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The Polish-Lithuanian Crisis of March 1938. Some Romanian and Western reactions

Author(s): Bogdan Schipor

Journal: Revista Româna de Studii Baltice si Nordice
ISSN 2067-1725

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 83;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: Poland | Lithuania | ultimatum | international crisis | Romania | Western Europe

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.
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