Monday, 26 August 2013

V-16 school in Germany

Vasario 16, (February 16) Lithuania’s Independence day is the name given to the only Lithuanian High School high school outside Lithuania.

During World War II, thousands of Lithuanians left their homeland fleeing Soviet occupation. By the close of the war, most of them had ended up in Germany. As war refugees they were housed in “displaced persons camps.” Conditions were harsh and their future uncertain. Yet they did not allow that to discourage them and went to work establishing Lithuanian educational institutions for themselves and their children.  By 1947 there were 26 Lithuanian high schools, five Lithuanian technical colleges, and 112 Lithuanian primary schools in Germany.

As Lithuanians emigrated many of these schools were closed, but 8,000 Lithuanians chose to remain in Germany.

In 1950, Germany’s Lithuanian Community established a single high school for Lithuanian students. The high school was founded in Diepholz—the site of a displaced persons camp where many Lithuanians had lived since the end of the war. In 1954, the Lithuanian Community acquired Rennhof Manor House with its twelve-acre park in the town of Lampertheim-Hüttenfeld. The school was relocated there.
Following the reestablishment of independence, the school continued to serve as a cultural centre for Lithuanians in Western Europe and a bridge between Lithuania and the West, providing an opportunity for the children of Lithuanian expatriates to integrate without losing their Lithuanian identity.

The Australian Lithuanians did not forget this school and many gave donations in support.  For Lithuanian Australians the school was physically and economically out of reach for many years.  It wasn’t until 1980 that someone from Australia enrolled in the school.  In 1980 Raimondas Andrekus donated $1000 for an Australian Lithuanian to attend the school for one year.  The gift was awarded to Andrius Binkevičius from Adelaide.  Andrius was to receive another $500 from N Butkus.

Other Adelaidians to attend the school have been;
Dana Baltutytė
Anita Baltutytė
Birute Stalba
Linas Pocius
Daniele Pocius
Vanessa Milen
Matthew Page-Hanify

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