The "Memel Problem:" German Memelland in the History World War II with an Aim to its Proper Placement


  • Nathaniel Lutke Wichita State University


Memel region, Memelland, Nazi Germany, Hitler, Memel Problem, Memel Controversy, Memel Question, land grab


An integral part of the eastern German and Prussian social and economic landscape for 700 years, the region known as Memel was stripped from direct German rule according to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I. The Memel territory, alternatively known as 'Memelland'83 to the Germans and the "Klaipeda Region" to the Lithuanians, included the city of Memel and a swath of surrounding former Prussian territory north of the Niemen River.84 The fate of the territory and its 141,000 people was initially left to a relatively disorganized and poorly-established council meant to maintain it similar to a Danzig-style League of Nations mandate "free city," with the objective of providing port access to the port-less and newly-created state of Lithuania.85 This move, as well as other decisions made by the authors of the Paris Peace agreements, ignited political wrangling and inflamed tensions throughout Europe as a whole in the 1920s and 1930s.