Eyewitness to the Iron Curtain: Arlington Heights Woman Remembers the Baltic Chain

December 18, 2009

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The Baltic Chain: approximately two million people joined their hands to form a human chain spanning over 370 miles across the Baltic states.
As we bid adieu to 2009, we're looking back at our Eyewitness to the Iron Curtain series, where we hear from Chicagoans who experienced life under communist rule. We'll go back to August 23rd, 1989 in the Baltic States. That's when two million Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians formed what's remembered as the “Baltic Chain.” Almost 40 percent of the Baltic region's entire population held hands across national borders to protest Soviet domination. It was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of what's known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, when Nazi Germany agreed to give the Baltic States to the Russians.

Heli Luige participated in the Baltic Chain when she was fourteen years old. For years, she's volunteered as a cook at Estonia House in Riverwoods, Illinois. Worldview producer Becky Vlamis trekked out to Estonia House back in August. Heli shared her memories of the Baltic Chain and gave Becky a tour, beginning with the quintessential Estonian haunt: the sauna.