Monday, 19 December 2011

Adelaide Lithuanian Museum & Archives

The Adelaide Lithuanian Museum has been collecting material since the 1950’s. It has become a unique storage house of items brought from Lithuania and items made in Australia by people of Lithuanian heritage; mainly art, craft and printed material.

As early as 1961, the Adelaide Community Council appealed to the community for historical items relating to Lithuania. Jonas Vanagas, founder of the Lobethal museum on his own initiate had already begun to collect material. After the opening of the Lobethal museum, Vanagas found himself collecting printed material and clippings from Australian newspapers that made mention of Lithuania. Jonas Vanagas was appointed curator of the would be Museum and Archives.

The initial aim of the museum was to gather and protect Australian Lithuanian material and other documents relating to life in Australia. It was envisaged a museum could help the youth become familiar with their history and culture.

A purposely built museum and archives were constructed at the rear of Lithuanian House. A large room formed the museum, and a partially underground small room would serve as the Archives.

By 1967 enough material had been collected to conduct the official opening. On January 28th, 1967, Juozas Bachunas, President of the World Lithuanian Association cut the ribbon and declared the museum officially open. Speeches were presented by the Adelaide Lithuanian Community President, Z. Vabolis and the Adelaide Lithuanian Society president P. Bielskis.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Captain Zakis

Eduardas Zakis was born 20 April 1904 in Krasniskiu village, Birzai. He attended the Zemelis school and in 1923 enrolled in the Military school. On 7th September, Eduardas was promoted to Lieutenant.
1927 09 30 Completed the physical education courses at the Senior Officers of DLK Vytautas.
1928 02 22 Assigned to a squadron as an officer.
1928 11 23 promoted to Chief First Lieutenant.
1930 04 30 appointed to the regiment of physical training as Assistant Manager.
1931 11 14 moved to 3rd Squadron.
1931 12 15 Regiment of Education appointed an Assistant Manager.
1933 01 08 sent to courses, appointed to the Sixth squadron.
1933 09 25 severely injured in a bomb explosion.
1933 10 09 graduated from the Weapons of air intelligence course.
1935 01 18 appointed liaison team chief officer.
October 1935 moved to the Third Cavalry Regiment, designated as Engineering Squadron commander.
1935 10 24 passed exams to gain a higher degree, promoted to Captain.
1939 10 13 - 10 28 participated in the march in Vilnius.
During the Soviet Union occupation of Lithuania in 1940 he was dismissed from the army. Towards the end of the war, he moved to the West. He arrived in Australia with his wife Aldona in May 1949 and settled in Adelaide.

He was awarded:
DLK Grade 4 Order of Gediminas (1938)
Lithuanian Independence Medal (1928).

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Major Jonas Pyragius

J. Jasevicius, J. Pyragius, Lendraitis

Lithuanian Air force Major
Born on 29 December 1901 or Jan 1 1902 in Birziai, coming from a farming family. In 1919 he entered the Lithuanian Army. In 1920 he enrolled in military school, by the end of that year he was promoted to artillery lieutenant and assigned to the Engineering division of the armoured vehicle.

In 1922 he graduated from the High Officers Course and assigned to the armoured vehicle command. In 1923 he was promoted chief First Lieutenant. In November that year he was assigned as Platoon Commander of an armoured division. In 1924 moved to Naval aviation, and in June 1925 became a pilot of the fourth air squadron. On the 13th of February he was promoted to Major. 1932 10 appointed Squadron Commander.

June 1940The Soviet Union occupied Lithuania and Jonas fled to Germany. During the German-Soviet war, he returned to Lithuania, led the rebellion against the Gestapo Lithuanian provisional government. Towards the end of 1944, moved to Germany. From 1947-48 lived in Gross Hesepe, Lithuanian refugee camp.

In June 1949 he emigrated to Australia. He was an active participant in the Lithuanian community and managed the Adelaide Lithuanian Museum and participated war veterans activities. He was a founding member of the Adelaide Lithuanian Association, their first secretary and later Vice-President. He curated the museum from 1970 to 1975.

Jonas died on the 14th October 1975. He was survived by his daughter Ona Dalia Gordon. His wife passed away in 1969. When Lithuania regained its independence his daughter carried out his fathers wishes in donating his awards and collection to the Lithuanian Aviation Museum.
He was awarded numerous medals.
  • Grade 4 Order of Gediminas (1928), DLK Gedimino 4 laipsnio ordinu (1928).Awarded to citizens of Lithuania for outstanding performance in civil and public offices.
  • Medal of the Volunteer Founders of the Army (1929), Savanorio medaliu (1929).The medal was instituted oto acknowledge those who had participated in the War of Independence of 1918 to 1920.
  • Lithuanian Independence Medal (1928), Lietuvos nepriklausomybės medaliu (1928). Awarded to those who rendered public service in the early days of independence (1918-1919).
  • "Wings of Steel" Medal of Honour 1932, Plieno sparnų garbės ženklu (1932).

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Lithuanian medals

Once again I found myself a long way off from my starting point. While scanning a program from 1968, the 50th anniversary of Lithuania's Independence Day, I came upon a name who was a receiver of an award. So began an Internet search which let me to this site Uz nuopelnius Lietuviai (For merits to Lithuania). Its a list of people who have received Lithuanian awards. Parts can be translated to English. If you go to "Albumas" (Album) you can enter a name. There isn't much detail but photographs are included.

A database is only a good one for me if I can find some connection between Lithuania and South Australia. I entered a few names and an entry was found for Jonas Pyragius (Karo lakūnas JONAS PYRAGIUS -savanorio byla Nr. 1113). Jonas arrived in Australia in 1949. A few more clicks on the web took me too (Lithuanian Aviation history 1919 - 1940, with a whole entry on Jonas Unfortunately there is no English translation, but you could use Google translate. There are over 400 detailed histories (including photographs) on people which you can search alphabetically

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Lituania Adelaide Lithuanian Choir

First Adelaide Choir by J Mockunas (1974)

The first migrants to Australia were mainly single men or couples without children. The men most often lived near their work place, either in tents or metal barracks for the EWS, Railways, sawmill or other places that Australians didn’t want to work.

In 1948 he rented a small flat near his workplace of Calvary hospital. On Sundays Lithuanians would meet to talk about their work, worries and fears, to sing and sometimes to drink cheap wine. A Lutheran pastor of the name A. F Zinnbauer had heard that they like to sing and offered them an opportunity to sing at an informal Scandinavian gathering. Under Mikas Pareigis their director they began to rehearse, all eleven of them. They sang well and were soon invited to sing at the Royal Society for the Blind after hearing about their performance.

The group soon began rehearsing for the February 16th, Lithuania's Independence day in1949. This event had many Australians so “God save the king” was learnt and sung with four Lithuanian songs. Before the concert the first Lithuanian mass was held where Lithuanian hymns were sung, the organ played by A Giniotis.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

LIthuanian school Director V. Statnickas

School Director 1949 – 1962, 1969 – 1982 Vladas was born on the 9th November 1909 in Asteikiai, Katrena district. He finished his schooling at Siauliai in 1932. He was called to undertake military service in the Army which he completed in 1935 with the rank of junior lieutenant. He was then assigned to the Calvary regiment as Platoon leader. During WWII he fled with his family to Germany, and lived for a time in the Displaced Persons camp at Hanau. Vladas made use of this time by undertaking numerous training opportunities to further his job opportunities. He studied accounting, English and Spanish commerce and driving heavy vehicles. He later worked as an accountant for the IRO in Frankfurt camp. In 1947 he arrived in South Australia on the ship, Oxfordshire. Soon after arrival Vladas became involved with the formation of the school and actively participated in its life. He also sat on the SSABSA board for Lithuanian Language exams. In 1992, Vladas received an Order of Australia medal for his services to the Lithuanian Community. He passed away in 1995, at the age of 85, survived by his wife and two sons.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Australian Lithuanian Festivals

Social organizations were established in almost every place where Lithuanians settled in Australia. In December 1950, at a meeting of Lithuanians from all over Australia, the Australian Lithuanian Community (Australijos Lietuvių Bendruomenė ALB) was established. Sport festivals were first organized and then from 1952 a cultural programme was established. One of the aims of the ALB was to foster Lithuanian culture and language, in order to maintain the interests of the younger generations. In 1960 the first festival of Lithuanians from all states met in Sydney. The programme was quite broad; music, national dancing, literature, song evening and an art festival. The number of events have increased over the years.

Every second year Lithuanians gather from all over Australia for a week long festival. In Festival begins on the 26th of December and culminates in the New Year Eve's Ball. A scout camp follows.

Adelaide held the festival in 1962, 1968, 1974, 1980, 1988, 1994, 2002.

The 27th Australian Lithuanian festival will be held at the end of 2012 in Adelaide once again.

The photograph above was the opening ceremony for the 1988 Festival in Adelaide. A parade of participants walked from the Catholic Cathedral to the Adelaide Town Hall, down King William street. The flag poles down the centre of the road flew Lithuanian flags.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Titanic; A Lithuanian Australian connection

Luidvikas Stulpinas also known as Ludwig Stulping was born December 4th 1871, in Jomantai into a wealthy farming family. He is regarded as the first Lithuanian sea Captain.

He was Captain of the Birma when he attempted to aid the stricken Titanic. The Birma of the Russian East Asiatic Company, had just departed from New York bound for Rotterdam. The sinking Titanic send a distress call on the 14th April, 1912, which was intercepted by the Birma. Captain Stulpinas at once altered the ships course, being 100 miles away from the tragedy. The position given was incorrect, and the Birma was not the first ship to arrive. As the ship came closer to offer assistance they were told to “Stand by”. They were unable to gain further information as they were not a Marconi company ship, which were given orders not to pass on information to non Marconi ships. It soon became clean that the ships help was not wanted. How many lives could they have saved if commercial rights did not stand in their way.

Stulpinas became honorary consul in Libau, then a part of Russia, now a seaport in Latvia. By 1923 with part of the Memel area returned to Lithuania, he returned to Klaipeda as Harbourmaster, he held this position until 1933. He played an active role in maritime activities and developed numerous naval plans.

Liudvikas had two sons, Napoleonas and Aleksandras. Both fled Lithuania at the end of WWII and ended up in Displaced Persons camps in Germany. Both immigrated to Australia and made Adelaide their home.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Over the years the South Australian Lithuanian Community has organised many organisations, clubs, groups, councils and committees. Some have been to foster Lithuanian culture, some have been social groups, some are like minded individuals meeting together to foster their interest. Many began on first arrival of Lithuanian Displaced Persons in 1949, and many continue to this day. I have counted 63 such groups, and i am sure there are more. The largest has been the Sports Club, the Church and school. Traditional cultural groups such as dancing and the choir began early and still continue.

It will be interesting to see how the community continues to organise itself over the next years. I have drawn up a draft map of the organisations and how they relate to each other. I know it still needs work, so if you see any corrections, please advise.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Tracing your Lithuanian Ancestors from SA

Earlier this year I wrote a booklet on tracing your Lithuanian ancestors from South Australia. It give some websites to look at, in Australia and Lithuania, provides some things you should keep in mind when researching, eg name changes, and what is available in the Lithuanian Archives here in Adelaide.

Hard copies are available from the Library at Lithuanian house, but I have added a link here (Useful links) to the document in Google docs that you can have a look at. I had to take the graphics out because of its size, but the information is there.

I am happy to receive any feedback, good or bad, and will be updating the information as i learn more or corrections need to be made.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Adelaide Lithuanian School

In 1989, it became logical to merge the two schools. Smaller class numbers, teachers growing older and rising costs justified such a move. Initially classes were held over two sites. The younger children and older children alternated sites every few weeks. Both age groups would come together for folk dancing singing and religion classes.

The school continues to this day, with second generations of Australian born people of Lithuanian decent still see value in providing their children with a link to their heritage.

Matriculation classes
Matriculation classes have been held when students are studying at this level. In 1978 there were six teachers, Vladas Statnickas who taught grammar, Mrs Mockunas, literature, Mrs Steponas, Mr Riauba, Mr Straukas who alterned. Dr Viliunaitė and Lidija Pocienė assisted with English translations. At one time Isolda Davis, Kristina Dundienė, Elena Varnienė with Dr T C Fennel from Flinders University prepared the Lithuanian language examination for Australia. Melbourne now is responsible for this. Ona. Zamoiskienė would mark the papers.

Adult classes
Lithuanian language classes for adults were initiated by Isolda Davis. While the schools were primarily geared towards teaching children there became a need for classes for adults. People of Lithuanian heritage who did not grow up in a household where Lithuanian was spoken or people who married a Lithuanian and were keen to learn the language. Occasionally people with no Lithuanian ties came just to learn one of the oldest living languages. These classes have been faithfully taught by Romas Jablonskis for the past fifteen years. Romas has been assisted over the years by Laisvė Daugalienė and V. Vanagaitė-Mount. It is with great sadness that Romas unexpectedly passed away last month.

Classes are still conducted every Saturday morning from 10am to 1pm at Lithuanian house.

Over 61 years of the schools existence there were more than 678 students, 156 teachers about one third (53) had been students and then went on to teach. Of the 678 students, 297 were male, 381 female.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

St Casmir's School

Members of the St Casmir’s Lithuanian Catholic Centre, initiated the school in 1960. The schools main aim was to instill a belief in God, and preserve the Lithuanian language and culture in Adelaide. The school began with two teachers and seventeen students, and a year later it had eight teachers with Father Kungys who teaching Religion. Elena Varniene ws the first principal of the school.

The second floor of the parish building was perfectly suited for a school. It consisted of a large room which became the kindergarten, several small rooms were used for individual classes and another large room that held different activities. The parish also had a hall and stage where performances could be held.

The school was run on very similar lines to the weekend school held at Lithuanian house. School ran from 10am to 1pm each Saturday morning. In 1979 there were six classes plus kindergarten.
Initially school curriculum was obtained from America, lastly being used in 1974, when an Australian version was created.

The school began with six grades which rose to eight in 1972 and by 1980 there were ten grade levels.

Children who attended the school also participated in Lithuanian dancing, sports and Eiglutes choir.

Teachers were Elena Varniene who taught Lithuanian language. Agota Stepaniene – Lithuanian geography and history, Kazys Pazera – Lithuanian language, Aldona Zakiene – Lithuanian language, S. Pusdesriene – singing. L Vilcinskaite – national dancing, Rimas Daugalis – art, Laimute Kuncaityte – dancing and accompanied on piano.

Funding came from donations, the Lithuanian Catholic women’s Association, and occasionally donations were received from Ramove (Lithuanian veterans) and the general community.

From 1960 to 1989, 60 students completed school. In 1965, 103 students were enrolled, and over 300 attended over the years.

Directors of Sv Kazimiero
Elena Varniene 1960 – 1964
Pr Dauknys 1965
Kazys Pazera 1966-70
Kun Albinas Spurgis 1971-1973
Anele Urneviciute 1974-1976
Elena Varniene 1977
Loreta Rupinskaite 1978-79
Elena Varniene 1980 – 1981
Anele Urneviciene 1982.

Throughout the 28 year history, this school taught over 300 students taught by 60 teachers.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Adelaide Lithuanian School part III

In 1975 the school issued a newsletter “Daigeliai” which is compiled solely by the work of students, text and artwork. The newsletter was edited by Sandra Bernaitienė. Also that year each student was able to receive a professionally printed magazine “Eglutė” produced and sent from the USA. The magazine was in Lithuanian and produced for children, it contained stories, pictures and games to play.

1978 the school was incorporated in The Ethnic school Association of South Australia.

The school prepares for performances throughout the year at such times as Lithuanian festival days, Mothers Day and Christmas and end of year performance. The school would often participate in Australian Lithuanian festivals around the country. A dancing group would perform as part of the dancing festival, children submitted artwork for the art exhibitions, and a youth event.

The best students for the year were awarded prizes usually a book or money. In 1979 a money prize was offered for the best student, over $127 was collected. The students were told at the beginning of the year that awards would be granted to students for excellent school work, for homework, and for reading. The prizes were handed out at the end of year concert. It was also the time when graduating students were acknowledged and given certificates and gifts.

End of year certificates were provided that gave marks out of ten for Lithuanian language, (spoken Lithuanian, dictation, grammar, writing), history, geography, dancing and singing.

In 1979, some classes were held outside of the school, at the Blandis home in North Plympton, which consisted of one adult and four children. Petruskevičienės home at Christies Beach was used for another small group that met from 1pm -3pm on Saturdays. Special classes were also held on the Saturday mornings for children with limited Lithuanian. This provided a venue for more intense assistance.

Vanessa Dumčiutė recorded as the 400 student to be enrolled in the school in 1980.

The school year would finish with a large performance at Lithuanian House in December. Each student would participate and was required to recite a poem, perform a play, song or dance. The older children would be the master of ceremonies. The highlight of the evening for the children was a visit from Father Christmas where each child was given a present, usually a toy of some kind.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Lithuanian School part II

On 29th June 1954 the school moved to St Cecilia’s in Angas Street where they remained until 1957. At that time they moved to the newly purchased premises at Eastry st, Norwood which was to become the Lithuanian House. The Club house suited the school needs perfectly, the school could use three rooms, two large one small and had access to the hall and stage. Kitchen facilities were soon available which made it easier to prepare food for the students and teachers.

The school term followed Australian school terms, beginning in February and ending with the Christmas breakup in December. The school ran from 10 am till 12pm with a short break. During the break food is served by the Women’s committee. Children would receive a small snack and drink, while the teachers received a cup of tea and sandwiches.

The school was able to organize a children’s library. The library began through the donation of books by Mr and Mrs Velicka and Vildžius. Donations of further books were received from other community members and from Mr Bačiunas in America, President of World Lithuanians at that time.

From 1953 a Parents committee was established whose role was to assist the school, amongst the duties were to find new teachers. They organised literature evenings, lotteries to raise money as they provided each child with a gift at Christmas time.

In 1953 and1954 a summer camp was held for the students, at Aldinga from 15 to 30 January.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Behind some men are Lithuanian women!

Researching Lithuanians in South Australia has revealed some surprising finds. Its not secret stuff but because I didn't know I found it surprising. Several well known South Australian men married Lithuanian women. I speak of Rod Sawford's (Labor MP) wife Aldona, Silvio Apponyi's (sculptor) wife Natalija, and Jurate wife of famous Hilton Hotel chef Cheong Liew. I am sure there are many more I have yet to discover.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Memories too much at age 20

Not all new migrants could leave their past behind in Europe, as this tragic story details.

New Australian Found Shot

Juozas Abaravicius, a Lithuanian, was found with gun shot wounds in his head and a rifle between his legs at the back door of a guest house at Stenhouse Bay. at 5 pm. on Christmas Day. He died in the Southern Yorke Peninsula Hospital at 630 pm. yesterday. Abaravicius arrived in Australia in 1948 and joined the Waratah Gypsum Co. early this year. He had spent some time in a German concentration camp during the war. The Coroner (Mr. E. Lloyd) deemed an inquest unnecessary.

The Advertiser Wednesday 28 December 1949


ADELAIDE, Saturday.-Friends of Juozas Abaravicius, 20, of Stenhouse, South Australia, said to-day that they believed his suicide on Christmas Day was prompted by memories of Christmas, 1944.

Abaravicius was the only survivor of 32 Lithuanian prisoners shot by Nazis on December 25, five years ago.

Last Christmas Day he played all the records of carols he could find in the boarding-house where he lived in Stenhouse Bay.

He said to his landlady, "I've never felt so terrible in my life."

Then he shot himself with a .303 ride. As he was dying, he whispered in Lithuanian the Christmas songs of his boyhood.

The Sunday Herald Sunday 1 January 1950

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

27th Australian Lithuanian Festival in Adelaide LOGO competition

PRIZE: $200.00 for the winning entry

A Logo is needed for the 27th Australian Lithuanian Festival to be held in Adelaide in Dec 2012.

The theme for the festival is “Vilties Liepnsa’ (Flame of hope).

The theme was chosen to represent hope for the survival of our fragile Australian Lithuanian communities. On a global level, it symbolizes the hope Lithuanians have always had, firstly for an independent state and now in surviving economic crisis. Culturally, Lithuanians were pagans, worshiping fire and in modern times the flame is used to represent The Holy Spirit & Light.

The logo will feature on all promotional material, t-shirts, badges, programs etc.The rights of the logo become the property of the Organising Committee and the Committee reserves the right to edit any design. The Organising Committee will be the judges and the decision of the judges is final.

It will need to have the following wording;

• Vilties liepsna

• Adelaide 2012

• XXVII or 27

Please submit entries by August 15th, 2011. Entries or further information can be emailed to or; The logo should be sent as .jpg or .pdf attachment. Alternatively, logos can be mailed to LOGO Contest c/o 17 Craigill Rd St Georges SA 5064

nb. Only entries by South Australian Lithuanians will be considered.

For more past images, view the Flickr site, click on the icon to your right.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Just over 60 years ago, the Adelaide Lithuanian school began. Father P Jatulis initiated the weekend school on November 27th 1949 by inviting former teachers and parents to form a weekend school at St Joseph’s church. The school opened on December 3rd 1949 with 21 students. The students were divided into two groups from 9-12pm with seven teachers. The church was not ideal as the tables were too high for students. Each child was given a hard piece of board on which to rest their work on.

In 1954 the school was reorganized to come under the Lithuanian Cultural Australian Fund and was renamed Lithuanian Weekend School. It was hard at first as many parents worked the Saturdays and so attendance was sporadic. Another difficulty was the absence of text books, there was no where to source them from. The teachers were not troubled by this and taught the children to read and write. The lessons expanded to include Lithuanian poems and songs. By the 1960’s text books could be sourced and soon the school was decorated with Lithuanian books and maps.

A celebration of the school will be held in September, with past pupils teachers and parents encouraged to attend. If you had a connection with the school, we would love you to share some memories with us and photographs we could copy.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

June 14th, night of terror

The June long weekend has always meant several things to me, firstly another day of not working, yeah, my sisters birthday, and the deportations of Baltic people by the Soviets. I heave heard such statements that say not one Balt has not been effected by the deportations, and I think its true. Seventy years ago, beginning on June 14th, the Soviets forcibly removed people from their homes during the night, placed them on good trains and transported them to Siberia. Here they remained for years, many never to return home. Their crime, they were educated, owned land, had money, had been in the armed forces, worked for the government, anything that had the future potential to harm the Soviet occupiers. My grandparents feared for their lives as my grandfather was in the Police Force, they never slept the same night in one place in an attempt to avoid deportations.

According to official Soviet records, over 17,500 Lithuanians, 17,000 Latvians and 6,000 Estonians were given a short time to pack their belonging before being herded onto trucks. In a single day 40,000 people were removed from their homes.

The Adelaide Baltic community has always commemorate this event by holding a combined church service and event. In recent years members of the community gather at the Migration Museum in Kintore Ave, beside the bronze plaque that is dedicated to these atrocities.

The popular quote "History repeats itself, it has to because no one listens" bears a reminder that some things shouldn't be forgotten and lets pray, not repeated.

The photo was taken on Saturday June 11, children from the Adelaide Lithuanian school outside the Migration Museum. Photo: Dana Valuzis

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Adelaide Lithuanian Museum

I was cleaning the Adelaide Lithuanian Museum last week in preparation for the Lithuanians Alive day, I felt ashamed. Not much in the museum is labeled, things are placed over each other without much thought, stuck on with sticky tape and the contents I didn't mean much to me. I thought a major overhaul is needed.

I then paused and reflected. The museum was established 50 years ago, at a time when Lithuania was occupied and there wasn't a glimmer of hope of anyone returning. The museum was created for the Lithuanians who had fled their homeland, it was a place where they could view their past and be proud of their achievements. The museum also served to teach their children and grandchildren about the rich heritage of their country. Putting this into perspective, I felt better. Yes, times have changed, technology, the cost of travel has brought Lithuania closer to Australians, does the museum need to change to reflect the changing community.
I feel that it can still serve its original purpose, but I would love to reach those of Lithuanian decent who has the desire to learn about their heritage in Australia.

Luckily I think we can do both.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Stasys Neliubsys - Artist

Born in St Petersburg in 1898. He completed High school and studied religious art there. After WWI his family returned to Lithuania where Stasys continued his art studies in Kaunas. He specialised in the restoration of religious paintings in churches. He was imprisoned during the war by the Germans. After the war he taught art at the Lithuanian art school in Wiesbaden refugee camp in Germany.

He migrated to Australia in 1949 and settled in Adelaide. He continued his painting and held solo exhibitions for the Adelaide community in 1955, 1956 and 1959. He was a regular contributor to Lithuanian and Royal South Australian Society of Art exhibitions. Between 1956 and 1972 he produced stage decorations for ten theatre productions by the Adelaide Theatre group.

He married Nina Gedraitiene. Stasys died in 1979 aged 78.

Several of his paintings still hang on the walls of Lithuanian house, such as the two above. On the left is a portrait of the well known Lithuanian artist Ciurlionis and on the right is a portrait of V. Raginis, a very active member of the Adelaide Lithuanian community.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Lithuanians Alive

About time! History festival event

Adelaide Lithuanian Society

For 60 years this has been the cultural hub of Lithuanians in Adelaide. A language school, dancing, balls, concerts, festivals, lunches, and numerous groups have used this venue. A museum has been created which displays aspects of the Lithuanian culture and history, as well as being a repository for the community. Enjoy a traditional meal and refreshments.

Bookings required for groups only.

When and where:

Sunday 22 May, 11:30 am - 2:30 pm

Lithuanian House, 6-8 Eastry St, Norwood


Daina Pocius
P: 0427 617 214
Antanas Pocius
P: 0408 282 484

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

D4878 Alien Registration series

Just when i thought i was close to having a pretty complete list of all Lithuanians who came to South Australia, I tried some different search techniques in the National Archives of Australia website. What I did find is a record series D4878, Alien registration documents, alphabetical series, dating from 01 Jan 1923 - 31 Dec 1967. The records were created by
Australian Customs Service, State Administration, South Australia, and Department of Immigration, South Australia Branch. It also showed me that I had missed quite a few names for my database.

The best part is all these records are digitised and can be viewed online for free. This records series should appear if you are doing a general name search. These records have a persons date of birth, place of birth, name changes, occupation, sometimes Immigration Centre housed in on arrival, children, ship name and arrival details.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Between Shades of Gray

Its not every day you find a book either about Lithuania, or by a Lithuanian. This week I happen to come across the book "Shades of Gray" by Ruta Sepetys, an American of Lithuanian decent. Ruta chose to write about the harrowing theme of the mass deportations that occured in the Baltic states in June 1941. The story is told through the eyes of 15 year of Lina, who with her younger brother and mother are deported to the remote Siberia. It tells of the hardships, sorrows and survival of people who were labelled criminals by the Soviet government. Thousands of Balts were given half an hour to pack belongings and transported in the still of the night to be placed on freight trains bound for work camps in remote regions. They were forced to work, usually on farms for little food and no contact with the outside world. Many did not survive.

The book, although graphic in its content is well researched and written. I would recomend this to anyone who would like to know more about this period in history.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

St Casmir's Church

J. Langevicius made three crosses that grace the rear of the altar. A sculpture by G Butauskaite – Firinauskiene of St Casmir (statue funded by Navakas family) also stands by the altar. A Jucius built a Lithuanian style confessional booth on P. Pusdersys design.

Father Jatulis returned to Rome in 1957 at which time Fr Juozas Kungys became the Parish Priest.

The church was christened on 20 November 1960. Arch bishop Beovich was present, along with 650 Lithuanians.

Fr Kungys died in 1962 and pastoral care of the community was entrusted to the Marian Fathers. In the same year Father A. Kazlauskas arrived from London to take up duties as Parish Priest. He was assisted by Fr P. Dauknys. During this time a hall, newspaper room and library were built and extension were added to the original building.

In 1968 Father Dauknys was appointed to Geelong and in 1969 Fr A. Spurgis came from Chicago to lighten the duties of the ailing Father Kazlauskas. He passed away in 1976.

Under the guidance of Fr Spurgis a national shrine was erected, a baptistery and five stained glass windows commemorating the five dioceses of Lithuania were added to the chapel.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Beginings of Lithuanian Church

By the end of 1948 there were 1000 Lithuanians in Adelaide. Shortly before Christmas the Catholic Immigration Office organized an afternoon tea in St Francis Xavier Cathedral hall which became the venue of Lithuanian social activities in the first few years.

The Archbishop of Adelaide at that time, The Most Reverent Mathew Beovich appointed Father P. Jatulis then residing in Rome to minister to the spiritual needs of the community in Adelaide. Holy mass was celebrated in St Josephs in Pirie Street.

By 1953 there had been in the Adelaide Lithuanian Catholic community

  • 26 christenings (12 boys, 14 girls)
  • 11 marriages (6 with other nationalities)
  • 3 deaths all men

In 1956 Fr Jatulis called a meeting at which the Lithuanian Catholic Parish Organisation was constituted and officially registered as “Lithuanian Caritas Inc”.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Before it was a church

Founded in 1883 by the Misses Lucy and Florence Tilly. It was a continuation of Hardwicke House, Kent Town opened in 1872 by Mrs Claude Shuttleworth. Forty or more country girls were kept as boarders and a full school of day scholars. It was a non denominational girl’s school, but a large number of Methodist families chose to send their daughters here. Lucy and Florence born 1857 and 1859 came from England trained to a teaching role new among women. Both held the senior Cambridge University Certificate and were Associates of the College of Preceptors and they had experience in English schools teaching French and German.

The building was designed by their father, the architects Evans and Evans and Mr Ferguson the contractor. It contained twenty lofty bedrooms upstairs and three large school rooms downstairs linked by folding doors, so that a full length of 70 feet could be opened up for concerts and assemblies. Drawing rooms, dining room, housekeepers office, kitchen and laundry facilities were provided and bathrooms on both floors. Six music rooms holding nine pianos were used, their was a strong focus on music and singing. Their mother acted as house keeper.

Hard blue stone was used with red brick dressings. The outer walls were made thick to moderate the extremes of temperature.

The Tilly sisters retired in 1910 and ten years later sold the building to a furniture removalist who used it for storage.

M. Varoneckas puchased the property in the late 1950's and later sold it to the Lithuanian Catholic Association.