message and presents Soviet rule in Georgia undisguised.
The location is not just a exhibition hall, it has a lot more to tell. It is located in the S. Janashia Museum of Georgia, on the top floor. So, before you enter the display, you’ve already seen the whole history of Georgia. Each floor represents a certain era of the country; each exhibition tells a different story. Before you come up to the top floor, you already are full of emotions and feel satisfied. However, you can’t imagine what you are about to experience.
When you finally enter the exhibit, you are far from where you began the tour. You go on walking and every movement you make brings you closer to the secrets of untold tragedies of the Soviet era.
The first thing you will see is the train carriage, positioned in the corner of the entrance. From a distance, it just looks like a box – with light dots all over it. Those dots are holes shot by a machine gun. It is a real train carriage from the national uprising of 1924, brought directly from the battlefield. Are you already frightened and uncomfortable? You are too far advanced to stop there.
The further you enter, it seems colder and colder to you, more and more disturbing. You see photos, letters, and personal files of Georgian public figures and rebels, who fought for their rights and freedom, and who according to the Soviet regulations, were executed as public enemies.
The exhibition hall is filled with examples representing Soviet spirit and indoctrination – old flags and posters – declaring that the Soviet Union is the strongest country and is home for the happiest people – Soviet propaganda. One poster quotes Lenin: “Now We Live a Better and Happier Life”.
Along with these posters actively contributing to the Soviet narrative, you see photos of executed people and their uniforms and weapons, which were used to fight for independence. You stand in front of doors brought from Soviet jails. Caged behind them were people hoping for a better future, which unfortunately, would come only after the overthrow of the Soviet regime.
The little monitors display rare footage of Soviet hostages and rebels, local revolutions, and marches. You see devices used by the spies to identify these “Public Enemies”. The second floor showcases the letters written by rebels to each other; these letters became evidence that these people were “dangerous for the public and should necessarily be assassinated.”
After seeing the whole exhibition, you feel lost, you can’t describe your feelings. You feel like you just opened Pandora’s box. It’s creepy, it’s depressing, but it is history, experienced by our closest ancestors. This is an example of a well-designed exhibition which brings you the whole lot of indefinable emotions.