THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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In January 1991, the Lithuanian Parliament was for weeks surrounded by hordes of people, bonfires, concrete blocks and vehicles that the Lithuanian people had brought there to protect their leader and their elected representatives against the Soviet atrocities against innocent people. Today, exactly 22 years later,
the Parliament is surrounded by peaceful, quiet winter streets.
Top photo: Zenono Nekrošiaus
and photos: Aage Myhre, Editor-in-Chief
It was not bonfires, concrete blocks, steel beams, barbed wire or tractors which in themselves rescued Lithuania in January 1991. But it was these simple remedies, not weapons, that came to represent the peaceful resistance Lithuanians showed towards their powerful opponent from the east.
I'll never forget the sight of the flames and the large crowd that met me the day I was walking down the Gedimino prospekto towards the Parliament an icy winter day in January 1991. I read a combination of hope and despair in the faces, but first of all I saw determination. This time we will not surrender! The Soviet Union shall not again be allowed to trample us down under its iron heel!
The tactics succeeded. The Lithuanian people united as never before, or since, and the assailants had to withdraw in favour of a free and democratic Lithuania. Some of the symbols of this defining moment in our country's history can still be seen outside the Parliament.
In January 1991 I crossed the barricades to visit President Vytautas Landsbergis
in his Lithuanian Parliament office, while the Soviet troops and tanks continued
to surround the building. 14 years later we visited together what was left of the
concrete barricades from that time. These are now protected by a glass structure.
It was very touching to see how the Balts acted to keep their newfound freedom and protect their home country during the very difficult January days of 1991. Here, at the entrance to the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, the young men have put on homemade clothes that are meant to look like uniforms. They carry rifles and other weapons they have found in their homes. Sand bags have an important symbolic effect. Brave guys!
Photo: Aage Myhre, 18 January 1991.
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