Jamie Cross Collectables
"THE MEMEL MEDAL 1939" AT WWW.JamieCrossCollectables.co.uk
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Historically, this award is memorable for a number of reasons. Firstly it was the last in the series of three awards issued in Germany for what is termed the "Flower Wars" where German troops just walked in without armed military resistance. The preceeding two areas being Austria and the Sudentan Area of Czechosolvakia. on the 13th March 1938 & 1st October 1938 respectively. Secondly, the medal ribbon for this award is for the colours of Lithuania of red, white and green. Thirdly, the award, although it follows the same obverse with the design of the 1938 Reichspartag badge, the reverse has the inscription "Zur Erinnerung an die Heimkehr des Memellandes 22. Marz 1939."

In English this reads "To commemorate the return of the Memel District 22. March 1939". This replaced the proceeding design of "Ein Reich, Ein Volk Ein Furhur" with either dates 13. Marz 1938 or 1. Oktober 1938. to the centre .
Hitler made the demand to Lithuania on the 20th of March 1939 and unaided by the League of Nations, Lithuania had no real choice but to give in and handed back the area of Memel to Germany. Two days later and German troops arrived by boat to another flower War welcome as Memelland "came home to the Reich" . The medal comes in two main types and this has caused a lot of concern for collectors with one type being condemned by some as a fake. This classification is due to the "A" on the Marz date with some being higher than others, eg a small A and a large A. For years, some collectors believed that the larger "A" types were fake and many are, but so too are many of the smaller "A" types, so unfortunately this cannot be used to authenticate an award as these two catalogue pages clearly show both types of "A" on original awards.
A Medal Makers Catalogue Page Showing the Large A type

A Medal Makers Catalogue Page Showing the Small A type

One clear type of copy though can be identified, and this is the type with the mask on the two men to the front of the award.
A Memelland Copy and Original award

This award is made and sold as a copy in England, but due to the scarcity of the award with less than 32000 issued, many of these copies have been passed off as originals. (This type of front also holds true to both the Sudentenland and Austria medal being a copy).
A Memelland Copy and Original award Reverse

Other copies show clear cast lines around the edge and these should also be avoided.
A Memelland Cast Copy

The medal when worn was often issued in a red hard two piece case, with the award and ribbon segmented in the base with the ribbon having a pin attached.
A Court Mounted Group with a Memelland award

A Memelland Ribbon Bar

A Small "A" Memelland award Reverse

To the lid of the case is a gold blocked eagle holding a swastika, So far, through the cases, paper packets and catalogues encountered, I have identified the following makers:- No 1, Deschler & Sohne, No 4 Steinhauer & Luck, No 30, Hauptmunzamt Wein & Otto Schinckle, (there are undoubtedly more, but these are ones I have seen to date).
A Cased Memelland award

A Cased Memelland award Reverse

When awarded, a citation was given and a notation was made in both the Soldbuch and Wehrpass.
The history of the Memel district follows other German territories being turned over to other countries after her defeat in WWI . Memel, (which was originally a part of East Prussia, still had a large German ethnic population with over 55% being counted as German in and around the Memel district) was seeded to Lithuania following the Memel convention of 1924. During the preceeding years to 1939, some of these ethnic Germans like many others in other lands, formed their own political party and shown below is a rare example of the civil lapel badge for the " Memel -German Culture Union". A pro German group that used to spread propaganda among the Volksdeutsche of Memel and its surrounding district.
A Memel-German Culture Union Badge

These ethnic German party badges rarely turn up nowadays. as with most of these places they were overrun by the USSR and the German populus deported, if they had remained that is. And holding on to a pro German badge would not have been a good idea in such chaotic times making such items rare in collector terms, today.


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