Two Million People Holding Hands: The Baltic Way

As Lauku Tea draws its flavor from the soil and sun of Latvia, we'd like to acknowledge a special anniversary for the people of Latvia and their neighbors in Estonia and Lithuania.

27 years ago today, two million people joined hands in a peaceful protest known as The Baltic Way. The human chain, nearly 400 miles long, was a show of solidarity between Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, and a protest for freedom from the Soviet Union.

In 1939, a secret agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, called the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, allowed for the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states. While the effects of the Pact were sharply felt in the Baltic states, the Soviet Union denied the existence of the Pact claiming the Baltic states had voluntarily joined the Soviet Union. 


On August 23rd, 1989, fifty years after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had been signed, the people of the Baltic states joined hands and demanded the renewal of their independence. The demonstration worked: the USSR admitted to all past crimes and acknowledged the existence of the Pact. Lithuania was the first to officially regain its freedom in 1990, with Latvia and Estonia following in 1991. 

In 2014, the Latvian National Commission asked participants to share memories from The Baltic Way. While each story is incredibly touching (read for yourself here), the one below by Karmen Kisel was by far our favorite:

Today, I am thinking that I know exactly when I cooked my first cutlets.
It was 23 August 1989. I was 16 then and was spending the last days of the summer holidays at home. My mother had long and hard days at work. In spring, our father had died after a serious illness. There had been news about a big and world-moving event on the TV and radio for several days a human chain through the three Baltic countries. I do not know whether it was boredom or really a big desire for freedom, the fact is that I desperately wanted to join the chain. I wasn’t courageous enough to go alone, but my friends were not in town so I had to persuade my mother.
In the previous evening, she had quite a negative attitude because she thought that it was a work day evening and she had to cook and would have no time to join the Baltic Way. In our house my mother usually cooked because she was really good at it and therefore, I am not surprised that I had almost no experience of cooking at the age of 16.
In the morning after my mother had gone to work, I took out a cookbook, took minced meat out of the freezer and peeled the potatoes. When my mother arrived, the cutlets, the potatoes and the cream sauce were on the table plus the cucumber-tomato salad. It was delicious; my mother and my little sister liked it and as a result of the big surprise, my mother didn’t make any more excuses about going to the chain.
We walked from our home and stood at the junction to the highway. We sang, waved to those driving past, shouted chants, and later when it was getting dark, we held candles and had a really good feeling. Afterwards, we walked home.
I remember this day as a very happy day. Probably, partly because of being proud of my cutlets, but maybe even more because we had a chance to spend a beautiful day with our mother. Actually, it was one of the first happy events after our father’s death. From this day on, I started cooking more often and my cutlets are still delicious.

Hugs and bućas!

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