Thursday, 4 December 2008

Australian Lithuanian newspaper

A group of Lithuanian working at Iron Knob understood the importance of having a newspaper in Lithuanians. They organised a collection to see the creation of Australijos Lietuvis (Australian Lithuanian).

The pioneers were:
Petras Juodka donated ₤1
Juozas Bacys donated ₤1
Albinas Kutka donated ₤1
Jeron. Miliauskas donated ₤1
Vincas Samulis donated 10 shillings
Jurg. Cholmogorcovas donated 10 shillings
Stasys Malickas donated 10 shillings
Vaclovas Stuknys donated 10 shillings
Domas Valancius donated 5 shillings
Jonas Vizbaras from Leigh Creek donated ₤2

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Baltic University in exile

Not content with life passing them by, Balts residing in refugee camps in Germany established a University at Hamburg in the British Zone of Occupation in March 1946. Funding came from UNRRA, the Lutheran World Federation and other groups. In early 1947 it was moved to a former Luftwaffe school in Pinneberg. The term University was not allowed so it was renamed the Displaced Person's Study Centre, although commonly referred to as the University.

The University didn't last long as many of its staff and students immigrated to other countries. A total of 76 students graduated in its short existence, 53 of them Latvian, 16 Lithuanian and 7 Estonians. Many others went on to complete studies in their new adopted homes.

The University had 170 professors on the teaching staff and 1,200 students in eight faculties and 13 subdivisions.

My grandfather enrolled, continuing his Engineering studies that was interrupted by war. He enrolled in March 25th 1946, student number 393. He studied 35 subjects, with most Professors coming from Kaunas University. He finished his Engineering degree at Adelaide University.

Saturday, 25 October 2008


Woomera from an Australian perspective

The migrant workers, the so called ‘Balts” ( here refers to true Balts from Estonia, Latvia and Estonia, as well as Germans, Poles, Ukranians and Yugoslavs) presented Security of Woomera with a major headache. Fresh from the chaos in Europe and with every incentive to conceal their past activities, the Balts posed an insuperable problem for those trying to check their political allegiances. Mostly Security had to deal with the Balts at Woomera as they found hem. In theory it should not have been too difficult, for the official edict was that no alien or ‘New Australian’ should be allowed anywhere near the ranges, Evetts Field or classified material. Since their was little sensitive material in those days it should not have mattered much what their political sympathies were if they were only doing rough labouring work. In practice, though, many of the Balts had invaluable skills. A capable draughtsman was worth his weight in gold. To the despair of Security Balts kept finding their way into the Technical Area offices.

In January 1949, 200 Balts arrived clutching their permitted 16 kilograms of luggage they were regarded with a jaundiced eye by some of their Australian workmates, who note enviously that the Balts were being given free handout tools while Australians had to provide their own. Generally the Balts were thought to be unpredictable and were treated cautiously by the Australians.

Fire across the desert: Woomera and the Anglo-Australian Joint Project 1946 – 1980
Peter Morton, Commonwealth of Australia 1989

Womera through Lithuanian eyes

Ten Lithuanians worked here from 1948, many are telephone linesmen, some mechanics and one First Aid officer. We lived in tents and ate with the soldiers. The food is good and there is as much fruit as you like. We had electric lights, hot showers and a small library. Three times per week you are driven to the pictures and sometimes the pictures come to us. Three of us have radios and we are able to receive newspapers from Europe and USA. Alas we had no cards to play with. The days are hot 113F, it has rained on occasion. We begin work at dawn till 12 and receive 10p 8 shillings for a 48 hour weeks wage. The mechanics receive 11p 1 shilling. Food and accommodation is for free. Relationships with the soldiers is good.

Liudas Jaronis 1948
Australijos Lietuvis 1948 Dec 20th no.8

Monday, 13 October 2008

Finding information

I have recently found several websites that have provided some information on Lithuanians in SA.

The welcome wall at the National Maritime Museum
This has 53 Lithuanian names on it, some from South Australia.

Western Australia Museum welcome wall
The State of Western Australia pays tribute to the large number of migrants from many lands and cultures who have played such an important role in the State's social, economic and cultural development.

Details of Steve Patupis can be found here, living at Eucla.

Architects of SA
Architects of South Australia is a database of material about the professional lives and contributions of a selection of the state's architects from 1836 to the present day. In addition to providing scholarly biographical information, the database also identifies the architects' principal South Australian built works.

Information on the work of Architect Antanas Lapsys can be found here.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Municipal Tramways Trust

While researching one Lithuanian I discovered he had worked as a bus operator. Microfiche of the Municipal Tramways Trust employees 1909 -1974 (SA Record Series No.13)are available fro public use. From this I discovered some new Lithuanians I hadn't a record off and some more information on some I had. The resource provided birth date, year of occupation, position and sometime notes were available.

ABROMAS Jonas b.22.03.1927
1951 Conductor

ANDRUSEVIČIUS Pulgis b. 18.03.1907
1952-1956 Conductor from NSW

ANTANAITIS Robert b.29.09.1927
1951 – 1963 Motorman

BEINORAVIČIUS Juozas b.07.07.1920
1960-1970 Conductor transferred to EW&S department

CERNIAKAUSKAS Steponas Mecislovas Aka Stephen Michael SERNUS
b. 25.02.1922
1966 Conductor

CHRZONSTAUSKAS Anton Aka CONRAD b. 12/11/1911
1957 Conductor

GERULAITIS Leonas b. 22.03.1924
1956-1957 Conductor

GUOBA Jurgis b. 23.01.1918
1960 – 1968 Bus operator
d. 1968

GURSKIS Kazimieras b.10.04.1928
1955-1956 Conductor

GYLYS Juozas (Joseph) b. 20.03.1917
1958-1960 Conductor

KUNČAITIS Frank Kestutis Joseph b. 03.09.1953
1954-1959 Conductor (failed to enter under age)

KUNIUTIS Kazys b.06.01.1924
1954-1959 Bus operator

LAPŠYS Jonas (John) b.26.07.1909
1957-1974 Conductor

MAŽILIANSKAS Romouldas b. 01.09.1926
1957-1959 Conductor

Jonas MOCKŪNAS b.11.02.1917
1951-1971 Bus operator

NACEVIČCIUS Bronius b.10.01.1924
1955-1961 Bus operator

NAVASAITIS Romas b.09.05.1923
1957 Conductor Going to Melbourne

PETRĖNAS Algis Vladas b.05.12.1942
1965-1967 Conductor

PETRAUSKAS Teofilius b.11.03.1920
1954-58 Conductor

PETRUŠKA Algimantas b.16.08.1934
1955-1965 Bus operator

POCIUS Konstantinas b.28.12.1912
1951-1958 Bus operator

RUPINSKAS J b. no date
1953 Motorman promoted

SOLOVKOVAS Leonas b.30041925
1954-1955 Conductor

STEPANAS Juozas b. 26.01.1909
1951-1974 Bus operator

VARNAS Kestutis b.29.09.1926
1954-1955 Conductor

VIZBARAS Jonas b.27.09.1919
1951-1955 Conductor Going to Sydney

ZAMOISKIS Augis Algimantas b.02.04.1944
1964-1965 Conductor

ZARCINAS Algirdas (Alexander) b.17.06.1919
1955-1963 Bus operator

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Paulius Rutenis

Singer Paulius Rutenis on November 6th 1948 gave his first large concert which was heard by several dozen Adelaidians. He sang an assortment of English, German and Italian songs and opera arias as well as three Lithuanian songs “Tamsioj naktelej”, “Da nepaketinau” and “Pamylejaų vakar”. Those gathered enjoyed the concert so much they asked for an encore. On Novemebr 27th Rutenis gave a concert in Kangaroo Island.

Australijos Lietuvis December 6th 1948 Nr.7

RUTKAUSKAS Paulius arrived in Melbourne on the General W M Black on the 27 April 1948He is also known as RUTENIS.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Immigration Records to Australia

Records of people who arrived under the Displaced Persons scheme 1947 to 1953 are held at the National Archives of Australia. Occupation by the USSR forced many people to flee Eastern Europe towards the end of WWII. Many ended up in Germany with smaller numbers settling in Italy, Australia and Holland. Unable to return home they awaited resettlement by the International refugee Organisation (IRO). Under the IRO scheme each person was required to complete two forms;

1. A screening card: this records the persons name, date of birth, sex, nationality, educational standards, fluency in languages, religion, dependants, employment in the past, suggested employment.
2. IRO Medical Examination Form: this included the person’s name, date of birth, colour of eyes, and hair, weight, height, name of camp allocation, place of birth, passport photograph, signature and medical questionnaire including x-ray negative.

This documentation has been preserved by the National Archives and is searchable under surnames under the keyword search. You are able to access the original records by visiting the reading rooms in Canberra or a digital copy can be requested for a fee. Once digitised the copies are loaded onto the website when anyone can then view them. For family history research this is a fantastic resource for family members who participated in the scheme.

Kerry Ward
The South Australian Genealogist February 2003, Vol.30, No.1

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Journey to Australia

Journey to Australia is a hand written diary by Renoldas Cesna of the journey he and his family made from Germany to Australia in 1949. It was written in Bonegilla Australia, at the beginning 4 May 1949

Eighteen year old Renoldas wrote in Lithuanian in an old school exercise book where he attached documents and photographs taken on the journey. In the back of the diary he lists some of the Lithuanian passengers, giving their birth date and place of birth. In all 912 DP’s consisting of Balts, Poles, Yugoslavs, Ukrainians, Jews, Russians, Hungarians, Czechs and Germans were on board.

Its a fascinating acocount of the journey, giving in details things he saw, places he travelled to etc.

It begins
We applied for immigration in Dedelstorf 1948.
We traveled to Fallingbostel on August 10, 1948
We went through commission on the 24th August 1948.
We received notification of migration on 5th December 1948.

We were suppose to travel on the fifteenth transport to Genoa on the boat the Svalbard, which arrived in Sydney in 194_ These migrants went to Bathurst camp. We were unable to travel on the transport due to mum’s illness.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Iron Knob

Iron Knob is located 68 kilometres southwest of Port Augusta, and 90 kilometres east of Kimba in South Australia. A small town of about 700 people, with only one hotel was the first workplace and home for many Lithuanian DP’s from the first transport to Australia. The first Balts (10 of them) were sent there in February 1948 and later smaller numbers of other nationalities arrived. The refugees were initially housed in tents until suitable accommodation could be found. The work was not hard and it seemed that all grasped their tasks easily, it was just dirty work. The wages were good and overtime is often available. Life however was very monotonous. Dances are organised weekly, and being able to swim in the local pool relieves the boredom.

Australijos Lietuvis (Australian Lithuanian newspaper) 1948

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Adelaide Lithuanian News

The first edition of Adelaidės Lietuvių Žinios (Adelaide Lithuanian News) was printed on 1 July 1960. This monthly newspaper is still produced today, although numerous years ago it was combined with Šventadieno Balsas (Sunday Voice) the Adelaide Lithuanian Catholic Church newsletter. The newspaper highlights news of the community, from local Lithuanian sports results, scouts, Lithuanian house news, deaths, special occasions and the list goes on. It was published by Vaclovas Raginis on behalf of the Adelaide Lithuanian Association. The first issue details that Ignatavičius and Gumbys were selected for the SA basketball team.

For family historians this source of information is invaluable, the only issue though is that it’s all in Lithuanian!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Alien invasion

Immigrants to Australia were officially referred to as Aliens. The Aliens Act of 1947 meant that all immigrants 16 years of age or older had to register and notify any change of name, address or occupation.

The registration process required aliens to submit a number of 'RA' (Registered Alien) documents. The range of forms to be completed included the following.

RA Information from Aliens over Sixteen Entering the Commonwealth
RA1 Application for Registration Form
RA2 Application for Registration by Alien Entering Australia
RA3 Notice of Change of Occupation or Employment
RA4 Notification of Departure from Australia
RA5 Notice of Change of Residence
RA6 Notification of Marriage
RA7 Notification of Naturalisation
RA9 Application for Issue of New Certificate

The most commonly used form was the Application for Registration by Alien Entering Australia (Form RA2), which in practice appears to have been issued for both resident aliens and aliens leaving the Commonwealth. The RA2 form varied slightly in format over time but recorded the same details about aliens entering Australia. These details included name, address, nationality, date and place of birth, occupation, place and dates of birth of spouse and children, name of ship or aircraft registration, date and place of arrival in Australia. A passport-sized photograph of the applicant was attached to the majority of forms.

You can now access these types of documents from the National Archives.

Monday, 4 August 2008


Bonegilla is located 12km from Wodonga on the NSW Victoria border.

The original complex was built as the Bonegilla Army camp during the second world war. It became the Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training centre in 1947 and until 1971 served as Australia’s largest and longest operating migrant centre. It was the first Australian home for more than 320 000 post war migrants from over 30 countries.

There were 24 separate accommodation blocks comprising of several long huts arranged around a central kitchen and dining area, with showers, a laundry and deep pit latrines.
The huts were corrugated iron, unlined and with ventilation gaps between the roof and walls.

Each person was allocated linen and grey woolen blankets as well as crockery and cutlery.

The centres facilities included a large hospital, three churches, movie theatre, library, primary school, canteen, butcher, barber, police station and three banks. The administration area provided a paymaster, social services, CES, customs, alien registration and information centre.

Women and children were housed separately from the men until huts were partitioned into cubicles for families.

It was here that many Lithuanians who came to Australia were placed upon arrival.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Radium Hill 1951 to 1956

Deposits of Uranium had been discovered and mined on small scales without significant success. It wasn’t until 1946 that the SA Department of Mines commenced preliminary exploration.

By 1950 a camp of 40 men was established and by 1951 200 people had created a new township complete with a post office, Commonwealth Bank, library, canteen, swimming centre and sports ground. By the late 1950’s over 1000 people resided here, the township now included two churches and a school.

It was here that 42 Lithuanians resided for varying lengths many of whom would have been working their compulsory two year contract with the Australian government.

Naturalisation ceremonies were conducted at Radium Hill. Residents seeking naturalization would firstly be interviewed by the Postmaster and inducted at a public ceremony by the most senior officer in the field, this was General Manager Terry Rodgers. The first ceremony was performed at 7:30pm on the 15th October 1955 in the presence of 300 town residence. One of the three employees who took the oath of allegiance that day was Petras MOCKAITIS.

Children of Radium Hill 1951-1961
Christine and Gertrude BABINSKAS

Adults of Radium Hill 1951 - 1961
BABINSKAS Edith Home duties
BABINSKAS Vincentas Motor mechanic Jan 1952 – 1961
BALTRULIONIS Peter Electrician/Linesman Aug 1953 – Dec 1953
BRAŽAITIS Vladas Heavy media operator Nov 1951 – Aug 1955
BRAŽAUSKAS Antanas Bitumous Operator May 1952 – Nov 1958
BRAŽAUSKAS Vaclovas Road worker April 1952 – Nov 1953
DAUGINAS Vladas Winchman Jan 1953 – Aug 1953
FOKAS Jonas U/G Labourer Oct 1958 – Feb 1959
JAKŪTIS Antanas Carpenter March 1953 – Aug 1953
JONAUSKAS Mrs E Home duties
JONAUSKAS Edvardas Miner Aug 1954 – Dec 1961
JUODSNŪKIS Jonas Mill Sampler Jan 1952 – Dec 1960
KARPAVIČIUS Peter Motor Mechanic Jan 1954 – Feb 1954
KIAUPA Dovas Tradesman Ass May 1952 – Sept 1953
LELYS Zigmas Tradesman Ass Jan 1952 – Sep 1953
LIŪGA Algirdas Pipe Fitter May 1956 – Oct 1956
MALCIKAS Stasys Miner Aug 1954 – Dec 1961
MESKELIS Vilgelinos Road worker March 1951 – Aug 1954
MOCKAITIS Petras Mill Sampler March 1951 – April 1956
NAVICKAS Albinas Painter April 1951 – July 1953
NORKEVIČIUS Ronaldas Cook Nov 1951 – Aug 1954
NORKŪNAS Anapras Painter March 1957 – April 1957
PILIPAVIČIUS Leonas Snapman March 1953 – July 1953
PLESTYS Jonas U/G Air hoist operator June 1955 – Sept 1959
PUŠLYS Jonas Flotation Operator March 1953 – October 1953
RINGYS Augustus Mill Sampler July 1956 – July 1956
SIVICKAS Vincas Motor Mechanic Nov 1951 – Nov 1953
SONGAILA Stasys Mill Sampler April 1956 – Oct 1956
STANKEVIČIUS Jonas Builders Labourer Jan 1952 – Aug 1953
STAUGAS Edmondas Painter Jan 1953 – April 1953
SUBAČIUS Vladas Carpenter Feb 1953 – July 1953
VALINČIUS Bronius Mil Sampler Nov 1954 – Feb 1955
VELICKA Balys U/G Timberman Jan 1956 – Dec 1961
VIKNIUS Petras Tradesman Ass Jan 1952 – Nov 1954
VITKŪNAS Bruno Storeman April 1953 – Sept 1953
VOLKOVAS Simonas U/G Air hoist operator Oct 1951 – June 1953
VOSYLIUS Kazys Carpenter May 1952 – March 1953
ZAJARSKAS Antanas Snapman Nov 1950 – June 1953
ZAKARAUSKAS Juozas Carpenter Aug 1951 – Dec 1953

We were Radium Hill: Stories and memories of people who once lived at Radium Hill Malcolm Harrington & Kevin Kakosche Pub by Malcolm Harrington 1991
For more information on Radium Hill go to

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Leigh Creek

One of the first Displaced Persons (DP’s) to arrive in Leigh Creek was Andrius Bajorunas. He came from Lithuania via the Bathurst Army Barracks in July 1948. Because of the housing shortage at Leigh Creek he was most welcome, as single men could be housed in tents. He was employed as a labourer for seven months before being promoted to Bulldozer operator, working on the landing strip for the airport. Although happy with his job, he was also very happy to leave after his two years were up. A few months after his arrival Bajorunas was followed by a group of young DP’s all of whom were in their early twenties. They had only recently arrived in Australia and came from Lithuanian via Germany. Among this group were Vaclovas Navakas and his brother Vytautas who had been directed by the Commonwealth government to go to Leigh Creek. The brothers were allotted a tent and shared it for the next two years.

ETSA recruited DP’s from the Bonegilla centre in Victoria, 43 in total. Among them, Vytas (Bill) Doniela and Jurgis Glusauskas.

Many of them did extremely well once they had finished their two year indenture agreement with the Commonwealth government. Within a few years some of these DP’s had established themselves in such professions as Chemist, Architect, Lecturer, Author and Publisher.

A sizeable number of DP’s stayed on in Leigh Creek for many years after the completion of their compulsory time. They eventually found their way into the community, as did later immigrants. Among those still there in the late 1950’s were Vytautas Peciulis and Juozas Ramanauskas.

Julius Burke (Julius Burauskas) who arrived from Lithuania in 1949, died when his car overturned on the road between Orroroo and Jamestown on 7th October 1972. Although he lived in Leigh Creek since 1963 nobody knew if he had relatives.

In the Leigh creek cemetery lies Petras Daubaras who died in 1974.

Leigh Creek – an oasis in the desert by Nic Klaasen

Monday, 23 June 2008

The year is 1962

Programme of events for the Lithuanian community in Adelaide

1961 – New Years Eve ball held at Centennial Hall, Wayville

January 15 Vytis Club dancing party
29 Women’s Committee children’s party
February 11 Catholic Council Carnival Ball
12 Adelaide Lithuanian Community party
19 Independence Day
26 Adelaide Lithuanian Association Yearly meeting
March 5th Scouts “Kaziuko Mūgė”
19 Adelaide Lithuanian Community yearly meeting
April 5th Adelaide Lithuanian Association ball
29th Vytis Sports club ball
May 7th Mothers Day concert
13th Adelaide Lithuanian Community ball
27th Students Ball
June 18th Baltic deportation memorial
24th Vytis sports club ball
July 8th Adelaide Lithuanian News balls
29th Women’s committee ball
August 12 Šventadieno Balso Ball
26 Scout ball
September 10th Lithuanian National Day memorial
23rd Saturday school Parents committee ball
October 14th Adelaide Lithuanian Association Ball
22 Lithuanian Catholic Council Party
28th Vytis Sports Club Ball
November 18th Women’s Committee Ball
26th Adelaide Lithuanian Association Ball
December 3rd Sports group outing
27th Women’s Committee Christmas
31st Adelaide Lithuanian Committee New Years Eve ball

Friday, 20 June 2008

In Memoriam - Kristina Karazija nee Cavill

Eight years ago today a good friend of mine died from Leukemia. Her name was Kristina Karazija nee Cavill. Kris loved life, she ran through it and would have more stories to tell than most 90 year olds. Being with her was an adventure, she had a way of making you do things, before you knew it you would be gardening in her back yard, not angry more perplexed as to how you got there. Kris loved all things Lithuanian, her mother was born their and passed on her love of the country. Kris learnt the language, was a member of the Lithuanian Dancing group and traveled their on several occasions. We traveled to Europe together in 1990, I can even recall her talking in her sleep in Lithuanian. In 1997 she married Algis Karazija from Melbourne and settled not far from her parents home. A considerate and loving person it wasn’t a real surprise that she worked as a nurse at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in the Oncology ward. Ironically it was here that she passed away in 2000. One thing I have learnt form Kris is that life is short so live every minute of it.
Ilsėkis Ramybėje
Rest in Peace Kris, until we meet again.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Baltic Holocaust

In June each year the Baltic people remember the mass deportations of Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians from their homelands to Soviet slave labor and extermination camps that occurred in June 1941. Some 60 000 people were taken from their homes on the nights of June 13 and 14th. Men, women and children starved in cattle trucks en route to Siberia. Many died of cold and disease in the Gulag archipelago.

Each year the Baltic communities gather to commemorate these events so not to forget. A church service is usually held with a laying of a wreath.

In 1988, the 75th year from this tragedy was commemorated with a public demonstration that began at the War Memorial on North Terrace. Balts dressed in traditional costumes carried flags and laid wreaths at the steps of the war memorial. Youth dressed in black with their faces painted white displayed numbers on the front of their clothes. The numbers represented the thousands who perished.

After the laying of the wreaths those present moved to the Adelaide Town Hall. The youth dressed in black, stood on the steps leading into the Town Hall, so each entrant could count the number of people lost. A combined Baltic choir sang “Advance Australia Fair” and “Requiem”. The Baltic Council president Maret Kneebone spoke, followed by Ilze Radzins who read an Estonian and Latvian poem. After an interval cellist Janis Laurs played which was followed by songs sung by the Lithuanian and Estonian choirs. To finish the combined choirs sung the national anthems of each country.

A plaque has also been placed at the Migration Museum, remembering the atrocities of 1941. The Balts were the first to place a plaque outside the entrance to the museum, which is now surrounded by other nationalities who wish to remember atrocities that occurred in their own country.

Musu Pastoge 4/7/1988 nr 26

Monday, 9 June 2008

Lithuanian House (Lietuvių Namai)

An old church property was purchased by the community. The Lithuanian Society’s President Vaclovas Reisonas and Architect Karolis Reisonas began planning renovations. Four rooms were added to the north of the hall and after a few years a vestibule, kitchen, library and toilets were added. In 1966 further renovations took place to enlarge the stage and construct the museum and archives. All that remains of the original church is the roof.

In 1960 a house was also purchased at 10 Eastry Street, Norwood, next door to the church, where a basketball court was built and a shed constructed. In 1972 another house at 16 Gray st (around the corner) was purchased where the rear yard was used for a carpark.

In 1973 Architect Eugenijus Kalibitas was contracted to design a modern bar and club rooms where billiards could be played. A women’s room, office and Lithuanian radio programme studio was also constructed.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Independence Day 1949

The first Lithuanian Independence day commemorated in Adelaide was held on the 19th of February, 1949. It was held at the St Ksavero Cathedral, where a mass was given by Father Reardon. An eleven man choir led by organist A Giniotis sang Lithuanian hymns.

The commemorations moved to the Cathedral hall where A. Šliužas spoke in English about Lithuania to their Australian guests. Further performances by violinist Pranas Matiukas and singer P. Rutenis were performed as well as three dances by the National Folk Dancing group. Accordionist V. Čepauskas performed and J. Pareigis conducted the men’s choir singing four folk songs.

For many Australians this may have been the first time they experienced aspects of Lithuanian culture and after this event many more followed. Matiukas and Rutenis were asked to perform on radio, the dancing group began receiving invitations to perform at concerts, in hospitals and many different organizations.

Metrastis I (Australian Lithuanian Year Book)

Monday, 28 April 2008

To death us do part

On Saturday April 26th, I celebrated my grandparents 65th wedding anniversary. Ieva (Sakalauskaite) and Martynas Pocius were married in Kaunas in 1943. Martynas was born in Metrikvieciai, Silute region on 31 July 1920. Ieva was born in Piniava in 1923. Eugenijus Arvydas was born on April 27th 1944. After fleeing the Russians they made their way to Germany where they spent several years in Displaced Persons camps in Germany. A daughter Elzbieta Olga was born on 3rd November 1946. Martynas began studies in Engineering which was interrupted by the war. It wasn't until many years later he continued his education at Adelaide University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering in 1955.

On arrival in Australia, Ieva was able to continue her passion for art, in particular sculpture. She has become well known in the art world. A statue of Catherine Helen Spence stands in Light Square, unveiled by the Queen in 1986.

Fifty-eight years in Australia and 65 years together, Ieva and Martynas were able to celebrate this day with their two children, two in-laws, three of their four grandchildren and two of their great-grandchildren. Their legacy continues.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Lithuanian House Youth Fund

In 1961 a youth fund was established to raise funds for the youth of the community. It cost $20 to nominate someone for inclusion. A photograph of the person was then placed into an album which is kept in the Lithuanian Archives.
Amongst the names included are: Arlauskas, Bielskis, Ciplyte, Cibiras, Dunda, Fiseris, Gylas, Grigonis, Jaunutis, Jurgelionis, Kaminskas, Kazlauskas, Stalba, Stimburys, Sliuzas, Vasiliauskas, Zakarevicius.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Not the first Lithuanians

Having got excited that I may have found the first Lithuanians in South Australia I'm pretty sure they weren't the WARNAS family. While the entry in the Lobethal birth records listed WARNAS, there were none in the SA BDM's. I did find Mathilde Bertha though, she was listed as WARNEST, her parents August Ernst WARNEST and Johanne Luise SCHILLING. August died young aged 36, his surname listed as WARNESS. There are two death entries for August, one in Angaston and one in Adelaide. The information on the BDM's index does not give place of birth or cause of death. This can only be gleamed from the original records. Also because August died early in SA history the records at that time did not contain much information. Hence a call to the Genealogy Society to look at the original only told me that he was a farmer and died of pneumonia.

The next step was to find an entry in the Biographical Index of SA. I found the family under WARNEST, it states they came out on the ship Catharina and were from Prussia. Johanne came from Lagmeil, Zullichau, which is not in Lithuania.

I have again searched the Skjold shipping list with no likely matches and then searched the shipping lists of ships coming from Germany to Australia. Again no VARNO. The Skjold was the only ship to come out to SA that year. You can search these lists online at

I don't this Jonas Vanagas made a mistake, I would just love to view his records to confirm this information. The search continues.

Monday, 31 March 2008

The Varno family

As mentioned in an earlier blog, it is believed that the Varno family was the first Lithuanians to arrive in South Australia on the ship the Skjold in 1841. Their names do not appear on the shipping list, but as the list is not complete its not surprising.
Today i found an entry in the Lobethal Register of Baptisms for 1848 while in the Lutheran Archives.
The entry reads:
Maria Elisabeth WARNAS, born 15 March 1848 at Light Pass, parents of August Ernst Warnas and Johanne Luise Warnas nee Schilling.

Could this be the Varno family? In German a W is pronounced as a V in English and because the reference to the family from Vanagas was in Lithuanian the way the surname was written was in a singular genitive (Not sure if that is correct) case and so appeared with an O ending rather than the nominative 'AS'.
The names are very German sounding as well, but if they were Lutherans it is possible that this would be the norm.
Will keep looking.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Australian Lithuanian Engineers & Architects Assoc

In 1951 A .Pacevicius, J. Riauba and K. Tymukas decided to form a branch of the World Lithuanian Engineers & Architects Assoc (PLIAS). Members amongst this group included:

Jurgis Naujalis - Architect
Stasys Ceicys - Architect
Karolis Reisonas - Architect
Kostas Tymukas - Engineer
A. Pacevicius - Engineer
Eugenijus Pocius - Civil & Structural Engineer
V. Aleksandravicius - Technician
T. Zurauskas - Engineer
Martynas Pocius - Civil & Structural Engineer
Antanas Lapsys - Architect
Vaclovas Navakas - Architect
Juozas Riauba - Engineer
R. Arlauskas - technician
L. Kanas - Technician
V. Kmitas - Engineer
J. Meskauskas - Technician
A. Ruzgas - ?
Petras Kanas - Architect
Algis Zamoiskis - Engineer

The group would meet for social activities combined with technical talks. It was an opportunity for them to talk about projects and their work.
Are there more not recorded here?

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Getting organised

The first formal gathering of Lithuanians in South Australia was held in the second half of 1948. The Catholic Immigration Officer held an afternoon tea for Lithuanians at Saint Francis Xavier's Hall in Wakefield Street. The hall was to become the first centre of Lithuanian community life in SA.

Shortly after this, Holy Mass in the Lithuanian language was celebrated by Father P Jatulis at Saint Joseph's church in Pirie Street. A Lithuanian language school began in Saint Joseph's Hall in November 1948.

In 1948 M Pareigis organised a small men's choir and V Ratkevicius organised a national dancing group.

On January 2nd, 1949 the first Adelaide Lithuanian meeting was held where over 60 Lithuanians gathered. They formed the Adelaide Lithuanian Cultural Society (Adelaides Lietuviu kulturos draugija ALKD). The President elect was Jonas Mockunas, vice-president, Vincas Cepliauskas, secretary Aleksandras Sliuzas, treasurer: Antanas Giniotis and cultural business Tadas Zurauskas. This group organised the commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the declaration of Lithuanian independence in 1918. Over 400 people attended the event and a photograph appeared in the newspaper. Australians soon began inviting the Lithuanian dancing group and choir to different events as a result.

From many places Migration Museum
Blezdingeles orie Torenso

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Displaced Persons "God's Little Birds"

Boarding a train to Bremehaven 1947, then onto Australia.

World War Two for many in eastern and central Europe brought radical changes. For the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) their independence of 22 years was quashed by Soviet Russians, during the months of June and July 1940. As the war progressed, the German Army replaced the Russians in the Baltic States. By 1944, the reverse happened, the Germans were replaced once again by the Russians. It was at this time that many people left, with Lithuanians making their way west and many ending up in Germany.

The total number of Lithuanians who left, was in the vicinity of 60,000. The refugees became known as Displaced Person’s, or D.P’s. Lithuanians called themselves Dievo Pauksteliai or
God’s little birds.
The Displaced Persons camps which were usually old German Prisoner of War camps, became the refugees’ home for anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. The camps generally came under the auspices of the International Relief Organisation (I.R.O).
Life in the camps was hard, housing was overcrowded, food and clothing was minimal. Narkeliunaite, a displaced writer wrote of the camps “We are condensed and pressed like herrings in a barrel, we have to live in our barracks as mice in the luggage having no opportunity to unpack”.
To some extent the camps became a world in itself, with churches and schools built and cultural groups being formed. The D.P’s worked in the camp’s administration, hospitals, kitchens and even in their own fire and police stations.
The displacement of Lithuanians was believed to be temporary, they believed that communism would be expelled from Lithuania and they would return home. When the D.P’s realised that their return would not be in the near future they considered immigration.

To learn more about the DP camps there is a great website "DP Camps"

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Lithuanians in Peterborough

John Mannion at the State History Conference 2007, presented a paper entitled "A largely forgotten story". It lookes at Peterborough and post WWII migrants to the town. In the paper he placed this exert from the Railway Institute magazine May/June 1973.
The image on the right is of J Donela and Kaminskas in front of the coal gentry at Peterborough 1948/49. (From the Adelaide Lithuanian Archives)

With Mr. and Mrs. Allen Ind at the migrant hostel established in Peterborough, where these lads were first encamped in tents and later in rooms of more solid construction, it is recalled the young Firemen sitting up late at nights drinking coffee to help keep them awake so that they could pursue their study of the language and the instruction papers necessary to qualify as Firemen and Porters. Some of the older Enginemen [Australian] found it hard to converse and understand the young migrants and some of the young migrants found it hard to understand just what the Enginemen were thinking, but mostly it was a happy association which extended for many years afterwards. Today we have a lot of those Baltic migrants listed among our senior staff members in the Loco and Traffic Running, and among the Station Masters' ranks. In the early days most migrants wore gloves on their hands when doing hard and dirty work and the reward for this was apparent when some of them left the Railways and went into other positions, and some into their own businesses. The talented boys were pleased that they had protected their hands and fingers to equip them for delicate work in future life.

The full paper can be accessed from the History Trust website

Monday, 3 March 2008

Adelaide Lithuanian News

The first edition of Adelaides Lietuviu Zinios (Adelaide Lithuanian News) was printed on 1 July 1960. This bi-monthly newspaper continues until today, although in a different format. The paper highlights news of the community, from sports, scouts, Lithuanian house news, deaths, special occassions and the list goes on. It was published by V Raginis on behalf of the Adelaide Lithuanian Association. The first issue details that Ignatavicius and Gumbys were selected for the SA basketball team. For family historians this information will be valuable, the only issue is that its all in Lithuanian.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Early arrivals

Records reveal that there are over 1500 Lithuanians who arrived and settled in SA just after WWII. The first Lithuanians were single males as that was what the Australian government wanted at the time. The men were employed in the Engineering and Water supply department, coal miners at Leigh creek, salt processing plant at Price, in the Onkaparinga Woollen Mill at Lobethal, in the forest industry at Nangwarry, SA Railways, Woomera Rocket Range, General Motors, Chrysler, Phillips factories. So far i have managed to find 800 Lithuanians, just over half way there.

The Onkaparinga Woollen Mills at Lobethal employed many Balts after the war. The workers were housed at the Woodside Army camp. The Mill asked for 15 single women to be housed in the hostel. The government alloted 17 all of whom were married. There husbands were employed by the Railway department and would return on weekends to visit their wives. The husbands were later offered employment in the Mill. Amongst the Lithuanians employed there were Barauskas, Bernaitis, Brazauskas, Cepliauskas, Damasevicius, Diciviene, Jankunas, Jokubaitis, Matikulas,Merliunas, Palukaitis, Vitkus, Vanagas, Vikas.

For more information on the Mill I recomend reading "Onkaparinga: The story of a Mill" by Carol Brockhoff (1992)

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

First SA Lithuanians

Research conducted by Jonas Vanagas reveals that the first Lithuanians to SA were the Varno family, consisting of parents a son and two daughters. They arrived on the ship the Skjold in a group of 275 from Prussia. The family settled at Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills. I have searched the BDM's for any mention of the Varno family and have found none. The shipping list available online also reveals no Varno family for the ship the Skjold. I have no doubt that Vanagas found some reference to the Varno family but as yet have not been able to trace the source. I have tried variations on the spelling of the name also with no luck. Did they move interstate? anglicise their name? I won't give up seeking though, there must be a reference.

Friday, 25 January 2008

First arrivals

On December 1st, 2007, a celebration was held at Lithuanian House to celebrate 60 years since the first transport of post WWII displaced Lithuanians arrived in SA. The first transport had 840 Balts of which 440 were Lithuanian. There first contact with Australia was the Fremantle port. An article in Musu pastoge (19.12.2007) says that the first days were hard, different climate, people & language. After 60 years they are thankful to the country that gave them a new home. Amongst the first transport that arrived on November 28th 1947 and are still living are Algis Saulius, Adolfas Kildisas, Algis Pranckunas, Irena Spray, Jonas Urbonavicius, Adomas Maciukas, Anicetas Jucius and Juozas Doniela.

Sunday, 20 January 2008


I have always been interested in history and have for a time wanted to record the history of the Lithuanian community in South Australia. After much procrastination i began in December by compiling a list of names. To date I know have over 750 Lithuanian names. Over time I will add more information as it comes to light. I hope that a website detailing this information can be created at a later date.