Historians have long suspected that there were once tunnels underneath the Gediminas Hill, a landmark in central Vilnius supporting the remains of the city's medieval fortress. They have now found new evidence to support the supposition.

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Gediminas Hill
© DELFI / Karolina Pansevič

Archivists working in Lithuania's Special Archive, which holds documents of the Soviet secret police, the KGB, have uncovered a file describing a fire in the Gediminas Hill which gives the most detailed description available of tunnels that had been dug and later buried underneath the hill.

On March 10, 1948, a fire brigade was called up to put out a fire in what was then a secret shelter of Vilnius anti-air-raid headquarters. A 36-metre ventilation shaft was set on fire purposefully, investigators say in the report.

"The firefighters poured water into the shaft and sealed the door to the tunnel with clay," explains Kęstas Remeika, deputy director of the Lithuanian Special Archive.

"They thought the fire was over and left. On March 13, smoke was once again spotted rising from the shaft, because they had not entirely put out the fire.

"On March 19, the Soviet Interior Ministry issued a decree to form an expert commission to investigate what had caused the fire. In its report, the commission gives a very detailed description of the tunnel," Remeika says.

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