Twenty-four years ago today, on August 23rd, 1989, the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian people united in a show of Baltic unity not seen in history. Millions of people joined hands from Tallinn (Estonia), through the Estonian and Latvian countryside to RÄ«ga (Latvia), and the through the Latvian and Lithuanian countryside to Vilnius (Lithuania). This date was chosen to draw attention to the continued occupation of the Baltics, since this was the date 50 years earlier, in 1939, when the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was signed, dividing Eastern Europe into “spheres of influence”.
A song called “Baltics Are Waking Up” was composed for the occasion of the Baltic Way, and was recorded with verses in all three languages. You can see a video with the song, as well as footage from the Baltic Way, here. I did not make the video, but I enjoy hearing the song, and the similarities and differences in the languages (Latvian is first, then Lithuanian, then Estonian, and then all three do the chorus at the end again).
The Latvian lyrics (I believe the Lithuanian and Estonian ones are similar):
TrÄ«s mÄsas jÅ«ras malÄ stÄv,
TÄs nespÄ“ks un nogurums mÄc.
Tur bradÄta zeme un dvÄ“seles,
TrÄ«s tautu gods un prÄts.
Bet torÅ†os jau likteÅ†a zvani skan,
Un jÅ«ra bangoties sÄk.
TrÄ«s mÄsas no miega moduÅ¡Äs,
Par sevi pastÄvÄ“t nÄk.
Atmostas Baltija, atmostas Baltija,
Lietuva, Latvija, Igaunija!
Three sisters stand at the edge of the sea,
They are oppressed by weakness and exhaustion.
Their land and spirits crushed,
And the honour and soul of three nations.
But the bells of destiny are ringing in the towers,
And the sea is starting to surge,
Three sisters are waking from sleep,
Coming to stand for themselves.
The Baltics are waking up, the Baltics are waking up
Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia!
I was only five years old on this day, so I don’t remember any of it, but I wish I did. I also wish that one could still see the Baltic solidarity that was seen here. You don’t see that much of it anymore, which is sad. I do hope that they are planning big celebrations next year, when it is the 25th anniversary.
Do you remember the Baltic Way? Share your story here!