Once in place, the demonstrators linked hands from 7:00 pm to 7:15 pm as a show of peaceful, mass solidarity. After the chain had disconnected smaller local gatherings and rallies were held. Funeral ceremonies were held for people who’d been exported to Siberia never to return.
No one knows exactly how many people were in the chain but it was somewhere between 1 and 2 million. When you consider that the entire population of all three countries at the time was just 8 million it shows the incredible amount of support there was for the cause.
The Baltic Way paved the way for eventual independence. Russia could no longer hide the three state’s dissatisfaction from the world. In November 1990 Lithuania became the first to declare independence from the Soviets and by the end of 1991 Latvia and Estonia followed suit.
The Baltic Way is one of those events I think should be taught at schools. Three countries took on the might of Russia by holding hands. I think that’s a deep and profound message to send out to people. No guns were necessary to attain their freedom, just solidarity and effort. It’s always a lot more complicated than that, but the imagery is awesome.