Friday, 30 August 2013

Digitised Lithuanian heritage

It was with much excitement that I learned that Lithuania had began to digitise and place on-line historic records. 

They are calling it The Virtual Electronic Heritage System (VEPS).  Through the portal called epaveldas you can access thousands of cultural heritage objects newspapers, manuscripts, maps and sound recordings.  So far they have digitised 2 295 506 pages of documents preserved in archives, libraries and museums, 17 500 images from the Lithuanian Art Museum and 11 000 musical works (sound recordings with the total duration of 71 580 minutes).

There are several reasons why this is great news to anyone researching Lithuanian history or their family.  Digitised records include Birth death and marriage records for numerous areas.  Its not complete and you may have to know Latin, Russian or Lithuanian cursive.  It is also not indexed, so you have to go through page by page.  You also need to know the area your family came from and then search for records around that area.  If you do find something yo can save and or print.

The other great news is that they have digitised the Australian Lithuanian newspaper 'Musu Pastoge" from 1949 to 2010.  Again its not indexed, so unless you have a reference it may take awhile to go through.  

You can translate the web page to English, but all documents are in Lithuanian. Having been used to our wonderful Trove website, this appears very clunky, but it can only get better.  Its well worth a play and a few hours of your time, you never know what you will find.

Monday, 26 August 2013

V-16 school in Germany

Vasario 16, (February 16) Lithuania’s Independence day is the name given to the only Lithuanian High School high school outside Lithuania.

During World War II, thousands of Lithuanians left their homeland fleeing Soviet occupation. By the close of the war, most of them had ended up in Germany. As war refugees they were housed in “displaced persons camps.” Conditions were harsh and their future uncertain. Yet they did not allow that to discourage them and went to work establishing Lithuanian educational institutions for themselves and their children.  By 1947 there were 26 Lithuanian high schools, five Lithuanian technical colleges, and 112 Lithuanian primary schools in Germany.

As Lithuanians emigrated many of these schools were closed, but 8,000 Lithuanians chose to remain in Germany.

In 1950, Germany’s Lithuanian Community established a single high school for Lithuanian students. The high school was founded in Diepholz—the site of a displaced persons camp where many Lithuanians had lived since the end of the war. In 1954, the Lithuanian Community acquired Rennhof Manor House with its twelve-acre park in the town of Lampertheim-Hüttenfeld. The school was relocated there.
Following the reestablishment of independence, the school continued to serve as a cultural centre for Lithuanians in Western Europe and a bridge between Lithuania and the West, providing an opportunity for the children of Lithuanian expatriates to integrate without losing their Lithuanian identity.

The Australian Lithuanians did not forget this school and many gave donations in support.  For Lithuanian Australians the school was physically and economically out of reach for many years.  It wasn’t until 1980 that someone from Australia enrolled in the school.  In 1980 Raimondas Andrekus donated $1000 for an Australian Lithuanian to attend the school for one year.  The gift was awarded to Andrius Binkevičius from Adelaide.  Andrius was to receive another $500 from N Butkus.

Other Adelaidians to attend the school have been;
Dana Baltutytė
Anita Baltutytė
Birute Stalba
Linas Pocius
Daniele Pocius
Vanessa Milen
Matthew Page-Hanify

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A women's work is always done!

The year is 1995. 

In the year 1995, Salomėja Vasiliauskienė was president of the the Lithuanian Catholic Women’s Society , Saulienė Pušdešrienė was secretary, Birutė Budrienė was Treasurer and Jovita Vosylienė looked after everything else.

They did have helpers, Terese Gasiunienė was the Prayer Coordinator, Stefa Ciplienė organised the church decorations, Prane Horskienė took care of the priests robes and Judita Nekrošienė visited those sick in hospital.    Elena Baltutienė was in charge of inventory and Stasė Bardauskienė oversaw the kitchen.

In that year, Judita visited 74 sick people, 48 of whom were in nursing homes.
Six priests visiting and stayed at the Catholic centre, which meant the women oversaw all their food and accommodation needs.

The Catholic Women held 15 meetings, they participated in the Australian Catholic procession in honour of St Mary.  They visited the Baltic homes, organised and catered for the ‘Užgavėnės Balius’ (Ash Wednesday Ball).  They organised the annual ‘Šiupinys’ (medley concert), this being the 35th one. 

Lithuanian participating in the Catholic procession
of St Mary, at Rostrevor.
Lunch followed by coffee and cake was made after each Sunday mass.  Then the dishes had to be washed, the church hall cleaned and the church cleaned.

The women held lotteries which supported the Australian Lithuanian newspapers, Šventadieno Balsas, Melbourne’s Tėviškes Aidas, and churches in Lithuania.

Many of these activities made money, and so what did the women do?  They donated it of course.  The profits were donated to those in hunger, Lithuanian church, St Casimir’s College in Rome, a blind nephew of a church member, and the Deportees home in Vilnius.  Money was donated to local groups, the Vytis sports Club, the Radio hour, the Lithuanian weekend schools.  Some money was spent on new table cloths for the church hall and a new meat mincer.

The Women’s Society earned that year $10,399.15.  They spent $10, 221.54, leaving them with a total of $177.61.

The hours of volunteer work that these women gave, year after year always astounds me.  They had their own families, their work, their own homes to tend, but the Lithuanian community was so vital to their existence that they always found time.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Lithuanian Lion visits Adelaide

His long blond locks of hair and his fierce attitude on court earned Vitas Gerulaitis the nickname 'the Lithuanian lion'.  Born in Brooklyn, USA to Lithuanian parents, he followed his fathers talent on the tennis court.  Vitas senior had won the Lithuanian tennis championship in his youth.  By 1984, Vitas junior, had won 27 titles and was ranked no.4 in the world.

In 1980, he visited Adelaide, with his father, where they visited another former Lithuanian tennis champion, Alfonsas Remeikis.  Remeikis was living in Adelaide at that time.

Vitas accidental died in 1994, aged only 40.  While sleeping at a friends house, he was poisoned by carbon monoxide leaking from a faulty swimming pool heater.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Adelaide's own 'The other Dream Team' member

In 1990 Basketballer Romas Brazdauskas came to work and live in Adelaide with his wife, Rasa and son, Lukas.  Romas had come to Australia previously and had attended the Australian Lithuanian scports festival in Melbourne.   He came to Adelaide to play with West Adelaide.

The Other Dream Team, 1992 bronze medal winners in Barcelona. Romas is far right.  
Romas was born on 20 February 1964 in Kretinga.  At 204cm tall, he wasn’t someone to miss.  Previous to coming to Australia he  played for Panevėžys "Lietkabelis", Vilnius "Statyba",. Ryga "ASK" (Latvia), Vilniaus "Statyba", and Kaunas"Žalgiris".  He was awarded the ‘All Stars Five’ medal here and had a 76% shooting rate.  

In 1992, while still in Australia, Romas was selected to play for basketball for Lithuania at the Barcelona Olympics.  This was the first time Lithuania had a national team since the restoration of independence in 1990.  The team went on to win a bronze medal, defeated by Croatia and the American ‘Dream team’.  Wearing their ti-dyed, yellow green and red t-shirts the Lithuanian team included some of the greatest Lithuanian players Valdemaras Chomičius, Rimas Kurtinaitis, Arvydas Sabonis, Šarūnas Marčiulionis.  Upon his return to Adelaide, Romas was proud to show off his medal at Lithuanian House.  He even made a special appearance at the Saturday school where all the children wanted to be included in a photo with Romas and his medal.

Romas and family lived in the caretakers house on Grey street.  He also took care of the Lithuanian hall.  Romas also played for the Adelaide Lithuanian team ‘Vytis’ and on Saturday would coach the younger team.  Another son was born while in Adelaide, Tadas. 

On his return to Lithuania he played for Plungė Olimpas, then a year in Slovakija with Inter.  He finished his basketball career playing for Kaunas ‘Atletas’ in 2001.  

With a basketballer father it is no surprise that Lukas is following in his father’s footsteps.   A centimetre taller than his father, Lukas is now playing for Alytaus ‘Dziūkija’.