After the Russian takeover, Vilnius became a center for both
Lithuanian and Polish elite. The
Russians were ruthless to Lithuanians and forced the Russian language and religion
on the people. Lithuania also became a destination for Jews throughout Russian-controlled
lands, and they soon made up nearly have of Vilnius's population.
Lithuania finally regained independence in 1919 with the
help of the Russian Revolution and Germany's
loss in World War I. The independence pitted former allies against each other though,
as both Lithuania and Poland fought over the city of Vilnius, which
Poland eventually won and kept through the interwar period.
At the outbreak of World War II (WWII), the Soviets and Nazis invaded and successfully
took all of Lithuania. The Soviets promised to return
Vilnius to Lithuania if they fought with them in the war and the Lithuanians agreed.
Unfortunately, the Soviets killed thousands of Lithuanians and Jews in the region
and deported many more. After WWII, Lithuania was incorporated into the Soviet Union
and the Soviet government flooded the area with Russians
in order to collect a loyal base and to oversee factories and collective farms.
In 1989 the people finally regained their voice and in 1990 declared independence,
but were met with economic blockades from the Soviets, forcing both sides to the
negotiating table. Despite the talks, the Soviets attacked the capital in 1991,
but this only created a stronger movement for independence, which was gained later