33 years since the Baltic Way changed the world

August 23, 2022 marks 33 years since the historic Baltic Way, also known as the Baltic Chain – a human chain weaving through all three Baltic States August 23, 1989.

Approximately two million people joined hands, forming a chain of over 600 kilometers through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, in peaceful protest against the Soviet occupation. 

The biggest achievement of the protest campaign was getting the USSR to admit to past crimes. The USSR acknowledged the existence of the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and declared it invalid. It was one of the most important steps towards the restoration of independence in the Baltics, and a landmark in the history of peaceful protest worldwide.

 

Dainis Īvāns, the former deputy speaker of the transitional parliament of independent Latvia (the Supreme Council), told Latvian Radio broadcast on August 23: “Everything, as we know, happened – people went into this live chain. These electricized feelings, the self-confidence of the Baltics, this one-off cure from insecurities, and his sense of power in these two minutes focused like a huge lightning strike through all of us.”

“First of all, it was a huge impression on the West, because it was immediately followed by a letter from President Bush to Gorbachev, in which he wrote that Gorbachev could act however he wanted but in the case of the Baltic States and Poland he needed to maintain caution and fairness. The Baltic Way showed the West that we are going forward very reasonably, but swiftly and triumphantly,” said Īvāns.

Three years ago, when the Baltic Way celebrated its 30th anniversary, LSM published a comprehensive story about the historic day. You can read it here, to find out more about this monumental event impacting the lives of many.

We also offer this short documentary with English subtitles on the subject.

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