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1 Mark 1921, Tilsit, Germany

Manfred Mehl. Deutsche Serienscheine Number: 1324.1
Years of issue: 12.11.1921
Signatures: Oberbürgermeister: Herr Eldor Pohl (in ofice 1900-1924), Verantwortlichen Vertreter: Herr Ernst Adolf Louis Schroeder
Serie: Notgeld of East Prussia (today Russia)
Specimen of: 12.11.1921
Material: Dirt-resistant cotton paper with Anti Soil Treatment
Size (mm): 115 х 74
Printer: Unknown printer

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1 Mark 1921, Tilsit




On banknote is watermark type Hermann-Stimmgabel.




1 Mark 1921, Tilsit

In the center, in the middle of the Neman River, the border post, painted under the German flag. On it sat a raven. On the post are signs: Right - Memelland, left - Tilsit.

Sovetsk (Russian: Советск), before 1946 known as Tilsit in East Prussia (Lithuanian: Tilžė, Polish: Tylża), is a town in Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, located on the south bank of the Neman River.

Tilsit, which received civic rights in 1552, grew up around a castle of the Teutonic Knights, known as the Schalauner Haus, founded in 1288. The Treaties of Tilsit were signed here in July 1807, the preliminaries of which were settled by the emperors Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France on a raft moored in the Neman River. This treaty, which created the Kingdom of Westphalia and the Duchy of Warsaw, completed Napoleon's humiliation of the Kingdom of Prussia, when it was deprived of one half of its dominions.

This short-lived peace-treaty is also remarkable for quite another reason. Three days before its signing, Prussian queen Louise (1776-1810) tried to persuade Napoleon in a private conversation to ease his hard conditions on Prussia. Though unsuccessful, Louise's effort greatly endeared her to the Prussian people.

Until 1945, a marble tablet marked the house in which King Frederick William III of Prussia and Queen Louise resided. Also, in the former Schenkendorf Platz was a monument to the poet Max von Schenkendorf (1783-1817) a native of Tilsit. During the 19th century when the Lithuanian language was banned within the Russian Empire, Tilsit was an important centre for printing Lithuanian books which then were smuggled by Knygnešiai to the Russian-controlled part of Lithuania. In general, Tilsit thrived and was an important Prussian town. By 1900 it had electric tramways and 34,500 inhabitants; a direct railway line linked it to Königsberg and Labiau and steamers docked there daily. It was occupied by Russian troops between 26 August 1914 and 12 September 1914 during World War I. The Act of Tilsit was signed here by leaders of the Lietuvininks in 1918.

According to German data in 1890 35% of the Tilsit district (which Tilsit was not part of) population was composed of Lithuanians.

Hitler visited the town just before World War II, and a photo was taken of him on the famous bridge over the Memel River. Tilsit was occupied by the Red Army on January 20, 1945, and was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1945. The remaining Germans who had not evacuated were subsequently forcibly expelled and replaced with Soviet citizens. The town was renamed Sovetsk by the new communist rulers, in honor of Soviet rule.

Modern Sovetsk has sought to take advantage of Tilsit's rich traditions of cheese production (Tilsit cheese), but the new name ("Sovetsky cheese") has not inherited its predecessor's reputation.

In April 2007, government restrictions on visits to border areas have been tightened, and for foreigners, and Russians living outside the border zone, travel to the Sovetsk and Bagrationovsk areas required advance permission from the Border Guard Service (in some cases up to 30 days beforehand). It was alleged that this procedure slowed the development of these potentially thriving border towns. In June 2012, these restrictions were lifted (the only restricted area is the Neman river shoreline), which gave boost to local and international tourism.

The Klaipėda Region (Lithuanian: Klaipėdos kraštas) or Memel Territory (German: Memelland or Memelgebiet) was defined by the Treaty of Versailles in 1920 when it was put under the administration of the Council of Ambassadors. The Memel Territory, together with Saar and Danzig, was to remain under the control of the League of Nations until a future day when the people of these regions would be allowed to vote on whether the land would return to Germany or not.

The original Scalovian and Curonian territory was conquered around 1252 by the Teutonic Knights, who constructed Memelburg ("Memel Castle") and the city of Memel (now usually known by its Lithuanian name Klaipėda). In 1422, a border was drawn up between Prussia and Lithuania under the Treaty of Melno, and this border existed up to 1918.

The then predominantly ethnic German Memel Territory (Prussian Lithuanians and Memellanders constituted the other ethnic groups), situated between the river and the town of that name, was occupied by Lithuania in the "Klaipėda Revolt" of 1923. It was annexed by Nazi Germany in March 1939 and immediately reintegrated into East Prussia, just half a year before the outbreak of the Second World War. In the final stages of the war in 1945 it was occupied by Soviet forces, and was formally annexed by the Soviet Union in 1946, cleared of its native German population, and made a part of the Lithuanian SSR in 1948. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, it has been part of the Republic of Lithuania, contained within Klaipėda and Tauragė Counties. The border that was established along the river by the Treaty of Versailles remains in effect as the current international boundary between Lithuania and the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia.


The view at Deutsche Kirche (Tilsit) and the Königin-Luise-Brücke (The Queen Louise Bridge), image from 1920s from the postcard of city of Tilsit archive in Kiel, Germany.

The Queen Louise bridge - border road bridge over the River Neman connecting Sovetsk (Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation) and Panemunė (Lithuania). The bridge is named after the Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia - Queen Louise.

Monumental works carried out under the project construction Quercy advisor and firm "Boyheld and Co" from Gruenberg (Silesia).

On the part of the city (the south side) to the second pole of the river bridge erected portal of sandstone with two towers in the Baroque style, forming a single architectural ensemble with the forms of the church of the Order. The project was carried portal Fuerstenau government adviser. South portal (with the current Russian side) was decorated with a bas-relief with the image of Queen Louise sculptor Stefan Walter in Fritenau and cast in bronze by "Martin und Piltzing" in Berlin. The same firm drained letters for the words on the front of the arch of the bridge: "Königin Luise Brücke".

North (now the Lithuanian side, not preserved) has the emblem of East Prussia.

South portal (not preserved) was made from metal and also decorated with the emblem of East Prussia.

The bas-relief on the southern portal represented the cartouche, having 3.6 m. wide and 4 m. high, which, centered, has the image of Queen Louise, topped with a royal crown, flanked by two cupids with floral wreaths. The top of the arch bridge decorated with decorative vases - they had six (only two survived). Above the pedestrian walkways there are two bas-reliefs of 1.5 m. width, personifying the movement of water and on land. Bridge portal and machine houses were produced in the workshop of the court master Charles Schilling in Tempelin. For their production used a waterproof yellow sandstone from quarries in Wünschelburg, not require painting and plaster.

Tilsit Tilsit

The construction of a new bridge 416 meters long, named after the revered German Prussian Queen, began in 1904. The width of the river at this point reaches 220 meters. Most relied on two "bulls" and take off its three arches, became the pride of the city.

The opening ceremony of the bridge took place October 18, 1907 and was timed to the 100th anniversary of the Peace of Tilsit. To commemorate the opening of the bridge at Tilsit was minted medal. The entrances to the bridge were decorated portals. Construction cost taxpayers $2 million Marks.

Tilsit Tilsit

After the First World War, the bridge was the border, it was arranged on a checkpoint and customs. The first "Edge" period in the history of the bridge lasted until 1939, when the Memel region was a part of Germany.


On May 1, 1914 to 1944, the bridge went electric tram. After the war, Tilsit tram network was not restored.

October 22, 1944 the German engineer units of the Wehrmacht blew up the bridge to delay the advance of the Soviet army. It was destroyed spans of the bridge and the northern portal.

The bridge was rebuilt in 1947. Initially spans were wooden, in 1965 they were replaced by reinforced concrete. Since surviving the southern portal of the bridge removed bas-relief depicting Queen Louise in 1964 and replaced it with the coat of arms of the Soviet Union. Also we changed the date indicated on the portal: 1907 was replaced by 1947. With the portal cleaned German inscription "Königin Luise Brücke".

Machine houses lost their peaked tile roofs, but the manual hoist flap span was then OK. By the spring of 1965, the wooden bridge has ceased to exist. Modern bridge built in the period from 1965 to 1966.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union became a border bridge. In the nineties, the first attempts of restoration of the bridge. March 6, 1995 from the portal took off the coat of arms of the USSR, in this work and completed. Large-scale restoration of the portal was carried out in 2002-2003. In the course of these works have been restored all the lost parts of the portal: returning to its historic place bas of Queen Louise, bronze vases and other architectural elements of the main arch of the bridge. There were also refurbished houses for the technical equipment of the bridge, the bridge itself was equipped with a backlight. Adjustable span was brewed mechanism gradually fell into disrepair.

The additional photos and info about The Quuen Louise bridge you can see here (


On the left side is the Parish church (Deutsche Kirhe) in Tilsit.

The German church was a Lutheran church in the East Prussian Tilsit, located on the south bank of the Memel. Even city church, popularly known as Old Church and from 1933 German monastery church, it was the symbol of the city.

From 1598 built and expanded several times in a row and modified, the church was demolished by progressive destruction in the war and post-war period in 1965. Only the altar and two confessionals are received.

Already in 1524, as Tilsit was a market town, was a Protestant church in the same place. Evidence of the location in front of the altar tombstone of Gallius terminal, passed away on 10 December 1550. This church was demolished in 1598. The new hall church was completed in 1610, during the twelve years of construction, the service was held in the Lithuanian Church. The wooden bell tower on the masonry to the roof shaft had to be canceled in 1695. From 1699 (or 1702) of the Baroque spire replaced him. 1752 was the entrance building on the south side to Fletcherplatz. As the masonry 1855-1856 renewed, the style of the Renaissance to New Gothic walked. The basic shape is not changed.

In the length the church had 40.8 m. level, in the width - 20.7 m. It was slopes were tiled, plastered and supported by external buttresses. The choir had a straight (not the usual round) final. The solid masonry of square tower, each side about 9 m, was 29 meters high. In addition there was the wooden, clad with copper 34 m. high tower. He had three superposed domes. The lower rested on the masonry and mediated the transition into an octagon. The top two domes resting on broken lamps, the lower dome was surrounded by a gallery. As support for the central dome served eight balls, each 1.6 meters in diameter. A slender spire crowned the upper dome. Napoleon Bonaparte admired the ball design in the peace of Tilsit. In 1878 the tower was thoroughly overhauled. Next to the church the Queen Louise Bridge was built in 1906.

After the Second World War and the conquest of Tilsit in 1945 the church stood outside almost intact. The wooden interior was completely stolen for obtaining firewood, removed the spire. When Russians and Lithuanians built the wooden arch bridge to replace the Queen Louise Bridge, the nave was used as a lumberyard and sawmill. From 1956 to the early 1960s, it served as a collection point for waste materials. The roof was leaking, the roof and the building fell into disrepair rotten. After an arson in 1965 this beautiful piece of Tilsits landmark was demolished. Now stands in its place an empty space.

Disassembled and packed into boxes, the altar and the two confessionals in the 1980s were found in the Polish part of the former East Prussia. Renewed by Polish conservators, they are (the altar since 1990) in the parish church (Saint Johannes the Evangelist and Our Lady of Częstochowa) in Bartoszyce (Bartenstein).

The inscription on the left side: "Hüben: Tilsit, die Stadt ohne gleichen" ("Here: Tilsit, the city beyond compare").

The inscription on the right side: "Drüben: Butter, die nicht zu erreichen" ("Opposite: Butter, that can not be reached").

KuhMilking cow. Memel Territory, 1923

Memelland was always known for its particularly tasty dairy products. So is there today - Lithuanian dairy products in fact are the most delicious of all, which we had to try. That is why on the right shows a cow and the words under the cow are sarcastic, due to the following historical events:

The eastern boundaries of Prussia (from 1871, part of the German Empire), having remained unchanged since the Treaty of Melno in 1422, became a matter of discussion following World War I, as the newly independent states of Poland and Lithuania emerged. The separatist Act of Tilsit was signed by few pro-Lithuanian oriented Prussian Lithuanians in 1918, demanding the unification of Prussian Lithuania with Lithuania proper. It is traditionally viewed by Lithuanians as expressing the desire of Lithuania Minor to unite with Lithuania - but the majority of Prussian Lithuanians did not want to join with Lithuania and the Prussian Lithuanians did not make up a majority of the population.

The division of Prussia was also promoted by Poland's Roman Dmowski in Versailles who acted by orders of Józef Piłsudski: the purpose was to give the lower part of Neman River and its delta, which was located in Germany and called the Memel River, to Lithuania as this would provide her access to the Baltic Sea, while Lithuania itself should be part of Poland. These ideas were supported by the French prime minister Georges Clemenceau.

In 1920, according to the Treaty of Versailles, the German area north of the Memel river was given the status of Territoire de Memel under the administration of the Council of Ambassadors, and French troops were sent for protection. During the period of French administration, the idea of an independent State of Memelland grew in popularity among local inhabitants. The organisation Deutsch-Litauischer Heimatbund (German-Lithuanian homeland federation) promoted the idea of a Freistaat Memelland, which later should return to Germany. It had 30,000 members, both ethnic Germans and Lithuanians, about 21% of the total population.

On 9 January 1923, three years after the Versailles Treaty had become effective, Lithuania occupied the territory during the Klaipėda Revolt, mainly by militia, that had entered the region from Lithuania. France at the same time had started the Occupation of the Ruhr in Germany, and the French administration in Memel did not take any significant counteractive measures against the rebels. On 19 January, the territory was annexed by Lithuania, and the fait accompli was eventually confirmed by the Council of Ambassadors in 1924.

The inscription lower: "City Savings Bank will pay to the bearer of this coupon the amount of 1 Mark".

Denominations in numerals are in all corners.


1 Mark 1921, Tilsit

In the center is a map, showing directions and the Memel Territory.

Lower is the inscription: "Tilsit, als Eingangstor zu den Baltischen Randstaaten." ("Tilsit, as the entrance gate to the Baltic States").

elk elk

On the left side is an European elk.

In East Prussia always lived a lot of elks. There was even a special German statistics on livestock elk by data and the numbers were pretty big.


On the right side is the rafting man on the river Neman.

The airview at the pulp mill "Waldhof". The photo made in the end of 1930s by Bernhard Waldmann.

The economic development of the city Tilsit was already strongly influenced on the Memel's logistic possibilities.

Wood, grain, legumes, nuts, hemp, skins etc. were shipped to Königsberg and resold from there. In return came salt, herring, cloth and consumer goods as a commodity to Tilsit, which was distributed from here or transported further by ship to distant regions.

In the XIX century Tilsit became a center of the timber trade. The wood came from Russia with rafts and buyers flocked from all over the German Reich.

Denomination is lower. centered.


Notgeld (German for "emergency money" or "necessity money") refers to money issued by an institution in a time of economic or political crisis. The issuing institution is usually one without official sanction from the central government. This occurs usually when sufficient state-produced money is not available from the central bank. Most notably, notgeld generally refers to money produced in Germany and Austria during World War I and the Interbellum. Issuing institutions could be a town's savings banks, municipality and private or state-owned firms.

Notgeld was mainly issued in the form of (paper) banknotes. Sometimes other forms were used, as well: coins, leather, silk, linen, postage stamps, aluminium foil, coal, and porcelain; there are also reports of elemental sulfur being used, as well as all sorts of re-used paper and carton material (e.g. playing cards). These pieces made from playing cards are extremely rare and are known as Spielkarten, the German word for "playing card".

Notgeld was a mutually-accepted means of payment in a particular region or locality, but notes could travel widely. Notgeld is different from occupation money that is issued by an occupying army during a war.