Wilno Conflict of 1920-39

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Wilno Conflict of 1920-39


a conflict between Poland and Lithuania over the city of Wilno (now Vilnius) and Wilno Province. The Soviet-Lithuanian Treaty of July 12, 1920, gave the city of Wilno and the surrounding province to Lithuania. Lithuania’s right to Wilno was also confirmed by the Polish-Lithuanian Treaty of Oct. 7, 1920. But on Oct. 9, 1920, the troops of the Polish general L. Żeligowski seized Wilno. Lithuania severed diplomatic relations with Poland. Armed forces of Great Britain, France, and other countries moved into Wilno Province under the flag of the League of Nations. The Soviet government, in notes to Poland on Dec. 11, 1920, and Dec. 16, 1920, lodged a resolute protest against the introduction of foreign troops into Wilno Province.

The League of Nations advised Poland and Lithuania to start negotiations. These negotiations took place in 1921 in Brussels and Geneva but led nowhere. The conference of the ambassadors of Great Britain, Italy, and Japan in Paris (the US ambassador attended as an observer) of Mar. 15, 1923, under the chairmanship of a member of the French government, established a Polish-Lithuanian frontier that left Wilno Province to Poland. Lithuania refused to accept this decision. In a note to Poland on Apr. 5, 1923, the Soviet government declared that it did not recognize the decision of the ambassadors’ conference. On Mar. 17, 1938, Poland, with the support of Hitlerite Germany, again presented Lithuania with a number of demands in ultimatum form, threatening to occupy the country if the demands were rejected. Because of the resolute stand of the Soviet government in support of Lithuania, the latter retained its independence. In March 1938 diplomatic relations were established between Poland and Lithuania. In September 1939, during the liberation of the western oblasts of the Ukraine and Byelorussia by the Soviet Army, Wilno Province was liberated as well. According to the treaty between the USSR and Lithuania of Oct. 10, 1939, it was transferred to Lithuania.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.