The Baltic Way was a unique, peaceful mass demonstration, which was held on 23 August 1989, when more than a million people joined hands to create a 600 km long human chain through the three Baltic States, uniting Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in gaining their freedom. The demonstration noted the 50th anniversary since 1939 when Germany and Soviet Union signed a treaty and its secret clauses which divided the spheres of influence in Eastern Europe and led to occupation and annexation of the Baltic States.
This impressive act of non-violent protest and solidarity whilst keeping sovereignty was a living example of the culture of peace, opening up access to information and leading to the acknowledgment of the secret treaty and its hideous consequences for the whole world. It increased the opportunity for the national self-determination of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and encouraged democratic movements throughout the Soviet Union. The three Baltic States succeeded in gaining their freedom in a peaceful way, creating a precedent that was, and hopefully will be, followed by a number of countries all over – the triumph of humanity over totalitarianism. The Baltic Way brought important changes to the history of the world. This was achieved through social unity and through joint commitment and confidence manifested by every individual in pursuing the common goal.
Documentary heritage of the Baltic Way contains a significant archive of documents. An important part of this heritage is deposed at the National Archives in Estonia, the National History Museum of Latvia and the Lithuanian Central State Archive. Three Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania – submitted a joint nomination “The Baltic Way – Human Chain Linking Three States in Their Drive for Freedom” that was inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register.
Visual material: The National History Museum of Latvia the Department of Museum of the Popular Front of Latvia