Memel Branch, Königsberg District

Roger P. Minert, In Harm’s Way: East German Latter-day Saints in World War II (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009), 309.

The eastward expansion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ended in Memel, Germany. Stretching north of East Prussia along the Baltic Sea, the Memel territory was annexed by Germany in 1939. It was one of the territories reclaimed by Hitler in what historians call a “bloodless conquest.” The city of Memel was the capital of the region and was closer to Russia than it was to East Prussia and Germany.

Memel Branch[1]1939








Other Adult Males


Adult Females


Male Children


Female Children




Nothing is known about the status of the Memel Branch of the Church in Germany other than the membership numbers and the address of the meetinghouse (“Bommelsvitte 70 bei Herbst”). Bommelsvitte was a suburb on the north side of the city of Memel. The Herbst family was likely the core of the group of Latter-day Saints there.

Because there was no elder among the sixteen Saints in the Memel Branch, it is possible that an elder from another branch in the district was assigned to visit the group from time to time. There was a priest of the Aaronic Priesthood in the branch; therefore, the sacrament ordinance was available in their meetings.

The Soviet army invaded the Memel province in the fall of 1944. If the Saints there had not fled by that time, they would have been expelled by 1946 at the latest, and the branch was erased from the records of the East German Mission.

In Memoriam

Only one known member of the Memel Branch did not survive World War II:

Theresa Henriette Rautenberg b. Mussaten Litauen 30 Sep 1863; dau. of Wilhelm Rautenberg and Wilhelmine Bartschat; bp. Mussaten 4 Aug 1912; m. August Gottlieb Bartschat; 2 children; d. Memel, Tilsit, Ostpreussen 23 Nov 1940 (Sonntagsgruss, no. 11, 16 Mar 1941, 43; FHL Microfilm 25718, 1930 Census)


[1] Presiding Bishopric, “Financial, Statistical, and Historical Reports of Wards, Stakes, and Missions, 1884–1955,” CR 4 12, 257.