Different paths after the end
of Soviet rule


In the evening hours of 23 August 1989, over one million
Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians thronged
the streets. They formed a human chain from Tallinn
through Riga to Vilnius, more than 600 kilometres long,
held candles in their hands, and sang patriotic songs.
Exactly 50 years earlier their three home countries had
been placed in the Soviet sphere of influence by the
secret additional protocol to the Hitler-Stalin Pact, also
known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and soon they
had again lost the statehood they had acquired only in


Against their will, these three countries in 1940 became
Soviet Socialist Republics — and experienced huge demographic
upheavals. In the terrible years of World War
II Moscow had thousands of people deported to Siberia,
in particular the national élites. Many residents of the
Baltic states were forced into exile. Hitler had the socalled
German Balts resettled in today’s Poland. These
were descendants of German Knights, who had mission-
ized the pagan peoples of today‘s Estonia and Latvia
in the Middle Ages. Under the Nazi regime in Germany,
which only a year later occupied all three Baltic countries,
virtually the entire Jewish and Roma population
was murdered. In Lithuania, where many Jews had settled
since the 14th century, about eight per cent of the
total population of 1936 was exterminated.




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