Monday, 10 September 2012

Lithuanian DP periodicals


The end of the war for many of the Lithuanians became a waiting and hoping game.  Hoping that their country would be free again and they could return home.  While they hoped, they waited. 
Some 70,000 Lithuanians made their way west, mainly ending up in Germany.  A large percentage of these Lithuanians were professionals: physicians, engineers, jurists, teachers, artists, public officials, and others who would have been targeted by the Soviet occupational regime had they stayed in or returned to Soviet-occupied Lithuania.  While in DP camps, members tried to resume their former occupations, or worked at other jobs, and tried establish a sense of normalcy in what were abnormal conditions.

With time on their hands, many camps began printing their own newspapers.  These camp publications come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some contain news simply typed up and mimeographed on low-quality paper. Others were professionally type-set and contain artwork and photographs.   173 are known to exist, produced in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland.  The names given to the publication show that the DP’s retained hope,  Kelyje Tėvynėn  (The path to homeland),that the newsletters were practical Lietuvių Žinios (Lithuanian news), or echoed their current predicament Tremtinio Žodis (Word of an Exile).

Stories, poems and articles were scattered throughout, mixed with day to day news of the camp. Various regulations and schedules of all types are published in these newsletters. The DPs had to contend with not only the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), but also with national governments as well as they formulated policies regarding the stay and the immigration of Displaced Persons. 


The newspapers do contain names, names of deceased, people being saught, even wives to go to other countries were advertised for. Sports scores of competitions between the athletes of the various DP camps also featured.

Aušros Belaukiant (Waiting for the dawn) first published 11 October 1945 in the Montgomery camp, Dorverden Kreis Verden.  Edited by Albinas Pocius, the cover drawn by V. Vaitekunas.   It was a monthly publication, that initially cost 1 Reich mark and later 2.  The eighth publication printed on 15 June 1946 was done in Seedorf with the added subtitle of Literature and Cultural information.  Not sure when the publication ceased, the last we have is August 1946.

Albinas Pocius was born on December 13th 1918, not far from Sėda in northern Zemaitija, Albinas finished high school in Klaipeda and then began a course in journalism.  In August 1944 he fled the Russian front and fled to the west.  He found himself in the Montomery camp in Dorverdene camp and later Seedorf, the British zone. He later moved to Rotenburg camp.  At Rotenburg he assisted in the publication of a daily newspaper, Mūsų Žinios (Our news).   In 1949, Albinas and his new wife Ruta boarded the boat for Australia.  They settled in Melbourne until their retirement in the 1980’s when they moved to Adelaide to be closer to Ruta’s family.  They were both actively involved in the Lithuanian community, Albinas with the newspaper and scouts.  He wrote many articles and even a small booklet on what was obviously a passionate topic of his, ‘Mažosios Lietuva’ (Lithuania Minor). 
Several camps also issued books on various Lithuanian topics. 

The Adelaide Archives have varied copies of books and journals.  One such journal is ‘Gintaras’ Neperiodinis literaturos Žurnalas  (Amber, a occasional literature journal).  This was edited by J. Kruminas from Haffkrug,Germany first printed on October 1945.  The first issue was 56 A4 pages with sketches by A. M Šimkunas and later A. Džukas and S. Krutulis.  'Gintaras' was printed at Baltija.  Baltija appears to be a communal printer, located in Neustadt Holst DP camp IV Block.  Issue 10 was in September 1946.

Baltija had also released ‘Baltija’ literature almanac of 60 pages, ‘Tevų Nameliai’ Vytautas Nemunelis poems for children, 44 pages, ‘Sugrižimo Laivas’ a book by Juozas Kruminas, ‘Išpirktoji mirtis’ by Bronius Daubaris. 

The publications never lasted for more than a few years.  A refugee’s life was one of upheaval and frequent changes in where you lived were common.  USA accepted refugees much earlier than Australia, and so it wasn’t long before the workers migrated.  It’s amazing that copies still exist, firstly because of the poor quality of the works and secondly the fact that someone thought to bring with them copies as they migrated to a new country.

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