Monday, 28 September 2015

Riauba takes on the Red Army

Juozas Riauba, born in 1910.  After withdrawing from Lithuania to Germany towards the end of WWII, he entered studies at the Munich Technical school.  At that time he also worked for United Nations Relief & Rehabilitaiton (UNRRA) in the garage as senior mechanic. 
In 1949, he made the long journey on the transport ship, Wooster Victory to Australia, docking in Adelaide where he stayed.  He arrived here with his wife.   
Juozas again entered university, this time in Adelaide in 1959.  He entered the public service and worked with the SA Electricity Trust on mechanical projects. 
Outside of work he was heavily involved with the Lithuanian community in Adelaide.  He was a founding members of the sports Club Vytis, a member of the Adelaide Lithuanian students association from 1959 – 1961, parents committee of Vilniaus scouts and teacher at Lithuanian school.

In 1962 he acted as Vice-President of the ‘Voice of Witness of Communist expansion” and later the Australian European Freedom Alliance.  In 1966 he was Vice-President of Captive Nations.
Juozas was concerned with how Lithuania was represented in printed material, newspapers and books.  He would write to publishers pointing out mistakes or misguided information. In 1969 he began to correspond with the State Library of South Australia, suggesting books that the Library could purchase about Lithuania.  He had compiled a list of books that the Library held, relating to Lithuania,  40 books in all on various aspects of Lithuania.  Juozas also appealed to the Lithuanian community in Adelaide to donate books that might better represent Lithuania in the State Library.  He went one step further; writing to Publishers seeking to purchase books which he would then donate to the Library.  Within a short time the State Library increased its collection of book on Lithuanian to 67.

In 1969, it was publicised that the Red Army choir would be coming to Adelaide to perform.  Juozas strongly opposed this and wrote numerous letters to politicians and newspapers expressing his disapproval.  To him it was “an insult to all of us, originally from the countries behind the iron curtain.  Our relatives and loved ones have suffered persecution.  We, the Australian citizen from behind the Iron Curtain now living in Adelaide have been forced to leave our homeland by the advancing Red Army and have lost everything, except our lives”.
He signed these letters as Ju-Ra, as he feared reprisals for his relatives still in Lithuania.
The Baltic Council of Australia and the Captive nations Committee of SA also sought to stop the participation of the Red Army choir from performing in the Adelaide Festival of Arts in 1970. The Baltic Council published an advert in the Advertiser (20 February 1969) which states;  The choir was symbolic of totalitarian regimes and that it was a propaganda unit which existed to glorify the Soviet in song and dance. 

The chairman of the Adelaide Festival of Arts J C Irwin defended the decision to allow the group to perform.  The Red Army Choir did not perform in the Festival of Arts.

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