Friday, 29 April 2016

Lithuanian Armed Forces Day

23 November Kariuomines Diena
Lithuania Armed Forces Day

While the Returned Soldiers Association Ramovė was active in Adelaide, each year the members would gather to commemorate Lithuanian Armed Forces Day on 23rd of November.
Lithuanian Armed Forces Day is commemorated on the 23rd of November the date that the Lithuanian army was initiated in 1918. 

An exert from an article written by Vladas Radzevicius (date unknown) reiterates what was written in the Melbourne Catholic newsletter, ‘Tėviškės Aidai’;

We bow our heads to remember the soldiers who gave their lives for their homeland, so that we may be free. 

We bow our heads that one day we will hear the historic cry, ourageous without fear like our father and forefathers, let us pause before the enemy’s path, let us increase our pace for our mother land, and for the Lithuanian State.

On that day, the time worn soldiers would dress in their best suits, nothing less than tie and jacket.  They stood in straight lines as they once must have as soldiers, watched as a wreath of leaves was placed by the statue that stands at Lithuanian House, to commemorate those who died for the homeland. 
They stood proud and tall as the Lithuanian flag was hoisted and sang the Lithuanian anthem with respect and reverence as only those can, who know the price of freedom.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

World Lithuanian Games – Chicago 1983

As Lithuania was occupied until 1991, exiled Lithuanian communities around the world would endeavour to connect in different ways.  One of these was through sport.  Unable to meet in Lithuania at first, the first World Lithuanian Games were held in Canada in 1978. The games were organised by future Lithuanian president, Vladas Adamkus.

It was a way of uniting the youth and instilling a spirit of national pride.  In 1983, Chicago hosted the games.
The World Lithuanian Days and sport festival was held in Chicago from 25 June to 4 July 1983. A team from Australia was selected to participate and represent all the Lithuanians in Australia.

Antanas Laukaitis was the touring party leader, Treasurer and junior boys basketball coach, Don Atkinson, Men’s section leader Jurgis Karpavicius, women’s section leader Marija Atkinson, coordinator of travel and men’s volleyball coach, Jerry Belkus and Public Relations Nita Wallis.

From Adelaide went;

Eddie Taparauskas and Men’s basketball Manager, Jonas Ignatavičius guard, Petras Urnevičius (basketball), Ramunė Grigonis (basketball), Vanesa Kalninš (basketball), Aleksas Talanskas (basketball).
Mens volleyball
Algis Laurinaitis

Women’s Volleyball
Alius Daniškevičius (Assistant coach)
Dale Laurinaitis
Mile Daniškevičius
Wendy Paulauskas
Robyn Paulauskas
Laima Visockis

Table tennis: Vilija Bone, Ona Bone, Harry Bone

Other sports: Aleksas Merūnas (Manager)
Athletics: Mikas Talanskas (athlectics)
Swimming: Irena Petkunas, Rikardas Baškus

Detroit won gold in the finals against the Australian All-Star team.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Our parish priest

Father Juozas Nikodemas PETRAITIS MIC

Born on July 16th 1922 in Milgaudžius village in the Tauragė region to Juozapas and Marija.  He came from a farming family, the eldest child of four.  Juozas was active in the local church, and at about the age of 10 decided he wanted to be a priest.  He studied at Gaurės primary school, Tauragė High school and the Telšiai seminary.   During the war he moved to the Kaunas seminary.  He was drafted in the Red Army in 1941.   He fled into Germany with his mother, sister and two brothers.  They remained in DP camps, he was able to continue his studies at Eichstatte Seminary.  Following the end of the war, he travelled to Rome to continue his seminary studies.  He studied at the Gregorium and Angelicum University. 
In 1946 he joined the Marian fathers and continued his studies in America, Marina Hills Marion Seminary not far from Chicago.  He was ordained on Ascension Thursday 22 May, 1952 at St Raimund Cathedral.  In 1953 he moved to St Gabriel the Archangel Lithuanian parish, in Milwaukee.  Juozas wanted to further his studies, which he did at Jesuit University of Marquette.  In 1956 he served as parish priest  at St Peters in Kenosha, where he obtained US citizenship.

He served as Chicago as provincial secretary of his order. 
In 1963 he was sent to Argentina, where he learnt Spanish.  He worked at Lithuanian parish of Santa Fe then in 1967 transferred to Aušros Vartos parish in Avellaneda Buenos Aires where he worked for 17 years.

When Adelaide priest, Father Spurgis became ill, Juozas came to Adelaide initially for three months.  He returned to Argentina but was again summoned to help in Adelaide. 
From July 1984, he became the Adelaide priest.  During his time here he also became the Spanish migrant chaplain having learnt Spanish in Argentina.

Father Petraitis served the Adelaide Lithuanian community until the age of 91 when he moved into a nursing home.  He was able to recite the Rosary prayer in five languages, Lithuanian, Latin, German, Spanish and English.  He also spoke passable Italian and Portuguese.
He returned home to Lithuania just once in 1994, for a six week visit.

Ilsekis ramybeje.  

Monday, 21 March 2016

Bicentenary gift to Australia

Artist Ieva Pocius with the statue
Australian Lithuanian Community Bicentenary gift to Australia

A memorial to represent Australia’s welcoming and providing a good life to the migrants.  What will remain to represent Lithuanian life in Australia.  The idea of donating a sculpture by an Australian Lithuanian sculptor was first raised by Dr Ben Vingilis in 1984 and formerly adopted by the Australian Lithuanian Federal Council in 1986.

A committee was established to raise funds and to call for expression of interstate form sculptors.
The artist chosen was Ieva Pocius, well known Adelaide sculptor.  Her piece was based on Eglė the Queen of Serpents which is considered one of the best-known Lithuanian fairy tales. The twelve foot bronze statue stands on a large piece of granite located at Glebe Park, corner of Ballumbir and Akuna Streets, Canberra.
The statue was unveiled by Hon Ros Kelly, M.P Member for Canberra, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel.

Artist: Ieva Pocius
Casted by Bruce Sutherland

Technical advice: Rimas Kabaila and engineer Romas Katauskas
Chairman of the organising committee: Victor Martisius

Artistic Advisor: Eva Kubbos
Publicity: Juras Kovalskis

Finance: Dr Ben Vingilis
Fundraising committee: Augis Zamoiskis (Adelaide)

The story

A young girl named Eglė discovers a serpent in her clothes after bathing with her two sisters. Speaking in a human voice, the serpent agrees to go away only after Eglė pledges herself to him in exchange for his leaving the clothes, not realising the possible consequences. Three days pass, and thousands of serpents come for the bride, but are tricked by her relatives each time. A goose, a sheep and a cow are given instead but the cuckoo warns about the deceit. Enraged serpents return for a final time and take Eglė with them to the bottom of the sea to their master.

Instead of seeing a serpent, Eglė meets her bridegroom Žilvinas, a handsome human - the Serpent Prince. They live together happily and bear four children, until Eglė decides to visit home and her husband denies her permission. In order to be allowed to visit home, Eglė is required to fulfil three impossible tasks: to spin a never-ending tuft of silk, wear down a pair of iron shoes and to bake a pie with no utensils. After she gets advice from the sorceress and succeeds, Žilvinas reluctantly lets Eglė and the children go.

After meeting the long lost family members, Eglė's relatives do not wish to let them back to the sea and decide to kill Žilvinas. His sons are are threatened and beaten by their uncles, in order to try to disclose how to summon their father; however, they remain silent and do not betray him. Finally, a frightened daughter discloses it:"Žilvinas, dear Žilvinas, If you are alive – may the sea foam milk. If you are dead – may the sea foam beblood…"

The twelve brothers call Žilvinas the Serpent from the sea and kill him using scythes.

The worried Eglė calls her husband, but unfortunately only foam of blood comes from the sea. When Eglė discovers that her beloved is dead, as a punishment for betrayal she turns her children and herself into trees - the sons into strong trees, an oak, an ash and a birch, whereas the daughter was turned into a quaking aspen. Finally, Eglė transformed herself into a spruce.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Adelaide supports Siberian deportees

Support Deportees from Siberia

Šalpa Sibiro Tremtiniams komiteto

The Adelaide Lithuanian community would at times organise special committees for various projects.  Formed on 24 March 1996, Support Deportees from Siberia committee was presided over by Stase Paceviciene.

During the period 1941-1953, some 132,000 Lithuanians were deported to remote areas of the USSR, in Siberia, the Arctic Circle areas and Central Asia. They were not allowed to leave the remote villages they were brought to. More than 70 percent of the deportees were women and children. Around 50,000 of the deportees were not able to return to Lithuania ever again. Those that did return to life in Lithuania, faced discrimination for jobs and social guarantees, their children were denied higher education.

Money was raised from donations, lunches, in lieu of flowers at funerals.  Money was divided and sent to different areas around Lithuania.  Each place that received funds provided a detailed list of how much and to whom it was given.
Some examples below:
Marijampolė       17 people received between 100-150 Litai
Alytus                16 people received between 100 – 200 litai
Panemė              6 people received 100 litai
Panevėžys           20 people each received 200 litai
The committee consisted of:
President:            Stase Pascevičienė
Treasurer:           Algis Zamoiskis
Members:            Marytė Neverauskienė, Henrikas Butvila, Janina Vabolienė, Ieva Pocienė, Aldona Patupiene.
The committee was active for five years until 2000, and in that time just under $20 000 was collected and distributed.
Total collected $19 189.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Lithuanians in China

Sometimes one can find treasurers in the Lithuanian Archives here.  I had looked at the documents below several times and didn't think much of them at first.  It wasn't until I scanned them that I realised these documents relate to Lithuanians in China.  I read the word Charbine in the documents, registered that that was an odd word in Lithuanian, and then it clicked that it was Harbin in English.  I did recall reading that some Lithuanians who arrived in Australia had done so from China.

Harbin, China, is located 1500 miles inland in Heilongjiang Province, a region also referred to as Manchuria.
In 1898, an influx of Eastern European migrants, mainly Russians arrived to build and service the Chinese Eastern Railway on land leased from China.  Many staff members of railways with their families remained in Harbin after the October coup, and then came immigrants from Russia, torn by civil war and destroyed by terror. In the first half of last century, Harbin, was often called the Russian city.  I assume the Lithuanians that resided there came for similar reasons.

In 1913 the Chinese Eastern Railway census showed its ethnic composition as: Russians – 34313, Chinese (that is, including Hans, Manchus etc.) – 23537, Jews – 5032, Poles – 2556, Japanese – 696, Germans – 564, Tatars – 234, Latvians – 218, Georgians – 183, Estonians – 172, Lithuanians – 142, Armenians – 124; there were also Karaims, Ukrainians, Bashkirs, and some Western Europeans. In total, 68549 citizens of 53 nationalities, speaking 45 languages.

Shanghai also had a number of Lithuanian residents at the time.  Harbin had a Lithuanian consulate.

The two documents below are from the Lithuanian citizen society of Harbin and the Consulate, one to an opening of Lithuanian library in 1936 and the other to a party at the Modern Hotel for the 20th anniversary of Independence of the Lithuanian Republic in 1938.  The invitations are made out to a Mrs Meiliunas.

There were several Meiliunas family members who arrived in Australia after WWII, and I am not sure if these documents belong to one of those members or came from a different source.  There is no Mrs K Meiliunas registered in the National Archives.

At this time I am not sure how they became part of the Archives.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Relatives from Lithuania

Before Netflix, internet downloads, even DVD's, videos were the latest technology back in the 1990's.  To make its way to Adelaide, a world away from Lithuania came a tv series called Gimines (Relatives). 

The series dealt with the various problems in a newly independent Lithuania.  Issues of land reclamation, racketeers, mafia and love triangles. The series ran from 1993 to 2007.

The series came as 10 videos (40 episodes), available for borrowing from the Adelaide Library for only $3 per week per video.  One needed to request the videos as the whole Adelaide Lithuanian community seemed to want to watch it (Duplicate copies were made).  The serial was purchased by the Adelaide Lithuanian Community Council and Adelaide Lithuanian Union.

It seems almost laughable now, that something so small as this caused a great stir in the community.  But Lithuanians in Australia would have never seen a program on tv in their native language, and for those who never returned home it gave them a glimpse of what life was like in Lithuanian then.

Cast of Gimines 20 years later