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- Regional Research > Lithuania > Memel
- Regional Research > Historic Territory > Germany 1871-1918 > Kingdom Prussia > East Prussia > County Memel > Memel
Memel, County Memel, East Prussia
- Further information - see below in the Data from the geneological database
- According to the placeregister Dietrich Lange:
- County town with a station
- At the northern end of the Kurischen Haffs
- 118 km north of Königsberg
- Oldest city of East Prussia
- founded in 1252 by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword (Schwertbrüderorden)
In 1905: County town in the Prussian region Königsberg, the most northern city of "Deutsches Reiches", on the mouth of the navigable Dange to the Memeler Tief, which connects the Kurische Haff with the Baltic Sea, junction of the railway lines Osterode-Memel and Memel-Bajohren, has got two Evangelical, an English and a Catholic church, a synagogue and (1905) together with the garrison (ein Bataillon Infanterie Nr.41) 20,687 inhabitants, among them 862 Catholics and 899 Jews.
Memel had a chemical factory, two shipyards, iron foundries, machine factories, a soap factory, production of cellulose, cigarettes, vinegar, candles, ropes, beer and distilleries. Trade was supported by the merchants, by 12 consulates from foreign countries and the "Reichsbank" (turnover 1904: 223.5 million Mark) and was important for the trade in wood, linseed, flax, hemp, coal, fertilizer and fish (especially herring) etc.. The shipping company counted in 1904 a large number of fishing-boats and 15 steamships with 8,168 register tons. In 1903, in the large harbour, protected with a light-house, they counted 570 ocean ships arriving (201,110 register tons) and 598 ships departing (207,550 register tons).
Memel had a district court, the main customs office, an examining board for pilots and boatmen, the pilot commander and a rescue station for shipwrecked persons. It had a Gymnasium (high school), a place of training for teachers for elementary schools (Präparandenanstalt), a school for navigation, an orphanage and a home for leprous people. The 4 courts of Heydekrug, Memel, Prökuls and Ruß belonged to the district court of Memel. Nearby you could find the large villages Bommelsvitte and Königlich Schmelz and the forester`s lodge Försterei with a seaside resort.
Other Names and Spellings
- in the 2nd century Aldajaborg and Aldeska
- in 1290 Memelburg, after 1420 Glaupeda, after. 1422 Klawppedda, before 1785 Cleupeda, lit. Klaipeda
- in 1725 Mumel, Mümmel, Memmel (according to historical maps from 1725)
Meaning of the Name
The city is in the Curonian landscape Pilsaten. The Lithuanian name today refers to the Curonian.
In Scandinavian sources of the 2nd century the place is called Aldajaborg . Aldeska was the schalauische= Skalvian name of the Memel (river). In the peace treaty of Melnosee (27/ Febr/ 1422) the alternative name was mentioned for the first time: Klaipeda: "et castrum Memel in Samogitico Cleupeda appellatum" (and the Memelcastle, in Samogitien called Cleupeda ).
Aldeska or Aldajaborg describes a harbour with a rampart.
- old-Prussian- Skalvian "aldija" = ship, boat, canoe
- Curonian "memelis, mimelis" = still, slowly, silent
- Latvian "mēms" = dumb, silent (compare the Latvian river Mēmele)
Klaipėda/ Glaupeda/ Klawppedda/ Cleupeda describes the location of the place: flat, open area.
- Curonian "klais" = flat, open, free
- Latvian "klajš" = open
- Curonian "ped" = foot, sole of the foot, also ground
- "klaipikas" = shovel with your feet
- "klaipyti" = crush, pull down, trample
For today`s use of the name Memel see: Das memelländische Erbe, History of the Memelland.
Municipal Coat of Arms
The origin of the municipal coat of arms (gold on red background) goes back to the second half of the 13th century. It was taken by the city Klaipėda and shows in the middle, the tower of the Memel castle (protected by walls), on both sides wooden marker buoys (as in Bommelsvitte and "Galgenbake" in Schmelz). The massive rowing boat refers to the location of the castle near the Kurischen Haff and shows the ferry to the Kurischen Nehrung . The 4 stars refer to a time when boatmen had to navigate without a compass. Today`s Lithuanian city flag has the colours of the Memelland, in the middle the municipal coat of arms.
At the foundation of Memel in 1253 Bishop Heinrich von Kurland intended to built three churches: St. Marien as chapel for the castle, St. Johannis for the city and St. Nikolaus for the rural population. St. Marien disappeared with the castle.
By clicking on some church names you can see the catalogue of church books:
- Marienkirche, oldest church in Memel.
- St.Johannis, one of the oldest churches for the German-speaking population in the city (Stadtkirche).
- St. Nikolai, one of the oldest churches for the prußisch =Prussian kurisch =Curonian speaking rural population (Landkirche).
- Jakobuskirche, replacement of the old Landkirche St. Nikolai, for the rural population, speaking Baltic languages. 
- Reformierte Kirche, reformed church, later the English church belonged to this church.
- Parochie Vitte, existing only for a short time in the North of Memel.
- Englische Kirche English Church
- Baptistengemeinde Baptist parish
- Christliche Gemeinde 
- Catholic Church, for the city and surrounding area of Memel.
In the years 1863-1865 a stone church was built in the Töpferstraße replacing the wooden chapel. Following the plans of Baurat Meyer, it was built in the Gothic style. The new church steeple was 50m high.
- Catholic Church, for the city and surrounding area of Memel.
Cemetery in the City
You can find the cemetery of Memel Städtischer Friedhof von Memel on a special page.
You can find the Military Cemetery of Memel on a special page.
Jewish community in Memel
When the Memelland was given back to Germany ( Deutsches Reich) in Feb 1939, the Jews had to flee. Wealthy families tried to escape overseas. Many Jews believed they would be safe in Lithuania. The photo below shows Jewish families on the road to Garsden (lit. Gargzdai), behind the frontier. But they weren`t safe. After the German attack against the Soviet Union in June 1941, in that small Lithuanian town, the first mass extermination (shooting) of Jews occurred. Today there are several memorials in Garsden for the victims. (Photo in the middle). The old chapel (for the last blessings) in the Jewish cemetery in Memel doesn`t exist any more. Today there is a simple building as an assembly hall for Jews returning to Memel (Photo right).
- The " Cultusbeamten" of the German synagogue were (in 1902):
- Teacher and preacher P. Stadthagen, lived here in 1858: Bäckerstr. 11/12 (prayers`room for German Jews) , died in 1865,
- Rabbi Dr. J. Rülf, from 1/12/1865 till 1/4/1898, for a long time editor of the "Memeler Dampfboot"- a newspaper, and author of several philosophical essays,
- since then Rabbi Dr. Em. Carlebach.
- Adressbook 1931
Synagogue Kehrwiederstraße, Abbot: W. Nafthal
Old synagogue, Synagogenstraße, Abbot: Leon Scheinhaus
Beth-hamidrasch, Baderstraße, Abbot: A. M. Kaplan
Parish of the synagogue Memel
Rabbi Dr. L. Lazarus,
Rabbi J. Rabinowitz,
Cantor and teacher: Joseph Kahn.
W. Nafthal, Bernhard Scheinhaus, Jacob Jawschitz, Dr. H. Jacobsohn, Joseph Schulmann
Leon Scheinhaus, Dr. Kallenbach, W. Ehmann, Isaak Jawschitz, Moses Friedmann, A. Hannemann, S. Maisels, H. Markuschewitz, A. Rosenthal, Ing. Rubin, S. Rudeitzky, A. Stoch, Jakob Werblowsky.
The first religious institution for the Jews in Memel was the cemetery .The first funeral took place in 1823.
The cemetery is a place for remembrance for the whole of Europe. See: 
More Photos from the Jewish Cemetery
More photos from the Jewish cemetery in Memel on a special page: Photos of the Jewish cemetery Memel
In 1907the following places belonged to the civil registration of Memel :
- Kurisches Haff, Memel.
- Births 1875-1895, 1897-1902, 1904-1906, 1908-1909, 1911-1915
- Marriages 1874, 1877-1889, 1892-1895, 1897-1898, 1900-1909, 1911-1914, 1916-1917, 1920-1939
- Deaths 1874-1889, 1891-1906, 1909, 1911-1913, 1915
It is not clear if some years are complete or only in part !
The Register for Marriages 1920-1939 is not on film but should exist in Litauischen Historischen Staatsarchiv in Wilna .
|Population of Memel|
The following families and persons lived in Memel or were connected to this place:
You can find the schools of Memel Schulen in Memel on a special page.
Bank der Ostpr. Landschaft
Credit- und Spar-Verein
Deutsche Bank A.-G.
Landesbank der Provinz Ostpreußen
Sparkasse der Stadt Memel
- BLODE, Kurt u. Walter (Bearbeiter): Geschichte des Luisen-Gymnasiums Memel, 1978. (96 S. + Anhang. Mit Lehrer- und Schülerlisten)- a history of the Luisengymnasium, with lists of teachers and pupils
- JAHN/SCHREIBER (Herausgeber): Die Selbstverwaltung der Kaufmannschaft in Memel: Von ihren Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, Memel 1929. (144 S. / Nachdruck vom VFFOW, Hamburg 1970; Mit Namenslisten der Mitglieder)- a history of the merchants in Memel with a list of members
- SEMBRITZKI, Johannes: Geschichte der Königlich Preussischen See- und Handelsstadt Memel, Memel 1926². (381 S.) - a history of Memel
- SEMBRITZKI, Johannes: Memel im neunzehnten Jahrhundert - Festschrift zum 600jährigen Jubiläum der Stadt Memel; Verlag F.W. Siebert, 1902 - about Memel in the 19th century Digitalisation of Google books (7BYFAAAAYAAJ)
On 25/2/1908 the fishermen Joh. Lorenz, Heinr. Lorenz, Karl Lorenz, Rob. Gewildis and the building site manager Liesch, from Memel and Süderspitze, caught a white whale in the Memeler Tief. It was 4.12m long, 2.80m wide and weighed approx. 20 hundredweight.
Often people, who were not born locally in the area, are found mentioned in church books or other archive source material of a place. These findings are chance discoveries. Such findings are sometimes the only opportunity to break through the Brick Wall in research. On the following page you can add chance discoveries related to this place or even find one for yourself.
Private Sources of Information and Offers of Help with Research
On the following page, private (noncommercial !) genealogists conducting research on this place, and/or those willing to share genealogical information, perform searches or provide scans/copies etc. regarding this place, can add their contact details. All inquiries should be made directly to the listed researcher!
Data from the Genealogical Place Database (GOV)
Memel, Klaipėdos miestas, Klaipėdos miesto savivaldybė ( Stadt urban county Stadt ) Source
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Dietrich Lange: Geographisches Ortsregister Ostpreußen einschließlich des Memelgebietes, des Soldauer Gebietes und des Reg.-Bez. Westpreußen (1919-1939), a geographical register of places in East Prussia
- ↑ Meyer Großes Konversation-Lexikon 1906, Bd.13., S.585-586.
- ↑ Bojate, A., Pizova, F: Latviešu-Franču Vārdnīca, Riga 1970
- ↑ Kurschat, Alexander: Litauisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1968,a Lithuanian-German Dictionary
- ↑ Kwauka, Paul, Pietsch, Richard: Kurisches Wörterbuch, Verlag Ulrich Camen Berlin, 1977,a Curonian Dictionary
- ↑ Matulaitis, K.A.: Die Schalauer des Altertums, Tauto praeitis II, 2, 1965, in Tolkemita Texte 52, Dieburg 1997,The Skalvians in Ancient Times
- ↑ Prußischer Wortschatz, Privatsammlung Szillis-Kappelhoff, Old-Prussian Expressions,Private property
- ↑ Peteraitis, Vilius: Mažosios Lietuvos ir Tvankstos Vietovardžiai, Ju kilme ir reikšme, Vilnius 1997, S. 188ff
- ↑ Kurschat, Heinrich A.: Das Buch vom Memelland, Siebert Oldenburg 1968, a general book about the Memelland
- ↑ Heling, Reinhold: Die evangelischen Kirchengemeinden in Ostpreußen und Westpreußen in den Pfarr-Almanachen von 1912 und 1913. Sonderschrift des Vereins für Familienforschung in Ost- und Westpreußen e.V., Nr. 59, Hamburg 2000, [darin: Diözese Memel, Kreis Memel, Seite 24-26], about Evangelical parishes in East- and Westprussia
- ↑ Seuberlich, Erich: Die Reformierten Prediger in Memel. Altpreußische Geschlechterkunde 1936, S. 4-8, about reformed priests in Memel
- ↑ http://www.judeninostpreussen.de/upload/pdf/memel.pdf
- ↑ Numerals from Lithuanian Vikipedija