The 1938 Polish ultimatum to Lithuania was an ultimatum delivered to Lithuania by Poland on March 17, 1938. An ultimatum (the last one is a Demand whose fulfillment is requested in a specified period of time and which is backed up by a threat to be followed through in case Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublika is a Country in Eastern often referred to as Northern Europe or in the Poland (Polska officially the Republic of Poland Events 45 BC - In his last victory Julius Caesar defeats the Pompeian forces of Titus Labienus and Pompey the Younger Year 1938 ( MCMXXXVIII) was a Common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. Five days earlier, Poland's southern borders were threatened by the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, therefore Poland decided it was imperative to deliver an ultimatum to Lithuania. The ( German: "link-up" also known as the, was the 1938 Annexation of Austria into Greater Germany by the Nazi Nazi Germany and the Third Reich are the common English names for Germany under the regime of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers  As tensions in Europe intensified, Poland perceived the need to secure its northern borders. The Lithuanian government had steadfastly refused to have any diplomatic relations with Poland after 1920, protesting the annexation by Poland of the Vilnius Region. Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting Negotiations between representatives of groups or states Vilnius Region ( Lithuanian: Vilniaus kraštas, Wileńszczyzna generally refers to the territory in the present day Lithuania and Belarus  The ultimatum demanded that the Lithuanian government unconditionally agree to establish diplomatic relations with Warsaw within 48 hours, and the terms to be finalized before March 31. Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting Negotiations between representatives of groups or states Warsaw (Warszawa; also known by other names) is the Capital and Largest city of Poland. Events 307 - After divorcing his wife Minervina, Constantine marries Fausta, the daughter of the retired Roman Emperor The establishment of diplomatic relations would mean a de facto renunciation of Lithuanian claims to the region containing its historic capital, Vilnius (known in Polish as Wilno). Lithuania, preferring peace to war, accepted the ultimatum on March 19. Events 1279 - A Mongolian victory in the Battle of Yamen ends the Song Dynasty in China. Although diplomatic relations were established as a result of the ultimatum, Lithuania did not agree to recognize the loss of Vilnius de jure.  Poland made a similar move against the Czech government on September 30, 1938, when it took advantage of the Sudeten Crisis to demand a portion of Zaolzie. Events 1399 - Henry IV is proclaimed King of England. 1744 - France and Spain defeat the Year 1938 ( MCMXXXVIII) was a Common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. Following the Anschluss of Nazi Germany and Austria in March 1938 Nazi leader Adolf Hitler 's next target for annexation was Czechoslovakia (Zaolší (Zaolží Zaolzie Śląsk zaolziański literally Trans- Olza River Silesia, Olsa-Gebiet is an area in the present-day Czech Republic, which was On both occasions, Poland used the international crises to address long-standing border disputes and to counter Germany’s foreign policy iniatives. 
Lithuania severed its diplomatic ties with Poland after General Lucjan Żeligowski staged a mutiny in October 1920 by order of Jozef Pilsudski. Vilnius Region ( Lithuanian: Vilniaus kraštas, Wileńszczyzna generally refers to the territory in the present day Lithuania and Belarus Lucjan Żeligowski (1865-1947 was a Polish General, and veteran of World War I, the Polish-Soviet War and World War II. Żeligowski's Mutiny (Bunt Żeligowskiego also żeligiada, Želigovskio maištas was a staged Mutiny led by Polish General Lucjan Żeligowski  He invaded Lithuanian-held territory, captured the disputed city of Vilnius (known to Poles as Wilno), and established the short-lived Republic of Central Lithuania. "Central Lithuania" redirects here This is an article about a former state This entity was incorporated into Poland in 1922. In demographic terms Vilnius was the least Lithuanian of Lithuanian cities, divided near evenly between the Polish-speaking population and the Jews, with Lithuanian-speaking inhabitants constituting about 2–3% of the population, according to Russian 1897 and German 1916 censuses.  Lithuania demanded that Polish troops withdraw behind the line drawn in the Suwałki Agreement, while Poland falsely maintained that it had not authorized Żeligowski's actions. The Suwałki Agreement, Treaty of Suvalkai, or Suwalki Treaty (Suvalkų sutartis Umowa suwalska was an agreement signed in Suwałki on October 7 The League attempted to mediate the dispute and Paul Hymans presented concrete proposals to form a federation. Paul Louis Adrien Henri Hymans ( Ixelles/Elsene, March 23 1865 – Nice, March 8 1941) was a Belgian Politician However, both sides were unwilling to make compromises and negotiations collapsed in January 1922. 
The result was a state of "no war, no peace" as Lithuania avoided recognizing any Polish claims to the city and the region, as well as refusing to undertake any actions that would recognize Poland's control of Vilnius even de facto.  Lithuania broke off all diplomatic relations with Poland and continuously emphasized that Vilnius remained its permanent capital (Kaunas was designated as the temporary capital). Kaunas ( ˈkoʊnəs is the second largest City in Lithuania and a former temporary capital. Temporary capital or Provisional/Interim capital ( Lithuanian "Laikinoji sostinė") was the official designation of the city of Kaunas Poland refused to formally recognize the existence of any dispute regarding the region, since that would have lent legitimacy to the Lithuanian claims.  Railroad traffic and telegraph lines could not cross the border, and mail service was complicated. For example, a letter from Poland to Lithuania needed to be sent to a neutral country, repackaged in a new envelope to remove any Polish signs, and only then delivered to Lithuania.  The conflict over Vilnius remained the most important foreign policy issue in Lithuania, but it became increasingly marginalized in the international arena. There were unsuccessful informal attempts to normalize the situation, most notably by the Lithuanian Prime Minister Augustinas Voldemaras between 1927 and 1928 and by Foreign Minister Stasys Lozoraitis between 1934 and 1936. Augustinas Voldemaras ( April 16, 1883 May 16, 1942) was a Lithuanian nationalist political figure See Stasys Lozoraitis (junior for an article about a son of Stasys Lozoraitis Both sides engaged in emotional and nationalistic rhetoric. 
On March 11, a day before Austria was annexed into Greater Germany following the Anschluss, Justas Lukoševičius, a Lithuanian border patrol, shot Stanisław Serafin, a Polish soldier, on the demarcation line in the village of Trasninkai near Merkinė. Events 1425 BC - Thutmose III, Pharaoh of Egypt, dies (according to the Low Chronology of the 18th Dynasty Großdeutschland ( German for "Greater Germany" or "Large Germany" is a term referring to the concept of one German Nation-state The ( German: "link-up" also known as the, was the 1938 Annexation of Austria into Greater Germany by the Nazi Merkinė is a town in Dzūkija National Park in Lithuania, located at the confluence of the Merkys and Neman Rivers First mentioned The exact circumstances are not clear as the obscure event was variously portrayed as a Lithuanian provocation, a Polish provocation, or as an unfortunate accident.  During the 1920s and 1930s, similar incidents had occurred: between 1927 and 1937 seven Lithuanian border guards were killed during the course of 78 events.  Usually, such incidents were handled at the local level in an attempt to forestall escalation. On this occasion, however, Polish radio and newspapers picked up the story and fanned anti-Lithuanian sentiment. Protests were held in Warsaw, Vilnius, and four other cities where the crowds shouted for military action against Lithuania. Warsaw (Warszawa; also known by other names) is the Capital and Largest city of Poland. There is evidence that the Camp of National Unity was involved in organizing the protests. Obóz Zjednoczenia Narodowego (ˈɔbus zjɛdnɔˈtʃɛɲa narɔdɔˈvɛgɔ Polish for "Camp of National Unity" abbreviated " OZN " 
On March 13, the Polish government issued a threatening statement accusing Lithuania of provocation. Events 1138 - Cardinal Gregorio Conti is elected Antipope as Victor IV, succeeding Anacletus II. On the following day, the Senate of the Republic of Poland called for the establishment of diplomatic relations and for the Lithuanian renunciation of claims to Vilnius. The Senate ( Senat) is the upper house of the Polish Parliament.  Upon receiving news that Poland was considering extreme measures, President Antanas Smetona was verging towards agreeing to discuss diplomatic relations, but changed his mind at almost the last minute. Antanas Smetona ( August 10 1874 January 9 1944) was one of the most important Lithuanian political figures between World  On the night of March 14, the Lithuanians, acting through France's envoy to Warsaw, proposed a commission to investigate the shooting incident and to agree on measures to avoid such incidents in the future. Events 1489 - The Queen of Cyprus, Catherine Cornaro, sells her kingdom to Venice.  This was a partial measure that clearly did not satisfy Poland, which responded by refusing, in the first paragraph of the ultimatum delivered three days later, to establish such a commission. At the same time Lithuanian diplomats approached foreign powers in a bid for international support.
The Polish Foreign Minister Józef Beck, who had just returned from a trip to Sorrento, called for a government meeting on the night of March 16. Edward Rydz-Śmigły ( pronounced rɨts ɕmigwɨ sometimes Edward Śmigły-Rydz ( March 11 1886 Felicjan Sławoj Składkowski ( 9 July 1885 - 31 August 1962) was a Polish physician general and politician who served as Polish Count Jan Szembek was a Polish diplomat one of the most influential in late years of the Second Polish Republic, close associate of Józef Beck. Beck J expose 5051939jpg|200px|thumb|right|Józef Beck delivers a speech on May 5, 1939 in Polish Sejm rejecting Hitler's demands towards Poland]] Józef Beck ( Sorrento is a small city in Campania, Italy, with some 16500 inhabitants Events 597 BC - Babylonians capture Jerusalem, replace Jehoiachin with Zedekiah as king During the meeting he argued that the ultimatum needed to contain only one demand: the establishment of diplomatic relations. In his view, such an ultimatum would not have violated any genuine Lithuanian interests and would offer much-improved prospects for peaceful resolution of the conflict and a speedy relief of tension.  It was in accordance with Beck's vision for Eastern Europe, which was based on a Warsaw-dominated Polish–Baltic–Scandinavian bloc free of Soviet or German influence, a modified version of Józef Piłsudski's Międzymorze. Międzymorze was a project pursued after World War I by Józef Piłsudski, of a Polish -led Federation of Central and Normalization of relations with Lithuania was a first step, to be followed by overtures to Latvia and Estonia.  The removal of the other demands also reflected political pressure on Poland from Russia, France, and England to prevent the conflict from escalating into warfare. 
The Polish government agreed to Beck's proposal, and the ultimatum was toned down. However, at the same time Beck ordered military preparations. Poland assembled four divisions along the demarcation line; about 50,000 Polish troops were present, and just over 20,000 Lithuanian troops.  The Polish troops were reinforced by armored vehicles, by two air force regiments, consisting of about one hundred aircraft, and by the Polish fleet in the waters of the Baltic Sea along the Lithuanian shore. The Baltic Sea is a Brackish inland sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N Latitude and from 20°E to 26°E Longitude. 
|“||1. Tallinn (historically known by the German, Swedish and Danish name Reval or the Polish name Rewal, among other names The proposition of the Lithuanian Government of March 14 cannot be accepted for it does not give sufficient guarantees concerning the security of the frontier in view of the negative results of all Polish–Lithuanian negotiations made up to the present time. Events 1489 - The Queen of Cyprus, Catherine Cornaro, sells her kingdom to Venice. |
2. For this reason the Polish Government declares that it considers as the only solution corresponding to the gravity of the situation the immediate establishment of normal diplomatic relations without any previous condition. This is the only way to regulate the neighborly questions for a Government animated by good faith to avoid events dangerous to peace.
3. The Polish Government allows the Lithuanian Government 48 hours from the moment the note is presented for the acceptance of this proposition in making it known that diplomatic representations at Kaunas and Warsaw will be accredited not later than March 31 of this year. Events 307 - After divorcing his wife Minervina, Constantine marries Fausta, the daughter of the retired Roman Emperor Until that date all discussions of a technical or other character between the Polish and Lithuanian Governments shall be continued by the envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary at Tallinn. The word plenipotentiary (from the Latin, plenus + potens, full + power has two meanings The exchange of notes attached concerning the establishment of diplomatic relations shall take place, before the expiration of the period of 48 hours mentioned, at Tallinn between the Polish and Lithuanian Ministers at Tallinn.
4. The proposition above mentioned will not be the subject of discussion with regard to its content or form — it is an unchangeable proposition. The failure to respond or the presentation of any supplements or reservations shall be considered by the Polish Government as a refusal. In the event of a negative reply the Polish Government will guarantee the just interest of the state by its proper means.
The ultimatum contained an attachment: a draft of what would be deemed an acceptable response to the ultimatum. The proposed response stated only that Lithuania agreed to establish regular diplomatic relations, send a legation to Warsaw, and guarantee normal conditions of operation for a Polish legation in Kaunas. A legation was the term used in Diplomacy to denote a diplomatic representative office lower than an Embassy. 
After the Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty was ratified in 1920, the Russian SFSR recognized Lithuanian claims to the Vilnius Region and continued to support them. The Soviet–Lithuanian Peace Treaty, also known as the Moscow Peace Treaty, was signed between Lithuania and Soviet Russia on July 12  In its responses to the 1938 ultimatum, the Soviet Union expressed concerns over Lithuania's independence and threatened to abrogate the Soviet-Polish Non-Aggression Pact of 1932. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR was a constitutionally Socialist state that existed in Eurasia from 1922 to 1991 It made it clear, though, that it did not wish to be drawn into an armed conflict.  This stance has been attributed to the growth of a threat from Japan; armed assistance to Lithuania would have required the Red Army to invade either Poland or Latvia and could have resulted in a war on two fronts. For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Japan topics. The Red Army ( Russian: Рабоче-Крестьянская Красная Армия R aboche- K rest'yanskaya K rasnaya A rmiya  The Soviets urged France, a major ally of Poland at the time, to de-escalate the conflict and encourage a more moderate version of the ultimatum.  France and England, preoccupied with the Anschluss, pressured Lithuania to normalize the relationship with Poland as soon as possible. They feared that the ultimatum had been approved by Nazi Germany. 
Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, now turned its attention to the Klaipėda Region, then held by Lithuania. Hi and welcome to Wikipedia! Please understand that this article is frequently vandalized and vandalism is reverted immediately The Klaipėda Region (Klaipėdos kraštas or Memel Territory (Memelland or Memelgebiet Territoire de Memel was defined by the Treaty of Versailles In April 1938, Hitler stated that control of the Port of Klaipėda and its surrounding area was Germany's second-most important issue, following the status of the Sudeten area. The Port of Klaipėda is a Seaport located in Klaipėda, Lithuania.  In the event of armed hostilites between Poland and Lithuania, German troops were to defend and occupy the Klaipėda region and significant portions of western Lithuania.  The Polish ambassador to Nazi Germany, Józef Lipski, was informed of these plans. Józef Lipski (1894-1958 Polish diplomat and Ambassador to Nazi Germany, 1934 to 1939 The Poles agreed to cooperate with German troops and to respect German interests in Klaipėda if such an armed conflict were to arise.  However, in Hitler's assessment, an immediate bid for Klaipėda was impolitic; he wished to maintain the status quo until more time had passed after the Anschluss. The ( German: "link-up" also known as the, was the 1938 Annexation of Austria into Greater Germany by the Nazi The German suggestion was that Lithuania concede to the Polish demands. 
Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, the three Baltic states, had formed the Baltic Entente in 1934. The Baltic states (Balti riigid Baltijas valstis Baltijos valstybės or Baltic countries are three countries in Northern Europe, all members of the The Baltic Entente was based on Treaty of Understanding and Collaboration signed between Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia on September 12, Its principal purposes were coordination of joint foreign policy and mutual international diplomatic support; it was not a military alliance.  In Latvian and Estonian opinion, the Polish–Lithuanian dispute over Vilnius was outside the scope of the Entente, but they wished for a resolution, considering the conflict detrimental to the stability of the region.  Latvia attempted to persuade Estonia to exert mutual pressure on Lithuania for a speedy acceptance of the ultimatum. This reaction from an ally was unexpected. 
President Smetona held a government meeting late on the night of March 18 to decide whether or not to accept the ultimatum. Events 37 - The Roman Senate annuls Tiberius ' will and proclaims Caligula emperor  Lithuania clearly lacked international support and the demand was rather tame. A refusal would have cast Lithuania in an unfavorable light as an unreasonable disputant that had irrationally rejected peaceful diplomatic relations for eighteen years.  Lithuanian diplomats were divided on the issue, while popular opinion was strongly against accepting the ultimatum.  Various campaigns for the Lithuanian "liberation" of Vilnius had attracted massive participation. "Mourning of Vilnius Day" (October 9, when Żeligowski invaded Lithuania and captured Vilnius), had become an annual event, and the largest social organization in interwar Lithuania was the League for the Liberation of Vilnius (Vilniaus vadavimo sąjunga, or VVS), with some 25,000 members. Events 768 - Carloman I and Charlemagne are crowned Kings of The Franks.  Passionate feelings about Vilnius were expressed in a popular slogan "Mes be Vilniaus nenurimsim" (we will not rest without Vilnius), part of a poem by Petras Vaičiūnas.  While Paul Hymans' regional peace plans at the League of Nations were under negotiation, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ernestas Galvanauskas barely survived an assassination attempt. Paul Louis Adrien Henri Hymans ( Ixelles/Elsene, March 23 1865 – Nice, March 8 1941) was a Belgian Politician Ernestas Galvanauskas (born November 20, 1882 in Zizonys near Biržai; died July 24, 1967 in Aix-les-Bains, France  A government decision to open over 80 Polish schools in Lithuania was a probable factor in the 1926 Lithuanian coup d'état. The 1926 Lithuanian coup d'état (Lithuanian 1926-ųjų perversmas) was a military Coup d'etat in Lithuania that resulted in the replacement of the  Any government making concessions to Poland at that time risked an ouster. 
President Smetona received memoranda from nine nationalistic organizations urging the government to reject the ultimatum.  However, a decisive comment was made by General Stasys Raštikis, the commander of the Lithuanian army: He testified that a military victory over Poland was impossible and argued for a peaceful resolution. Stasys Raštikis ( September 13, 1896 – May 3, 1985) was a Lithuanian military officer ultimately obtaining the rank of General  The government's decision was confirmed by the Fourth Seimas with minimal discussion. The Fourth Seimas of Lithuania was the fourth parliament ( Seimas) elected in Lithuania after it declared independence on February 16 1918  On March 19 Dailidė relayed acceptance of the ultimatum to the Poles, who gave a 12-hour extension to decide on the ultimatum as a show of good faith. Events 1279 - A Mongolian victory in the Battle of Yamen ends the Song Dynasty in China. 
The ultimatum contributed to the general atmosphere of tension and fear in Europe. It relieved some of the pressure on Germany that had arisen in the aftermath of the Anschluss and tested Russia's willingness to defend its interests in Eastern Europe.  Fears were expressed, both in Lithuania and abroad, that the establishment of diplomatic relations was not the only goal of Warsaw and that more far-reaching ultimata might follow.  Speculations arose that Poland might seek to resurrect the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, using Germany's annexation of Austria as a precedent. The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, officially the Commonwealth of the Crown of the Polish Kingdom and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania also known as the Most Serene Republic  Poland announced that it planned to create a neutral bloc comprising Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Romania to counter both fascism and communism. Latvia ( Latvija officially the Republic of Latvia (Latvijas Republika is a Country in Northern Europe in the Baltic region. Estonia, officially the Republic of Estonia ( Eesti or Eesti Vabariik) is a Country in Northern Europe in the Baltic region Romania ( dated: Rumania, Roumania It stated that it had no wish to incorporate Lithuanian territories and maintained that the bloc would be formed on the basis of bilateral non-aggression and economic treaties.  According to the New York Times, the impact of the ultimatum was felt on Wall Street; on March 17 the foreign currency and bond markets sagged, in some cases reaching the lowest points seen in several years. Wall Street is a street in lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. Events 45 BC - In his last victory Julius Caesar defeats the Pompeian forces of Titus Labienus and Pompey the Younger  These markets recovered on March 19 after the ultimatum was accepted. Events 1279 - A Mongolian victory in the Battle of Yamen ends the Song Dynasty in China. 
The acceptance triggered a government crisis in Lithuania: on March 24 Prime Minister Juozas Tūbelis, who held uncompromising positions over Vilnius and at the time of the ultimatum was undergoing medical treatment in Switzerland, stepped down. Events 1401 - Mongol emperor Timur sacks Damascus. 1603 - James VI of Scotland Juozas Tūbelis (born April 9 1882 in Ilgalaukis near Rokiškis; died September 30 1939 in Kaunas) was a Lithuanian  His successor, Vladas Mironas, who was in favor of normalizing relations with Poland, assembled a new cabinet of ministers. Vladas Mironas (born June 22, 1880 in Kuodiškės died February 18, 1953 in Vladimir) was a Lithuanian priest politician Despite increasing pressure to form a broader coalition, the new cabinet was composed solely of members of the Lithuanian Nationalists Union. The Lithuanian National Union (Lithuanian Lietuvių tautininkų sąjunga or tautininkai) is a Nationalist, Right-wing political party in The unconditional acceptance hurt Lithuanian pride and damaged the reputation of the party.  The suppressed opposition used this damage as an opportunity to renew its activities and formed a group called Ašis (Axis).  In Poland the acceptance was greeted with enthusiasm, described as a "great bloodless victory", and celebrated by a military march in Vilnius.  In Warsaw a spontaneous celebration of Lithuanian capitulation turned into an anti-Jewish riot where two were killed and about a hundred were injured. 
A few days after the ultimatum, both Lithuania and Poland named their ambassadors. Kazys Škirpa was sent to Warsaw, and Franciszek Charwat was sent to Kaunas before March 31, the deadline indicated in the ultimatum. Kazys Škirpa (born in Nemajūnai Biržai district, Lithuania on February 18 1895, died in Washington DC on August 18 Events 307 - After divorcing his wife Minervina, Constantine marries Fausta, the daughter of the retired Roman Emperor  Negotiations over practical matters began on March 25 in Augustów, and by June three agreements covering rail transit, mail service, and river navigation had been concluded. Events 1199 - Richard I is wounded by a crossbow bolt while fighting France which leads to his death on April 6. Augustów is a town in north-eastern Poland with 29600 inhabitants (1995  The railroad, torn apart for several kilometers at the border, was repaired. A customs post was established in Vievis, and consulates were opened in Klaipėda and Vilnius. Vievis ( Jewie is a small city in Elektrėnai municipality, Lithuania. Klaipėda ( ˈklaɪpɛdə Memel is a City in Lithuania situated at the mouth of the Curonian Lagoon where it flows into the Baltic Sea Lithuania closed the League for the Liberation of Vilnius and the Vilnius Foundation; the latter organization had given financial support to Lithuanian activities in the Vilnius Region.  Nevertheless, Lithuania continued to claim Vilnius as its de jure capital. In May 1938 a new constitution was adopted, which echoed the previous constitution's statement that Vilnius was the permanent capital of Lithuania and that Kaunas was merely a temporary capital. Temporary capital or Provisional/Interim capital ( Lithuanian "Laikinoji sostinė") was the official designation of the city of Kaunas  Poland continued to suppress Lithuanian organizations in Vilnius. 
A thaw in Polish–Lithuanian relations began in spring 1939. After the German–Czech and German–Lithuanian crises, Poland made more active efforts to ensure Lithuania's assistance, or at least neutrality, in the event of a war with Nazi Germany. Following the Anschluss of Nazi Germany and Austria in March 1938 Nazi leader Adolf Hitler 's next target for annexation was Czechoslovakia 1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania was an oral Ultimatum presented to Juozas Urbšys, Foreign Minister of Lithuania, by Joachim von Ribbentrop  Lithuanian General Stasys Raštikis and Polish Foreign Minister Józef Beck made high-profile visits to each other's countries. Stasys Raštikis ( September 13, 1896 – May 3, 1985) was a Lithuanian military officer ultimately obtaining the rank of General Beck J expose 5051939jpg|200px|thumb|right|Józef Beck delivers a speech on May 5, 1939 in Polish Sejm rejecting Hitler's demands towards Poland]] Józef Beck (  Poland improved the conditions of Lithuanians in the Vilnius Region.  However, Lithuania did not believe that Poland and its western allies were strong enough to resist Germany and Russia. When Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, Lithuania maintained a policy of strict neutrality, refusing repeated German offers for a joint attack on Poland to capture Vilnius. The Invasion of Poland (1939 precipitated World War II. It was carried out by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small German-allied  Instead, Lithuania interned about 15,000 Polish soldiers and accepted about 35,000 Polish civilian refugees.  Neither country was aware at the time of the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed in August 1939, in which Germany and Russia agreed to divide the region into their spheres of influence.