Monuments of Wilhelmine Germany in Memel / Klaipėda: A Contribution to the History of Contested Memory (Summary)

Vasilijus Safronovas (PDF)

What motivates the ideas behind the construction of monuments, their collapse and subsequent reconstruction? We already know from previous studies that monuments that are speechless become hostages in the face of competing ideologies, changing political regimes, attempts by different groups of people to impose their dominance, and conflicts of memory. The article shows that all these factors can recharge monuments with new meanings unknown or alien to their builders and designers. On the contrary, the meanings given to monuments by their designers during their construction may not interest future generations. In the break in cultural continuity and changes in the political situation, new generations can give monuments completely new meanings, transforming the ‘alien’ into the ‘own’. The article develops these arguments by reconstructing the history of the three monuments in Memel/Klaipėda, erected in the late Kaiser’s Germany, in the context of memory struggles in the twentieth century.

Keywords: German nationalism, Lithuanian nationalism, contested memory, appropriation of the past, reuse of monuments, continuation of memory, remaking of memory