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The city of Memel was founded by the Teutonic Order in 1252 and remained Prussian until 1920.


The origins of the coat of arms in gold on a red background can be proven except for seals from the second half of the 13th century. The old coat of arms of Memel was taken over from the city of Klaipėda and shows the crenellated castle tower of Memelburg in the middle (protected by the ramparts), flanked on both sides by wooden beacons (beacon in Bommelsvitte and "Galgenbake" in Schmelz ). The stable rowboat indicates the location of the Memelburg on the Curonian Lagoon and provides the ferry to the Curonian Spit, The four stars indicate a time when the sailor still had to navigate without a compass. 




A copy of this seal was found on a document from 1446 in the State Archives in Lübeck. In addition to the central tower, it shows a wall-like fortification with battlements covered with stars, which forms the basis for the 'beacons'. Four more stars are arranged around the towers, so to speak in the firmament. The inscription shows that it was the seal of the citizens of Memel >> SIGILLVM BVRGENSIVM DE MEMELA <<. This inscription is in uncials. This indicates that the seal must have originated in the 13th to 14th centuries, as this font was no longer used later.

According to a seal from the early 18th century and an "Inventory of the Town Hall" from 1730, the coat of arms on the city seal is a golden tower between two wooden scaffoldings on a ship, on a red field ("Das Stadtsiegel im Rothen Feldt, worinnen zwei Schiff's Baacken zwischen einem Baacken-Thurm auf einem Schiff's Rump gesetzt von gelber Farb, mit der umbschrifft Sigillum Civitatis Memelensis." (Sembritzki, p. 170)). Certainly a lightship is meant with two platforms from which the fire could be fired at the tower.

In the nineteenth century it became the opnion that the ship had to lie on the water and it was believed that the tower had to be silver, the water blue and  the ship black. The notion that this is a lightship had already been lost and therefore the ship was presented as a boat moored before the beacon.



This  picture is from "Grundriss von der See- und Handelsstadt Memel"

by  Surveyor C.F.L.Klein from 1856-‘ 57


Memel Wappen

19th century


The arms of Memel became a compromise between the original arms and the later arms. It's red, the waves blue and the boat gold

Royal Prussian Seaport and Commercial city Memel (1900 ca)

The coat of arms of the city of Memel on a house (formerly a Sparkasse temporarily the home of Lord Mayor Bindlinger) in the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Strasse near the Boersenbruecke, 2009 [1]


When Lithuania became independent on 12 July 1920 the Prussian Memel area up to the Nemuas was claimed but instead the area was placed under Allied supervision. In 1923 Memel was eventually annexed by Lithuania. In 1924 it received an autonomous status.

On 23 March 1939 Memel was regained by Prussia but a year later, when Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union, it again came to Lithuania, where it has since been part of.

For the more or less independent Memel the arms of the city Memel was used from 13 March 1920 to 26 May 1925.


The arms disappeared on 22 January 1920 from the head of the Gazette. Therein it was replaced in 1925 by the coat of arms of Lithuania.




Stamp 1923: Lithuanian rider                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     


From a Parade in Memel, 1939, Showing an Old Imperial Banner


Medal, 1939: Teutonic knigh 1252.  After 20 years  hate dictation to the Reich


In July 1934 the arms were removed from the council chamber of the parliament.



On 7 January 1939 the use of the arms was recovered for as long as the area belonged to Prussia (Vierteljahrschrift, 1940 p. A1).


After the WW II, the arms were changed again and it is now: Red, a golden lightship and four mullets in the field. The scaffolds are now on a pedestal castellated, each decorated with five five-pointed stars. The tower has three floors with the top two floors of a double arched window.  [2]


è See illustration in the head of this article 



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 © Hubert de Vries 2020-11-18




[1]  Kurschat, Heinrich A.: Das Buch vom Memelland, Siebert Oldenburg 1968

[2]  Hupp, Otto: Zum Wappen der Stadt Memel. In: Der Deutsche Herold. 1901, pp. 36-37. Memel. In: Vierteljahrschrift für Wappen- Siegel und Familienkunde. 1940, pp. A1-A2. Sembritzki, Joh.: Das Memeler Stadtwappen. In: Der Deutsche Herold. 1900, pp. 169-170, 1901 p. 57. http://www.bork-on-line.de/Memel/misc/Stadtwappen/



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