1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania

The 1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania was an oral ultimatum which Joachim von Ribbentrop, Foreign Minister of Nazi Germany, presented to Juozas Urbšys, Foreign Minister of Lithuania on 20 March 1939. The Germans demanded that Lithuania give up the Klaipėda Region (also known as the Memel Territory) which had been detached from Germany after World War I, or the Wehrmacht would invade Lithuania. The Lithuanians had been expecting the demand after years of rising tension between Lithuania and Germany, increasing pro-Nazi propaganda in the region, and continued German expansion. It was issued just five days after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. The 1924 Klaipėda Convention had guaranteed the protection of the status quo in the region, but the four signatories to that convention did not offer any material assistance. The United Kingdom and France followed a policy of appeasement, while Italy and Japan openly supported Germany, and Lithuania was forced to accept the ultimatum on 22 March. It proved to be the last territorial acquisition for Germany before World War II, producing a major downturn in Lithuania's economy and escalating pre-war tensions for Europe as a whole.

East Prussia 1939
East Prussia after the ultimatum took force; the Klaipėda Region/Memelland is depicted in blue and East Prussia in pink.

Klaipėda dispute

Klaipėda (German: Memel), an important seaport in East Prussia, was detached from Germany by Article 28 of the Treaty of Versailles and was governed by the Allies according to Article 99. France assumed administration of the region while Lithuania continued to lobby for its control, claiming that it should belong to Lithuania as it had a significant Lithuanian population (see Lithuania Minor) and was that country's only access to the Baltic Sea. Poland also laid claim to the territory. As the Allies were hesitant to make a decision and it seemed that the region would remain a free state much like the Free City of Danzig, Lithuania took the initiative and organized the Klaipėda Revolt in January 1923.[1] Soviet Russia and Germany supported the action.[2] The region, as an autonomous territory with its own parliament (Klaipėda Parliament), was attached to Lithuania. The region covered about 2,400 km² and had a population of approximately 140,000.[3]

During the 1920s, Lithuania and Germany maintained a relatively normal relationship as they were united by anti-Polish sentiment.[4] In January 1928, after long and difficult negotiations, Germany and Lithuania signed a border treaty, which left Klaipėda on the Lithuanian side. However, tensions began rising in the 1930s after the Weimar Republic was replaced with Nazi Germany. An especially tense period came in February 1934 when the Lithuanian government arrested dozens of pro-Nazi activists. In response to these arrests and trials, Germany declared a boycott of Lithuanian agricultural imports.[5] The boycott caused an economic crisis in Suvalkija (southern Lithuania), where farmers organized violent protests.[6] However, after the plebiscite in Saar most of the pro-Nazi prisoners received amnesty. In the wake of the amnesties, Lithuanian prestige suffered both abroad and in Klaipėda, allowing Germany to strengthen its influence in the region.[7]

Rising tension

In the spring of 1938 Adolf Hitler personally stated that gaining Klaipėda was one of his highest priorities, second only to gaining the Sudetenland.[8] When Poland presented its ultimatum to Lithuania in March 1938, Germany openly declared that in the event of a military clash between Poland and Lithuania, its army would invade Lithuania to capture Klaipėda and a large portion of western Lithuania. A week after Lithuania accepted the Polish ultimatum,[9] Germany presented an eleven-point memorandum that demanded freedom of action for pro-German activists in the region and a lessening of Lithuanian influence there. Its points were worded in a deliberately vague manner, which would enable Germany to accuse Lithuania of violations.[7] Lithuania chose to postpone dealing with the problem, hoping that the international situation would improve. In the meantime it hoped to give the German population no reasons for complaint.[7]

This tactic did not prove successful: pro-Nazi propaganda and protests were rampant, even among the Lithuanian population, and the local government was powerless to prevent them.[7] The Nazis physically harassed Lithuanian organizations. On 1 November 1938 Lithuania was pressured into lifting martial law and press censorship.[9] During the December elections to the Klaipėda Parliament, pro-German parties received 87% of votes (25 seats out of 29) in the Klaipėda territory.[10] Dr. Ernst Neumann, the chief defendant in the 1934 trials, was released from prison in February 1938 and became the leader of Klaipėda's pro-German movement. In December he was received by Adolf Hitler, who assured him that the Klaipėda issue would be resolved by March or April 1939.[11] Neumann and other Nazi activists claimed the right of self-determination for the region and demanded that Lithuania open negotiations over the political status of Klaipėda.[12] The parliament was expected to vote for a return to Germany when it convened on 25 March 1939.[13] Germany's official channels maintained silence on the issue. Germany hoped that Lithuania would voluntarily give up the troubled region,[9] and a public stance could have disturbed the sensitive discussions it was then engaged in with Poland over an anti-Communist alliance against the Soviet Union.[14]

The ultimatum

Hitler speech in klaipeda
Hitler making a speech in Memel the day after the ultimatum was accepted

Rumors had reached the Lithuanian government to the effect that Germany had specific plans to take over Klaipėda. On 12 March Foreign Minister Urbšys represented Lithuania at the coronation of Pope Pius XII in Rome. On his return to Lithuania he stopped in Berlin with the hope of clarifying the growing rumors.[7] On 20 March Ribbentrop agreed to meet with Urbšys, but not with Kazys Škirpa, who was asked to wait in another room. The conversation lasted for about 40 minutes.[9] Ribbentrop demanded the return of Klaipėda to Germany and threatened military action. Urbšys relayed the verbal ultimatum to the Lithuanian government. Because the ultimatum was never set down in writing and did not include a formal deadline, some historians have downplayed its import, describing it as a "set of demands" rather than as an ultimatum.[11] However, it was made clear that force would be used should Lithuania resist, and it was warned not to seek help from other nations. While a clear deadline was not given, Lithuania was told to make a speedy decision and that any clashes or German casualties would inevitably provoke a response from the German military.[9]

Lithuania secretly informed the signatories of the Klaipėda Convention about these demands, since technically Lithuania could not transfer Klaipėda without the approval of the signatories.[15] Italy and Japan supported Germany in the matter, while the United Kingdom and France expressed sympathy for Lithuania but chose not to offer any material assistance. They followed a well-publicized policy of appeasing Hitler. The UK treated the issue in the same way as it had treated the Sudeten Crisis and made no plans to assist Lithuania or the other Baltic States if they were attacked by Germany.[16] The Soviet Union, while supporting Lithuania in principle, did not wish to disrupt its relations with Germany at that point, since it was contemplating an alliance with the Nazis.[9] Without any material international support Lithuania had no choice but to accept the ultimatum. Lithuanian diplomacy characterized the concession as a "necessary evil" that would enable Lithuania to preserve its independence and maintained the hope that it was merely a temporary retreat.[7]

Acceptance

At 1:00 a.m. on 23 March Urbšys and Ribbentrop signed a treaty, effective 22 March, stating that Lithuania was voluntarily transferring the Klaipėda Region to Germany. The treaty comprised five articles:

Article I: The Klaipėda Region, cut off from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, is reunited with the German Reich, effective today.

Article II: The Klaipėda Region is to be evacuated immediately by Lithuanian military and police forces. The Lithuanian Government will take care that the territory is left in orderly condition through the evacuation.

Both sides will name commissioners, so far as it will prove necessary, who are able to carry out the handing over of administration not held in the hands of autonomous authorities of the Klaipėda Region.

Regulations of the rest of the questions resulting from the exchange of State sovereignty, especially economic and financial questions, questions of officials as well as citizenship, are reserved for special agreements.

Article III: In order to make allowance for her economic needs, a Lithuanian free-port zone will be established for Lithuania in Klaipėda. Details will be expressively regulated in accordance with directions of an enclosure attached to this agreement.

Article IV: In order to strengthen their decision and to safeguard the friendly development of relations between Germany and Lithuania, both sides assume the obligation neither to proceed against the other by force nor to support an attack from a third side against one of the two sides.

Article V: This agreement becomes effective upon signature. In witness, whereof, the plenipotentiaries of both sides sign this treaty, prepared double in double original in the German and in the Lithuanian languages.

Berlin, March 22, 1939

— Lithuania–Germany Treaty as quoted in The New York Times[17]

Aftermath

Nazi armada in klaipeda
German warships in the port the day after the ultimatum was accepted

Before the treaty was signed, German soldiers had already entered the port of Klaipėda. Adolf Hitler, on board the cruiser Deutschland, personally toured the city and gave a short speech. The armada sailing to Klaipėda included the cruiser Admiral Graf Spee, the light cruisers Nürnberg, Leipzig, and Köln,[11] two destroyer squadrons, three torpedo boat flotillas, and one tender flotilla.[18] At the time the Lithuanian navy had only one warship, the Prezidentas Smetona, a 580-ton converted minesweeper.[19] While the Germans were celebrating the return of the city, European politicians expressed fears that the Free City of Danzig would be Hitler's next target.[18]

Industry in the Klaipėda Region (1939)[20]
Industry Production
(in 000's litas)
Production
(% of national total)
Peat-cutting 1,272 13.3
Metals and machinery 2,377 10.6
Chemicals 7.747 36.6
Leather and fur 764 4.2
Textiles 28,257 44.2
Timber 20,899 53.9
Paper and printing 20,744 57.6
Foodstuffs 27,250 21.5
Clothing 1,495 6.6
Electricity and gas 4,938 28.6

President Antanas Smetona's unconditional acceptance of a second ultimatum in the space of a little over one year became a major source of dissatisfaction with his authoritarian rule. The German ultimatum triggered a political crisis: the passive cabinet of Vladas Mironas was replaced by a cabinet headed by General Jonas Černius. For the first time since the 1926 coup d'état, the government included members of the opposition: Leonas Bistras, of the Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party, was named Minister of Education and Jurgis Krikščiūnas, of the Lithuanian Popular Peasants' Union, was named Minister of Agriculture.[21] Because other parties were banned, Bistras and Krikščiūnas were officially billed as independent private citizens.[20] Four generals were now members of the cabinet as well. However, even the looming international crisis did not induce Lithuanian politicians to unite, and they continued to engage in petty political disputes.[21]

The loss of its only access to the Baltic Sea was a major blow to the Lithuanian economy. Between 70% and 80% of foreign trade passed through Klaipėda.[7] The region, which represented only about 5% of Lithuania's territory, contained a third of its industry.[7] Lithuania also lost its heavy investments in the port's infrastructure. About 10,000 refugees, mostly Jews, left the region and sought shelter and support from the Lithuanian government.[9] Lithuanians doubted the fate of their country: in March–April withdrawals of deposits in banks and credit institutions totaled almost 20% of total deposits.[20] After the loss of Klaipėda, Lithuania drifted into the German sphere of influence, especially in terms of trade. At the end of 1939, Germany accounted for 75% of Lithuanian exports and for 86% of its imports.[9] Germany and the Soviet Union concluded the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, dividing Eastern Europe into their respective spheres of influence. Not surprisingly, Lithuania was, at first, assigned to Germany.[9] The Nazis went so far as to suggest a German–Lithuanian military alliance against Poland and promised to return the Vilnius Region, but Lithuania held to its policy of strict neutrality.[22]

References

  1. ^ Steiner, Barry Howard (2004). Collective Preventive Diplomacy: A Study in International Conflict Management. SUNY Press. pp. 74–75. ISBN 0-7914-5987-X.
  2. ^ Eidintas, Alfonsas; Vytautas Žalys; Alfred Erich Senn (September 1999). Ed. Edvardas Tuskenis, ed. Lithuania in European Politics: The Years of the First Republic, 1918–1940 (Paperback ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 92–93. ISBN 0-312-22458-3.
  3. ^ Gonschior, Andreas. "Das Memelgebiet Überblick". Wahlen in der Weimarer Republik (in German). Retrieved 2008-03-24.
  4. ^ Eidintas, Alfonsas; Vytautas Žalys; Alfred Erich Senn (September 1999). Ed. Edvardas Tuskenis, ed. Lithuania in European Politics: The Years of the First Republic, 1918–1940 (Paperback ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 158. ISBN 0-312-22458-3.
  5. ^ Eidintas, Alfonsas (1991). Lietuvos Respublikos prezidentai (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Šviesa. pp. 125, 128. ISBN 5-430-01059-6.
  6. ^ Eidintas, Alfonsas; Vytautas Žalys; Alfred Erich Senn (September 1999). Ed. Edvardas Tuskenis, ed. Lithuania in European Politics: The Years of the First Republic, 1918–1940 (Paperback ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 123. ISBN 0-312-22458-3.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Eidintas, Alfonsas; Vytautas Žalys; Alfred Erich Senn (September 1999). Ed. Edvardas Tuskenis, ed. Lithuania in European Politics: The Years of the First Republic, 1918–1940 (Paperback ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 161–166. ISBN 0-312-22458-3.
  8. ^ Hiden, John; Thomas Lane (1992). The Baltic and the Outbreak of the Second World War. Cambridge University Press. p. 53. ISBN 0-521-53120-9. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Skirius, Juozas (2002). "Klaipėdos krašto aneksija 1939–1940 m.". Gimtoji istorija. Nuo 7 iki 12 klasės (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Elektroninės leidybos namai. ISBN 9986-9216-9-4. Archived from the original on 2008-02-26. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  10. ^ "Nazis in Memel Got 87% of the Ballots". New York Times: 19. 1938-12-16.
  11. ^ a b c Gerutis, Albertas (1984). "Independent Lithuania". In Ed. Albertas Gerutis. Lithuania: 700 Years. Translated by Algirdas Budreckis (6th ed.). New York: Manyland Books. pp. 247–249. ISBN 0-87141-028-1. LCC 75-80057.
  12. ^ "Lithuania is Warned by Memel Germans". New York Times: 14. 1939-03-16.
  13. ^ "Poland is Worried by Memel Threat". New York Times: 5. 1939-03-18.
  14. ^ Hiden, John; Thomas Lane (1992). The Baltic and the Outbreak of the Second World War. Cambridge University Press. pp. 55–56. ISBN 0-521-53120-9. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  15. ^ "Lithuania Agrees to Yield Memel to Reich After Berlin Asks Speed to Avoid "Clashes"". New York Times: 2. 1939-03-22.
  16. ^ Hiden, John; Thomas Lane (1992). The Baltic and the Outbreak of the Second World War. Cambridge University Press. pp. 31–32. ISBN 0-521-53120-9. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
  17. ^ "Text of the Agreement of Memel". New York Times: 4. 1939-03-23.
  18. ^ a b Tolischus, Otto D. (1939-03-23). "Flotilla Bound for Memel". New York Times: 1, 6.
  19. ^ Associated Press (1939-03-23). "Lithuania's 1-Ship Navy, Minus Port, Disappears". New York Times: 5.
  20. ^ a b c Sabaliūnas, Leonas (1972). Lithuania in Crisis: Nationalism to Communism 1939–1940. Indiana University Press. pp. 116–119. ISBN 0-253-33600-7.
  21. ^ a b Kamuntavičius, Rūstis; Vaida Kamuntavičienė; Remigijus Civinskas; Kastytis Antanaitis (2001). Lietuvos istorija 11–12 klasėms (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Vaga. pp. 396–397. ISBN 5-415-01502-7.
  22. ^ Clemens, Walter C. (2001). The Baltic Transformed: Complexity Theory and European Security. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 6. ISBN 0-8476-9859-9. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
1939

1939 (MCMXXXIX)

was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1939th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 939th year of the 2nd millennium, the 39th year of the 20th century, and the 10th and last year of the 1930s decade. This year also marks the start of the Second World War, the largest and deadliest conflict in human history.

Battle of Memel

The Battle of Memel or the Siege of Memel (German: Erste Kurlandschlacht) was a battle which took place on the Eastern Front during World War II. The battle began when the Red Army launched its Memel Offensive Operation (Russian: Мемельская наступательная операция) in late 1944. The offensive drove remaining German forces in the area that is now Lithuania and Latvia into a small bridgehead in Klaipėda (Memel) and its port, leading to a three-month siege of that position.

The bridgehead was finally crushed as part of a subsequent Soviet offensive, the East Prussian Offensive, in early 1945.

British and French declaration of war on Germany

The Declaration of war by France and the United Kingdom was given on 3 September 1939, after German forces invaded Poland. Despite the speech being the official announcement of both France and the United Kingdom, the speech was given by the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, in Westminster, London.

Events preceding World War II in Europe

The events preceding World War II in Europe are closely tied to the rise of fascism and communism.

German–Estonian Non-Aggression Pact

German–Estonian Non-Aggression Pact was signed in Berlin on June 7, 1939, by the Estonian and German Ministers of Foreign Affairs Karl Selter and Joachim von Ribbentrop. German–Latvian Non-Aggression Pact was also signed on the same day. Ratifications of the German-Estonian pact were exchanged in Berlin on July 24, 1939 and it became effective on the same day. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on August 12, 1939. The pact was intended for a period of ten years.

The pacts were intended to prevent western or Soviet powers from gaining influence in the Baltic States and thus encircling Germany (non-aggression pact with Lithuania was concluded in March after the 1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania regarding the Klaipėda Region). These states were to provide a barrier against any Soviet intervention in a planned German–Polish War.Nazi Germany offered to sign non-aggression pacts with Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden on April 28, 1939. Sweden, Norway, and Finland rejected the proposal. First drafts were prepared the first week of May, but the signing of the treaties was twice delayed due to Latvia's requests for clarification.

German–Latvian Non-Aggression Pact

The German–Latvian Non-Aggression Pact was signed in Berlin on June 7, 1939.

In light of the German advance in the east, the Soviet government demanded an Anglo–French guarantee of the independence of the Baltic states, during their negotiations for an alliance with the Western Powers. The Latvian and Estonian governments, ever suspicious of Soviet intentions, decided to accept a mutual non-aggression pact with Germany. The German–Estonian and German–Latvian Non-aggression pacts were signed in Berlin on June 7, 1939 by Latvian foreign minister Vilhelms Munters and Joachim von Ribbentrop. On the next day Adolf Hitler received the Estonian and Latvian envoys, and in course of this interviews stressed maintaining and strengthening commercial links between Germany and Baltic states. Ratifications of the German-Latvian pact were exchanged in Berlin on July 24, 1939 and it became effective on the same day. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on August 24, 1939. The pact was intended for a period of ten years.

The pacts were intended to prevent western or Soviet powers from gaining influence in the Baltic States and thus encircling Germany (non-aggression pact with Lithuania was concluded in March after the 1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania regarding the Klaipėda Region). These states were to provide a barrier against any Soviet intervention in a planned German–Polish War.Nazi Germany offered to sign non-aggression pacts with Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden on April 28, 1939. Sweden, Norway, and Finland rejected the proposal. First drafts were prepared the first week of May, but the signing of the treaties was twice delayed due to Latvia's requests for clarification.

Heim ins Reich

The Heim ins Reich (German pronunciation: [ˈhaɪm ɪns ˈʁaɪç] (listen); meaning "back home to the Reich") was a foreign policy pursued by Adolf Hitler during World War II, beginning in 1938. The aim of Hitler's initiative was to convince all Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) who were living outside Nazi Germany (e.g. in Austria, Czechoslovakia and the western districts of Poland) that they should strive to bring these regions "home" into Greater Germany, but also, relocate from territories that were not under German control, following the conquest of Poland in accordance with the Nazi-Soviet pact. The Heim ins Reich manifesto targeted areas ceded in Versailles to the newly reborn nation of Poland, as well as other areas that were inhabited by significant German populations such as the Sudetenland, Danzig, and the south-eastern and north-eastern regions of Europe after October 6, 1939.Implementation of the policy was managed by VOMI (Hauptamt Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle or "Main Welfare Office for Ethnic Germans"). As a state agency of the NSDAP, it handled all Volksdeutsche issues. By 1941, the VOMI was under the control of the SS.

History of Lithuania

The history of Lithuania dates back to settlements founded many thousands of years ago, but the first written record of the name for the country dates back to 1009 AD. Lithuanians, one of the Baltic peoples, later conquered neighboring lands and established the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13th century (and also a short-lived Kingdom of Lithuania). The Grand Duchy was a successful and lasting warrior state. It remained fiercely independent and was one of the last areas of Europe to adopt Christianity (beginning in the 14th century). A formidable power, it became the largest state in Europe in the 15th century through the conquest of large groups of East Slavs who resided in Ruthenia. In 1385, the Grand Duchy formed a dynastic union with Poland through the Union of Krewo. Later, the Union of Lublin (1569) created the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that lasted until 1795, when the last of the Partitions of Poland erased both Lithuania and Poland from the political map. Afterward, the Lithuanians lived under the rule of the Russian Empire until the 20th century.

On February 16, 1918, Lithuania was re-established as a democratic state. It remained independent until the outset of World War II, when it was occupied by the Soviet Union under the terms of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Following a brief occupation by Nazi Germany after the Nazis waged war on the Soviet Union, Lithuania was again absorbed into the Soviet Union for nearly 50 years. In 1990–1991, Lithuania restored its sovereignty with the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania. Lithuania joined the NATO alliance in 2004 and the European Union as part of its enlargement in 2004.

History of Poland

The history of Poland has its roots in the migrations of Slavs, who established permanent settlements in the Polish lands during the Early Middle Ages. The first ruling dynasty, the Piasts, emerged by the 10th century AD. Duke Mieszko I (d. 992) is considered the de facto creator of the Polish state and is widely recognized for the adoption of Western Christianity that followed his baptism in 966. Mieszko's duchy of Poland was formally reconstituted as a medieval kingdom in 1025 by his son Bolesław I the Brave, known for military expansion under his rule. Perhaps the most successful of the Piast kings was the last one, Casimir III the Great, who presided over a brilliant period of economic prosperity and territorial aggrandizement before his death in 1370 without male heirs. The period of the Jagiellonian dynasty in the 14th–16th centuries brought close ties with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a cultural Renaissance in Poland and continued territorial expansion that culminated in the establishment of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569.

In its early phases, the Commonwealth was able to sustain the levels of prosperity achieved during the Jagiellonian period, while its political system matured as a unique noble democracy. From the mid-17th century, however, the huge state entered a period of decline caused by devastating wars and the deterioration of its political system. Significant internal reforms were introduced during the later part of the 18th century, especially in the Constitution of 3 May 1791, but neighboring powers did not allow the reform process to advance. The independent existence of the Commonwealth ended in 1795 after a series of invasions and partitions of Polish territory carried out by the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy.

From 1795 until 1918, no truly independent Polish state existed, although strong Polish resistance movements operated. After the failure of the last military uprising against the Russian Empire, the January Uprising of 1863, the nation preserved its identity through educational initiatives and a program of "organic work" intended to modernize the economy and society. The opportunity to regain independence only materialized after World War I, when the three partitioning imperial powers were fatally weakened in the wake of war and revolution.

The Second Polish Republic, established in 1918, existed as an independent state until 1939, when Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union destroyed it in their invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II. Millions of Polish citizens perished in the course of the Nazi occupation of Poland between 1939 and 1945 as Germany classified ethnic Poles and other Slavs, Jews and Romani (Gypsies) as subhuman. Nazi authorities targeted the last two groups for extermination in the short term, deferring the extermination and/or enslavement of the Slavs as part of the Generalplan Ost ('General Plan for the East') conceived by the Nazi régime. A Polish government-in-exile nonetheless functioned throughout the war and the Poles contributed to the Allied victory through participation in military campaigns on both the eastern and western fronts. The westward advances of the Soviet Red Army in 1944 and 1945 compelled Nazi Germany's forces to retreat from Poland, which led to the establishment of a communist satellite state of the Soviet Union, known from 1952 as the Polish People's Republic.

As a result of territorial adjustments mandated by the victorious Allies at the end of World War II in 1945, Poland's geographic centre of gravity shifted towards the west and the re-defined Polish lands largely lost their historic multi-ethnic character through the extermination, expulsion and migration of various ethnic groups during and after the war. By the late 1980s, the Polish reform movement Solidarity became crucial in bringing about a peaceful transition from a communist state to a capitalist economic system and a liberal parliamentary democracy. This process resulted in the creation of the modern Polish state: the Third Polish Republic, founded in 1989.

Holocaust in Telšiai

The Holocaust in Telšiai (Yiddish: Telz) was carried out by the local Lithuanian leadership with occasional supervision by Nazi German units. The Jewish population in 1939 was 2,800 some 35 percent of the town's population. Further Jews found refuge in Telšiai following the 1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania. Telšiai was conquered by German troops on 25 June 1941. Jews were subjected to terror by the Germans and their Lithuanian collaborators and on 15–16 July all Jewish men were shot. The women were moved to a camp in Geruliai, and with the exception of 500-600 young women, were all shot on 30 August 1941. The 500-600 young women were moved back to a ghetto in Telšiai, and with the exception of some escapees, were shot on 30–31 December 1941. 64 Jewish women survived after they escaped.

Ieva Simonaitytė

Ieva Simonaitytė or Ewa Simoneit (23 January 1897 – 27 August 1978) was a Lithuanian writer. She represented the culture of Lithuania Minor and Klaipėda Region, territories of German East Prussia with large, but dwindling, Lithuanian population. She received critical acclaim for her novel Aukštujų Šimonių likimas (The Fate of Šimoniai from Aukštujai, 1935).

Index of Lithuania-related articles

The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to Lithuania.

KSS Klaipėda

KSS Klaipėda was a Lithuanian football club from Klaipėda. It was the most accomplished interbellum football club from Klaipėda.

Kazys Skučas

Kazys Skučas (3 March 1894 in Mauručiai, Marijampolė district – 30 July 1941 in the Butyrka prison) was a Lithuanian politician and General of the Lithuanian Army. Skučas was the last Minister of the Interior of independent Lithuania. He was a target of anti-Lithuanian Soviet propaganda in the days leading to the 1940 Soviet ultimatum and occupation of Lithuania. Right after the Red Army invaded Lithuania on 15 June 1940, Skučas was directed to leave the country by the then-President Antanas Smetona but was arrested at the border several days later by the then acting Lithuanian President Antanas Merkys and handed over to the Russians, transported to Moscow, and executed in 1941.

Klaipėda

Klaipėda (Lithuanian pronunciation: [ˈkɫɐɪˑpʲeːdɐ], listen ; German name: Memel, Samogitian name: Klaipieda, Polish name: Kłajpeda) is a city in Lithuania on the Baltic Sea coast. It is the third largest city in Lithuania and the capital of Klaipėda County.

The city has a complex recorded history, partially due to the combined regional importance of the usually ice-free Port of Klaipėda at the mouth of the Akmena-Danė River. It was controlled by successive German states until the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. As a result of the 1923 Klaipėda Revolt it was added to Lithuania and has remained with Lithuania to this day, except for the period between 1939 and 1945 when it returned to Germany following the 1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania and the German–Soviet Union Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

The population has shrunk from the city to suburbs and the hinterland. The city had a population of 207,100 in 1992 to 157,350 in 2014 but the city is growing again. Popular seaside resorts found close to Klaipėda are Nida to the south on the Curonian Spit and Palanga to the north.

Prussian Lithuanians

The Prussian Lithuanians, or Lietuvininkai (singular: Lietuvininkas, plural: Lietuvininkai), are Lithuanians, originally Lithuanian language speakers, who formerly inhabited a territory in northeastern East Prussia called Prussian Lithuania, or Lithuania Minor (Lithuanian: Prūsų Lietuva, Mažoji Lietuva, German: Preußisch-Litauen, Kleinlitauen), instead of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and, later, the Republic of Lithuania (Lithuania Major, or Lithuania proper). Prussian Lithuanians contributed greatly to the development of written Lithuanian, which for a long time was considerably more widespread and in more literary use in Lithuania Minor than in Lithuania proper.Unlike most Lithuanians, who remained Roman Catholic after the Protestant Reformation, most Lietuvininkai became Lutheran-Protestants (Evangelical-Lutheran).

There were 121,345 speakers of Lithuanian in the Prussian census of 1890. Almost all Prussian Lithuanians fled or were expelled after World War II, when East Prussia was divided between Poland and the Soviet Union. The northern part became the Kaliningrad Oblast, while the southern part was attached to Poland. Only the small Klaipėda Region (German: Memelland) was attached to Lithuania.

Telšiai

Telšiai (pronunciation ), known also by several alternative names including Telsiai, Telshi and Telschi in English sources, is a city in Lithuania with about 25,000 inhabitants. It is the capital of Telšiai County and Samogitia region, and it is located on the shores of Lake Mastis.

Telšiai is one of the oldest cities in Lithuania, probably dating earlier than the 14th century. Between the 15th and 20th centuries, Telšiai became a district capital and between 1795 and 1802 it was included in the Vilnius Governorate. In 1873, Telšiai was transferred to the Kovno Governorate.

Timeline of the occupation of the Baltic states

Timeline of the occupation of the Baltic States lists key events in the military occupation of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania by the Soviet Union and by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Ultimatums to the Baltic governments

Ultimatums to the Baltic governments may refer to:

Ultimatums to Estonia:1940 Soviet ultimatum to EstoniaUltimatums to Latvia:1940 Soviet ultimatum to LatviaUltimatums to Lithuania:1938 Polish ultimatum to Lithuania

1939 German ultimatum to Lithuania

1940 Soviet ultimatum to Lithuania

Ultimatums presented to Lithuania

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