Sunday, 12 December 2010

Linksmų Kalėdų Merry Christmas

Christmas in our family is celebrated on Christmas Eve, (Kucios). The evening meal always had at least 12 dishes for the 12 disciples of Jesus. Presents weren't to be open until we had recited a poem, song etc and not until the first star was out. This was annoying as a child in Adelaide when it didn't get dark until 8:30 - 9:00pm. Once we made a cut out star and tried to get grandma to believe it was real enough for our presents. There was always lots of fish served, potato salad, more potato's and fish.

These traditions have been carried through the generations, although the meal has become less Lithuanian, ham and other dishes are served, English is spoken at the table. The thing i take away with me growing up is Christmas is for family and close friends, and a time to count your blessings and celebrate life.

Linksmų Kalėdų ir Laimingų Naujųjų metų!

(The photo is of my grandmother, her little brother and father at Christmas in Piniava, Lithuania, c. 1935)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Cartoonist Borisas BORJERAS

A caricaturist and art photographer, born in Kaunas on the 14 December 1910. He studied at the Kaunas school of art, graduating in 1931. In 1940 he married Elena and four years later fled to Germany. On arrival in SA he worked for the SA Railway department and then as a commercial artist. His work often featured in Australian Lithuanian print.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Alfonsas Budrys

Alfonsas was born in 19th March 1915 in Karoliskis, Kupiskis. From a young age he enjoyed photography. He exhibited in numerous exhibitions in Lithuania and when he arrived in Australia. He liked to compose photographs from two negatives using the superimposed principal. At a later stage he began using video. His work features in many publications in America, Canada and Australia.

At 16 years of age, he joined the local railway brass band and begun to keep a photographic record of its musical tours. In the late thirties he met photographer Jonas Zitkus who gave him helpful advice with his photography. In 1942 he married Birute Navickaite and in 1944 they fled to the West.

In 1949 they migrated to Australia and settled in Adelaide. Budrys completed his two year work contract at an iron foundry and then worked at General Motors Holden factory as a die caster until his retirement in 1980.

Since its establishment in 1954, he has been a member of the Lithuanian Photographic Group and from 1963 to 1969 was a member of the Adelaide Camera Club.

He has kept a fantastic photographic record of the Lithuanian community in Adelaide, always seen with a camera in hand at any functions. The great collection of photographs in the Adelaide Lithuanian Museum is credited to him.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Rosemary Aliukonis

Rosemary was born on the 7 September 1950, in Adelaide. At an early age she showed talent and was encouraged to study art. After completing school at Seacombe High in 1968 she enrolled in the SA School of Art. In 1972 she was awarded a diploma in Fine Art, having gained a distinction in painting. She received the John Christie Wright Memorial Prize for composition which enabled her to study lithography for a year. In 1974 she undertook a scholarship to study at the Hamburg Art College.

Her first solo exhibition was held at the Llewellyn Gallery in North Adelaide in 1974.

Arts practiced
  • Glass
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration/Drawing
  • Multimedia
  • Painting
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
  • Teaching/Tutoring Experience
  • Textile
Print above titled "Medicine shield".

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Lithuanian Artists in Adelaide

Genovaite Kazokas, author of the book "Lithuanian artists in Australia 1950 - 1990", writes that Adelaide comprised the largest number of artists in Australia who had completed formal art training. Some had gained qualifications in Lithuania, two graduated from the L'Ecole des Arts et Metiers. Over the next few weeks I plan to highlight some of these artists.

, Painter, graphic artist, film maker
Alfonsas BUDRYS, Photographer
Borisas BORJERAS, Cartoonist
Aurimas DUMCIUS, Sculptor, ceramists and painter
Vilia DUNDA, Ceramist
Balys GREBLIUNAS, sculptor
Vytas KAPOCIUNAS, Painter, sculptor
Algirdas KUDIRKA, Painter, stage decorator, graphic and poker work artist
Aleksandras MARCIULIONIS, sculptor
Eleonora MARCIULIONIS, ceramist
Balys MILAKNIS, sculptor
Brone MOCKUNAS, Painter
Stasys NELIUBSYS, Painter
Ieva POCIUS, sculptor
Jonas RUDZINSKAS, painter, sculptor, stained glass
Mecys RUDZENSKAS, Painter
Antanas RUKSTELE, painter
Vaclovas RYDLINSKIS, Painter
Pranas SAVENIS, Painter
Vytas SERELIS, Painter
Ziba VILMANIS, Painter, book illustrator
Vytautas VOSYLIUS, photographer
Leonas ZYGAS, painter

Sunday, 31 October 2010


SA Camp Receives 907 Migrants

The first contingent of displaced persons to be sent direct to South Australia reached Woodside camp yesterday, weary but happy to be in Australia after months and years of
waiting in Europe.

There were a few tears, but mostly beaming smiles., and in half a dozen tongues the newcomers anxiously enquired about friends and relatives who had come to Australia in earlier ships. The migrants, all from DP camps in the British sector of Germany, came from Naples in the Norwegian motorship Goya which berthed at Outer Harbor yesterday a week ahead of schedule.

The contingent comprised 907 men, women and children of 11 nationalities—438 Poles, 143 Latvians. 98 Lithuanians, 92 Yugoslavs, 51 Esthonians, 38 Ukrainians, 24 Hungarians, 10 Russians, eight Czechoslovakians, four Germans and one Rumanian. They said that the voyage had been a happy one. Food on the ship had been consistently good and their quarters—dormitories of 40 to 45 beds—clean and comfortable. Each man and woman had received 20 cigarettes free each day.

Dr. R. M. Mussone, the International Refugee Organisation doctor who accompanied the migrants, reported that 500 of the passengers had become sea sick during a spell of rough weather. There had been 25 cases of measles.

Two children still suffering from measles were taken by ambulance to the camp hospital at Woodside.

Eight Denominations
Another IRO official on the ship was M. Rudolph Regamev who travelled from Naples as escort officer. His records of the migrants showed that there were 441 Roman Catholics, 149 Orthodox, 131 Protestants, 118 Greek-Catholics, 36 Lutherans, 15 Jews, 14 Evangelists and three Baptists. The contingent included seven babies and 104 children under 10 years. The migrants were taken to Woodside in two special trains. After bedding, crockery and cutlery had been issued and quarters allotted, they were given their first meal in Australia—soup, stew, bread.

The Advertiser Wednesday 4 May 1949 p.3

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Rosum's Universal Robots R.U.R.

Rosum’s Universal Robots R.U.R
by K Capek

Performed in Adelaide 1953

Produced by: J Gucius

Artist: A Marciulionis


Harry Domin, General Manager RUR: V. Ratkevicius

Dr Fabby, Chief Engineer RUR: Z. Kucinksas

Dr Gall Chief physiologist of RUR: B. Rainys

Dr Helman, Chief psychologist of RUR: A Petrikas

J. Berman, Business manager of RUR: A. Gutis

Alquist, that architect of RUR: N. Skidzevicius

Ellen Glory: G. Matulevicius (pictured)

Emma her maidservant: S. Kanas

Marius, a robot: A. Trinka

Radius, a robot: V. Uzubalis

Primus, a robot: L. Karmazinas

A Robot, servant: B. Baksinskas

A Robot: P. Stimburys

Sulla, a robot: Z. Petkunas

Ellen, a robot: S. Kanas

Business Manager: L. Zygas

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Lithuanian Theatre Studio 1953

The Lithuanian Theatre Studio 1953 (Adelaide)

From left front row: P Kanas, ….A Rukstele (artist), S. Kaniene, B. Rainys, A. Gutis,
G. Matuleviciene, J. Gucius
Second row: L or Z Kucinskas, A. Trinka, ….. Pukelis, V. Uzubalis, B. Baksinskas,
J. Naujalis
Third row: V. Ratkevicius, N. Skidzevicius, L. Kamazinas
First row between B. Rainy and A. Gucius, A. Petrikas

Derek Van Abbe wrote a letter of thanks to Mr Gucius for the opportunity to see the play “School for wives”. He writes “ I am always impressed with the faithfulness with which European dramatic groups keep on the traditions of the “grand style”, this is something which Australians have lost.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Theatre Studio

The Lithuanian Theatre studio was formed in 1956 in Adelaide, and as its name implies the purpose is not for an amateur production of stage plays, but for a school of dramatic art gradually bringing its actors to a standard of Professional Theatre.

The Theatre-Studio has based its work on the system “The actor is the creator of fantasy”, therefore it looks to the actor’s individual performance above all production requirements.

In their work each actor must perform various characters and never be a character of his own. This means that the Theatre-Studio is always searching for greater artistic expression.

To act before Australian audiences in English is one of the hardest tasks for the Lithuanian Theatre-Studio, but at the same time it has provided its members with a new approach and enabled them to gain further experience.

The Director Mr J Gucius, is a student of Mr A Sutkus, one of the assistants of the famous theatre notationist Mr F.F Kommissarjevsky. Mr Gucius graduated at High Studio of Dramatic Art supported by the Ministry of Education in Lithuania.

The Theatre-Studio is greatly assisted by Mr A Marciulionis with his settings for the Studio’s productions.

Lithuanian Theatre-Studio has in its repertoire nine plays beside the One Act plays to be presented during the Festival Season of the Studio Theatre. Among them “R.U.R” a drama by K Capek, “The Boor”, a comedy by A Checkov and several other plays by Lithuanian authors.
Studio Theatre programme 1960

Monday, 30 August 2010

Footprints: Latvians in South Australia

Last week, the above titled book was launched by the Latvian community at the Adelaide Town Hall. It is a beautifully printed book of 326 pages and looks at the history of Latvians in South Australia, concentrating mainly on post WWII refugees but it does have a chapter of early migrants. Each chapter focuses on one of the many clubs and groups that formed, such as the dancing group, choir, scouts, school, arts, church congregations and a chapter of trailblazers. The book concludes by interviews with young Latvians of first to third generations who are still involved with the community.

Its a valuable book for future generations who may be of Latvian decent and would like to know more about their ancestry. The Latvian Community has generously donated over 300 copies to libraries and schools, further copies can be purchased from the Latvian library on Rose Tce, Wayville for $45.

It has been edited by Bruno Krumins, Christine Finnimore, Astra Kronitis, Inga Perkons-Grauze, Janis Priedklans and Aldis Putnins.

Friday, 30 July 2010

360 D.P's on Rocket Range work

The Minister for Works and Housing. Mr N. Lemmon said today that 360 Poles, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians and Yugoslavs were employed on the rocket range in Central Australia.
There are also 1,909 Australian and British workmen there.

Mr Lemmon gave the information in a written reply to questions by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Mr F.J. Harrison in the House of Representatives.

Security screens before and after arrival in Australia were carried out by the Attorney-Generals department.

Displaced Persons were employed on the rocket range because at the time they were directed int he work it was not possible to secure sufficient Australian labourers to remain on the job for any length of time.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 4 June 1949, p.5

The Rocket range refers to Woomera.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Lithuanian House

M. Urbonas working on the newly purchased property which will
become Lithuanian House.

President V. Raginis, Father J Kungys and J Vasilauskas bless
Lithuanian House 1958.

Volunteers workers, J. Lapsys, S. Povilaitis, A.Merunas, M. Urbonas,
V. Raginis, A. Mikeliunas

Working bee, 1962
From left in wheelbarrow,A Dumcius, kneeling J Gylys, Jg Taunys,
Standing, A. Morkunas, J Norkunas, V Raginis, J Pyragius,
Engineer K Reisonas, K Cieminis, E.Alysaitis, V Laurinaitis,
V. Petkunas, J. Ivoska, Vl. Dumcius, J. Rapsevicius, J. Zakevericius.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Lithuanian RSL: Ramovė

Many Lithuanian men were in the Army or Reserves before coming to Australia, by 1950 it was natural to form a group that recognise this. The idea arose and was enthusiastically taken up by K Taparauskas. On the 10th June 1951 a meeting was held at St Joseph’s hall and the ‘Lietuvos Atsargos Karininku Draugija’ (Lithuanian Reserve) was formed.

The first committee comprised of
President: A Levickas
Secretary: K. Taparauskas
Treasurer: A Rusktele
At first they had 36 members.

The group received news form the USA that they could be part of the “Ramovė’s” (Lithuanian Veterans Union). The purpose of Ramovė was to uphold traditions, provide aid to those in Lithuania who were rendered invalids during the struggle for independence and to participate in all efforts to regain Lithuanian independence form Soviet occupation. Ramovė was formed in Chicago on the 14 May 1950.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

What's the connection between the Hilton and Lithuanians?

South Australian Lithuanian Antanas Lapsys, Architect was " part of the consortium which developed the Hilton Hotel on Victoria Square; a project which was unprecedented for South Australia in terms of its size and as its status as the first ‘international’ hotel in Adelaide". (

Well known Hilton chef, Cheong Liew
first moved from Malaysia to Melbourne in 1969 to study electrical engineering, but instead became a chef. In 1995 he opened The Grange restaurant at the Hilton one of Adelaide's most successful restaurants. Cheong is married to Lithuanian Ziukelis, and has trained several of the family as chefs.

Do you know of any more connections?

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Adelaide Lithuanian Women’s Society

Women's Society committee, 1962
From left back row: A. morkuniene, K. Garbaliauskiene, P. Gavaliene, M. Navakiene
Front: B. Vaboliene, S. Jonaviciene, E. Reisoniene, N. Varniauskiene.

The Society was formed March 1st, 1952, and open to all Lithuanian women in Adelaide. Some of the aims of the society were to visit the sick in hospital and assisting disadvantaged families. The society in its formative years remembered Lithuanians still displaced in Germany, they sent monetary donations twice a year.

The women would cook traditional food for Christmas for the school children and would purchase presents to give to all the children, at times over 160.

Money raised from numerous sources, lotteries, donations were forwarded to the Lithuanian school in Germany, as well as donations to the local sports club, library, choir, students.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Lithuanian Women’s Handicraft group

In 1982, August 22nd, several women initiated a handicraft exhibition. As a result the women showed a desire to form a handicraft group. On the initiative of Genovaite Straukienė a group formed, calling themselves the Lietuvių Moterų Rankdarbų Bureliu (Lithuanian Women’s handicraft group).

The group was filled with talented women who gladly shared their skills with each other. At first they would meet on the first Wednesday of the month, where they shared and learnt crafts such as macramé, leather work, sewing, knitting and weaving. The group expanded and eventually included cooking and home-grown plants.

The group of 26 was led by Genovaite Straukienė and Ona Dundienė.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

This is my hat!

English for Newcomers to Australia
Prepared by the Commonwealth Office of Education, consultant RG Crossley, first edition July 1948

The purpose of the is book is to help immigrants to Australia, who do not yet speak English to get some knowledge of the language as rapidly as possible.

Lesson 11
This is my head, This is my hat, My hat is in my hand. My hand is on my head.
This is Mr Peel's head, It is his head. I put my hat on his head. My hat is on his head.
This is Mrs Peel's head. It is her head. I put my hat on her head. I take my hat off Mr Peel's head and put it on Mrs Peel's head.

I'm not sure about you but if i didn't know English, I don't think I could learn it this fast.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The organised 1960's!

The Lithuanian community in South Australia had by 1960 established numerous groups that brought people together with similar interests and fostered the passing on of Lithuanian traditions and language to the youth.

ALB Women’s committee

Adelaide Lithuanian organisation
Lithuanian Atgimimo sajudis
Ateitininku Sendraugiu Adelaide Skyrius (Catholic Youth)
LKF Adelaides Skyrius (Soccer)
Caritas (Catholic charity)
Vytis (Sports)
Choras ‘Lituania’ (Choir)
Teisininku Draugijos Skyrius (Lawyers Association Chapter)
Svietimo Tarybos Prezidiumas (Education Council Presidium)
Saturday school parents committee
Lietuviu Akademinis Tautinis Sajudis (Academic Lithuanian National Revival)
Mazosios Lietuviu Biciuliu Draugija (Friends of Lithuanian Minor)
Ramove (Returned Soldiers League)
Zilvinas (National Dancing group)

Monday, 5 April 2010

Lithuanian ANZACS

Historian Elena Govor has published a book "Russian Anzacs in Australia History" UNSW Press, 2005

At the end of the nineteenth century the population living on the territory of modern day Lithuania was ethnically diverse. Included are names of servicemen who were most likely of Lithuanian ethnic origin. A few had ties to South Australia

Brenka, George Brente
John Brente Brenka

Born 1887
Place Vilkaviskis, Lithuania? or Volkovysk, Belarus? or Vilkomir (Ukmerge), Latvia?
Ethnic origin Lithuanian? Latvian? Czech?
Religion Roman Catholic
Mother Brenke, Agi
Arrived at Australia 1914 per Ajana
Residence before enlistment Shepperton's Sawmills, Gumeracha, SA
Occupation labourer
Service number 2809 enlisted 8.06.1915 POE Keswick, SA
unit 10th Battalion, 50th Battalion rank Private
place Gallipoli, 1915, Western Front, 1916 casualties WIA 1916 (twice)
final fate DOW 23.08.1916
cemetery 102 Bologne Eastern Cemetery, France
Naturalisation served as Russian subject

Jaks, William Frank
Born 15.04.1882 Place Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania Ethnic/cultural origin Russian? Lithuanian? Religion Roman Catholic
Residence before arrival at Australia left Russia ca. 1898, lived in England
Arrived at Australia from England? on 17.01.1914 per Heathfield
Residence before enlistment Qld, NSW, SA
Occupation 1916 carpenter, cabinet maker and French polisher
service number 2371 enlisted 10.04.1916 POE Adelaide
unit 5th Pioneer Battalion rank Private
place Western Front, 1917-1918 casualties WIA 1918
final fate RTA 15.01.1919 discharged 27.07.1919
Naturalisation served as Russian subject
Residence after the war 1932 Canberra
Died 16.03.1951, Westlake, Canberra
Members of D Company, 5th Australian Pioneer Battalion near Dranoutre, erecting sheds in Donegal Camp

Zygas, Stanley
Born 14.04.1886 Place Survilishkis (Surviliškis), Kaunas, Lithuania Ethnic origin Lithuanian Religion Roman Catholic
Father Zygas Victor
Residence prior to Australia left Lithuania in 1907, travelled to Germany overland, then to Buenos Aires, then to England and to Australia on vessels
Arrived at Australia from England on 12.1911 per Warrener disembarked at Port Adelaide, SA
Residence before enlistment Tasmania, Port Adelaide, Waikerie, SA
Occupation 1915 sailor, works as agricultural labourer, general handy man, 1917 fitter and turner
Service number 5103 enlisted 28.09.1917 POE Adelaide
unit 32nd Battalion, 50th Battalion rank Private
place Western Front, 1918-1919
final fate RTA 20.12.1919 discharged 5.03.1920
Naturalisation 1915
Residence after the war 1917; 1969 Rostrevor, SA
Wife Kathleen Zygas (née Green), married 1919 in England
Died 14.08.1975

You can look up their records on the National Archives site.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Dressed to impress

Displaced Persons going through Bonegilla Migrant Camp upon entry to Australia would receive items of clothing. The list below is for my great aunt and uncle and shows the different items for males and females.

Boots (1)
Sox (2)
Underpants (2)
Singlet (2)
Handkerchiefs (2)
Pyjamas (1)
Hats (1)
Braces (1)
Ties (1)
Trousers (1)
Coats (1)
Shirts (1)
Pullovers (1)

Shoes (1)
Stockings (1)
Anklets (2)
Singlet (1)
Nightdresses (1)
Corsets (1)
Brassieres (1)
Overalls (1)
Hats (1)
Cardigans (1)
Raincoats (1)

Monday, 15 February 2010

The General Heintzelman

The General Stuart Heintzelman was the first ship that carried Displaced Persons from war torn Europe to settle in Australia.

The first transport brought 843 refugees to Australia, 729 males, 114 females, 142 Estonians, 262 Latvians and 439 Lithuanians. Below are some of the Lithuanians from that transport who settled in South Australia.


Link to the complete list of passengers aboard the first transport and more information about the first transport can be found on the Fifth Fleet website.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Its our loss! Closure of Adelaide office of the NAA

The Adelaide office of the National Archives of Australia is due to close in March 2011. Forced to make cost cutting measures the smallest three offices will close. South Australia will loose a chunk of its history with the closure with records going interstate. This will mean, if you want to access records you pay to have them digitised or travel interstate to view them.

While this may not concern you all, it may if you want to trace your family history. In particular to Lithuanian immigrants, the Adelaide office may contain records of your family. In particular relevance are Alien registration documents (D4878)and Alien registration cards (D4881). At the moment you can view them and take copies for free with digital camera's in the Adelaide office.

To see if your family has records in the National Archives, log onto their site and go to Collections - Records Search. Log on as a guest user and type in your surname.

You will have until March 2011 to access the Archives.

If you are angry about the closure you can keep up to date on what's happening through the History Council of SA website

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Budek! Scouts in SA

Scouting groups quickly formed in the DP camps, beginning on 25th July 945 in Detmolde, in the British zone. The Academic scouts formed in 1946 in Augsburg.
Scouts worked enthusiastically as they believed that on returning to a free Lithuania they would be able to use the scout ideals of honouring God, Freedom for your country and betterment of people.

Not disheartened by the fact that many would not return home, the scouts instead saw immigration as an opportunity to spread the word globally on the Lithuania’s occupation.

The first Lithuanian scouts to come to Australia had already organised themselves on the ship from Europe. Borisas Dainutis organised the scouts aboard the ship the General Heintzelman.

The scouts were organised into 6 groups.

At the beginning of 1949 the troops were reorganised by location into 6 troops.

IV Troop Adelaide

1. VITKŪNAS Alfredas
2. GRIGONIS Algimantas
4. DAINIUS Vytautas
5. GALINIS Vytautas
6. VITKŪNAS Bronius
8. SKIDZEVIČIUS M? only V or N

V Troop – Leigh Creek

1. DONIELA Vytautas
3. DUNDA Algimantas
7. NAVAKAS Vaclovas or Vytautas

VI Troop – Port Lincoln

2. KAMINSKAS Benedictas
5. BALANDIS Leonas
7. GURTAJUS Algirdas

Thursday, 14 January 2010

They made a film about him!

In 1970, Lithuanian Simas Kudirka sought asylum from the Soviets by jumping onto an US Coast Guard ship. He was a radio operator on a Russian fishing boat. His defection failed and he was sentenced to ten years in a Soviet gulag. As it turned out his mother was actually born in the US, but the family moved back to Lithuania. Because of this four years later, in 1974, Simas and his wife and two children were granted US citizenship. Simas became a spokesperson for a free Lithuania.

In June 1980 he was a guest of the Lithuanian community in Australia. On his visit to Adelaide, he took part in the annual mass deportation commemorations, by laying a wreath at the War Memorial on North Terrace.

His story was made into a film The defection of Simas Kudirka, staring Alan Arkin as Simas.

I can remember being at the War Memorial that day, the first 'real' Lithuanian I had seen.