The three Baltic republics—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—form a unique westernized corner of the USSR. Their historical ties have been primarily with their western neighbors—Scandinavia and Germany in the case of Estonia and Latvia, Poland and Central Europe in the case of Lithuania— and their cultures predominantly European in orientation. The modern nation-state traditions of all three republics developed outside the Soviet context: they are the only national entities of the USSR to have experienced membership in the international community of sovereign states in the twentieth century. Independent existence during the interwar period spared the Baltic states from the upheavals that shook the Soviet Union in the 1930s—collectivization, famine, and terror—while allowing them to develop an autonomous political and cultural life that remains a living memory for many Baits in the USSR today.