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