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THE POLISH-LITHUANIAN CRISIS
OF MARCH 1938. SOME ROMANIAN AND WESTERN REACTIONS

 

Bogdan Schipor

 

“A.D. Xenopol” Institute of History of the Romanian Academy, E-mail: bogdan_schipor@yahoo.it

 

This paper has been presented at the First International Conference on Nordic and Baltic Studies in Romania:Romania and Lithuania in the Interwar International Relations: Bonds, Intersections and Encounters hosted by the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies, Târgoviste, May 19-21, 2010.

 

Abstract:

In March 1938, when the eyes of the entire Europe were trained on the events in Austria that culminated with the Anschluss, there was another conflict on the European continent that bothered the Western powers, and not only. On March 17, 1938 the Polish minister at Tallinn handed to the Lithuanian minister in the capital of Estonia a notification through which Warsaw asked Lithuania to establish immediate diplomatic relations without prior conditions. The Polish government considered this the only way to solve the problems related to the border between the two states without jeopardizing the peace. Lithuania had 48 hours after the delivery of the notification to accept the proposal without any debate or negotiation. Its rejection would have given Warsaw the right to ensure its objectives and interests by any means it deemed necessary. Great Britain and France reacted cautiously to this new crisis, hoping for a peaceful solution, in order to avoid the involvement of the League of Nations or the escalation of the events towards an open conflict between the two states. In its turn, Romania, as an ally of Poland, refrained from a possible involvement or condemnation of Warsaw’s actions, a fact for which the Polish diplomats expressed their gratitude. But even if Lithuania conceded and the crisis died out, the Western countries, as well as Romania, had certain anxieties raised by the Polish-Lithuanian crisis which were to come true a year later. Poland’s actions in March 1938 had created a precedent that other powers did not hesitate to follow and the country that, in the end, would lose everything was Poland itself.

 

Rezumat:

În momentul în care în martie 1938 privirile întregii Europe erau atintiti asupra evenimentelor din Austria care au culminat cu realizarea Anschlussului, a mai existat un conflict pe continentul european care a nemultumit puterile occidentale, si nu numai. La 17 martie 1938 ministrul polonez la Tallinn i-aînmânat omologului sau lituanian o nota prin care Varsovia solicita Lituaniei stabilirea imediata de relatiile diplomatice fara nicio conditie prealabila. Guvernul polonez a considerat aceasta singura cale de a rezolva problemele legate de frontiera dintre cele doua state fara a pune pacea în pericol. Lituania avea la dispozitie numai 48 de ore de la transmiterea notei pentru a accepta propunerea fara nicio discutie sau negociere. Respingerea sa ar fi dat Varsoviei dreptul de a-si asigura obiectivele si interesele prin orice mijloace pe care le considera necesare. Marea Britanie si Franta au reactionat cu prudenta cu privire la aceasta noua criza, sperând într-o solutie pasnica, în scopul de a evita implicarea Societatii Natiunilor sau escaladarea evenimentelor în directia unui conflict deschis între cele doua state. La rândul sau, România, aliata a Poloniei, s-a abtinut de la orice implicare sau condamnare a actiunilor Varsoviei, pozitie pentru care diplomatii polonezi si-au exprimat gratitudinea. Dar chiar daca Lituania a cedat si criza a încetat, tarile occidentale, la fel ca si România, au nutrit anumite nelinisti alimentate de criza polonezo-lituaniana, care se vor adeveri un an mai târziu. Actiunile Poloniei din martie 1938 au creat un precedent pe care alte puteri nu vor ezita sa-l urmeze, iar tara care, în final, va pierde totul va fi chiar Polonia.

 

Keywords: Poland, Lithuania, ultimatum, international crisis, Romania, Western Europe


 09. Schipor.pdf

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