Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Lunch at Lithuanian House 1976

This article was written by Brone Mockuniene in July 1976 for Mūsų Pastogė.  Times have brought changes to the community lunches and the function of Lithuanian house, but here is how it was seen by those who built it.

A typical Sunday at Lithuanian House.  Cars drive slowly looking for a park.  Adelaidians after Sunday mass at St Casimir travel to Lithuanian House for lunch.  Today Vilniaus scout troop have prepared lunch.  Some arrive for lunch with the whole family, while others may bring Australian friends to try cepeliniai.  By the kitchen door a table stands with various cakes, all homemade.   Bagels, žagarelių and honey cake are brought to try and to take home.   Another table is piled with bottles, prizes for the lottery.  Adelaidians have generous hearts and happily open their wallets to buy lottery tickets, which is drawn at the end of lunch.  “One needs to support the scouts for their national camp” said one to a neighbour.
The scouts are happy with their takings, rubbing their hands together saying “Lunch was good”.  After lunch some may move into the bar to drink a glass of beer, others to the Library to see any new additions or to purchase a record, others may go and play billiards.  The youth have moved outside to play basketball.  Another may venture to Talka for some finance transactions, or view the Archives and museum.  Those at Lithuanian house are in little Lithuania.  What would one do if we didn’t have Lithuanian House? Our lives would be uninteresting and awkward.  Can you remember the time when Adelaide did not have a Lithuanian House, or Catholic centre, nor our own church.  We prayed at St Joseph church while Father Jatulis kept an eye on the clock so as to not run overtime, because the Poles were behind the door waiting for their time slot. We gathered for national dancing in numerous premises.  It is incredible that only five years after arriving in Australia, Adelaide already had a house committee established.  For several years they studied what would be the best way to buy a premises.  It was decided that a non profit organisation ‘Lietuviu Sajunga’ (Lithuanian Union) aimed as a legal entity would acquire and dispose of immovable and other assets.  The first committee consisted of President V Raginis, Vice President J Kalvaitis, Secretary J Pyragius and treasurer A Šliuzas.

Lithuanian House is where our children learn Lithuanian, dance national dances, play basketball.  How many weddings were held here, concerts, various meetings?
 

Monday, 30 November 2015

Book review - Lithuanians roots in American soil

I think I have read every autobiography concerning Australian Lithuanians, and so thought I would give an American Lithuanian story a read. 

Lithuanian Roots in American Soil: A Memoir of the Barunas Family by Audrone Barunas Willeke      2014

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Australian Lithuanians - Litho's

If Lithuanian Jews are called Litvaks and Lithuanian Americans are known as Lugans, what are Australian Lithuanians known as?  Australians shorten everything so its no surprise that Lithuanian become Litho's.  While on the outside we look like any other Australian there are some things that make us different.  Here are a few.
 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The end of 1962

A special visit was made to Parkside hospital to visit the sick and give Christmas gifts.  On December 17th, the Women’s society gained permission to present a Lithuanian folk concert to the 14 Lithuanians hospitalised as well as the other patients.  The Lithuanian choir sang 8 songs and the dancing group danced six Lithuanian folk dances.

The auditorium had over 200 people from all different nationalities. Two Lithuanians, Stanickiene and Kalibatiene-Vasiliauskiene worked at the hospital and were astonished that this was the first time that patients had been fearless enough to watch.  It may have been the colourful costumes or the care brought by the performers.

Combined Christmas Eve
The community shared much of their lives together, so it was not surprising that 189 people gathered at Lithuanian house to share in a traditional Christmas Eve.  Prepared by the Women’s society the occasion began with a prayer and breaking of the host.  After some Christmas songs, people gathered around the Christmas tree and together decorated the inside of the hall.  Vytas Straukas with his violin accompanied by his sister Giedre on piano played Tylioji naktis.  L. Ruzinskaite recited some Lithuanian poems.

On Boxing Day, the Vytis sports club began the journey to Geelong for the annual Australian Lithuanian Sports festival, from 27 December to January 1.
December 27th, basketball game against Geelong men, table tennis against Hobart.

December 28th women’s volleyball against Melbourne, men against Hobart. Mens basketball against Sydney, the women against Melbourne.  Table tennis, Adelaide men against Geelong and Sydney, the women against Geelong.  Tennis men against Sydney, women vs Geelong. Chess, first round against Geelong.
December 29th Adelaide basketball women vs Hobart, men also. Table tennis, women and men play Melbourne. Tennis played Hobart and Sydney teams, and volleyball against Geelong.

December 30th, Womens’ basketball played Sydney.  Volleyball me vs Sydney and then Geelong.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The poet from Panevezys

Jonas RACKUS

Born 1910 in Juskonis village in the Panevežys district. He wrote from a young age and published his first poem in 1936.   He and a friend Balys Gaidziunas published a book of poems Jaunyste arimuose.  A second book of poems was prepared book Laivai be Uosto. (Ships with out a harbour) From 1944 to 1949 he lived with his wife, Leokadija , also an agronomist and son in Osnabruecke DP camp. The family arrived in Australia on the Nea Hellas 24 Feb 1949.

Here are some of his poems that were printed the Adelaide Lithuanian newspapers.

Argi ne tu?
Žmogau didybėje apakęs
puikliausias žemės tvariny,
nuo ko apraibo akys,
kokiais keliais ir kur eini?


Žmogau, pavargęs ir nubalęs
tarp žemės ūkanų šaltų,
ar šviečia tau dar laimės šalys,
kai pūgos ūžčioja ratu?
Žmogau, kurs alkanas ieškojai
tiesos takeliais ir keliais
kokiais balsais prabils rytojai,
kokiais žiedais jie išsiskleis?


Žmogau, kurs viešpati nesykį
ant kryžiaus vieną palikai,
ar nežinai, ko paukščiai klykia
ko skausmu drumsčiasi laukai?
Ir siaubia žemę karas, badas
žmogau kūrėjau nuostabus!
argi ne tu, save praradęs,
statai ir garbini stabus?


Žmogau, puikybėje apakęs,
dangaus ir žemės tvariny,
nuo ko apraibo tavo akys,
kokiais keliais ir kur eini?

Kelias Į vakarus
Balta žuvėdra klykia,
Net sukasi galva
tena namai paliko,
paliko Lietuva.


Ten rūpesčiais artojų
linguoja ąžuolai
ir tu, šalie artojų
Lig drobė nubalai.
Paliko sesės liepos
Močiutė obelė,
Giliai jausmus paslėpę
Ir ąžuolai žili.


Ten gluosniai nusiminę
ar saulę bematys?
Į vakarus vilkstinė
nusineša viltis..


Žaliuokit rūtos, mirtos,
siūbuok, pušie laisva,
speiguose kad nemirtų
mūs vargo Lietuva.
Kai vėjai tils užkimę
trauks paukščiai į namus,
gal būt, ranka likimo
pasuks atgal ir mus.


Balta žuvėdra klykia,
net sukasi galva..
tenai namai paliko,
paliko Lietuva.

 Aš tavęs nemyliu
Pasauli, aš tavęs nemyliu,
nors tui r viešpaties sutvertas!
tu nubloškei už šimtų mylių
žmogų nuo tėviškės jo vartų


Tu pastatei keliuos sargybas,
rubežių saugoja patrankos.
Iš baimės akys tavo žiba,
iš pykčio dreba tavo rankos.
Tu neapykantą pasėjai
ir žmogus žmogų plėšė, žūdė
tau amžiai rašė epopėją
ir gyrė tavo keistą būdą.


Tu pristeigei vergų kacetų
ir uždarei ten mirčiai žmogų.
pasauli, kaip tave mylėti
aistringą, purviną ir blogą?
Tu išblaškei tautas ir žmones,
sunaikinai pilis ir miestus.
Ne saulė! Ūkanos raudonos
pro sūtemas tau ima švisti.


Blaškais tu vėtromis užkimęs,
Nuo tavo dulkių raibsta akys.
Matau kaip dega Hirošima…
Ar ji tau nieko nepasako?

Pušis prie Nemuno

Žaliavo ant Nemuno kranto,
Žaliavo ir ošė pušis
Kas norą mylėt ir gyventi,
Kas skausmą širdies aprašys?
Skambėjo ji vėtroj kaip styga,
Su vėtromis žaidė jinai,
Nei oro, nei saulės nestigo,
Nei skambančio juoko jaunai..


Vainikais žaliais vis dabinos,
Vėjelis šukavo kasas,
Ir stebino savo kaimynes
Ji ūgiu ir grožiu visas.


Bet kartą, kai blaškė giružę
Atklydę gandai negeri,
Pušis neatlaikė or … lūžo
Jaunystės pačiam vidury.
Ir sukrėtė viesulas pirkią,
Subildo perkūnas kalnuos,
Ir ąžuolas senas pravirko
Pagailęs kaimynės jaunos.


Ir liūdna prie Nemuno kranto
Audrų nukamuotom širdims,
Bet noras mylėt ir gyventi
Atgis dar, liepsnos ir nerims!

 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Riauba takes on the Red Army

 
Juozas Riauba, born in 1910.  After withdrawing from Lithuania to Germany towards the end of WWII, he entered studies at the Munich Technical school.  At that time he also worked for United Nations Relief & Rehabilitaiton (UNRRA) in the garage as senior mechanic. 
In 1949, he made the long journey on the transport ship, Wooster Victory to Australia, docking in Adelaide where he stayed.  He arrived here with his wife.   
Juozas again entered university, this time in Adelaide in 1959.  He entered the public service and worked with the SA Electricity Trust on mechanical projects. 
Outside of work he was heavily involved with the Lithuanian community in Adelaide.  He was a founding members of the sports Club Vytis, a member of the Adelaide Lithuanian students association from 1959 – 1961, parents committee of Vilniaus scouts and teacher at Lithuanian school.

In 1962 he acted as Vice-President of the ‘Voice of Witness of Communist expansion” and later the Australian European Freedom Alliance.  In 1966 he was Vice-President of Captive Nations.
Juozas was concerned with how Lithuania was represented in printed material, newspapers and books.  He would write to publishers pointing out mistakes or misguided information. In 1969 he began to correspond with the State Library of South Australia, suggesting books that the Library could purchase about Lithuania.  He had compiled a list of books that the Library held, relating to Lithuania,  40 books in all on various aspects of Lithuania.  Juozas also appealed to the Lithuanian community in Adelaide to donate books that might better represent Lithuania in the State Library.  He went one step further; writing to Publishers seeking to purchase books which he would then donate to the Library.  Within a short time the State Library increased its collection of book on Lithuanian to 67.

In 1969, it was publicised that the Red Army choir would be coming to Adelaide to perform.  Juozas strongly opposed this and wrote numerous letters to politicians and newspapers expressing his disapproval.  To him it was “an insult to all of us, originally from the countries behind the iron curtain.  Our relatives and loved ones have suffered persecution.  We, the Australian citizen from behind the Iron Curtain now living in Adelaide have been forced to leave our homeland by the advancing Red Army and have lost everything, except our lives”.
He signed these letters as Ju-Ra, as he feared reprisals for his relatives still in Lithuania.
The Baltic Council of Australia and the Captive nations Committee of SA also sought to stop the participation of the Red Army choir from performing in the Adelaide Festival of Arts in 1970. The Baltic Council published an advert in the Advertiser (20 February 1969) which states;  The choir was symbolic of totalitarian regimes and that it was a propaganda unit which existed to glorify the Soviet in song and dance. 

The chairman of the Adelaide Festival of Arts J C Irwin defended the decision to allow the group to perform.  The Red Army Choir did not perform in the Festival of Arts.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

A little bit of Lithuania in the outback


 
The town of Eucla is beautifully positioned on the top of an escarpment with ocean views, some 12 kilometres to the WA/SA border in the middle of Nullarbor Plain.  The township consists of six streets, with a Police Station and Motel Hotel complex with restaurant and Caravan Park catering to the needs of passing travellers.  With a population of just 50, it literally is the middle of nowhere. 

One might however see a touch of Lithuania in the town.  One of the streets is Patupis street, named after Gediminas or Steve as he was known.  Gediminas and his brother Vytautas  (Patupas, not quite sure how they ended up with different spellings of their names) arrived in Australia at the end of 1949.  Gediminas ended up owning Eucla's Amber Motel, just off the Eyre Highway.  The hotel is very much the heart of the small settlement.

If that’s not enough to convince you of a Lithuanian bond then the 20 foot high white metal cross with stylized tulips may persuade you.  This cross is dedicated to all Christians and to those whose efforts made the highway and a new Eucla, constructed on 13th October 1969.  Despite its name ‘Travellers cross’ it has become a memorial to Eucla residents.  Two of those memorials are dedicated to Steve. They both feature the Gedimino stulpai (Columns of Gediminas) an iconic Lithuanian symbol.  I couldn't find out who made the cross, but a reasonable guess would be that Steve had a hand in it.

Steve passed away in 2005. 






Cross at sunset 2 http://www.theatreperson.com/tag/homestead/

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Adelaide Festival of Arts and the Lithuanian State Theatre

 
The biannual Adelaide Festival of Arts features international performance from around the world.  In 1992 the State Theatre of Lithuania performed two plays as part of the festival, Uncle Vanya and the Square. 

Uncle Vanya written by Anton Chekhov and Directed by Eimuntas Nekrosius, had a cast of 12 actors.  The Square written and directed by Eimuntas Nekrosius, with four actors, two of whom also performed in Uncle Vanya.
The performances received rave reviews, ‘nothing short of superb’ Nick Griffith Advertiser, ‘one of the great theatre events of the 1992 Adelaide Festival’, Peter Ward of the Australian.  Peter Goers, controversial Adelaide theatre critic referred to it as a ‘turkey’ and not worth checking out.  The following day in the letters to the press, Goers was attacked for his ‘ill considered, egotistical, ignorant piece of work’. 

Both plays were performed in Lithuanian with the audience wearing headphones with simultaneous translations.  Performed in the Scott Theatre and Union Hall of Adelaide University, the troop gave eight performance of Uncle Vanya, a play of 3 hours and 15 minutes, and four of the Square, a much shorter performance of 1 hour and 40 minutes. 

The actors
Jurate Aniulyte
Vladas Bagdonas
Saulius Bareikis
Dalia Storyk
Calia Overaite
Elvyra Zebertaviciute
Vidas Petkevicius
Kostas Smorginas
Juozas Pocius
Irena Tamosiunaite
Rimgaudas Karvelis
Vytautas Taukinaitis
Janina Matekonyte
Remigijus Vilkaitis

Monday, 24 August 2015

Catholic Women aid Lithuanians in Poland


In 1981 the Adelaide Lithuanian Catholic Women society contacted the United Lithuanian Relief Fund of America (Bendras Amerikos Lietuvių Fondas A Šalpos)  (BALFAS).  The society had decided that it would like to outreach to Lithuanians in the Suvalkija triangle.  Suwałki Region is a small region around the city of Suwałki in northeastern Poland near the border with Lithuania. The territory was disputed between Poland and Lithuania after World War II.

A Stepenienė from Adelaide knew that BALFAS had connections with that area and asked for families to contact.  BALFAS had for many years had been providing aid, mainly in the form of clothes.  Each month they sent 40-50 parcels of good clothes and food.

The letters written in Lithuanian usually gave an outline of the dire straits families were living in.  No specific requests were made, just asking for assistance.  In that year the society received about 32 letters, to which all were responded to.  The women collected clothing items, sorted into packages based on what was mentioned in the letters.  Clothing, shoes, coats, jumpers, ties and children’s clothes were packaged some up to 18 kg and posted.

The United Lithuanian Relief Fund of America has been able to assist thousands of Lithuanian refugees in Europe and elsewhere with some much needed food, clothing, and medicine. Significant aid and clothing contributions came from the Catholic hierarchy. The rest came mainly as personal donations from thousands of Lithuanians in numerous parishes, Clubs, and societies throughout the United States.
 
Reference
http://www.lituanus.org/1956/56_3_06Boley.html

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Four days at youth camp

In October 1963, 45 young men and women aged between 14 and 22 gathered at O’Sullivan’s Beach for a camp.  The camp was organised by the Catholic Association.

The camp was an opportunity for Adelaide youth to develop and strengthen their character.  The camp program was organised to include something new and interesting all the time.  There were discussions and debates to broaden ones thoughts.  Sport, games, excursions, singing, the evenings around a camp fire and being so close to the beach, swimming.

The main benefit of the four days was for the youth to feel like real Lithuanians, not just in language but in thought.  One questions raised for thought and discussion was ‘is it worth being a Lithuanian in Australia?’  Discussion was lively and of course got of tract.  There was much discussion over ‘young’ and ‘old’ and how each views the other. 
The write up about the camp for the newspaper was written by a parent at the camp, who was impressed with the maturity of the participants.
 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

1990 Song festival in Vilnius


 
The climate in Lithuania had changed by 1990 that it seemed possible that group visits could occur.  It was at this time that the Adelaide Lithuanian National Dancing group Žilvinas were gearing up to participate in the 13th Lithuanian National song festival to be held in Vilnius.  It would have been the first time that most of us would have travelled overseas and to Lithuania. 
Lithuania had just regained its Independence on 11 March 1990.  Russia was not overjoyed at this and so an ultimatum was issued on April 13: drop all talk about independence or face economic sanctions in the form of a blockade.  Lithuania did not retreat, and the Soviet government introduced sanctions against Lithuania as of April 18.

The blockade conditions meant that visas were not granted to everyone in Adelaide Dancing group.  Practising weekly with our teacher, Vytas Straukas, there were about 15 in the group.  A fortunate six got visas and were able to travel to Lithuania to partake in the Song festival.

Birute Stalbaite
Dana Baltutyte
Julija Bakutyte
Bronius Sabeckis
Andrius Dunda
Paul Rupinskas

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A day in the Bush

A day in the Bush or Diena Australijos Šila, was produced for the newly arrived Lithuanian youth to Australia who would be unfamiliar with the Australian bush and animal life.  Many would not have known English on arrival,  and a book in Lithuanian would help them to remember their native toungue while introducing them to Australian life.
It is published by Užuovėja (Shelter). Translated from English by J. Ap – nis. (full name not given) Published in Bathurst 1949.
A day in the Bush by Nan Fullarton is a charming Australian children's picture book about a rabbits search for the monster he thinks is in his burrow. All the bush animals help him find the unknown creature that gave him a fright.  The drawings by the author make this an ideal story for any age.

Nan Fullarton is the author of several picture books.


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Military Academy celebrates 50 years

First President of Lithuanian Antanas Smetona's Military Academy

The Military Academy began to operate on 8 March 1919. Due to the shortage of officers in the emerging Lithuanian army, courses were short lasting only several months. The first graduates of Lithuanian officers were in July 1919. In 1920 the course lasted for one year, then from 1921 it increased to two years. From 1935 it became a three year course.  

Initially the school was in Kaunas then during the Soviet occupation of Lithuania the School moved to Vilnius in September 1940.

50 years after the schools creation, members of the Adelaide Lithuanian Community commemorated the occasion. Graduates of the Lithuanian Military Academy honoured those who died and living graduates. They vowed to continue to battle with all their strength to assist their homeland and fight for its freedom.

Donations were collected that would go towards Lithuania’s fight for independence.

A beautiful hand written and decorated document featuring a Vytis in the background was created for the occasion.

Monday, 25 May 2015

A neighbourly helping hand

War experiences would have been traumatic and many had long term consequences.  It is not surprising that some would be admitted to an institution.  Here is a moving article, that talks about how the community responded.


In a small cafeteria sits 14 men.  From their appearance you can tell that they are Lithuanian.  Some of them have nicely tanned faces, clean shaven and wearing clean clothes.  We talk of everyday things, about the weather, food, autumn. If you look more closely at them in their eyes you can see a warm Lithuanian palpable sorrow. They miss genuine freedom.  On the table is piled a package for each person in which you will find fruit, biscuits, sweets, cigarettes, tobacco, Lithuanian newspapers, handkerchiefs, tooth paste and other small items.  Inside the room are two Adelaide Women Society members who have brought the packages.  They have known these men for a long time.

They talk to each one of them. “I could leave, the doctor would let me, just there is no one who will give me work.  I am bored here”.

Others have been here for 12 years, and from appearance you would think they could live like us.  Some have been here 6, 8 or 9 years, they all speak lovely Lithuanian, some of them are real Žemaičiai (Samogitians), Dzukai or Aukštačiai (Highlanders) (References to the regional groups of Lithuania). After an hour we say our goodbyes.  We visit 2 women and one man lying in hospital. Going through the doors, the guard unlocks and then locks, the doors with large rattling keys.  The sound goes through your heart.  On the other side of the door are our blood brothers.  Born on Lithuanian soil, grown up in the Lithuanian countryside, through grass and forests they ran as children.  Today there are 17. Only a few remember them, only a few visit.  Every 4-6 weeks they receive small gifts from the Adelaide Women’s Society, so they are not forgotten.

The outside is beautifully kept, the lawn and flowers trimmed, by the gate you notice a modest sign, “Parkside Mental Hospital”.

Bledzdingėles prie Torrenso, Lietuvių Isikurimas Pietų Australijoj 1947 – 1962

Friday, 15 May 2015

In memory of Romas Kalanta


In memory of Romas Kalanta
Romas Kalanta (February 22, 1953 – May 15, 1972) was a Lithuanian high school student known for his public self-immolation protesting Soviet regime in Lithuania. Kalanta's death provoked the largest post-war riots in Lithuania and inspired similar self-immolations.

Kalanta became a symbol of the Lithuanian resistance throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
At noon on May 14, 1972, Kalanta poured 3 litres of petrol on himself and set himself on fire in the square adjoining the Laisvės Alėja in front of the Kaunas Musical Theatre, where in 1940 the People's Seimas declared establishment of the Lithuanian SSR and petitioned the Soviet Union to admit Lithuania as one of the soviet socialist republics.  He died about 14 hours later in a hospital.  Before the suicide, Kalanta left his notebook with a brief note on a bench. Its content became known only after the declaration of independence in 1990 and opening up of secret KGB archives. The note read "blame only the regime for my death.

After his death rumours spread that a few of his classmates formed a patriot group, and that they held a lottery to determine which of them would have to carry out the mission. The official Soviet propaganda claimed that Kalanta was mentally ill.
Kalanta Romas: In memory of Romas Kalanta who 10 years ago, died in Kaunas Lithuania, in protest of Soviet Russia’s oppression of all human rights of his people.  Your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed and will always be remembered.

Advertiser inserted by Viktoras Stalba (Adelaide) 1982
Image taken from Lietuvos Rytas

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Health in migrant communities

I was fortunate to recently meet a historian who is researching health in post war migrants to Australia.  Our conversation raised many questions about health in migrants communities, which of course I wanted answers to.

What would new Lithuanians do in the first years if they needed a doctor?
I know there a quite several Lithuanian doctors who came to Australia.  To practice medicine in Australia, the new migrants would have to undergo further study.  This would have been extremely hard for any new arrival.  Firstly there was the language, secondly you would have to work your two year contract before you were free to pursue a career and thirdly you had to work to support yourself and family.   


Language would have been an important factor.  To be able to communicate personal detailed information in your own language and to understand treatment would have been vital.  If no Lithuanian doctor was available, going to a doctor of a similar migrant background would suffice.

Did the community provide support to its members?
One of the principle aims of the Lithuanian Women's Society and Lithuanian Catholic Women's Society was to offer assistance, financial or in kind to members in need.  Some aims of the society were to visit the sick in hospital and assisting disadvantaged families, assist with payment of school fees, medicine.  The society’s focus has always been on the elderly members of the community.  The society in its formative years remembered Lithuanians still displaced in Germany, they sent monetary donations twice a year.

The Society has a focus on older members of the community that are alone, or have not adapted well to Australian environment.  Their moral and material needs are supported by the Women’s Society.  In exile we are one large family.
How was mental health issues viewed in the community?
Cases of suicide and detainment in mental institutions are recorded.  But are these figures any greater for one ethnic group?

I will do some more research on this, but in the mean time if anyone has stories or information to share, please do.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Useful sites

From time to time I come across some great resources relevant to Lithuanians in Australia.  Here is the latest.

The Lithuanian Studies Society at the University of Tasmania has produced an annual journal for 28 years. It features articles about Lithuania written in English on a variety of subjects. It is a great read and from this year the publication is only available online. You can view and download it here for free.
lithuanian papers vol 28 2014


http://dpcamps.ort.org/

ORT and Displaced Persons Camps

The letters O-R-T form the Russian acronym for "Obschestvo Remeslenovo i zemledelcheskovo Trouda", meaning The Society for Handicrafts and Agricultural Work.  This reflects the conditions that prevailed when ORT was conceived, when the acquisition of agricultural and manual skills were the key to employment. ORT is one of the largest non-governmental education and training organizations in the world.

It is a private, not-for-profit organization that meets the educational, and manpower training needs of contemporary society with more than 3,000,000 graduates worldwide since its inception.  It maintains a non-sectarian, non-political position in its education and training provision. 
 
ORT was founded in St Petersburg in Tsarist Russia in 1880 to provide employable skills for Russia’s impoverished Jewish people.
 
ORT have made a website on the organisation and its involvement in Displaced Persons camps after WWII.  It contains general information on camps which may be of use.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Dark history part V

Dark history part V

1954

On February 22 1954 police were called to a cliff side in the Sydney beach suburb of Tamarama where a car had plunged over the edge. The body of 44 year old Lithuanian born Dr Joseph Blank washed up in the surf.   While police were puzzling over why he had driven off the cliff the remains of another person were thrown up by the sea.  They were identified as Lithuanian woman Judy Arane 27, whose family said she had arrived seven years earlier after being held in a German prisoner of war camp and was 'just beginning to enjoy life'.  It was a mystery as to why she was in the car'.

1954
MIGRANT SUICIDES
A 29-year-old Lithuanian fettler was found dead in the railway quarters at Dulbydilla Siding on Sunday afternoon.
He was Bruno Paulauskas. A .22 rifle was found lying near the body. 
Police say there were no suspicious circumstances.

Western star (Toowoomba)  15 January 1954

1955

Lithuanian George Hayes killed a man, shot four other people, then suicided.
Bruce Clark shot in chest while visiting the Weate’s. Killer shot 5 in locked room George Hayes, 22 year-old Lithuanian migrant, who committed suicide Saturday afternoon after shooting up the family of pretty Beverly Weate, former girlfriend, at their Ivanhoe home.

Beverly's f a t h e r was killed and three members of the family and a friend were wounded, as Hayes, formerly Jurgis Vazelis, sprayed them at lunch time with a .38 pistol.
Then he locked the lounge room and shot himself dead.

Mr. Hector Weate, 45, who tried to disarm Hayes after he had shot Daryl Weate and Bruce Clark, both 17, lay dying in the hall with a bullet in his brain, when neighbours and police arrived.
Mrs. Weate, 40, was shot in the shoulder as she' fled from the kitchen with her daughter Mirim, 3, whose head was grazed.

Police believe Hayes went to the Weate home in a rage after phoning from a nearby box, and being- told by Mr. Weate to keep away.  

Police were told Beverly was walking through a park near her home recently when Hayes approached her. After an argument, Hayes fired a shot.
Hayes' only relative in Australia is a brother working in the country.

Mr.Weate had recently bought a hotel near Benalla, and owned a chain of frock shops and some trotters.

He died in St. Vincent's hospital an hour after he was shot.
Police rushed Beverly from Ivanhoe to her father's deathbed.
Funeral of killer Lithuanian George Hayes at Fawkner Cemetery.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Dark history part IV

Dark history part IV

1953
A drink sodden migrant stabbed his lover
A Lithuanian migrant sodden with drink on August 8 had acted like an automaton when he stabbed his de facto wife through the heart with a knife, Mr. F. W. Vizzard, Public Defender, suggested on Wednesday to M. Justice Clancy at Central Criminal Court.   
'The woman said  ‘stab me' said Mr Vizzard 'The man's ears were working, his eyes were working his hands were working, but there was no co-ordinating mind behind them.  'On the woman's invitation, as it were, the machine worked automatically and he stabbed her through the heart.'
Silvestros Visockis 45, labourer, had pleaded guilty to staying Mrs Dorotny Irene Denang at their home in Arthur St. Surry Hills. Blonde stocky, pug faced Visockis was making his second appearance in a Darlinghurst court in two years. He had the story of a hard life written all over his leathery sallow face.  Visockis had been charged with murder Mr C. V. Rooney, prosecution had said the Crown accepted Visockis' plea to man slaughter because it was conceded that the killing was the 'culmination of a sordid drinking episode.' Det Sgt Holmes, of Darlinghurst said Visockis came to. Australia in 1949. He was known to be addicted to drink and when under the influence became quarrel some and violent.
Red Army Conscript  
Sgt Holmes said Visockis claimed to have been a conscript in the Red Army from 1941 to 1943, to have been captured and imprisoned by the Germans until 1945 Holmes, said Visockis had been involved in other trouble and police had been called to his home several times.   On Xmas Eve 1951 he had gone to a New Australians' club at Greenwich with several other migrants. They ordered a meal and after eating it refused to pay the 5s a head due.  Visockis' companions left the club, said Sgt   Holmes. Visockis remained. The others returned about 9 p.m.   They wanted liquor supplied free or money to buy it.   The demand being refused, Visockis and his companions wrecked the premises.
Damage was £309.   Visockis was charged with causing malicious damage and was released on bond to pay £62 10s compensation.   On August 8 this year, said Sgt. Holmes Visockis invited several New Australians to join himself and Mrs. Denangle at a Surry Hills hotel for a drink about lunch time. Between 5 and 6 pm Visockis and Mrs. Denangle started for home On the way, apparently, he was struck severely in the mouth by some men who tried to take Mrs. Denangle away from him.

Plunged knife through heart
At home Visockis got a knife and 'was going to kill the party who hurt him.' Mrs. Denangle was sitting on her bed said Sgt. Holmes. She said 'I have saved your life if you want to kill any one, kill me.' Visockis immediately plunged the knife into Mrs. Den angle's heart. said Sgt. Holmes. She had been 'perfectly de fenceless.' Visockis had later told police that Mrs. Denangle being dead, he had nothing to live for Mr. Justice Clancy asked Mr. Vizzard: What are the prospects of having him sent back to his own country. Mr. Vizzard: I haven't considered that. I don't know whether he would be accepted back to his own country. Having read the depositions, Mr. Justice Clancy remanded Visockis for sentence and directed that a psychiatric report be prepared. His Honor commented: 'In a non-legal sense he was mad with drink, there's no doubt about that. He had certainly been attacked by somebody and there was an element of concussion that may have had a bearing.'

Truth (Sydney) 29 November 1953

He got 9 years.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Dark history part III

Dark history part III

1952
ACCUSED'S STORY OF CAMP DEATH (From Our Special Representative.) MORAWA

Povolis Navaras (25), single, farm labourer and Balys Grigaliunas (pictured) (35), single, railway worker, whom Navaras is alleged to have wilfully murdered at Pintharuka on February 23 had been friends before leaving Germany for Australia.
This was said by Det. G. Gooch at a preliminary hearing at Morawa, which was continued today, when he read an alleged statement by Navaras. Mr. T. Ansell, R.M., committed Navaras for trial at Geraldton.  Grigaliunas had tried to stab Navaras in Germany when they had fought over a girl, the alleged statement said. Until the attempted stabbing at Pintharuka, they had been good friends. On the day of the alleged shooting, he and Darance Hamlet Bradbrook (18), an other employee on the farm of Mr. L. Williams at Pintharuka, had been alone on the farm.  The bolt in the harvester had broken so that pair had gone to Morawa at 5 p.m. to get the bolt mended.  Accused and Colin James Munroe, another employee, had had several drinks at the Morawa Hotel.  When they left, they had taken eight bottles of beer, and he and Munroe with two other men had drunk five bottles before calling at the camp of Wladislaw Danek at Pintharuka.  "Fairly Drunk" After all Danek's beer had been drunk, Grigaliunas who had been at the camp had gone to accused's truck about 15yds from the camp and brought in all the beer left in the truck.  By then he (Navaras) was fairly drunk and so was Grigaliunas.  When about to go home accused had written a cheque for Danek to whom he owed £1. Deceased had asked for some money and started an argument when accused said he had no more. "Grigaliunas then started to abuse me," the alleged statement went on. "and was swearing at me. He was sitting on a box and he jumped up.  He had a knife in his hand.  He came at me and had the knife above his head and looked as if he was going to stab me.  I grabbed hold of the knife, which cut the palm of my right hand.  The knife dropped to the floor." Danek had grabbed deceased to stop him from using another knife that he had.  Navaras had taken the rifle from the truck because he was frightened Grigaliunas might try to stab him, the alleged statement said.  

Had Rifle
When he returned to the door of the camp, deceased was standing in the middle of the room. Accused was carrying the rifle loosely in front of him and had his finger on the trigger. "I stepped about three paces inside the door with the rifle pointing at Grigaliunas," Navaras is alleged to have told the police.  "He came towards me and grabbed hold of the barrel of the rifle with his hand and he pushed the muzzle away from his body. "When Grigaliunas grabbed the rifle it jerked my finger on the trigger and the rifle went off with an explosion." Bradbrook said in evidence that Navaras took 12 bottles of beer from the Morawa Hotel.  He heard deceased and accused arguing at the camp.  All had got into the truck to leave Danek's camp when accused found another bottle of beer on the floor and said he was going back to drink it. Bradbrook had then begun to walk home.  About ten minutes later he heard a shot then the truck had passed travelling fast with Navaras driving. Later Navaras came to his camp and said that he had shot Grigaliunas and added "I die myself."

Interview
Det. Gooch said that he had interviewed accused, whom he had found fully clothed and asleep at the farm in a caravan. Accused had asked: "How is Bill (the deceased); is he in hospital?" Witness had told him Grigaliunas was dead. Accused had said that he only fired one shot at the camp. "People there said you fired two shots and I found two cartridge shells on the floor," witness had said. "Did you fire two shots?" Accused had replied that he could only remember one.  When witness had told accused that all at the camp said deceased did not grab the rifle, Navaras had said: "I don't know, I was pretty drunk If they say he did not they must be right.  But I did not mean to kill Bill."  Constable B. P. Finlayson, of Morawa, said that Grigaliunas had been lying on the floor with a small puncture wound in the stomach and one in the back.  A bullet had passed through the wall of the room and hit the iron of the kitchen wall and had been recovered where it fells at the base of this wall. Det. Gooch said that no other bullet-holes had been found at the camp. Det.Sgt. C. E. Woodley prosecuted.

The Western Australian 27 March 1952

Grigaliunas was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

NAA record

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Dark history part II

Dark history part II

1949
Attempted Suicide
A LITHUANIAN migrant who jumped into the Derwent River from Princes Wharf, Hobart, on November 21 told rescuers that the world was no good and "I kills myself," according to evidence given in the Hobart Police Court yesterday. 
The man is Antanas Simkus, and he was charged with having attempted to kill himself by drowning.
The case was dismissed.
Evidence was given that Simkus told rescuers that he had received word from his brothers and sisters that they could not come to Australia and that the "Russians wanted him back."
James Roy O'Toole, stevedore, told the Coroner (Mr. G. F. Sorell) that he saw Simkus jump into the river from the end of the wharf.
Simkus appeared to hesitate two or three times before jumping, O'Toole said.  In the water, Simkus was keeping afloat with difficulty and was heading towards the centre of the river.  O'Toole said he called to two men in a fishing boat to go to Simkus' assistance, and he threw him a life-buoy.  Ernest Mayne Butler Ford, water side worker, said Simkus pushed the lifebuoy away and kept hitting at the man in the boat when being rescued. 
On the shore, Simkus said he did not want to live, and told of the message from his brothers and sisters.  Keith Frances, Kelly told how Simkus struggled when he and another man towed Simkus to the shore.
Through an interpreter, Simkus told Mr. Sorell that he could not possibly commit suicide as he was such a good-swimmer. He said he was very drunk, and "just went for a swim to refresh himself." He did not remember being on the wharf. He had been drinking cognac.

He assured the Coroner that he had no desire to do such a thing again.
Mr. Sorell said it was necessary for the Crown to prove that Simkus intended to kill himself. His actions and the, evidence were consistent with the whole affair being a drunken escapade. The evidence was not sufficient to prove Simkus tried to take his own life.

Dismissing the charge, Mr. Sorell paid a tribute to persons who had acted "promptly and with good sense" in rescuing Simkus.
The Mercury (Hobart) 2 December 1949

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

V-16 in Antartica 1997

I recently wrote about Dail Opulskis hoisting the Lithuanian flag in Antarctica.  I didn't have a photo but Dail has been in touch and has sent two photos through.  He wrote 'it doesn't look very Antarticky, it was summer after all.  There are icebergs on the horizon'. 
 
Thankyou Dail, I loved the story and the photos just make it better.
 


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Dark history, Lithuanian Australians

Last year I attended a 'dark tour' of Gawler.  It was filled with tales of murders, mysterious deaths and ghosts.  It was an interesting tour walking around Gawler hearing these stories.  My mind often reverts back to Lithuania and so I began wondering if there were similar tales about Lithuanians in Australia.  A few evenings spent  on Trove and this is what I found.

1927
Parvil Noguleoitsch, a Lithuanian, a prohibited immigrant, was arrested at Fremantle on November 27. An attempt was made to find a Lithuanian consul to guarantee the necessary money to enable the man to land. The attempt was unsuccessful, and he was sentenced to deportation. He was placed on the Minderoo, but jumped overboard shortly after the vessel left Fremantle last Friday. No trace has since been found of him, and it is feared that he has been eaten by sharks.
Westralian Worker 23 December 1927
 
1933

DETERMINED SUICIDE
Having failed to hang himself on Saturday night, a Lithuanian named Art Shiparo, aged 40, swallowed citric acid in his room at Darlinghurst last night and died in great agony. The deceased, whose wife is in her native country, had a banking account of over £1000. Digitisation generously supported

The Braidwood Review & District Advocate 11 April 1933
More to come.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Lithuanian Independence day


 
In 1997, Donatas Opulskis (Dail) born in Adelaide, visited Antartica for the second time to work for a stint in communications.  On February 16th, Dail hoisted a lithuanian flag near an Australian flag for Lithuania's independence day.
 
This is not a picture of the flag, I didn't have one, so used a photo from the internet.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Early Lithuanians in Australia

I am very excited to announce there is a new blog dealing with the history of Lithuanians in Australia.  This one is looking at those who arrived pre 1947.  Research is undertaken by Jonas Mockunas, now Canberra based who has taken this project on board.

This blog will explore the stories of those Lithuanians and their near neighbours (Jews, Poles and others) who originated in what is now the republic of Lithuania and who arrived in Australia before 1947 (the year when World War II displaced persons from the occupied Baltic States began to arrive in larger numbers). The earlier arrivals were most often subjects of czarist Russia (1795-1917) or citizens of independent Lithuania (1918-1940). Some migrated to Australia intentionally, others came accidentally; some travelled directly, others arrived here from Scotland, the USA or other countries.

Take a look, maybe you have something to share.
http://earlylithuaniansinaustralia.blogspot.com.au/

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Petriukas



Petras Andrijaitis
When I think of growing up in the Lithuanian community and going to Lithuanian House, it is always with the memory of this man. We all knew him as Petriukas.

Petras was born in 18 September 1925, not far from Raseinis.  The war interrupted his schooling, when he was forced to flee Lithuania for Germany where he spent years in Displaced Persons camps. He arrived in Melbourne onboard the General M B Stewart on 13 April 1949.
Petras loved sport, he played basketball and volleyball.  He was very active in the Adelaide Vytis sports club, all his life in Adelaide and was made an honorary member.  He held several positions in the Club, sports manager, basketball manager and treasurer.  He would spend several nights per week in sports halls watching Vytis teams play.  If a player was missing, he would also been known to don a uniform to fill in. Twice he went to USA with Australian Lithuanian players.

Petriukas lived in the house on Grey street, Norwood and acted as caretaker to Lithuanian House.  You would see him every Sunday helping out in the kitchen, locking and unlocking doors, cleaning up.  He often made Sunday lunches, he was there to make lunches for the Saturday school children.  For his hard work and dedication he was made an Adelaide Lithuanian life member. 
Petras was a bachelor with no family in Australia.  In Lithuania he had a sister whom he was very close to. His nephews came to visit him in Adelaide at some point.

Prior to his death, Petras moved into the Baltic homes.  His last wish was that this would be written on his headstone. Čia ilsisi lietuvos sūnus toli nuo tėvynės. (Here lies a son of Lithuania far from his homeland).  Petriukas passed away on the 17 February 2007.