History of Memel

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The Eastern Balts are shown in brown hues while the Western Balts are shown in green. The boundaries are approximate.
Samogitia and its neighboring areas in the middle of the 13th century. Lithuania was at the time far in the east.
The amber route from Memel theSamland andDanzig in 98 after Chr.

Memel is today known as Klaipeda, Lithuania. Klaipeda, Lithuania's port city [1] on the Baltic Sea, is the third largest town in the country. It is located on the southernmost seashore of the Baltic Sea, at a strait connecting the Curonian lagoon with the sea. The name "Memel" is Curonian and refers to the river and the lagoon.

In Scandinavian sources of the 2nd Century AD. the place is called Aldajaborg. Aldeska was the Old Prussian-scalovian [2] name of Memel (river). In the Treaty of Melnosee (27 February 1422) was the first time that the alternative name Klaipeda "castrum et Memel Samogitico Cleupeda appellatum" was mentioned.

  • Aldeska or Aldajaborg describes a harbor fortress.
  • Old Prussian-scalovian "aldija" = ship, boat, canoe
  • Curonian "memelis, mimelis" = quiet, slow, silent
  • Latvian "mems" = silent, speechless (see the Latvian river Mēmele)
  • Klaipeda / Glaupeda / Klawppedda / Cleupeda describes the location of the place. Loosely translated: flat, open ground.
  • Curonian "klais" = flat, open, free
  • Latvian "klajš" = open
  • Curonian "ped" = foot, sole of the foot even basic

In contrast Lithuanian:

  • "klaipikas" = the unbalanced kicking the feet, paddling with their feet
  • "klaipyti" = the crushing, pressing down, press down


Pre-recorded history and ancient history to 700 AD

From 11,000 BC. After the last ice age, hunters, collectors.

a) Hamburg's culture, a variant of the French Magdalenian culture, first in Königsberg, Memel late phase. b) Swidry culture from southern Europe.

From 7000 BC. Hunters, gatherers, fishers, pine and spruce time. The climate is warmer and wetter, the glaciers are gone; documented settlement in the Memel country. Maglemosian influx of culture from the west (heirs of the Magdalenian culture).
From 6000 BC. Mixing of cultures Maglemosian and Swidry. Bones in the Memel area: long skulled, prominent brows, stocky stature.
From 4000 BC to 2500 BC. Middle Stone Age bone culture / Younger Stone Age stone tools, bone tools, wooden tools. Memel-u. Narva Culture: Early European, not Indo-European. Religion: Matriarchy. Curonian Spit: bone and antler hooks. Memel-Schmelz: Worked amber.
From 2500 BC The end of Stone Age. Arrival of the Indo-Europeans of Central Asia. Culture techniques: Babes with drinking horn, as in Central Asia and Persia, ball-amphorae. Trade relations with Greece (amber). Religion: patriarchal. Language: similarity with Sanskrit and Latin (Baltic origin). Population: particularly on the Spit it becomes denser.

Western Baltic: Old Prussians [3], Curonians [4] (similar culture as Celts).

Eastern Baltic: Lithuanian, Zemaites [5], Latvians (culture more like Finno-Ugrians, Mongols, Koreans).

From 1500 BC. Bronze Age, burial mounds. Death Cult: corpse in a crouched position. Central European expansion, arrival in Memel country weakened and delayed. Metal culture in exchange for amber.
From 1000 BC Late Bronze Age / Early Iron Age / Culture Wave "Lusatian Culture 500 BC. Cremation, ashes in pottery vessels, vessel lids with holes, so that the soul can escape. Pole buildings. The Lusatian culture was not in the Memel country because of the "Great Wilderness" between Pregel-River and Memel-River.
From 200 BC to 500 AD. Expansion of the Germans to the Vistula. Penetration of Slavs and Goths to the Samland, vibrant cultural exchange and recovery, also in Memel country.

Trade: With Rome (coins, glass, enamel finds, metal import). Skeleton graves (Vistula influence). Golden Age of the Balts.

From 400 AD Expansion of the Slavs from the south and east, the Baltic tribes are pushed towards the Baltic Sea.
From 500 AD to 800 AD Migration. Slavs pushing north into the eastern Baltic, Lithuanians and Latvians are pushed to the Baltic Sea.

Differentiation between Memel country and Old Prussia. Memel country: invasion of Sweden and Vikings. Trade relations between the south and relocated Goths Prussians not interrupted. Migration of the Goths; split of the Prussians into different tribal areas with different cultures. The so-called decadence period does not apply to the Memel country, because here instead held a strong self-development. Relations between Old Prussia and Memel countries fade.

700 AD until the arrival of the Germans

1 A.D. Historians maintain that a settlement of ancient Curonian [6] and Prussian [7] stood on the coast of the Curonian lagoon [8] at the estuary of the Dange river [9].
From 700 AD The Memel country [10] oriented to the north. An independent Memelland culture develops. (It is in contrast to burial of the stools in Old Prussia, until 9.-10.Jh. Scandinavian influence comes through the cremation). The Memel culture expands to the east.
From 850 AD to 1000 AD Viking period. Danish invasions of the Curonians. The Curonians raid Denmark and Iceland (mentioned in the Iceland Saga). The Skalvians [11] form the Kingdom of Russ, hostilities with Denmark, mutual kidnapping.
10th-11th Century AD. The hostilities have ended with the Scandinavians, instead extensive trade and cultural exchange develops: Bronze Jewelry, almost baroque and bizarre, points to inventiveness. Viking warriors settled as merchants in Memel. The Skalvians maintain marriage relations with Denmark (King Knut, 854 AD Sources of Danes). Memel at cultural height.

German period from 1252 to 1945

The Commander Cachet of the year 1409 symbolizes the three oldest churches of Memel: Church of St. John's left, Castle chapel of St. Mary's center, Country church St. Nikolai right.

From 1252 to 1525--the era of the Teutonic Knights

1252 Memel is founded by the Livonian Knights and belonged at that time not to Prussia, but to the Riga-administered territory of the Sword Knights. The Livonian Order of Germany built a wooden castle at the mouth of the Danges River and called it Memelburg.
1254 The cities of Dortmund and Lübeck were asked to send their civic rights.
1257/58 Memel [12] receives Lübeck law. (It was not until 1475 that Memel like the other Prussian towns was given the Kulm law (kölmisches) [13] . Samogitian [14] Enemies burned the town down several times.
1328 The Commandery Memel is separated from the Livonian branch of the Order and united with the Prussian branch of the Order. 2 / 3 go to the German Order, 1 / 3 retained by the Bishop of Courland.
1406 First Zemaites immigrants enter the country Memel.
1410 A Polish-Lithuanian army defeated the Teutonic Knights.
1422 Peace of Melnosee [15]: The German Order waives Samogitia, Lithuania receives the Curonian areas north of Palanga and gets first access to the Baltic Sea. This boundary between East Prussia and Lithuania remained unchanged until 1920.
1456/57 Danziger plunder the city of Memel. The Dangemündung spill.
1464 Konigsberg [16], Danzig [17] and Elbinger [18] plunder Memel city. The reason for these attacks is jealousy over the flourishing trade city.
1511 In a document dated 25 February on the "tavern on the heath," the presentation of it is made to George Talat. The birth of the later city Heydekrug.
1520 Three Danziger warships set fire to the city, which burns the remaining half. They also sink a boatload of bricks in the Dangemündung, greatly impeding navigation until 1814.
1525 The order state of Prussia became a secular duchy under Albrecht von Brandenburg. The last Grand Master was the first duke. The Kompturen held main offices. The changes were mainly religious in nature. Protestantism supplanted the Catholic Church. Luther's teaching had fallen on fertile ground here. At this time the Order Castle Memel was converted into a citadel. The Cracow peace of 8 April 1525 created the possibility of colonization to a greater extent. The Lutheran doctrine (the Word of God bear witness in their native language) spiritual movement and brought it with him, that even the non-german languages, such as Lithuanian in Prussia received a written culture. So, the first Lithuanian book, 1547, the first Lithuanian translation of the Bible in 1590 and the first Lithuanian grammar were printed in 1653 in East Prussia.

From 1525 to 1722--the era of the Prussian Duchy (strong centralized government)

Red: Old Location 1 = Dom St. Marien, 2 = rural church of St. Nicholas, 3 = Church of St. John. Green: New Location 4 = Church of St. John, 5 = rural Church of St. Nicholas (later St.Jakobi), 6 = Reformed Church, 7 = Catholic Church. Blue: the Old Dange with Mill trench.
1560 Construction of the first church in Willkischken [19]. It was destroyed by the Russians in 1758 and rebuilt in 1770. Masive replaced in 1896 by a new building with 45 m high tower.
1567 The first time Jews [20]/ [21] were mentioned in Memel.
1568 Duke Albrecht built a church in Coadjuthen [22]. 1772 and renewed it in 1801, in 1946 it was destroyed. It is now used again as a church.
1574 By command of Duke Albrecht a church was also built in Piktupönen [23] in 1744 with a new wooden tower. (Destroyed)
1580 Koenigsberg seeks an injunction against the port of Memel, and against the building of ships.
1583 Memel can win back freedom of navigation and shipping. In Russ [24] the church is rebuilt.
1593 Commercial shipbuilding started.
1627 From 1629 to 1635, during the "Thirty Years War", Memel city and castle are attached more, but this could not prevent that the Swedes occupied the city and burnt surrounding areas.
1629-36 Occupation of the Memel Main Office by the Swedes.
1638 From this time prescriptions of land were increased. Charlottenhof [25] and Tauerlauken [26] had noble rights. Now, more noble estates were created.
1678 The Swedes take Memel again, the city burns down again. Castle and Citadel survive. The Swedish Army moves ahead to Memel. Incinerated villages mark the path of the Swedes.
1679 Invasion of Sweden: the Grand Duke comes across the ice of the Curonian Lagoon in person. He establishes Couriers twice a week between Memel and Kleve. The route runs along the spit and Konigsberg to Berlin to Kleve on the Rhine. The reformed Prince brings in the Dutch, Scots, Englishmen and Huguenots in Memel as merchants. The Frisians previously recruited for the Vistula and the Konigsberg area are recruited for the low and the Memel country, in order to drain swamps and to create agricultural jobs. All immigrants are allowed to have their own churches, "suum cuique": "To each his own" or "justice for everyone". Prussia becomes the first modern law of the continent.
1681/83 Construction of the "Reformed Church" [27] in Memel goes, in 1854 on the "Great Fire" is also in flames. New development took place in 1859.
1688/97 Construction of the last church in Prökuls [28],
1695 Plaschken [29] received its first church, destroyed in 1757 by Russians, rebuilt, replaced in 1900 by a Romanesque building. (Still available).
1704 Construction of a church in Kinten [30], after the Church of Windenburg [31] collapsed in 1702.
1708 Beginning of the great plague in Memel country rages among the starving population through terrible crop failures. 1710 died e.g. Around 600 people a week.
1709/ 11 In the Great Plague 2,000 people, about 40 percent of the population of northern East Prussia, died in Memelland. Russian troops are in Poland and Lithuania, and determine the political course that is felt in Memel. Kurland and Lithuania are part of Russia (1795-1915).
1717 Friedrich Wilhelm I (Soldierking) introduces compulsory education for boys and girls.
1722 The main offices were divided into smaller domain offices. The Office of the Chief Memel now crumbled in the domain Offices Althof [32], Klemmenhof [33], Prökuls, Heydekrug [34] and the former Chamber Russ. Memel is constructed with the department Gumbinnen. The first mayor is mentioned. Friedrich Wilhelm I forces the building of the fortress in Memel.

From 1722 to 1818--the era of provincial governments (smaller regional governments)

1732 The tolerant Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I called settlers into the country. So he offered inter alia in 1732 17,000 Salzburgers [35] that of faith have been displaced due to a new home. Only few come to Memelland. Moreover, at the same time migrated in 1,000 Protestants from Switzerland, Huguenots from France, over 13,000 people from central and southern Germany, about 3,000 Mennonites from Kulm and 5,000 Dutchmen, Poles, Scots, and English in East Prussia, and settled in part in Memel down.
1734/37 Construction of a massive church in Wischwill [36] instead of the old church from the 16th century (Church is no longer available)
1750 Compulsory education has become the suit growers.
1756-63 Memel occupied by Tsarist Russia. The Russians cut down the Nehrungsforest [37], villages are devastated and need to be resettled. 10,000 Russians lay siege to the fortress of Memel, 110 houses will be shot to pieces. Despite assurance of safe conduct Prussian soldiers are deported to Russia.
1758-1762 Empress Elisabeth v. Russia annexed as part of the Seven Years War (1756-1763) East Prussia and Memel thus the country. The Russians brought with typhus, dying from the main office in Memel 8,000 people.
1776 St. John's Lodge "Memphis" was founded by Memel merchants. (to 1919 in the Alexander Street [38] behind the post)
1770 Frederick the Great waived the fortress in Memel, it is ground..
1784 On the border of Vitte [39] has started building a wooden church for the Catholic population for the consecration to the Holy Trinity.
1802 The King and Queen of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm III. and Queen Louise keep from June 8 to June 16 at Memel in and meet with Emperor Alexander of Russia. The Couple lives in the town house of Friedrich Ludwig Luis Consentius in the street. The princes lived in the house of Argelander (present location of the Post) [40]. Memel is the only city of Prussia that was not conquered by Napoleon.
1807-08 Memel is in the fight against Napeleon short royal seat of the Prussian king and queen had fled there (King Friedrich Wilhelm III. And Queen Louise). Queen Louise is interested in the culture of the Prussian and Lithuanian women since there are especially large one in the district of Memel worship of Queen Luise. The city of Memel has at that time 5,080 inhabitants. The housing problem for the court and the military are significant, even though the city benefits from it. Smuggling flourishes because of Napoleon's Continental System. Nevertheless, there are many poor people and beggars. The situation will be under the presence of Napoleonic troops for the royal couple so menacing that emigration is considered to Russia.
1808 The residence of the royal family is again moved to Koenigsberg.
1812 Memel in June occupied by Prussian troops as Napoleon's auxiliary troops. Napoleon concentrated in space, led General York more troops against Russia. On Aug 31, 1200 French soldiers entered the city. On 26 December, the Memel allied with the Russians.
1815 Memel is experiencing an economic boom.
January 1, 1817 Friedrich Wilhelm Horch published his paper "Memelschen Wochenblatt"

From 1818 to 1918--restoration and the Imperial Era

1818 -78 Memel belongs to the city district Königsberg in Preußen [41].
1820 Memel is experiencing another economic boom.
1831 Cholera in Heydekrug.
1834 Construction of Nordermole. Establishment of the Agricultural Association (acquisition and testing of machines, animal shows, horse racing, socializing).
1841 1st Steamboat on the Memel. Baptists in Memel seized foot and built a church at New Park [42] next to the Queen-Luise- High School [43].
1842 1st Cheese Factory (Swiss settlers brought with the knowledge). Road-Memel Tilsit [44] (coming for many years progressing gradually)
1844 First pharmacy in Prökuls.
1845 As the town hall for the city of Memel Consentiussche property was purchased in the Market street [45]. Construction of the courthouse in Heydekrug
1847 First rural postman, 2x a week.
1848 Impact of the revolution in Schmelz [46] and Prökuls.
1848 - 1880 Yet again the introduction of leprosy [47]. To Memel around 36 diseases.
1849 The first edition of the Memeler Dampfboot [48] (a popular Memel Newspaper) is printed.
1852 First district medical officer after a long search.
1853 On October 1 the last section of the road Memel Tilsit was completed.
October 4 & 5, 1854 Fire breaks into a store, in the middle of the timber yards. A particularly heavy fire in the history of the many fires raging in Memel; new development of large parts of the Old Town. The fire on the wooden seats at the Dange-River making 3,000 people homeless. Then the reconstructed Old Town continues to characterize the townscape.
1855 Telegraph connection Tilsit-Memel. Expansion of the Winter Harbor in Memel [49].
1856 Amber finds in Prökuls.
1856/58 In the St John's Church [50] in the Memel Marktstraße using the old walls as nave vaulted hall church is rebuilt. At the same time in 1686 moved into the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Straße old country church St. Nikolai is built (later Jakobus) [51]. (Both churches have been destroyed.)
1857 Synagogue and bathhouse in Russ. The parish Saugen [52] receives a church. (Not available) The theater, which was destroyed in a fire in 1854, is built in Memel a new building.
1860 Amber excavators in Schwarzort [53] on an industrial basis. The first 4 Country mailboxes. From 1860, systematic breeding is operated (Trakehner-horses). Building of the market hall from wood by the merchant Wiener. But burned again in 1892 and was rebuilt in 1899/1900 massive. Construction of a new court building in the Holzstraße.
1860/61 Construction of gas works in Memel.
1862 1st Remonte market in Prökuls (horses for the military). Heydekrug receives a telegraph office. The Protestant Church in Dawillen [54] is inaugurated. On 10 August 1862 is the foundation stone for the construction of the Catholic Church in Memel [55].
1863 On Aug. 2nd the Anglican (English) Church in Memel Holzstr. corner Rosenstr. is dedicated [56]. (Destroyed) The building of the King Wilhelm Canal [57] is started (First planned already in 1765). The lighthouse in Windenburg, which still exists, replaces a beacon. Memel: The solemn consecration of the new Catholic church that was built to replace the old wooden church takes place on September 3, 1863.
1866 The Church in Wieszen [58] is dedicated. Memel: New fortifications arise: the Plantagenfort (now sports station) [59], the Citadel [60] (later Aschhof) [61] and the peak on the Wilhelmsfort in Southshore Spit (now Maritime Museum)
1867/68 were lean years, due to wet and cold weather and poor harvests. The newly established "Patriotic Women's Association" sets up soup kitchens.
1869 1st Steam threshing machine.
1871 The establishment of the German Empire. Democratic elections and the right to vote: free, equal and by secret ballot (but only for men). Memel was most northerly city of the German Empire. Nimmersatt [62] the most northerly village of the Empire.
after 1871 The minority-politcs of Chancellor Bismarck caused tensions between Memellanders and Lithuanians. In Tilsit "Lithuania Minor" cultural associations and newspapers are established. From the Prussian-Lithuanian population only the cultural but not the political offers are accepted. Due to the great cultural and political difference and because of the different religions a connection to Lithuania is rejected by the majority! A few activists set up "Lithuania Minor" [63] /[64]. The majority of the Baltic population set up a speedy Self-Germanization. The term "Lithuania Minor" is not correct because a "Great Lithuania" since Mindaugas (1203-1263) never existed. Lithuania was "Russian-Lithuanian" and under the Russian yoke, while "Prussian Lithuania" belonged to Prussia and the Prussian-Lithuanian population were loyal Prussian subjects, who enjoyed all the rights!
1873 The King Wilhelm Canal was opened in order to spare the rafters the difficult circumnavigation of the Windenburger Ecke [65].
1874 Construction of the Imperial Post.
1875 Nida lighthouse, Tilsit Memel-River bridge, Memel connection to the railway network over Heydekrug, Pogegen [66], Tilsit.
1878 Church built in Schmalleningken. (Destroyed)
1879 "Littauische litteräre Gesellschaft" (lithuanian literature society) established in Tilsit, which became later the Council of Lithuania Minor.
1881 Educational institutions in Bachmann [67] and Gropischken [68] for orphaned children. In Memel the construction of Queen-Louise High School, Victoria Hotel, City Hall.
1882 Station in Memel.
1884 Trakseden [69] peat factory (still in operation). Memel district hospital is built.
1884/85 Construction of the church in Schwarzort [70], after the old wooden church was burned down.
1886 Rucken [71] replaced a church.
1887 Further expansion of road network. Laugszargen [72] Church is built.
1888 Dedication of the Church in Nidden [73] (Nida). Completion of the hospital on Steinstraße at Memel.
1892 The railway from Memel to Bajohren [74] is completed.
1893 Memel receives a new Post Office in Gothic style in the Alexanderstraße. Telephone line between Memel and Berlin established. Memel receives a Navigation school in Bommelsvitte [75].
1894 Fishing port on Walgum- Bommelsvitte.
1895 Epidemic of an Egyptian eye disease. 470 children fell ill in the district of Memel.
1897 At the request of Prof.Dr.Robert Koch the construction of a leprosy home was decided. (City park) Raiffeisen-loans established, offers discounted fertilizer, seeds, fishing nets.
1899 Paleiten [76] receives a "Jubilee church". Inauguration of the leprosy home in the urban plantation. 15 patients were included at the inauguration in July 1899. 1944 more than 10 patients were present. They were moved to Konigsberg in October 1944 due to the war. The leprosy home was destroyed.
after 1900 The emphasis is on the development of light railways.
1900 - 1902 Construction of the lighthouse in Perwelk [77]. Südermole built on the northern tip of the Spit. Construction of the municipal hospital in Memel Parkstraße funded by the merchant Wiener (Named the "Wiener's Promenade").
1903 Pasziesen [78] is parish seat, and also receives one of the Jubileumskirchen (Jubilee church). 1st Motor trawler on the Lagoon. In Mestellen [79] a Baptist Chapel is built. Community members 130 people.
1904 Breakwater and pier built in Nidden . Nattkischken [80] also receives one of the twelve East Prussian Jubileumskirchen. (Destroyed) On Aug 18, the electric tram operation begins in Memel, .
after 1904 Planning of Meliorationworks (drainage), establishment of cooperatives drainage, construction of dikes and drainage areas.
1906 Commissioning of the small rail lines from Memel to Laugallen [81] and Plicken [82].
1907 The Queen Louise Bridge over the Memel before Tilsit is completed after three years of construction. On 23.Sept. Kaiser Wilhelm II came to inaugurate the Borussia monument in Memel.
1908 In Memel the old wooden Charles Bridge will be replaced by a modern, electrically powered bascule bridge.
1909 The Church of Kairinn [83] is dedicated. (Destroyed) At the same time a church in Wannagen [84] is built.
1911 The church is consecrated in Karkelbeck [85]. (Destroyed) Agriculture: Breeding Regulations, milk control associations, Prökulser sheep are synonymous with quality.
1908 -1911 Construction of the Royal Teacher Training College [86] and the Auguste-Viktoria-Lyceum [87], the most modern schools of the Empire (now Conservatory), and the barracks (now University) in Memel.
1912/13 Construction of small rail line Heydekrug - Kolleschen [88]. Drainage of the Iszlusze-Moore [89], creation of settlements.
1914 The District officer receives an automobile.
1914/18 World War 1. March 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk: Lithuania received from Germany and Russia the right to self-determination and was recognized as an independent state.

From 1918 to 1923--from the end of WWI

Memelland - Klaipėda Region, its counties and parishes during the separation period 1920-1939
1918 "Kleinlitauische" activists set up the National Council of the Kleinlitauer (Lithuania Minor) and call for the annexation of the Memelland to Lithuania.
June 28, 1919 Lithuania claims the Memel country as "old Lithuanian" territory. Poland is also wants to lay claim to the Memel country.
1920 On January 9 the Versaillervertrag came into force. After the defeat of Germany in World War I, the town and the whole region of Memel was placed under the protectorate of the Entente states. The Memelland was separated from Germany and placed under the Allied and Associated Powers. A small French garrison under General Odry comes to Memel. As long as there is a possibility of a Polish-Lithuanian confederation, Poland supports the efforts of Lithuania to claim the Memel territory. Poland was able to play an active role in the Baltic States, because economic and political activities were restricted in Germany and Lithuania. Lithuania was not legally recognized due to the non-resolved Vilna conflict . As a result of separation, the new county Pogegen formed.
February 13, 1920 Memel was administrated by the French occupation forces until 1923.
1921 The "Community for the State of Memel", which was founded at the initiative of the German-Lithuanian federal homeland" organized a survey: Of 71,856 registered voters, 54,429 were in favor of a Free State (that is, against an annexation to Lithuania).
1922 Lithuania begins planning a military occupation of Memelland. Klaipeda city is 93% German, in the Memel area, however, make the Prussian-Lithuanians account for 63% of the population. Nevertheless, they do not want to connect to the backward and Catholic Russian Lithuanians. Prime Minister Galvanauskas encourages the German ambassador to occupy the Memel country. Germany signaled approval (to strengthen the Lithuanian resistance against Poland).

Galvanauskas begins to plan "Operation Memel and enlists the Lithuanian Shooting. Simonaitis had just returned from the Conference of Ambassadors in Paris and tells of the decision to build a sanctuary. He stated that the Lithuanians were Memellanders practical materialists, slowly falling behind and never initiate an uprising would. The Lithuanians begin in the Memel region to establish local infantry units. A role played by the "kleinlitauische" Union "Santara. There were secret Lithuanian locals, with the aim of the national consciousness of the "Kleinlitauer strengthening" to liberate them and to unite with the big brother of course. Creation of a Memel Rifle led Kumietis from Kaunas.

The Lithuanians received from Germany 1,500 German rifles and light machine guns and 5 ammo on easy terms. Galvanauskas pays a secret background. When deployment of the Lithuanian fighters mingled not one German police. At the rally attended by locals hardly. Budrys, a farmer from Pogegen rejected the leadership of the uprising. Povilaitis later took on its behalf in order to spend as Memel.

The economic situation in Lithuania was favorable. Because of inflation, people are happy in Lithuania that the devaluation would be the followers of the German mark to Lithuania to bring more crowds than the best agitation. In Memel country increased the price of bread, the product range was limited, so that the Memellanders welcomed the introduction of the litas. After the announcement of the Free State status decided Galvanauskas the preparations for the invasion. The "Committee to Save Lithuania Minor" distributed leaflets in the German language "against a transformation of the Memel territory in a Polish colony," one should "the lesser evil" Lithuania choose.

The main task of the Lithuanian infantry units was to disguise the participation of the Lithuanian army in the uprising. Number of Lithuanian soldiers: 2.000 - 3,000 men (many wrong numbers in circulation) the number of French defenders: 200 soldiers with machine guns, 20 to 25 Lithuanian companies will be taken by train to the border of Memel. On the train only takes one to civilian clothes, which is however consistent. For some soldiers, the clothes do not last, so that they can get off. Galvanauskas command: Courteous, no looting, drinking and no political speeches. Lithuanian documents and give all the things that references to the Lithuanian identity (which might matches, tobacco can) in Lithuania.

Leaflets in German are full of barbarism and Lithuanian phrases, so to conclude, is that they were written by Lithuanians. Lithuanians come to the Memel country, first to Heydekrug, because there the population has a larger proportion than in Prussia and Lithuania's Klaipeda. Population still behaves passively. Command from Kaunas to occupy Memel (from the south) invasion of Memel. Only the barracks to remain in French hands.

1923 Number of dead is exaggerated by Lithuanians. Indeed, 10 Lithuanians, but also 2 French and 1 German policeman. Regular troops to be repatriated to Lithuania. The Lithuanian government "regretted" that they do not have the Memel insurgents can help. Polovinskas is an army of Memel Lithuanian shooters and volunteers. The Memel more countries join in for pragmatic reasons, because they will pay a 2 LTL / day given what is stated negatively in Kaunas. Lithuanian Regular exchanged every 3 weeks, as it mostly Zemaites provided by the Lithuanian commander disparagingly referred to as "smugglers".

To cover up the true circumstances of international, distributed by the Lithuanian news agency that neither regular nor irregular troops have crossed the border to Memel. For Lithuania, Memel was the occupation of the country a brave step that was a state-building factor. Nevertheless, the Versailles Treaty were broken. The Conference of Ambassadors recognized the annexation as a fact. The French troops (of all things high mountain troops!) left the Memel area.

For Germany, was a Lithuanian sovereignty rather than a French one. The Memel countries may opt for Germany or Lithuania. Most opt for Germany and go to East Prussia. (Less than 600 of 150,000 option for Lithuania). From 1923 to 1937 traveled 13,000 Memel into the German Reich. At the same time, 21,000 Lithuanians emigrated in the Memel area. The rest of the population of the country received Memel Lithuanian passports with the entry "citizen of the Memel territory" as a nationality designation.

Annexation by Lithuania 1923-1939

1924 Option contract. Memellander who opt for German citizenship are expelled.
1924 In spite of industrialization and economic expansion port expansion not visible, but always tension and conflict with Kaunas. Ethnic struggle. In the elections (in 13 years 6) for the Memel parliament, the Lithuanian party won only between 2 - 5 of 29 seats.
1926 From Dec 17, 1926 to November 1938 over the Memel area remained the state of war imposed. Inauguration of the Protestant Church of Heydekrug.
1929 Instead of the modest little church, built in 1900 replaced Ramutten [90] a new church.
1930 Inauguration of the Herder Gymnasium in Heydekrug [91].
1933 Memel two parties are re-established: the CSA (Christian Social Association) and the SOVOG (People's Socialist Community). The elections to fill the Memelland parties together into a single list. 1938 results from this single party the Memelland Culture Association. Pogegen receives a makeshift church. In 1938 it was expanded and provided with a tower.
1934 Prohibition of the Germany-oriented political parties in Memel by the Lithuanians. 26 leading members were arrested. They were in December 1935 by the Lithuanian court-martial for alleged uprising in Kaunas sentenced to severe penalties (4x even to death, but not enforced).
1938 On November 1, lifting of martial law, pointed out on Dec 11, first free elections. Turnout 97%, 87.2% German Unity List (25 seats); lists Lithuanian 12.8% (4 seats) Lithuania signaled its willingness to negotiate with Germany.

The increased pressure in Poland to Lithuania, Lithuania took place in Europe only to the German government aid commitment on the condition cede the Memelland into the German Reich. On March 22 the contracts were signed. German troops are marching. Hitler speaks in Memel and is feted. The Memellanders see only their liberation but fail to recognize the totalitarian structures.

March 23, 1939 Klaipeda, the only sea-port of Lithuania, came back to Germany.

Back to Germany 1939-1945

1939 Option contract. People who opted for German citizenship in 1924 are allowed to return to Memelland. The population can opt again. Only 584 people opt for Lithuanian citizenship, 130 of whom already live in Kaunas.
1940 Hitler leaves 40,000 German from Lithuania to the Lithuanian Soviet Republic relocate to Germany (or Poland in occupied territories). Thousands Memellanders with Lithuanian identity and German-speaking left to be deported to the east. Soviets occupy Lithuania.
1941 On September 27 Heydekrug finally receives a city. The Memel country, as East Prussia, staging ground against the Soviet Union. Lithuania overrun by Nazi Germany. The first Soviet air raid on Memel. The republic was briefly re-established in the interval between the two calamities, which saw tens of thousands deported to Siberia and the near disappearance of the Jewich community in Hitler's "final solution".
1944 Memel city and the Memel country will be cleared of German civilians. While the city is almost empty, the rural population in large part by horse and wagon not escape in time before the Russians over the rivers. The Soviets get cut at the Palanga Baltic Sea and from the Courland Army.
January 28, 1945 The last German troops left the bridgehead Memel on Jan 28, the city, contributing to the Spit translated. The Red Army occupied Memel. The city soviet commander can sign up for four weeks only 28 in the German city. Lithuanians refer the former German farms and homes of Memel. Returning refugees find their property occupied and wandered aimlessly around the top.

Lithuanian Era 1945 to the present

The Soviet Period 1945 - 1989

after 1945 In the first years after the war, many people (old Memellander as well as new immigrated Lithuanians) are deported to Siberia.
1948 On 07 April was annexed the city and the entire Memel in the Lithuanian Soviet Republic.
1950-1960 In the 50's and 60's departure of nearly ten thousand in the home countries remaining Memellanders to Germany.
1987 When was the Memel area for each travel zone so far, now saw the first tentative journeys to be made after the "Iron Curtain" began to lift.
1989 In November, the newly-made bronze statue of "Annchen of Tharau" are taken to Memel. Donations of Memel (Annchen of Tharau of Association) had enabled.

From the independence of Lithuania in 1989 to the present

March 11, 1990 Republic was again proclaimed.
1991 The final turning point for Lithuania, which, like all the Baltic States will receive its independence. Memellanders humans and many other organizations support the residents of Memelland (now Klaipedos krastas) with relief supplies of various kinds. It is estimated that live in the territory of Memel country even from 6,000 to 8,000 of German people.
1992 The Lithuanian minority law not only allowed the creation of the "Association of the German" in Klaipeda / Memel and the German "Verein Heide" in Silute / Heydekrug. 1 September 1992, the German "Hermann Sudermann boarding school" Klaipeda / Memel created as a state school. Here are just a German-born children are included. From the beginning with 92 students, it is up to 2004 became a school, leading to the high school and is attended by nearly 500 students.
Feb. 14, 1993 Lithuanians turned out to vote for Algirdas Brazauskas, making him the first directly elected president of Lithuania.
1999 The newspaper of Memel, the "Memeler Dampfboot" (Memel steam boat), is celebrating its 150th anniversary in the former steamboat house in the city of Klaipeda / Memel.
2002 The old Memellanders and the new Lithuanian residents celebrate the 750 year anniversary of the city.
2004 Accession to the European Union.


Data from the genealogical index of places

GOV-Id object_298734
  • Territoire de Memel (fre)
  • Klaipėdos kraštas (lit)
  • Memelland (deu)
  • mandate territory (1920 - 1923)
  • province (1923 - 1939)

TK25: 0494

Superordinate objects

Lithuania, Litouwen, Litwa, Litauen, Lituanie, Lietuva, Литва, Litauische SSR, Литовская ССР (1923 - 1939) ( country union republic republic )

League of Nations, Völkerbund, Société des Nations, Sociedad de Naciones (1920 - 1923) ( confederation )

Subordinate objects
name type GOV-Id Timespan
Heydekrug, Šilutės apskritis county rural county object_298739 (1920-01-10 - 1939-04-30)
Pagėgių apskritis, Pogegen county rural county county object_217926 (1920-01-27 - 1939-03-21)
Klaipėdos apskritis, Memel county rural county object_213956 (1920 - 1939)
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