Journal:Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis
Volume 32 (2016): Transfers of Power and the Armed Forces in Poland and Lithuania, 1919–1941 = Valdžios transferai ir ginkluotosios pajėgos: Lenkija ir Lietuva 1919–1941 metais, pp. 118–147
Based on archival materials, the paper analyses individual cases of nationally motivated incidents in the autonomous Territory of Memel, or Klaipėda region, in the period 1923 to 1939. After Lithuania annexed the region in 1923, incidents between the pro-German local population and members of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union and soldiers in the Lithuanian army were inspired by the clash of interests between Lithuania and Germany. Lithuanisation and the strengthening of the pro-Lithuanian element in the Klaipėda region were manifested in different forms, including the establishment of different organisations and societies based on the example of Lithuania. The organisations did not always enjoy the support of local Lithuanians; moreover, they caused dissatisfaction among the Germans. One such organisation was the 20th Klaipėda territorial unit of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union, established in the region in the first half of 1923. The paper focuses on incidents involving the riflemen Bišofas and Pėteraitis in 1924. It also analyses the increasing number of incidents from the beginning of the 1930s which involved soldiers in the Lithuanian army deployed in the Klaipėda region (the 7th Infantry Samogitian Duke Butigeidis Regiment, and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment). Incidents that involved riflemen in the last years of the region’s autonomy are examined, and the gravitation by local Lithuanians towards Germany, expressed by their withdrawal from Lithuanian organisations and joining German ones, is discussed.
After the Evangelical-dominated Territory of Memel (the Klaipėda Region) had been integrated into the Republic of Lithuania in 1923, the issue of the situation of the Catholics, non-dominant religious group in the region, accounting for 5 per cent of its population in 1925, had to be solved. In 1926, they were separated from the Diocese of Warmia, and joined the newly formed Klaipėda Prelature, part of the Diocese of Telšiai. Thus, the Catholics of the Klaipėda Region were integrated into Church structures controlled from Lithuania, unlike the Evangelicals, who remained part of the composition of the Prussian Evangelical Church. This paper, mainly on the basis of ecclesiastical documents, presents for the first time a broader analysis of the structure of the Catholic Church and its activities in the Klaipėda Region, as part of Lithuania, in the years 1923 to 1939.