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Memel(mā`məl), city (1993 pop. 206,400), W Lithuania, on the Baltic Sea, at the entrance to the Courland Lagoon. An ice-free seaport and an industrial center, it has shipyards and industries producing textiles, fertilizers, and wood products. It is the home of a large fishing fleet. One of the oldest cities of Lithuania, Klaipeda was the site of a settlement as early as the 7th cent. It was conquered and burned in 1252 by the Teutonic Knights, who built a fortress and named it Memelburg. The city was ceded (1629) by Prussia to Sweden but reverted to Prussia in 1635. In the Napoleonic Wars the city was (1807) the refuge and residence of Frederick William III of Prussia, who signed there the edict emancipating the serfs in his kingdom. From 1919 it shared the history of the Memel TerritoryMemel Territory
, Ger. Memelland, name applied to the district (1,092 sq mi/2,828 sq km) of former East Prussia situated on the east coast of the Baltic Sea and the right (northern) bank of the Neman River.
..... Click the link for more information. . The name has also appeared as Klaypeda.
(formerly Memel), a city in Lithuanian SSR; major ice-free port on the shores of the Baltic Sea and the Courland Lagoon, near the mouth of the Dane River. Railroad station and highway junction. Population, 150,000 (1972; 90,000, 1959).
Klaipėda is one of the oldest cities in Lithuania. It was known as a settlement of Baits in the first centuries of the Common Era. In 1252 a Germanic order of knights invaded Lithuania and built a castle there. Between 1252 and 1253 they founded a city, which they named Memel. In 1525, Klaipėda became a part of Prussia. From 1629 to 1635 it belonged to Sweden. It became a possession of Prussia again in 1701. During the Seven Years’ War, the city was captured by Russian troops (1757) but was returned to Prussia in 1762. It became part of the German Empire in 1871. By the accords of the Peace Treaty of Versailles (1919), Klaipėda was turned over to the Entente in 1920. It was returned to Lithuania in 1923. On Mar. 22, 1939, the city was occupied by fascist German troops. It was liberated by the Soviet Army on Jan. 28, 1945. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, the city was greatly damaged.
After the war, Klaipėda’s industry was revived and rebuilt. The principal sectors of the economy are fishing, ship repair, shipbuilding, light industry, food processing, and wood-products industry.
Klaipėda extends in a comparatively narrow strip along the Courland Lagoon. The Dane River divides it into the Left-bank and Right-bank, or old and new regions. Parts of the castle on Courland Spit (17th and 18th centuries) have been preserved. There are also remains of stone warehouses dating from as early as the 18th century, the magistrate building (begun in 1770), and a theater (begun in 1875). In the postwar period, the city has been built according to a general plan drawn up by the architects V. S. Revzin and P. Janulis in 1962. A commons has been created. There is a new square, Soviet Square, with a House of Culture (1963, architect A. Mikénas). Residential and industrial regions have been developed to the south and east of the city. There is an evening department of the Kaunas Polytechnic Institute. The city also has six specialized secondary schools. Klaipėda is the site of a drama theater and a museum of local lore.
REFERENCES[Mešys, I.] Klaipėda. [Vilnius, 1964.]
Butkus, V. Klaipėda. Vil’nius, 1972.
I. K. MINKEVIČIUS and B. K. ÉLĖRTIENĖ