Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Klaipėda (German Memel or Memelburg) is Lithuania's only seaport on the Baltic Sea. It has 194,400 inhabitants (2002), down from 202,900 in 1989. Today Klaipeda is a major ferry port with connections to Sweden, Denmark, and Germany. It is situated close to the mouth of the Curonian Lagoon.
The buildings of Klaipeda have a picturesque framework architecture similar to that found in Germany, England, and Denmark. Popular Lithuanian seaside resorts are found close to Klaipeda in Neringa and Palanga.
As the settlement of Baltic tribes Klaipeda is known in the first centuries AD. For a long time it belonged to East Prussia, during which time it was called Memel.
The area was converted to Christianity by the Teutonic Knights. The Peace at Melno-See in 1422 fixed the border between Province of Prussia and Lithuania. Memel remained included in Prussia and the border remained unchanged until 1919. It was one of the longest unchanged borders in Europe, and is referenced in the now-unsung first verse of the German national anthem, describing the borders of German-speaking lands: Von der Maas bis an die Memel.
Beginning in 1474 Memel was governed by the Culm Law of the Prussian Land cities. In 1525 Ducal Memel, under Albert of Prussia (Albrecht von Brandenburg-Ansbach-Prussia), adopted Lutheranism. It was the beginning of a long time of prosperity for the city and port, since Ducal Prussia was a Polish fief and later part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This border city served as port for neighbouring Lithuania, benefiting from its location near the mouth of the Neman River. The end of the prosperous times came, when between 1629 and 1635 Memel was attacked, damaged, and occupied by Sweden. It was rebuilt numerous times and 75 years later a large number of people in Memel died of the plague. With the creation of the united German state in 1871 Memel became the most north-easterly city of Germany.
With the Treaty of Versailles the town of Memel and the surrounding territory was placed under the protectorate of the Entente States. The territory was called Memelland and was separated from Germany and an autonomous government under French occupation was installed. However, Lithuanian troops under the command of Colonel Budrys attacked in 1923 and the French troops left. Lithuania realized that all local votes were against keeping Memel and returned the town to the German Reich on March 22, 1939, after its annexations of Austria, Sudetenland, and Bohemia and Moravia.
During the Second World War, starting at the end of 1944 and into 1945, the inhabitants fled during active fighting. The city was captured by the Red Army in January 1945 and again given to the Lithuanian Soviet Republic, which in 1947 renamed the town to Klaipeda.
People born in Klaipeda
- Simon Dach (1605 - 1659), poet
- Rev. Michael Wohlfahrt (1687 - 1741), religious leader in America
- Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander (1799 - 1875), astronomer
- George Adomeit (1879 - 1967), American painter
- Immanuel Kant's grandfather and father
- Official website of the city of Klaipeda
- Page on the history of Memel/Klaipeda by Richard Doody
- University of Klaipeda
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details