Posted on June 14, 2016
The Soviet Union just swarmed the much-smaller Baltic nations with soldiers...
And then announced that the U.S.S.R. had taken over those states...
And then deported many Baltic families, sending them far away to remote areas of the Soviet Union. Places like Siberia.
These deportations were done secretly, quietly, and quickly. And en masse, which means that a LOT of families were deported—hundreds, not just one or two.
The first of these terrible deportations occurred on this date in 1941. Of course, now the Baltic states are independent countries, and the Soviet Union no longer exists. All three celebrate June 14 as a day of remembrance, a day of mourning, and even a day of hope that this kind of thing will never happen again.
The Baltic nations are the three small countries on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The three nations cooperate with one another in several ways. However, the people and languages of Latvia and Lithuanita are more alike, whereas the people and language of Estonia are “Finnic,” more closely related to the people and language of Finland than to their Baltic neighbors.
Here are some things about each of the Baltic nations that sparked interest for me:
The Valley of Vanajõe (above) has high, sandy banks and clear (as opposed to muddy) brown water. And Estonia has bogs (below) that are clean, swimmable water. Don't you always think of bogs as mucky?
The Kukka Stone is just a large boulder. Now, I happen to really like large boulders, but I think it is interesting that this is listed as a tourist sightseeing spot, as one of Estonia's largest boulders. And that it gets its own ladder!
Kerli is a musician with some amazing music videos—and she sings in English!
Tallinn, Estonia's capital, looks cheery and colorful!
Latvia has a song and dance festival that is held every five years (I think 2018 is the next one) – and it's supposed to be epic!
Gutmans Cave is the highest cave in the nation and the largest in the Baltic states. It has inscriptions that people carved into its walls dating all the way back to the 1600s.
Ventas Rumba is not very high, but it is the widest waterfall in all of Europe.
Latvia's capital, Riga, is supposed to be wonderful – it was even named the European Capital of Culture in 2014.
Ninth Fort is a reconstructed prison meant to remind people of past horrors.
The Hill of Crosses is not a graveyard, as I first assumed, but a place where long-ago people erected crosses to represent their hopes for independence. Apparently, there are tens of THOUSANDS of crosses on this one hill!
Trakia Island Castle...is a castle...on an island! You gotta love that!
Lithuania's capital city is Vilnius, which has Europe's largest Baroque Old Town.
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