Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The dissident Professor visits Adelaide

Vytautas Skuodis (b. March 21 1929, Chicago) - Lithuania geologist , natural sciences, associate professor, dissident movement participant. Although born in Chicago, his parents returned to independent Lithuania in 1930.

In 1988, Professor Skuodis visited Australia. From September 9 to 26, he visited the larger Lithuanian communities. He arrived in Adelaide on the 15th, and gave his first appearance on Saturday 17th. At Lithuanian House he gave a presentation followed by an opportunity to speak to him. The following day he attended mass at St Casimir’s, and was free after lunch to mix with people. He flew out from Adelaide on the 20th.

From 1941 - 1948 he studied at Panevežys Gymnasium. Following which he furthered his education at the Vilnius State University where he gained geologist qualifications, 1948 - 1953. From 1964 – 1969, he studied for his PhD at the manufacturing-scientific engineering research building institute in Moscow.

Vytautas was a member of the Helsinki Group, a Catholic Committee, 1978 - 1979 m. He was initiator and editor of the illegal underground magazine " Outlook ". In 1980 he was arrested for anti-Soviet activities and sentenced to 12 years imprisoned. Skuodis had been arrested for signing the Baltic 45 memorandum, which on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, demanded that the Baltic states be granted their guaranteed right to self-determination. However Skuodis' signature was not among the 45.

He spent six years in a concentration camp and six years in Siberia until his release in 1987. He was then exiled to the United States.

He has written a many books and articles about geology and devoted many to the issues of genocide in Lithuania and Lithuanian independence.

Vytautas Skuodis now 87, lives in Lithuania.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The mystery of the Sea Captain and the unidentified soldier

This story begins with a link sent to me by Jonas Mockunas to a document of Lithuanians who were involved in shipping in some form before WWII.  There are several men listed who came to Australia.  I was intrigued to find a former sea captain who ended his days in Port Lincoln, South Australia, someone I had not heard of before. 

I was able to find some information on him and as I delved further into Port Lincoln history to try and understand his life, I found some interesting information.

Feliksas Marcinkus (Marcinkevičius) was born on 7 March 1905 in Kaunas.    From a young age he showed his love for his homeland and freedom, so much so that as a 15 year old he left school to enlist in the army.  He fought in the Širvintai-Giedraičių war with Poland in 1920 after the Poles had occupied Vilnius.

When he first saw the Baltic sea he became so enchanted with it and decided to become a sailor. He studied at the Aušra Gymnasium followed by 1923 to 1925 at the Seamen’s School under Kaunas Technical College. Practical experience was then undertaken on-board G. Eriksson’s barge Olivebank from 1925 – 1927.

He graduated from Abo Navigation Institute (Finland) in 1930 and worked in the port, where he was acting Captain on board vessels, Locas, Birutė and Aušra.

From 1935-1936, he was the navigator on board the steamships Rimfrost and Barfrost (Utena).  From 1936 – 1940 he was master on board steamships, Barfrost, Šiauliai, Panevėžys, and Marijampolė.  Feliks married Stefanija in 1936.

From 1941 to 1944 he resided in Kaunas.  Following the occupation of Lithuania, Feliksas and his family, Stefanija and children, Rimas (born 11 July 1938) and Nijolė (5 Feb 1940) fled to Germany. For the next four years they resided in Wurttemberg, Fellbach Displaced Persons camp close to Stuttgart.

In April 1949 the family began a new chapter in their lives as they arrived in Australia.

In Australia he found work as a navigator on board Australian vessels including passenger ships in Port Lincoln.  His wife and children however had a family home in Hurtsville NSW, where Stefania worked as a Laboratory Technician and Nijole a telephonist.

On the 30 September 1961, at only 56 years of age, Feliks suddenly collapsed while in a bar in Port Lincoln.  The cause of death was given as heart failure.  At that time, he was working on the MV North Esk, a general cargo vessel.

His body must have been transferred closer to his home as he is buried in Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney.

I wanted to know what would have brought Feliks to Port Lincoln.  When learning more about Port Lincoln history, two names are prominently mentioned in the maritime history of Port Lincoln, Axel Stenross and Frank Laakso.  They were Finish sailors who settled in Port Lincoln and opened a ship building business.  Axel’s home is now the Axel Stenross museum.  Reading more about them, I noted they came out on the ship Olivebank in 1927.   The Olivebank was built in Glasgow in 1892, owned by Gustaf Adolf Mauritz Erikson a ship-owner from Mariehamn, Finland, famous for the fleet of windjammers he operated to the end of his life, mainly on the grain trade from Australia to Europe.  Feliks was gaining practical experience on board the Olivebank at the same time.

Axel and Frank had stopped several times in Port Lincoln to load wheat.  They liked the place and decided to stay.    I wondered if they knew each other and why Feliks 20 years later ended up in the same location as Axel.  The South Australian grain trade was virtually the only profitable use for windjammers, and then only if the ship owner minimized costs as much as possible. Erikson supplied his ships adequately with crew and supplies as these were necessary for his ships to sail quickly and efficiently. Erikson's large four-masted barques would routinely sail on voyages of 30,000 nautical miles (56,000 km) with less than 30 crew.  With only that number of crew aboard they surely crossed paths. Were they friends? And is that why 20 years later Feliks worked in Port Lincoln while his family resided in New South Wales. 
(Jonas had written an blog entry on the last great grain race and a Lithuanian connection) Early">http://earlylithuaniansinaustralia.blogspot.com.au/2016/06/the-last-great-grain-race-1939.html#links">Early Lithuanians in Australia: The Last Great Grain Race 1939

Delving deeper into the life of Axel Stenross, I came across photographs from the museum loaded onto the internet.  One photograph was labelled 'Axel at the time of his national service' showing a young man in military uniform.  I was surprised when I saw this photograph as the uniform appears to me to be Lithuanian.  The lapels bear the ‘columns of Gediminas’, the badge on the pocket bears a ‘cross of Vytis’ and he cap bears the coat of arms.
I contacted the Axel Stenross Museum and queried the photograph. There is nothing written on the reverse of the photo and they are also doubtful it is Axel.
Could it be Feliks?  Could he have given Axel the photograph while on board the Olivebank?  Were they friends?  Or is it another Lithuanian whom Axel had met at some time?

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Vaclovas RAGINIS

This portrait of Raginis painted by Neliubsys
hangs in Adelaide Lithuanian House
A testimonial life to Lithuania

Vaclovas was born to be a public figure. He was born in the middle of winter on 5th February 1910 in Vilnius. After the first world war he attended Švenčionių school where he was active in literature and sport clubs. At only 14 years he was producing a fortnightly school newsletter “Vienybe’ (Unity). He spoke several languages, as well as Lithuanian he spoke Polish, Russian and German. His activeness in Lithuanian activities, instigated the Polish government calling for his removal from high school. At this time Vilnius region was occupied by Poland.

In 1926 he was able to enrol in Vilniaus Lithuanian seminary and later to Vytautas Didysis school. In 1929 he organised the famous Ažusilės Lithuanian song festival where 2000 people participated.

Sensing that his Lithuanian activities were coming to an end he fled to independent Lithuania. Here he enrolled in the War School where he attained a junior lieutenant position in the Army Reserves. After the course completion he returned to civilian life.

He enrolled in Vytautis Didysis University in Kaunas, where he studied economics in the evening and worked at the Finance Ministry during the day. Kaunas at that time served as the provisional capital and the country’s political, economic and cultural centre. In 1939 he returned to Vilnius to continue his studies at Vilniaus University. Two years later he was employed as a tax inspector for Švenčionėliuose and later Švenčionyse. He married Monika Šluckaitė on 7 October 1933.

As WWII progressed it became apparent to Vaclovas that he would have to leave Lithuania as the Russian army returned. He and his wife withdrew to Germany.

Now displaced, living in temporary accommodation hoping Lithuania would become independent once again he joined the US Army Labour Service Company. He was a Lieutenant in the DLK Algirdas company (4129 Labor Service Company). He served from 2 January 1947 from its formation to the time it was disbanded on the 12 September. From here he was transferred to the 4027 Labor Service Company in Bamberge (Baltic corps). He was discharged only when he received confirmation that he was emigrating to Australia. 

Travelling on the ship Mohammedi, it arrived in Melbourne on the 14th May 1949. After completing his compulsory work agreement with the Australian government, he settled in Geelong. Before long he was actively involved in Lithuanian affairs and was instrumental in establishing a Lithuanian branch of Australian Lithuanian association.

He later moved to Adelaide (1954) where he became involved with the community. Raginis understood that a community house was very important and formed the Adelaide Lithuanian Association of which he was President for ten years. During that time money was collected for purchasing a community house. He was awarded a life member of the Adelaide Lithuanian Association.

In 1963 he and his wife Ona were invited by the Government of South Australia to attend the Royal Music Festival at which Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were present.

Unfortunately, his health failed him and he withdrew from some community commitments. In 1970 he formed an Adelaide branch of the Lietuvos Atgimimo Sąjūdžio skyriaus (Lithuanian Nationalist Movement).

Raginis life work was for the country he left behind, he felt strongly for the youth and encouraged them to keep their heritage. 

On June 14, 1971, the whole Lithuanian community attended his funeral and commitment at Centennial Park. He passed away three days earlier in hospital after a hefty illness. He was survived by his wife.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Circle of Amber

A novel by former Adelaide resident, Jura Reilly, Circle of Amber.
Set in Lithuania and Australia, " Circle Of Amber" explores the themes of murder, vengeance, loss and betrayal against the back drop of two World Wars. The main characters are forced to make decisions that wrench them from their families and friends. A recipe section has been included at the back of the novel.
Kristina's life in the tiny village of Ventuva, northwest Lithuania, seems idyllic until her husband Romas is brutally murdered. Forced to raise three young children on her own, she relies on the ancient gods and her mother Elena for guidance. Trying to retain her country's traditions during two world wars, Kristina battles to overcome poverty and the villagers' suspicions. On the other side of the world, in Australia, Gaila fights her own demons. Then she finds a small leather bound book amongst her mother's possessions. Does it hold the key to a family mystery?

Bonus recipes in the back of the book.

You can purchase the book through Amazon.

There is also a Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/jurasamber/about/?entry_point=page_nav_about_item&tab=page_info&__mref=message_bubble

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Have you seen her?

This appeared in the Advertiser on Saturday 6 September 1952.  Her surname is spelled incorrectly, it should be Kulisauskas.  This article appears twice but there is no follow up as to is she was found.  Tragically her father had been killed 18 months previously when the motorcycle he was travelling on collided with a bus at Largs North. 
I wonder what happened to her?

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Farewell picnic for Father Jatulis

Picnic at Christies Beach

On a Sunday afternoon on the 25 August 1957,over 400 Lithuanians gathered at the Caritas property at Christies Beach for its first picnic and blessing of the house. Mass was said by Father Jatulis whose sermon emphasised a common house, common work. The choir, Lituania even came and sung. 
Not sure if this photo is of the actual event described but it was taken at Christies Beach

After mass, tables were set up, placed in rows and the Women’s committee brought out the home made, lovingly prepared food.  The occasion also served as a farewell to priest Paulius Jatulis who had been summoned by the church to go to Italy. 

Speeches were spoken every head present, from by ALB President, Stasys Čibiras, Theatre group head, Juozas Gusčius, Youth group leader Juozas Lapšys, Lithuanian Society President, J. Raginis, Scout Leader Vytas Neverauskas, Sports President J. Jaunutis and Ateininkai head, A. Kubilius. Instead of a farewell gift, the community gathered over £100 for Jatulis for his new path in life.  All present sand Ilgiausiu metų (Longest Years, sung on any special occasion) followed by more singing and joking before those present made the long journey back to Adelaide.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Australian Lithuanian Student Assembly 1958

The third Australian Lithuanian Student Assembly was held in Adelaide in December 1958.  It opened on December 27th by T. Žurauskas.  Present was Pulgis Andriušis, Kristina Česnaitė (Melbourne), V. Martišius (Canberra) and I. Venclovas (Sydney), Secretary Daina Maželytė (Adelaide).

Žurauskas in his address stated that in 1958 in all of Australia and New Zealand over 100 Lithuanians were studying at University level.  In 1957 13 students finished, Sydney 5, Melbourne 5 and Adelaide 3.
Pulgis Andriušis took the stage and gave an interesting reading about ideas and values in life and its place in the English world.   The first day finished with singing of the Lithuanian National Anthem, followed by dinner and fellowship.

The 28th featured an outing to the beach where several hours of swimming and games was allowed.  In the evening participants gathered at the Giruckus home at Richmond.
The following day, there was an outing to the Art Gallery, Museum and other cultural institutions.  At 3:00pm the delegates regathered at Lithuanian House to continue discussions. That evening the Reisonas home was open.

In all, 19 students from around Australia assembled and 25 from Adelaide. J. Mikužis, dr E.  Petrikaitė, Dr N. Šurnaitė, Dr V. Aleksandravičienė, and Aldona Navakienė spoke.  
December 30 and 31 was left open to visit friends while others organised a trip to the Barossa Valley.

New Year’s Eve was celebrated with a ball organised by the Adelaide Community.

The following year the Student gathering would be held in Canberra.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Adelaide Lithuanian News 10 years: 1970

Adelaidės Lietuvių Žinios 10 metų
Adelaide Lithuanian News 10 years: 1970

Now in its 46 year, the Adelaide Lithuanian News has always been the voice of the local community.  The newspaper was published as a combined effort by the Adelaide Lithuanian Union Committee and Adelaide Lithuanian Community Committee.  The first edition specified the need for broad, correct and on time information.  The newspaper was open to all groups of Lithuanian interest.
After ten years 240 newsletters had been written, printed, folder and posted. The newspaper united all Lithuanians with articles on Lithuanian history and interest, local gossip, birth, death and marriages and upcoming events. 
It was a time to thank the writers, editors, publishers who all volunteered their time to make it to this milestone.

The first ALŽ editor was Vladas Radzevičius who held this position from July 1960 to January 1963. Vladas was a journalist and wrote for numerous Lithuanian newspapers in Australia and America.  During that time, he published 61 editions. The second editor, Jurgis Arminas held this position from January 1963 to June 1967.  Antanas Serelis followed until December 1967. He was followed by Odete Stimburienė, until March 1970.

An Editor would spend many hours preparing each fortnight edition.  Usually there was eight pages but sometimes 12-16. That equates to 2400 pages in ten years.
Newspaper administration was undertaken by Juozas Lapšys (1 July 1960) then Juozas Gylys and Stasys Dunda (1 Jan 1963 – 1 June 1968). This position also required a large investment of time.  One needed to address each envelope and print 500 newspapers.
The newspaper was assisted by Paulina Gavelienė, Nadezda Varnauskienė, Kataryna Garbaliauskienė, Elena Reisonienė Povilas Kanas, Marija Navakienė. Amalija Pyragienė, Kutkienė.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Šaruno Marciulionio Basketball Academy

Basketball to a Lithuanian is known as the second religion.  Australian Lithuanians also embraced the love of this sport, so much so that when a youth basketball team from Šaruno Marciulionio Basketball Academy came to Australia in 1990 it was a big deal. 

A boy’s youth team arrived in Adelaide on 11 March with their sponsors and Zita Mačiulionyte, Šarunas’ sister.  They arrived to Adelaide heat, maybe not hot for those who grew up here but coming from Lithuania the 35 degrees would have been felt.  Aged between 16-18 years the team played several games in Adelaide against the SA Sports Institute.  The first game was won by the Lithuanians by 4 points, 71-67. The second game held on the 13th at Seymour College which they won, 90-79.  The third and final game began poorly for the Lithuanians, being 14 points behind before they scored.  They pulled together and again managed to win 78-69.  The Lithuanians played a friendly match against Adelaide Vytis again winning.  Following the game, the players returned to Lithuanian house for a meal and camaraderie with the Adelaide community members.
On the 15th, Adelaide bid goodbye to the team as they caught a bus to Sydney. 
I can remember the tshirts and pendants given out by the players, orange and black featuring an eagle. Like the one below for the Academy’s opening in Vilnius.  The Academy is still running.

Š. Marčiulionis is one of the best Lithuanian basketball players of all time. He was a first player to go to the NBA from the Soviet Union, and one of the first European players to enter the NBA. Šarūnas is a cavalier of the 1st, 3rd and 4th Order of Vytautas the Great, and Order of the Badge of Honour.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Kaminskas poet from Kaunas

Kazys Kaminskas amongst other things was a poet.  He married and raised a family in Adelaide after arriving heer after WWII.  His poetry was often printed in the Adelaide Catholic newsletter.

Forced to leave one’s homeland would have broken many hearts and ending up under a foreign land, different language, culture, landscape was too different for some. His poems often mentioned his beloved homeland, his childhood memories of growing up near the banks of the river Nemunas and his parents.  His book is titled ‘Po svetimu dangum’ ‘Under foreign skies’ published in Adelaide in 1981. 
Tėvynėje liko lyg sapnas praeitis:
Jau pradingo jaunystės dienos ir laimė,
Beliko tik svajoniu žiedai,
O mano gimtąjį kaimą
Aplanko tik ilgesio sapnai.

As fate unfolded, he actually passed away in Lithuania, fortunate to see his beloved homeland free once again. He once wrote in a poem about death, ‘Mano kūno pelenis svetiname krašte’ (my ashes will be in a foreign land).  I think he would be happy they weren't.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Clothes and Shoes to Germany

In 1954, the Adelaide Lithuanian community was still sending clothes and shoes back to Germany.  Destined for Father Vaclovas Šarka in Hamburg, the boxes were to be distributed to Lithuanians residing in Germany, but who do not reside in cities and do not receive BALF packages (United Lithuanian Relief Fund of America (Bendras Amerikos Lietuvių Fondas A Šalpos)  (BALFAS).  These Lithuanians often live far from the larger Lithuanian communities in DP camps and are hard to reach and sometimes forgotten.

Father Šarka wrote to the community thanking them for their generous contribution and that material from Australia lessens their need and strengthen their spirit.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Literature Afternoons

First Adelaide Literature evening was held on the 30th May 1954 in the Catholic Cathedral hall in Wakefield Street.

The session were conducted by Pulgis Andriušis, Pranas Pušdešris, Leonas Pakalnis from work that had not been published before.
The first half featured serious reading from B. Brazdžionis poetry.  The second half was a selection of humourist readings.  A  pianist, M. Martinkienė provided some musical interlude.  It was organised by the Lietuvių Mokyklos Tevių Komitetas (Lithuanian School Parents Committee).

After this, weekly literature afternoons were held, organised by the ALB on Sundays after lunch.  It featured readings, discussions and a musical hour.   These were held in St Joseph’s church hall.
Topics included a talk by Antanas Rukštelė on Lithuanian press and the path to independence.  Jonas Lapšys gave a talk on Lithuanian shipping, Stasys Čibiras spoke on leased property acquisition in Australia, Dr Šešokas spoke on consumption and its treatment.  Father Jatulis spoke about the Australian Aborigines.

Monday, 18 July 2016

A blazing flag

Flags afire
Burning a country's flag is seen as a hostile action, displaying disrespect to the country.  It is often at demonstrations that this is done, giving the occasion a dramatic show.

In 1972, Adelaide Lithuanians burnt a Russian flag on the steps of Lithuanian House.  As the flames three feet high engulfed the flag, Lithuanians sang the Lithuanian National Anthem.   The flag burning came at the end of a city demonstration by Lithuanians in tribute to Romas Kalanta who burnt himself to death in Kaunas in opposition to Russian occupation. 
About 600 people packed into 150 cars for the motorcade demonstration through the city streets. Most cars carried banners decrying Russian opposition.

On the steps of Lithuanian House, Zita Bielskis, Rasa Kubilius and Jura Vitkunas poured petrol over the flag while Linas Varnas set fire to it.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Annual Marian Procession

An annual Marian procession is led by Adelaide Archbishop in honour of St. Mary.  Held each May, a procession from Rostrevor College oval of Catholic priests and church members would walk to the Catholic seminary at Rostrevor. 
Lithuanian members would dress in their traditional National costumes, singing hymns and carrying the hand made banner of Mary. The banner when not in use hangs in the St Casimir chapel by the baptistery. 

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Congratulations SA. From Lithuania 1936

In 1936, the Prime Minister of Lithuania, J. Tubelis wrote a congratulary letter to the Hon. R.L Butler, Premier of South Australia on the State centenary. National flags from around the world accompanied the messages of congratulations.

As part of the celebrations, the Centenary Executive Committee of South Australia contacted the State, Federal and British governments to obtain official reques
ts for flags to be sent to the state. These messages were read publicly as each flag was presented to the South Australian Governor and Premier.
As "a colourful and significant gesture of world goodwill", the messages provide a snapshot of international diplomacy in 1936, shortly before World War II would change this political landscape forever.

From State Records of South Australia
SRSA Ref: GRG24/145/1/27

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Pulgis Andriusis, noted writer

18.III. 1907 – 19.XII.1970

Pulgis (Fulgencijus) Andriušis was born in Lithuania in the village of Gaidžiai, near Tauragnai in the district of Utena. 
He was a noted writer, literary critic and translator of books and plays.  Andriušis’ short stories are written in an eastern Lithuanian dialect. They abound with descriptions of nature and of peasant life, which is closely tied to nature.  He wrote with humour but without malice of everyday village life, a life he would have experience in his youth. 

In Kaunas he studied literature at the University of Kaunas and also art at the School of Art.  He learned many foreign languages during the course of his studies and his extensive travels in Western Europe and North Africa.

Andriušis began his writing career by contributing articles (as book reviews, drama critiques and essays) to various periodicals.  He continued this throughout his life writing for Australian Lithuanian newspapers and American publications.

He translated two French novels into Lithuanian: namely, R. Dorgeles’ Less Croix de obis and C. Ferere’s La bataille. One of his best translations is the Lithuanian edition of Servants’ Don Quixote, 1943.

From 1944-49 he lived in refugee camps in West Germany. In 1949 he immigrated to Australia with his wife and three children and settled in Adelaide.  His two-year Government contract was with the NSW Railways where he cleaned carriages.  Completing this, in Adelaide he worked in the telegram home office at the then GPO. His all male office attendants couldn’t pronounce his name Pulgis - so they called him Andy instead.

In 1968 he toured the U.S. and Canada, with other Lithuanian writers reciting his works.
Pulgis reciting some of his work
Cover of his Esperanto book


Pulgis published works.

1.       Ir vis dėlto juokimės! (Let us laugh, nevertheless). Feljetonai iš DP camp Gunzenhausen, 1946  Humorous short story

2.       Siuntinėlis iš Amerikos. (A package from America) Donauwörth, 1947 m. Humorous short story.

3.       Anoj pusėj ežero. Lyrinės apysakos. Gunzenhausen, 1947 m., Boston, 1953 m.,

4.       Esperanto kalbos vadovėlis su trumpu žodynėliu. Dilingen–Donau, 1947 m.

5.       Ispanų kalbos gramatika, d. 1, Nürttingen, 1947 m.

6.       Vabalų vestuvės (Insect wedding) Schweinfurt, 1948 m. 2 ed. 1995 m. A children’s story.

7.       Sudiev, kvietkeli“. (Good-by, little flower) Adelaide, 1951 m. A short story - Awarded a prize by the emigrant Lithuanian Writers Association.

8.       Tipelis“. Tipelis (The character).Boston. A humorous novel.

9.       Rojaus vartai (The gate of paradise). London, 1960. Awarded the prize of the emigrant Lithuanian Writers Association.

10.   Daina iš kito galo. (A song sung backwards) London, 1962 m. A feuilleton collection

11.   Blezdingėlės prie Torenso: Lietuvių įsikūrimas Pietų Australijoje 1947–1962 m. Edited with  V. Radzevičius

12.   Purienos po vandeniu (Marsh marigolds under water) London, 1963 m. Short Stories.

13.   Rinktiniai raštai t. 1. Autobiografiniai memuarai. Lyrinės apysakos, Boston, 1968 m.

14.   Rinktiniai Raštai (Outline of selected writings - includes the draft autobiography Septinton įleidus). 1962

15.   Anoj pusėj ežero (On the other side of the lake). Collection of short stories.  This is one of his outstanding lyrical works, awarded the Lithuanian Red Cross prize.

To commemorate 100 years since his birth in 1907, the Friends of the Lithuanian Club Library group in Sydney organised a literary afternoon on 18th November 2007. Mrs Elena Jonaitis introduced the writer and his works to the audience.   You can read more about this event here  http://www.slic.org.au/Culture/Pulgis.htm

You can read a story in English here, romance on a bus,  http://www.lituanus.org/1985/85_1_06.htm

Andriusis card from a Esperanto conference

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Baltic Convention, Adelaide 1968

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of Independence of the Baltic counties in 1918, a Baltic week was held throughout Australia from 1st to 8th of June 1968.  Functions arranged for that week included Remembrance Services and concerts, exhibitions of Art and crafts, Baltic food display and tasking and social evening.

The Baltic convention was held on the 1st June in Adelaide as part of Baltic Week.  Held at Latvian house the convention was attended by 98 delegates (35 Estonians, 35 Latvians and 28 Lithuanians) representing communities in Adelaide Melbourne and Sydney.
Mr A Krausas (Lithuanian member from Melbourne) summed up the aims,
To strengthen the resistance and ties of the Baltic nations in their fight for freedom, culture is the best weapon.

Being without our countries and armies, the only way we ca strive for freedom is through cultural media. 
All three of us working together will have a better chance to be heard and our voices of protest will be stronger.  All of us are suffering the same cruel fate and our countries are smothered by the communist regime.  We must try and save our cultural heritage, so that it does not fade, but make it flourish and grow stronger and more meaningful than ever.

To achieve this we must;
Try to send as many young people as possible to gain higher education.

Try to translate classics and other noteworthy works into each other’s language.
Try to have a chair for Baltic Studies in at least one Australian university.

Parents should teach their children to be proud of their nationality, let the children have a dual nationality, let them assimilate the best to each culture.
Items discussed were how the communities could work together to promote the history and traditions of their countries.  Discussions mentioned the formation of a Baltic Art Association even a of a Baltic arts and crafts museum. 

The convention notes were collated and printed in a booklet.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Lithuanian Armed Forces Day

23 November Kariuomines Diena
Lithuania Armed Forces Day

While the Returned Soldiers Association Ramovė was active in Adelaide, each year the members would gather to commemorate Lithuanian Armed Forces Day on 23rd of November.
Lithuanian Armed Forces Day is commemorated on the 23rd of November the date that the Lithuanian army was initiated in 1918. 

An exert from an article written by Vladas Radzevicius (date unknown) reiterates what was written in the Melbourne Catholic newsletter, ‘Tėviškės Aidai’;

We bow our heads to remember the soldiers who gave their lives for their homeland, so that we may be free. 

We bow our heads that one day we will hear the historic cry, ourageous without fear like our father and forefathers, let us pause before the enemy’s path, let us increase our pace for our mother land, and for the Lithuanian State.

On that day, the time worn soldiers would dress in their best suits, nothing less than tie and jacket.  They stood in straight lines as they once must have as soldiers, watched as a wreath of leaves was placed by the statue that stands at Lithuanian House, to commemorate those who died for the homeland. 
They stood proud and tall as the Lithuanian flag was hoisted and sang the Lithuanian anthem with respect and reverence as only those can, who know the price of freedom.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

World Lithuanian Games – Chicago 1983

As Lithuania was occupied until 1991, exiled Lithuanian communities around the world would endeavour to connect in different ways.  One of these was through sport.  Unable to meet in Lithuania at first, the first World Lithuanian Games were held in Canada in 1978. The games were organised by future Lithuanian president, Vladas Adamkus.

It was a way of uniting the youth and instilling a spirit of national pride.  In 1983, Chicago hosted the games.
The World Lithuanian Days and sport festival was held in Chicago from 25 June to 4 July 1983. A team from Australia was selected to participate and represent all the Lithuanians in Australia.

Antanas Laukaitis was the touring party leader, Treasurer and junior boys basketball coach, Don Atkinson, Men’s section leader Jurgis Karpavicius, women’s section leader Marija Atkinson, coordinator of travel and men’s volleyball coach, Jerry Belkus and Public Relations Nita Wallis.

From Adelaide went;

Eddie Taparauskas and Men’s basketball Manager, Jonas Ignatavičius guard, Petras Urnevičius (basketball), Ramunė Grigonis (basketball), Vanesa Kalninš (basketball), Aleksas Talanskas (basketball).
Mens volleyball
Algis Laurinaitis

Women’s Volleyball
Alius Daniškevičius (Assistant coach)
Dale Laurinaitis
Mile Daniškevičius
Wendy Paulauskas
Robyn Paulauskas
Laima Visockis

Table tennis: Vilija Bone, Ona Bone, Harry Bone

Other sports: Aleksas Merūnas (Manager)
Athletics: Mikas Talanskas (athlectics)
Swimming: Irena Petkunas, Rikardas Baškus

Detroit won gold in the finals against the Australian All-Star team.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Our parish priest

Father Juozas Nikodemas PETRAITIS MIC

Born on July 16th 1922 in Milgaudžius village in the Tauragė region to Juozapas and Marija.  He came from a farming family, the eldest child of four.  Juozas was active in the local church, and at about the age of 10 decided he wanted to be a priest.  He studied at Gaurės primary school, Tauragė High school and the Telšiai seminary.   During the war he moved to the Kaunas seminary.  He was drafted in the Red Army in 1941.   He fled into Germany with his mother, sister and two brothers.  They remained in DP camps, he was able to continue his studies at Eichstatte Seminary.  Following the end of the war, he travelled to Rome to continue his seminary studies.  He studied at the Gregorium and Angelicum University. 
In 1946 he joined the Marian fathers and continued his studies in America, Marina Hills Marion Seminary not far from Chicago.  He was ordained on Ascension Thursday 22 May, 1952 at St Raimund Cathedral.  In 1953 he moved to St Gabriel the Archangel Lithuanian parish, in Milwaukee.  Juozas wanted to further his studies, which he did at Jesuit University of Marquette.  In 1956 he served as parish priest  at St Peters in Kenosha, where he obtained US citizenship.

He served as Chicago as provincial secretary of his order. 
In 1963 he was sent to Argentina, where he learnt Spanish.  He worked at Lithuanian parish of Santa Fe then in 1967 transferred to Aušros Vartos parish in Avellaneda Buenos Aires where he worked for 17 years.

When Adelaide priest, Father Spurgis became ill, Juozas came to Adelaide initially for three months.  He returned to Argentina but was again summoned to help in Adelaide. 
From July 1984, he became the Adelaide priest.  During his time here he also became the Spanish migrant chaplain having learnt Spanish in Argentina.

Father Petraitis served the Adelaide Lithuanian community until the age of 91 when he moved into a nursing home.  He was able to recite the Rosary prayer in five languages, Lithuanian, Latin, German, Spanish and English.  He also spoke passable Italian and Portuguese.
He returned home to Lithuania just once in 1994, for a six week visit.

Ilsekis ramybeje.  

Monday, 21 March 2016

Bicentenary gift to Australia

Artist Ieva Pocius with the statue
Australian Lithuanian Community Bicentenary gift to Australia

A memorial to represent Australia’s welcoming and providing a good life to the migrants.  What will remain to represent Lithuanian life in Australia.  The idea of donating a sculpture by an Australian Lithuanian sculptor was first raised by Dr Ben Vingilis in 1984 and formerly adopted by the Australian Lithuanian Federal Council in 1986.

A committee was established to raise funds and to call for expression of interstate form sculptors.
The artist chosen was Ieva Pocius, well known Adelaide sculptor.  Her piece was based on Eglė the Queen of Serpents which is considered one of the best-known Lithuanian fairy tales. The twelve foot bronze statue stands on a large piece of granite located at Glebe Park, corner of Ballumbir and Akuna Streets, Canberra.
The statue was unveiled by Hon Ros Kelly, M.P Member for Canberra, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel.

Artist: Ieva Pocius
Casted by Bruce Sutherland

Technical advice: Rimas Kabaila and engineer Romas Katauskas
Chairman of the organising committee: Victor Martisius

Artistic Advisor: Eva Kubbos
Publicity: Juras Kovalskis

Finance: Dr Ben Vingilis
Fundraising committee: Augis Zamoiskis (Adelaide)

The story

A young girl named Eglė discovers a serpent in her clothes after bathing with her two sisters. Speaking in a human voice, the serpent agrees to go away only after Eglė pledges herself to him in exchange for his leaving the clothes, not realising the possible consequences. Three days pass, and thousands of serpents come for the bride, but are tricked by her relatives each time. A goose, a sheep and a cow are given instead but the cuckoo warns about the deceit. Enraged serpents return for a final time and take Eglė with them to the bottom of the sea to their master.

Instead of seeing a serpent, Eglė meets her bridegroom Žilvinas, a handsome human - the Serpent Prince. They live together happily and bear four children, until Eglė decides to visit home and her husband denies her permission. In order to be allowed to visit home, Eglė is required to fulfil three impossible tasks: to spin a never-ending tuft of silk, wear down a pair of iron shoes and to bake a pie with no utensils. After she gets advice from the sorceress and succeeds, Žilvinas reluctantly lets Eglė and the children go.

After meeting the long lost family members, Eglė's relatives do not wish to let them back to the sea and decide to kill Žilvinas. His sons are are threatened and beaten by their uncles, in order to try to disclose how to summon their father; however, they remain silent and do not betray him. Finally, a frightened daughter discloses it:"Žilvinas, dear Žilvinas, If you are alive – may the sea foam milk. If you are dead – may the sea foam beblood…"

The twelve brothers call Žilvinas the Serpent from the sea and kill him using scythes.

The worried Eglė calls her husband, but unfortunately only foam of blood comes from the sea. When Eglė discovers that her beloved is dead, as a punishment for betrayal she turns her children and herself into trees - the sons into strong trees, an oak, an ash and a birch, whereas the daughter was turned into a quaking aspen. Finally, Eglė transformed herself into a spruce.