During the period from 1796 to 1919, Poland did not exist as a separate country. Poland was divided between and ruled by three countries (empires) - Austria, Prussia, and Russia. The language and content of records will vary according to which "partition" a particular Polish locality was in during this period. Between the two world wars (1919-1939), Poland re-emerged as a large independent nation, whose territory extended all the way from the Poznan area in the west to the Wilno (Vilnius) area in the east. In the interwar period, Poland included significant parts of what are today Lithuania, Belarus, and western Ukraine. Poland was occupied by Germany during the Second World War. Following the defeat of the Nazis, Poland came under the jurisdiction of the Soviet Union. Its borders were shifted westward, so that it gained territory from Germany in the west and lost territory to Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine in the east.

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The History of Poland is rooted in the arrival of the Slavs, who gave rise to permanent settlement and historic development onPolish lands. During the Piast dynasty Christianity was adopted in 966 AD and a medieval monarchy established. The Jagiellonian dynasty period brought close ties with the Grand Duchy of Lithuaniacultural development and territorial expansion, culminating in the establishment of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569.