Neman River

Course of Memel

The Memel in Alytus

The Memel in Druskininkai, Lithuania

The Memel in Jurbarkas, Lithuania

The Memel, Lithuania occupied in 1923 by

The Memel ( Lithuanian Nemunas listen? / I, Belarusian Нёман ( Neman ), Russian Неман ( Neman ), Polish Niemen ) is a 937 km long stream that flows from Belarus through Lithuania in the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea. The underflow with the Russ - current ( Northern Branch in Memel delta ) forms the border with the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast.


The name " Memel " derives perhaps from the Curonian -Lithuanian from: Memelis, mimelis (silent, slow, silent ) lithuanian MEMS ( mute, speechless ) and refers to both the lagoon and the lower reaches of the river. As Memel is especially the 1945 flowing through East Prussia, 112 km long lower reaches of Smalininkai ( Schmalleningken ) in the east to the mouth called (64 km Memel, 35 km soot / carbon black and 13 km Atmath ). For the section of the river in Belarus and Lithuania, the Polish name Niemen Niemen or is used in the German language often.

In ancient writings, as in the Geographike Hyphegesis of Claudius Ptolemy, is a river called Rhubon (also Rhudon; Gr. Ῥούβωνος ἐκβ ) above, which is sometimes equated to the history research with the Memel, by other authors but also with the Dvina.

A similarly named river ( Memele, or Nemunelis in Lithuania) rises in northern Lithuania and Latvia to flow through in the direction of Riga coast. Possibly the river name is part of the language families cross the so-called Old European Hydronymie; a Namensparalelle would then also the small left tributary of the River Main Mümling in the Odenwald, the Roman- Latin Erstbeleg Nemaninga is.

The river was in ancient times part of the Amber Road trading route from the Baltic to the Mediterranean.


The Memel rises in Belarus to the Belarusian ridge slightly southwest of Minsk.

From there it flows initially in a westerly direction to Grodno. Then she turns primarily in a northwesterly direction to Lithuania, where it breaks through the Baltic ridge and flows through Kaunas. Prior to this city it is dammed by a hydroelectric power plant in Kaunas sea. The old town of Kaunas is located at the mouth of the largest tributary river Neris. Later, the Memel forms the west and east of Sowjetsk ( Tilsit ) the border between Lithuania and Kaliningrad, the Russian part of the former East Prussia.

The Memel forms a delta. With its two main estuary of Gilgestrom ( Matrossowka ) ( Old Prussian gilus, gilin, gillis (low), German Gilgestrom, Lithuanian Gilge or Gilija ) and Rusnė ( Old Prussian Ruset flow slowly, streaming, German carbon black stream) flowing into the belonging to the Baltic Sea Curonian Lagoon. The Rusnė branches into Atmata in the north ( Old Prussian at, by, from, her, Old Prussian mat pan ) and Skirvytė, ( Old Prussian share Skirti, separate, distinguish, separate, characterize, Old Prussian wistit, swirl ) and other smaller estuaries. On an island in the delta lies the place Rusnė. At the mouth of the Atmata, on the VENTES Ragas, is Lithuania's most important bird observatory.

About the Polesski channel ( German Big Friedrichsgraben ) is connected to the river Pregel, which flows to the south.

Major cities

Are located on the Memel among others these cities:

  • Hrodna ( Grodno )
  • Druskininkai
  • Alytus
  • Prienai
  • Kaunas ( chewing)
  • Jurbarkas
  • Tilsit ( Sowjetsk )

At the mouth of the Curonian Lagoon, through the Neman flows ultimately into the Baltic Sea, also lies the city of Klaipeda.

Song of Germany

The Memel is mentioned in the first verse of the song Germany as one of the borders of Germany:

The librettist August Heinrich Hoffmann von Faller life has the area which he considered to belong because of its population of German-speaking population than Germany, outlined approximately geographically by entering these waters in 1841. In East Prussia was part of it. Its northern and eastern boundaries for over 400 years were already stable (Treaty of Melnosee, 1422 ). There, offered himself as the demarcation of Memel, although still in the Klaipėda Region, north of it, was German spoken. On a clear linguistic boundary he was not thinking, the area along the river was at that time the Baltic- German Mixed, also the concept of linguistic nationalism was effective only at the end of the 19th century.

The Treaty of Versailles made ​​at the instigation of France, the Memel in 1920 actually to a limit, as the Klaipėda Region was separated. These boundaries since 1945 is reflected in the border between Lithuania and the Kaliningrad enclave.

Another mention was the Memel in the folk song Attracted once five wild swans (words transmitted by Karl Plenzat, traditional way ):


In July 1807 between Emperor Napoleon I, Tsar Alexander I and King Frederick William III. closed on a raft in the Neman the Peace of Tilsit.

In the Treaty of Versailles, the Memel was explained along with the Danube, Elbe and Oder to the international river.