The 28th Anniversary Of The Baltic Way
Who here knows about the Baltic Way? I'm not ashamed to admit that I'd never learned about the Baltics prior to moving there and even had to look up where Lithuania was on a map when J was offered a job in Vilnius. So, for those of you like me who are unacquainted with the history and culture of the Baltics, I wanted to share a post about this moving and peaceful protest.
Today is the 28th anniversary for the Baltic Way, a peaceful protest expressing the unity of the Baltic States in their movement towards freedom from Soviet rule. This human chain that composed the Baltic Way consisted of somewhere around two million people and stretched 600 km -- from Vilnius, Lithuania all the way to Tallinn, Estonia. Those standing in the chain held hands and sang national songs.
August 23 was chosen as the day for this demonstration because it was the anniversary of Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which separated Eastern Europe between Soviets and Nazi German rule (the Baltics were under Soviet rule).
Though freedom wasn't secured immediately by the peaceful Baltic Way demonstration, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia did gain independence in the early 1990s. Each country has since joined the European Union to expand their economy and provide a layer of security to prevent this from ever happening in the future.
I find the old black and white images from the Baltic Way to be incredibly moving, so I wanted to share a few with you that are available in the public domain.
If you are in the Baltics now or visiting the Baltics and want to learn more about the Baltic Way, you can visit the following spots:
Lithuania has a monument for the Baltic Way near Panorama Mall, which can be seen at any time of day; the yellow, green, and red wall with cut outs of people, some of which you can stand in. Though outside of the beaten tourist path, it is not difficult to reach this spot on foot or with an orange bike, and the monument is really striking.
The exhibits inside Gedimino Castle briefly explain the Baltic Way and show numerous pictures and a film. I visited the exhibits in Gedimino Castle right before we moved, and though it is a bit expensive to enter, I think the exhibits plus the views are worth it.
In Cathedral Square, there is a tile of two rather large bare feet to illustrate the starting place of the Baltic Way in Vilnius. There are similar tiles in both Riga and Tallinn to illustrate the countries' support for one another. The Baltic Way tiles were designed by Gitenis Umbrasas, a Lithuanian sculptor, and the feet were made large on purpose -- so that anyone can stand and join this historic chain. The tiles were placed in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in the summer of 2013. I'll talk about where you can spot the tiles in Latvia and Estonia below.
To celebrate Latvia's 100th year in 2018, there is a movie called Paradise 89, showing scenes and memories from the Baltic Way. You can catch clips if you visit the link included above.
Latvia also has a Baltic Way tile right in front of the Freedom Monument in Riga, showing where Latvians bravely stood for their right to freedom.
Estonia has an online exhibit called Balti Kett 25, which commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Baltic Way. You can explore the history of Estonia's role in the Baltic Way from the comfort of your own couch with a look at this website.
You can find the Baltic Way tile in Tallinn in Freedom Square to commemorate the ending point of the Baltic way in Tallinn. You can find this special tile if you walk on the stone path that goes up a gentle hill directly behind the memorial cross. This location actually provides a really great view of the Freedom Square, monument, and the yellow church in the background.
Have you heard of the Baltic Way before? Can you fathom how powerful it must have felt to stand together with your neighbors, friends, and strangers to support freedom?