Lithuania: The Baltic Way – human chain linking three Baltic states, 1989
Repository name: Lithuanian Central State Archives
Item reference: LCVA 0-124901
Photographer: J Juknevičius
On 23 August 1989, almost one million people joined hands to form an over 600 kilometre-long human chain across the three Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This peaceful demonstration known as the Baltic Way demanded recognition of the secret clauses in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the re-establishment of the independence of the Baltic states.
On 23 August 1939, the foreign ministers of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany – Vyacheslav Molotov and Joachim von Ribbentrop – signed a treaty. This pact and the secret clauses it contained divided the respective spheres of influence of the USSR and Germany and led to the occupation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The Baltic Way was organised by the national movements of each of the Baltic states; the Popular Front of Estonia Rahvarinne, the Popular Front of Latvia and the Lithuanian Reform Movement Sąjūdis.
On 30 July 2009, the documentary heritage of the Baltic Way (written, photo, video and audio documents) was added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register.