From an e-mail received on August 22, 2019 from Father David O’Rourke, OP

Tomorrow—August 23 – is the 80th anniversary of the Hitler-Stalin Pact—and the 50th anniversary  of the Baltic Way, that 400-mile stretch of people holding hands from the waterside in Estija down through Latvia to Lithuania.

And it is also the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the Memorial cemetery just outside Vilnius, where the people shot to death in the KGB building were taken at night and buried.  Red Terror was shown as part of the dedication, and I was asked to give a short intro, which I did.  And then it was shown nationally on Lithuanian TV at 9 PM as a high point of the day’s memorial.

It was on that holiday, also, that Ken and I did the filming of Nijole Sadunaite in the museum park outside Vilnius. We had to keep changing sites since the bands there for the day kept on moving around.

On the internet, there are a couple of documentary videos, recordings of the song they composed for the Baltic Way which is wonderful and so celebratory, and very moving for me. The YouTube videos also show the crowds of people lined up, hand in hand, along the entire length of the 400 miles, all holding hands.  It is there under names like “Lietuva, Latvia, Estija,” or the “Baltic Way”.  Apparently when Gorbachov saw the films he realized that “I’ve lost the people” and it was just a matter of time before he was out.

This does merit a celebration…

[One celebratory expression of this anniversary is the not entirely coincidental re-dedication of this site today, to providing educational resources for teachers and students. This effort is, in large part, intended to honor the people who suffered and died, so that their pain and losses will not be forgotten.]

It is also not coincidental, but notable, that on this day “supporters of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement held hands, inspired by the human chain in the historic Baltic states protest against Soviet control 30-years ago.”

Quoted from Kelvin Chan, The Associated Press 23 Aug 2019

There are numerous videos about the Baltic Way available on YouTube. The following are simply a few representative examples.

Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration of the Baltic Way in Lithuania

US Embassy remembrance of the Baltic Way

British explanation of the Baltic Way

Sixth Grade History Project about the Baltic Way