The town cemetery was consecrated for the usage of all Christian confessions on the 7th of January, 1820. The cemetery was located near Liepų and Trilapio streets.
We may find the small cemetery marked in the city plan near Liepų and Trilapio streets in 1762. As the sources of information indicate, the Russian solders were buried there during the Seven Years’ War.The cemetery is called as the "Russian cemetery" (Sembritzki, Geschichte, p. 259) in 1803.The German prisoners, who were kept together with the deserters in the castle, were also buried there during the period of the Seven Years’ War.Hundreds of them died from the spotted fever and were buried there.
It can be assumed that the burial of soldiers contributed to the birth of the town cemetery.The town cemetery was in Krūmamiestis in 1796–1820. It is now called Naujo Sodo Street where Queen Louise Gymnasium was situated (now the Youth Centre). The first town garden was created there and the cemetery was transposed to Liepų and Trilapio streets in 1820. The cemetery was swampy; therefore, the ditches were dug.
The church was responsible for the care and maintenance of the cemetery until 1820.After the establishment of new cemeteries, the town magistrate took the responsibility and appointed a cemetery keeper (cemetery inspector).
Shortly after the opening of the cemetery the town government asked people to plant of lavender, daisies, and beeches, but had forbidden smoking and dog walking in cemetery. Firstly, the cemetery was surrounded by a hedge and later the wooden fences were built. Thanks to the efforts of citizens, at the end of the nineteenth century, the town's cemetery had become "a peaceful, poetic and shady place appreciated by the nightingales and other birds in spring. Klaipėda was proud of its cemetery and a lot of bigger towns could envy this cemetery" (Sembritzki, Memel in neunzehnten …, p. 127).
Since the cemetery area was almost fully occupied, the government had allowed using the old site for the second time. The mould brought as ballast in the ships was poured there.As the old cemetery paths remained the same, the edges of the blocks had to be reinforced with fences and in some places the stairs had to be built.
People of various confessions were buried in the Town Cemetery: Lutherans, Roman Catholics (had their own section), Anglicans and others who did not have their own cemetery. Merchant J.L.Wiener was buried there as an exception in the 19th century because Jews had their own cemetery.
After the Franco-Prussian War (1871) the French captives, who dug the Wilhelm Canal, were buried in the cemetery.
The cemetery was expanded at the end of the 19th century.An area increased by almost a third and gained an irregular shape (similar to the “L” letter).
It is stated in the "Vakarai" newspaper (November 1, 1937) states that cemetery inspector Hein (working November 15, 1851–April 1, 1885) buried 11,519 people in the cemetery. The previous records were destroyed during the huge fire in 1851. Tiessen, who became an inspector after Hein’s death, buried 11,412 people until the 1st of April, 1919. Later inspector Tillott buried 5,999 people (1919–November 1, 1937). This makes the total of 28,930 people buried in Klaipėda cemetery during 86 years (1851–1937).
The cemetery inspector looked after Vitė and Smeltė cemeteries as well.Inspectors lived near the cemetery, in a small single-stored brick house (now this building belongs to Klaipėda municipality; during the Soviet times there was a chess club; since 1996 – a cosy wine shop "Four Seasons"; the building was damaged during the fire in 2007, but it will be reconstructedin 2010 and the cultural centre of ethnic communities will be located there).
The Magistrate allocated 60 000 Litas for the maintenance of the cemetery in 1937. Seven workers appointed by the Magistrate and six additional women looked after the cemetery and its graves.
Thick brown leaves of the cemetery books contained the information about a burial date, a number of the grave, name and profession of the buried.
Klaipėda was occupied by the Soviet army in 1945.
Rūta Paplauskienė, who was fifteen years old in 1945, remembers: "Town cemetery looked terribly: the chapels were destroyed, the skeletons of the dead were hanged on the walls, and some of them had booms in their hands".
Up until the foundation of the Sculpture park in 1977, the cemetery evoked contradictory feelings.The old monuments with inscriptions in German were used for new inscriptions, usually in Russian.Until the closure of the cemetery (January, 1959)Lithuanians and Russians were buried along the Trilapio Street, so some of the graves are still visited there now.
The pre-war cemetery order, harmony, peace and quiet had disappeared…
The old chapels were destroyed in 1947 and only a monument for the 1923 insurrection survived after 1977. Historian Vygantas Vareikis thinks that the monument survived because the insurrection in 1923 was against Germans and this included the monument into the list of protected monuments.
The establishment of the Sculpture park was ironically called "an extremely valuable cultural event in Brezhnev’s era" by writer Romualdas Lankauskas, whose father was buried in Town Cemetery.
Even after the five years of the foundation of the Sculpture park (1981–1982) there were still some old monuments near Trilapio Street.It could be seen in the photographs taken by Dionyzas Varkalis and Vytautas Tamošiūnas.
It was ordered to remove all the remaining fences and graves in 1983 (April or May). Unfortunately the whole territory was messy and filthy: the vodka bottles and trash were lying on the ground… Order was achieved not by the reconstruction of the remaining cemetery, but by complete destruction. When R. Lankauskas asked the government to stop the destruction, it replied: "the cemetery is not included in the Lithuanian Soviet Republic’s list of protected monuments" (J. Glemža, the deputy culture minister, May 17, 1982).
Famous people buried in Town cemetery
There are a lot of famous and respectable Klaipėda citizens buried in the old cemetery. The record books from the German period are gone. The last inscription in the record book (years 1948–1954, now kept in the archives of the History Museum of Lithuania Minor) is done on January 24th, 1959.
The following list presents some details about famous Klaipėda citizens buried in the cemetery. The list could be continued, but this requires the series of studies and research.
Julius Ludvick Wiener (04.01.1795–02.24.1862)
Jewish merchant, magistrate member and charity provider (the memorial for J. L. Wiener was rebuilt in the Sculpture park in 2002). Julius Ludvick Wiener was born in Danzig (Gdansk), put a lot of effort to receive Klaipėda citizen’s rights (only since 1809 the Jews were allowed to get the citizenship). J. Sembritzki had noticed that later J.L.Wiener became a rich merchant, was elected to be a town representative, and even a council member in 1855.Wiener had been a curator of the town hospital for a long time. After the death he had left about 300 000 thalers (about half a million dollars) to the town. On his tomb it was written: "…the friends mourns him, the poor blesses him".
Ernst Heinrich Beerbohm (1763–1838)
A famous merchant, a founder of the timber processing industry. His parents, sons and four more unidentified family members are buried in Klaipėda cemetery. His son, Wilhelm Ernst Beerbohm (1786–1865), was Klaipėda’s burgomaster (1835–1840), a conservator of traditions, a collector of Lithuania Minor folklore, senior fisheries inspector in East Prussia. He was the one who created weathercocks, identification markings for lagoon fishing vessels. Wilhelm Ernst Beerbohm is buried in Muižė (Šilutė district). His nephew, Max Beerbohm (1872–1956), was a famous English writer, winner of several Oxford University literature prizes. His books were considered equally important as the ones of Jane Austin, Charlotte Bronte, Lev Tolstoy, and others.Another prominent representative of this family was Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1852–1917), a prominent British cinema and theatre actor communicating with Charlie Chaplin.
Rudolph Carl Jacoby (02.14.1817–02.24.1881)
Linguist of Lithuania Minor, Protestant priest, teacher (1879–1881), taught Lithuanian language in the high school) and the first president of the Association of Lithuanian literature.He was interested in linguistics, published the "Lithuanian language studies for school" in 1880. Rudolph Carl Jacoby had prepared a large-scale scientific Lithuanian thesaurus; unfortunately, he did not finish this work.
Heinrich Holz (05.13.1826–04.11.1894)
A typographer and a founder of the "Holcas and Šernius" printing-house. Heinrich Holz together with Martynas Šernius released "A calendar of main Christian Events" in Klaipėda in 1877. He was a bookseller at least in 12 towns and settlements, together with Martynas Šernius provided calendars for storekeepers. Prussian government persecuted publishers because of their activities based on the popularization of the Lithuanian culture and language. Heinrich Holz printed several books used in Lithuania, donated books for "Birutė" and Lithuanian Literature associations (both in Tilžė).
Friedrich Wilhelm Horch (08.11.1778–01.13.1855)
Johannes Sembritzki (01.10.1856–08.03.1919)
The author of history books about Šilokarčema (Šilutė, finished by A. Bitensas), Klaipėda and Klaipėda district, a co-author of "Aušra". His profession was a pharmacist and he arranged the Klaipėda archive. He was born in Mozūrija, in Klaipėda married a poor local citizen, Karolina. After her death in 1902, he married Liucina Friederik Jatze, she was 42 years old. He left more than 3,300 bibliographic publications for the city (many of which were published in the eighteenth century).These publications had formed the main part of the linguistic department in the town library. After 1944 the destiny of these books was not traced: some of them became a part of a private property and some were stored in governmental archives.
Heinrich Gerlach (1840–1912)
A merchant, who had been a chairman or the Klaipėda merchant organization of 25 years and contributed a lot to Klaipėda town. TheGerlach family came to Klaipėda from Tilžė in the 18th century. The house where now is I. Simonaitytė library previously belonged to him.
A Belgium consul in Klaipėda.
152 Russian soldiers
Buried in 1915, killed in World War I.
Arthur Bittens (07.12.1874–06.12.1920)
A historian and educator.He studied at Paris Sorbonne and London universities.Shortly before his death he worked as a school adviser. Arthur Bittens had written "Geological and Cultural Relics of Klaipėda District"; together with J. Sembritzki had written "Šilokarčema (Šilutė) District History".
Arthur Altenberg (08.05.1862–03.27.1926)
Klaipėda Chief Burgomaster, was elected in 1904. He had been one of the four burgomasters since 1893. Arthur Altenberg was born in Königsberg; he died from a heart attack on the train returning from Kaunas to Klaipėda. He belonged to the Reformed Evangelical Synod, was a member of Yachting Association and a supervisor of various businesses. Arthur married a Klaipėda citizen Anna Gessner, and raised three daughters with her.
Johan Wilhelm Reincke (the end of the 18th century–01.01.1865)
A merchant and owner of the brewery.He was a founder of the industrial brewery and the beginner of the brewer dynasty. His old family had been sailing ships around the Baltic Sea for a century.Their family coat of arms was decorated with a sea eagle, a symbol of brave seafaring.This symbol has remained on the coat of arms of the brewery "Švyturys".JohanWilhelmReincke and his brother, Friedrich Wilhelm, were not indifferent to town affairs. Johan Wilhelm Reincke helped the town to build the paths in urban areas and to communicate with the citizens as well as with the owners of the houses(taken from Johannes Sembritzki, Klaipėda in 19th century, 2nd part, p. 69). After the death J.W. Reincke left 3000 thalers for Zudermanas Women Society which looked after the poor and the ill.
A public figure.
Friedrich Wilhelm Siebert (05.05.1833–03.12.1900)
A publisher, had the biggest polygraphy company in Klaipėda in the in 19th century. He was especially well-known as a newspaper's publisher, he published the first newspaper, "Memeler Zeitung" on June 1, 1867. One of the most famous books published by Siebert was the "Sampler of the Lithuanian Language" (1880).
Herman Wilhelm Siebert (1868–1925)
Friedrich Wilhelm’s son who together with his mother took over the publishing business.He was buried in the Siebert family chapel in Klaipėda.
Jurgis Storosta (1872–11.13.1937)
A history teacher, brother of Vydūnas (famous Lithuanian philosopher). Jurgis Storosta taught history in Vytauto Didžiojo Gymnasium, in Klaipėda Seminary for Teachers and in Queen Louise Gymnasium. He died from the heart disease. Jurgis Storosta had written a book about Lithuanian history in German language which was used in German schools.
Adam Einars (03.23.1842–09.11.1906)
A press worker of Lithuania Minor.He was a manager of Klaipėda schools, taught in Dovilai and Melnaragė, and published a newspaper "Keleivis". Together with others edited the Bible published in 1897, published a booklet "Help Each Other!" (1904). Adam Einars had collaborated with F.Kuršaitis, A.Bezzenberger, K.T.V.Hofheinc and others. Despite the protests against the works of the authors from Lithuania Major, he printed them using the Latin alphabet.
Fricas Ambrazaitis (1865–03.19.1915)
A press worker of Lithuania Minor. The publisher and editor of the newspaper “Apžvalga” which promoted the ideas about the public elections. F. Ambrazaitis was one of the leaders of the "Lituanija" company. He was brutally murdered by Russian Cossacks in 1915.
Kurt Wolf (died 09.19.1917)
Famous German military pilot, who fight with the enemy during the First World War, shot down 56 aircraft, died in the battle.K.Wolf was born in Klaipėda, therefore, he was buried there.During the funeral of Kurt Wolf there was a crowd of people and sky was full of aircraft squadrons. P.Tillott, the cemetery inspector, described the funeral as the most impressive and pompous.
Ansas Bruožis (11.10.1876–12.27.1928)
A historian of Lithuanian press and culture, writer, bibliographer and polygraph of Lithuania Minor. He had learned the printing craft in M.Jankus printing-house. He worked in Bitėnai, Tilžė, Kaunas, Vilnius and Klaipėda printing houses (1900–1914). He had his own bookshop in Klaipėda in 1905. He was an active participant in Lithuania Minor national movement. Ansas Bruožis had written and prepared 13 books based on factual description. He had more than 20 nicknames: A. B. Klaipėdiškis (A. B. From Klaipėda), Probočių Anūkas (Grandson of the Grandfathers), Jonas Pakalniškis, Kretingiškių Ansas (Ansas from Kretinga), Lazdaitis (Wood Stick), Tiestaris, Martyniškis, Žuvis (Fish). Mostly wrote about the cultural life in Lithuania Minor, the fight against Germanisation. His legacy (30 000 Litas) he had commissioned for the printing of Vydūnas works. The Aukuras Association had taken Ansas Buožis’ library (716 tomes) and archives.
Jurgis Arnašius (1872–1934)
A press worker of Lithuania Minor.
Martynas Lokys (1902, Govindpure, India–08.27.1939)
Protestant priest, leader of a chorus and litterateur.One of the 11 children of the missionary in India Kristupas Lokys. He was a priest in Batakiai, Virbalė, Plaškiai (Pagėgiai district). He was transferred to St. Jacob’s church in Klaipėda in 1935. Martynas Lokys was a famous preacher, founded of church choirs, poetry writer.
Augustė Zauniūtė (1889–1950)
Children's doctor, the first woman who gained the diploma in medicine in Lithuania Minor, public figure. AugustėZauniūtė comes from a family which was strongly concerned about culture. Herfather, Dovas Zaunius, was a public and cultural figure, together with M. Jonkus ir J. Smalakas founded the first political organization in 1890. Her brother, Dovas, was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Lithuania. Her sister, Morta, was a press and public worker. Her brother, Endrius, was a veterinarian.
Historian L.Kavaliauskas has indicated that about 100 metersto the east from the defensive vault (near the basketball area in the park) there is the tomb of the victims of the NKVD.