The Fight For Freedom
Lithuania, together with Latvia and Estonia, were three
independent countries, the Baltic States, which Stalin seized and
incorporated into the Soviet Union after World War II. Their
long quest for freedom and independence was finally victorious
in 1991, and the Baltic States are thriving again.
Lithuania's Parliament Building in the capital of Vilnius. It
was here that Lithuania declared its independence from the
Soviet Union in 1990. Above are portions of the barricades
which Lithuanians later erected to protect their Parliament
from attacks by Soviet troops.
Closer to Parliament is a memorial to the Lithuanians
killed by the Soviets in clashes over independence. At the
left are anti-tank obstacles. On the right is the formal
memorial, including a cross and flowers.
The memorial honors and remembers these
Lithuanians who died in the struggle for independence.
The Hill of Crosses is near Lithuania's northern border. It is
a national memorial and pilgrimage site. Ordinary people
placed crosses here for hundreds of years. The crosses began
as expressions of Lithuania's Catholic faith, evolving into folk
art. Later they were recognized as symbols of Lithuanian
nationalism and opposition to Soviet rule.
Soviet bulldozers destroyed the crosses at least three separate
times, entirely clearing the hill of every cross. In acts of
peaceful civil disobedience, the Lithuanians always replaced
the crosses, defying the Soviets. Now, with Lithuanian
independence, the crosses are perfectly safe, and the Hill of
Crosses is saturated with them in all styles and sizes.
Baltic States Table of Contents
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