1989 Anniversary: Hands Across the Baltics

1989 Anniversary: Hands Across the Baltics

If you were alive and watching the news in 1989, you may remember it was a year of violence, freedom, and bravery, from the bloody massacre in China’s Tiananmen Square to the stunning fall of the Berlin Wall.

The world was “all shook up.” The Baltics were no exception.

Even today at Baltic music festivals, patriotic songs honor the 1989 "Singing Revolution" Photo credit: Latvia Tourism

Even today at Baltic music festivals, patriotic songs honor the 1980s “Singing Revolution”
Photo credit: Latvia Tourism

Occupation, OverruledOn August 23,1989, on the 50th anniversary of the secret Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that divided Eastern Europe and changed the world, a human protest chain was created across the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Hand in hand, two million strong joined together, almost 400 miles long – but why?

Independence. Freedom. End of the Soviet occupation of these countries that began with that Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact back in 1939.

Lithuania's flag, interpreted as yellow – goodness, green – freedom, and red – blood shed for independence <br>Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Lithuania’s flag, interpreted as yellow – goodness, green – freedom, and red – blood shed for independence
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Baltic Way monument in Tallinn, Estonia: a chain inextricably linking three rocks, three nations <br>Photo credit: Epukas (public domain), Wikimedia Commons

Baltic Way monument in Tallinn, Estonia: a chain inextricably linking three rocks, three nations
Photo credit: Epukas (public domain), Wikimedia Commons

The world’s eyes focused on these tiny countries and their mighty human chain, these “Hands Across the Baltics.”  One by one by one, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia declared their independence, and regained their freedom.

And so it has been, for 25 years.

Lithuania's Baltic Way monument represents the 1989 human chain protesting Soviet occupation <br>Photo credit: DavidConFran via Creative Commons

Lithuania’s Baltic Way monument represents the 1989 human chain protesting Soviet occupation
Photo credit: DavidConFran via Creative Commons

Travel to the Baltics with MIRYou can bear witness to the Baltics’ bravery 25 years ago on MIR tours to Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.  You can also book a custom private journey and visit the monuments constructed in these countries to remember that human chain, immortalized as the Baltic Way.

(Top photo credit: Jaak Nilson. Estonia’s national song festival is rooted in the 1980s “Singing Revolution” that led to Baltic independence.)

 

PUBLISHED: August 22, 2014

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