• Klaipeda University
  • 17 January 2023

A Commemorative Plaque as a Homage to the KU Campus French Period

On January 15, in Klaipėda, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the integration into Klaipėda Region to Lithuania, a commemorative plaque was unveiled on the campus of Klaipėda University (KU) to remind everyone that, in the years 1920-1923, the 21st Infantry Rifle Battalion of the French Army was stationed in the then city barracks.

The initiative to commemorate this historical fact was taken by the Embassy of France in Lithuania. Mrs. Alix Everard, the Ambassador of France to Lithuania, Frederic Lemoine, Defense Attaché of France in Lithuania, Serge Barcellini, President-General of the Souvenir Francais (The French Remembrance) organisation that safeguards the memory of French soldiers, other distinguished representatives of the French community in Lithuania, and military personnel of France carrying out the NATO air policing mission in our country. The event was attended by Mr. Matthias Sonn, Ambassador of Germany to Lithuania, members of the Seimas, and representatives of the Lithuanian army.

"After the end of the First World War, numerous changes took place in Europe, as a result of which France had the control of this territory in 1920-23. This period is a common segment of history of three nations: Lithuanians, Germans, and French. By delving deeper into this period, we will better understand the present situation of our countries, which had to go through various historical upheavals, as well as of today's Europe", - the importance of history for the present was emphasised in the speech of the Amabassador of France to Lithuania Mrs. Alix Everard.

The commemorative plaque placed on the central building of KU square, testifying to the changeable beginning of the twentieth century in Klaipėda, was unveiled by Ms. Alix Everard and KU Rector prof. dr. Artūras Razbadauskas. Dr. Razbadauskas said he was happy that, 100 years after the annexation of Klaipėda Region to Lithuania, KU was again making joint history with the French, this time in the area of science. "Together with the French University of La Rochelle and universities of eight other countries, we as partners are creating the EU-CONEXUS Allience of nine European Universities. Our partners from France will be pleased to see signs of our common history at KU".

The commemorative plaque was created by Klaipėdian sculptor Gintautas Jonkus. A text testifying to the historical fact is engraved on the light brown granite in Lithuanian and French, together with the flags of both countries, the emblem of the battalion with the image of a mischievous imp, and the silhouette of a French soldier's helmet.

Atidengus atminimo lentą, renginio dalyviai buvo pakviesti į KU Stasio Vaitekūno auloje eksponuojamą parodą „Prancūzai Klaipėdoje 1920–1923 m.“. Ją bendradarbiaudamas su istorijos tyrinėtoju iš Prancūzijos p. Bernard Jusserand, parengė Mažosios Lietuvos istorijos muziejus. Ekspozicijoje – gausi nuotraukų, surinktų iš XX-ojo pradžioje Klaipėdoje tarnavusių prancūzų karių šeimų archyvų, kolekcija, pasakojanti ne tik apie karišką darbotvarkę, bet ir laisvalaikį, pramogas, netgi laidotuves.

After the unveiling of the commemorative plague, the participants of the ceremony were invited to the exhibition The French in Klaipėda 1920-1923 in Stasys Vaitekūnas Aula of KU. It was prepared by the History Museum of Lithuania Minor in collaboration with history researcher from France Mr. Bernard Jusserand. The exhibition includes a rich collection of photos collected from the archives of the families of French soldiers who served in Klaipėda in the early twentieth century, revealing both the military agenda and also leisure, entertainment, and even funerals.


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