Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Terror and Hope

August 23rd is the anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. This was a secret and criminal treaty that divided Eastern and Central Europe between Hitler and Stalin. It allowed Hitler to invade Poland a week later, without any fear that the USSR would intervene, and it allowed Stalin to crush the independence of the Baltic Countries and to seize half of the corpse of Poland for itself. Stalin also had a free hand to seize Bessarabia and turn that Romanian speaking land into a Soviet satrapy. Thus this monstrous bargain inflicted occupation and slavery on millions. All of course secret, since the Soviet authorities denied that any secret protocols existed- even when the German treaty text was published after the war.

Fifty years later. Millions of Estonian, Latvians and Lithuanians formed a chain to link Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius- the Baltic Chain. This protest was one of the high points of the singing revolution.

It is a triumph of the human spirit that such terror eventually gave way to such hope, and such hope gave way to such success.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Balti Kett on üks mu esimesi mälestusi. Õigemini see, et mind sinna kaasa ei võetud, Vanaisa ei tahtnud ka ema kaasa võtta, kuna kartis, et hakatakse tulistama. Aga kõik läks hästi.

Cicero said...

"The Baltic chain is one of my earliest memories. I was there and I remember that my Grandfather did not want to take my mother in case the Russians started shooting. In the end all was well."

I think

James said...

What do think might have happened if the Baltic countries had choosen to fight as Finland did?
I'm not criticising them, given that the outcome (as in Finland)was certain.

For my own part, in the short term I expect nothing would have been any different, but in the longer term I expect that the symbolic gesture would have prevented the Baltic States from almost slipping out of western conciousness during the Cold War. I know that the Baltic States continued a heroic partisan resistance to the Red Army up until the early 50's - but no-one ever got to hear about it. Wouldn't this effort have been better spent defending genuine independence in 1939?

What's your view?

Anonymous said...

"The Baltic chain is one of my earliest memories. Well, actually the fact that I wasn't taken there. I remember that my Grandfather did not even want to take my mother in case the Russians started shooting. In the end all was well."

almost :)

Cicero said...

On tõõ rããgida Eesti keelt! Mina õpin aga see on töö! :-) Äitah.

Cicero said...

James- one of the great what ifs? Given the4 poor performance of the Soviet troops against Finland, there might have been a replay of the War of Independence of 1918-20 and with the same result. On the other hand, the fact that the Nazis had already sanctioned the Soviet occupation (and "called home" the ethnic Germans) would mean that only the UK could help- and the day of the occupation was the same day we were taking them off the beaches at Dunkirk.