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.