The Singing Revolution
May 14, 2009 5:16 PM Subscribe
posted by Effigy2000 (7 comments total)
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Some revolutions are about hate. Others are about revenge. But there was at least one that was about hope and music. The Singing Revolution is the story of how hope and music saved a nation
After World War II the Baltic States had been fully incorporated into the USSR after military occupation and annexation in 1940. Many years later in 1985, hoping to stimulate the failing Soviet economy and encourage productivity, particularly in the areas of consumer goods, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced "glasnost", which rescinded the limitations on political freedoms. This gave rise to huge problems in the Baltic States, which had been occupied unlawfully in the build-up to war in the 1940s.
From 1987, a cycle of mass demonstrations featuring spontaneous singing eventually collected 300,000 Estonians in Tallinn to sing national songs and hymns that were strictly forbidden during the years of the Soviet occupation
"We sang all night and everybody went home early in the morning. It was emotionally so strong that the next day there were even more people. The day after, there were even more people. People took out their hidden flags. They had these flags hidden for 50 years and now they took these out and started to wave them.”
Artur Talvik, participant.
These gatherings helped unite the Estonian people, ignited a renewed wave of passion for their national identity and furthered the country's desire for freedom. In September of 1988
, 300,000 Estonians gathered at the Lauluvaljak to continue their protest and to hear Trivimi Velliste, an historian who later served as the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, make the first public demand for independence
The Singing Revolution, as it later became known
, lasted over four years, with various protests, rock concerts and acts of defiance. In 1991, as Soviet tanks attempted to stop the progress towards independence, the Estonian Supreme Soviet together with the Congress of Estonia proclaimed the restoration of the independent state of Estonia and repudiated Soviet legislation. People acted as human shields to protect radio and TV stations from the Soviet tanks. Through these actions Estonia regained its independence without any bloodshed