I was shocked to read this at Wikipedia's article on the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact:

Lithuania, adjacent to East Prussia, would be in the German sphere of influence, although a second secret protocol agreed to in September 1939 reassigned the majority of Lithuania to the USSR.

Emphasis mine. The article has a cite for it too.

So the first version was agreed to 1939 Aug 24. This version had Lithuania assigned to Germany. Then the second version was agreed to in September, with Lithuania assigned to USSR.

Why the revision? Why so quickly? What prompted this change and why was it agreed to?

I'll also note that this was before the Winter War (Soviet invasion of Finland, begun 1939 Nov 30) that proved so disastrous, so it's not like they traded Finland for Lithuania.

2 Answers 2


On September 25, 1939, Stalin suggested to German ambassador the exchange of Lithuania for areas near Lublin and east of Warsaw. (Weinberg, p. 59)

The secret protocol was signed to that effect on September 28.

The stated reason for the exchange was the public "explanation" of Soviet invasion, which tied it with protection of minorities (Ukrainians or Belorussians, the ethnicities prominently present in Soviet Union) and there were no such in the Lublin area or Warsaw area. (Marples, p. 108)

As a small side note, a bit of Lithuanian territory (Mariampol) was left in the German sphere of influence.

Map of Poland 1939

One of Wikipedia maps shows the territory exchanged for Lithuania (the dotted orange line)


The basic problem that revision was solving was that the Germans by that time had invaded Poland, and had taken more territory than was allotted them in the original agreement.

They couldn't just give it to Russia. From the Russian point of view that would prove the two were working together, and from the German point of view, Hitler was not the kind of guy to be happy to give away hundreds of square miles of land his armies were already occupying.

Giving Stalin the last remaining Baltic State was the easiest solution.

  • 2
    Ummm, actually, Hitler was exactly the kind of guy who would have ordered Guderian to withdraw from a city they just bloodily captured and hand it to Soviets
    – kubanczyk
    Oct 10, 2016 at 15:37
  • 2
    @kubanczyk - Its a good point. I do still think one city is a whole different kettle of fish than the hundreds of square miles we are talking about. I'll edit.
    – T.E.D.
    Oct 10, 2016 at 16:19
  • Good answer and one for further thought I think. My personal view is that a: Hitler was desperate for a deal (the September Campaign was just weeks if not days away) and Hitler probably believed the SSR's would overplay their hand leading to a propaganda victory and should Germany invade be seen as "liberators." Poland was not so fortunate either way and indeed Soviet Russia was stunned at the speed and totality of German conquest as was allowed per the agreement. This also caused the Stavka to make the momentous decision to leave perfectly good defenses at the Stalin Line and "poke the German Oct 10, 2016 at 21:23

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