Christine Durden


February 18, marks the day of independence for Lithuanians. In 1918 the country fought a war with Poland to secure it's independence and won. Unfortunately, this day did not mark the end of Lithuania's territorial disputes. For years after the country struggled to hold it's ground and remain a whole nation. Soon after independence was declared, Poland made a move back into Lithuania's Territory. In 1920, under the rule of Pilsudski, Poland annexed Lithuania's capital city and providence, Vilnius. (In January 1919, soon after the declaration of independence, the Bolshevik army took control of the Lithuanian territory.) The Poles drove out the Bolsheviks and claimed the providence as their own. Pilsudski's aim was to restore the Polish-Lithuanian Empire of the past; Lithuania wanted to remain independent.


Poland held the area until the summer of 1920 when the Bolsheviks reentered and pushed them out. This was made possible by a peace treaty with signed by Lenin and Lithuanian, "forever denouncing Russia's claims to the territory and recognizing the Lithuanian state." With this treaty Russia allied itself with Lithuania. The Bolshevik army was allowed to advance through Lithuania into Poland. On their way the Russian's seized control of Vilnius and upon their retreat returned the providence to Lithuania. On August 26 1920 Lithuanians once again called Vilnius their capital.


Poland's, Pilsudski still wished to restore the old regime. But, due to pressure from the Soviets Poland said it would end it's quest. On October 7, 1920 Poland signed the Treaty of Suwalki, which declared the Vilnius and it's surrounding area belonged to Lithuania. But, once again the Polish would break their agreement and advanced into Lithuania. An army under the command of General Zeligowski took back Vilnius and aimed to take to entire region. The General's efforts to control the whole state were halted by the Lithuanian army. General Zeligowski then retreated to Vilnius which he occupied under the name of The Central Lithuanian Republic. This "puppet country" soon created a union with Poland and became Polish territory. Lithuania refused to accept the annexation and would not carry on diplomatic relations with Poland until after 1938.



  • Iwaskiw, Walter. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania Country Studies. Maryland USA, Library of Congress. 1996

  • Wieczynski, Joseph. The Modern Encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet History. USA, Academic International Press, 1981.

  • Shoemaker, Wesley. Russia, Eurasian States, and Eastern Europe 1997. West Virginia, USA. Stryker-Post Pkublications. 1998.



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