An Important Baltic Celebration – Sept 2019

An inclusive Christian community in Auckland, New Zealand

An Important Baltic Celebration – Sept 2019

An Important Baltic Celebration, Dalia Kubiliute
On 24 August about 180 people from Baltic States and their
friends gathered at Silo Park, Auckland to celebrate the
30th anniversary of the Baltic Way. Despite strong winds it
was great to see many Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians
with their families and friends.
Latvian Honorary Consul Dermot Ross greeted everyone
with an introductory speech about the Baltic Way in 1989
and its importance. Auckland Mayor Phil Goff talked with
great energy about the history leading to the Baltic Way. He
also reminded us all about displaced people from the Baltic
States coming to New Zealand as WWII refugees 70 years
ago. They were the first to establish active communities
here. The Catholic bishop of Auckland Pat Dunn invited all to
join in a prayer. Marita from Latvia shared her memories
when as a 8 year old girl she took part in the Baltic Way. At
the end of the official part the Baltic Way Anthem was
played. Everybody was invited to hold hands standing in a
circle. Youngsters representing each country brought three
flags into the centre. As flags were lifted into the air to the
words of the song one could have noticed a tear or two
being shared. Lively conversations followed with traditional
food and drinks served inside. There were more
presentations about the Baltic Way and the journey of
displaced people to New Zealand in the form of
documentaries and photo slide shows. Three enormous
flags, national costumes and a variety of memorabilia were
displayed for visitors to find out more about those countries.
Estonian Honorary Consul Tony Loorparg had come
especially to this celebration from Wellington. With his active
help Estonians living in Auckland had an opportunity to meet
and to start new friendships. Estonian Yasmiin Raiend, one
of event organisers, was very happy to meet more young
Estonians. Gita Meiere-Nestecka, another enthusiastic event
leader from Latvia, together with her friends discovered
amazing Silo sounds and was enjoying singing the Baltic
Way Anthem. A warm feeling of unity kept guests together
for the whole afternoon.
Finally it is good to mention that after WWII Lithuanian,
Latvian and Estonian communities were protesting against
the Soviet occupation of their countries. In the 1960s they
organised a march with flags in Queen Street. A very active
Baltic Club used to organise joint commemorations of the
mass deportations to Siberia. During those events formal
speeches were delivered, music was played and Estonian
choir used to sing. Social dances provided other occasions
for the Balts to meet up at YWCA, Upper Queens Street and
also next door to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland.
In recent years more young people from the Baltic States
are coming to New Zealand and communities are becoming
more active. This gives hope for a stronger relationship
among three sister nations and more celebrations together.
P.S. You might spot Barbora and Edmund in their national
costume.
Some notes on THE BALTIC WAY for those of us unfamiliar
with the term. Taken from the balticway.eu Ed.
In 1940 the Baltic states were occupied by the Soviet Union
which had previously agreed upon it with Nazi Germany. The
agreement was entered into on 23 August 1939 in Moscow
and was entirely secret. This document is called the Hitler–
Stalin Pact or the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact…At the end of
the 1980’s the effects of the Pact were still sharply present in
the Baltic states. The occupation continued but the USSR
denied the existence of the Pact and continuously asserted
that the Baltic states had voluntarily joined the Soviet Union.
On 23 August 1989, the 50th anniversary of the Molotov-
Ribbentrop Pact, the inhabitants of the three Baltic states
demanded public acknowledgement of the Pact’s secret
protocols and the renewal of the independence of the Baltic
states.
How did the Baltic Way take place?
At 19:00 on 23 August 1989 approximately two million
inhabitants of the Baltic states joined hands forming a
human chain from Tallinn through Riga to Vilnius. The Baltic
Way was organised by the national movements of the Baltic
states: the Estonian Rahvarinne, the Latvian Popular front of
Latvia and the Lithuanian Sajūdis. The participants gathered
in the cities and villages where the campaign was to take
place or drove to the less inhabited Baltic territories where
the Baltic Way was to wind through.
Solidarity demonstrations supporting the Baltic Way took
place in Berlin, Leningrad, Moscow, Melbourne, Stockholm,
Tbilisi, Toronto and elsewhere in the world.
I
Source: www.mosties.org