Thursday, 28 January 2016

Genocide memorial in Klaipeda

On the crossroad of I. Kanto and Simonas Daukanto streets in Klaipeda a memorial to victims of Nazi and Soviet occupation during 1940-1990 was unveiled and blessed in 1997.  On the other side of Simonas Daukantis street you will find a building that during communist occupation was used to torture Lithuanian men and women.  Prisoners could not stretch out, nor lie down, they were held down in water until they passed out.  The building was the KGB offices.  The memorial is located in a square named for those exiled, shielded by a wide canopy of leaves from the 200 year old oak tree that grows there.  By the tree political prisoners and exiled people erected a statue from a large stone, in memory of those who perished between 1940 – 1990.  Near this memorial another was erected from Lithuanian stone with the names and dates of those who were killed or died. 

Many fathers, brothers, sisters of those who fled Lithuanian were tortured or died in Siberia or in the Partisan war.  To memorialise your family you needed to write their details and send it to Lithuania along with $50 US.  The Adelaide President at that time was collecting payment for anyone from Adelaide who wished to participate.
In the square also stands a statue, "Kančia" ("The Suffering") created by Juozas Genevičius.   It depicts a sitting prisoner with steel wire around his head.  It is similar to the old Lithuanian symbol - Pensive Christ; the difference is that instead of crown of thorns, a steel wire is strapped. In front of the sculpture are plaques with the names of the victims.

The survivors from all Lithuania – deportees, prisoners or their relatives brought black granite and field stones with carved names of martyred persons. There are about 500 such stones.

The plaque reads:

šie krauju ir ašaromis aplaistyti
vardiniai akmenys žiauria komunistine ir nacistine
lietuvos okupacija 1940-1990 m.
Blood and tears wet the named stones
as we remember the cruel Communist and Nazi occupation of Lithuania 1940-1990

Monday, 18 January 2016

Australia recognises Soviet Union occupation of Lithuania 1974

Australian Lithuanian demonstrator in Canberra
On August 3, 1974, with no forewarning, it was announced that the Government had recognized, de jure, the annexation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union. It was soon revealed that it was Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam Whitlam’s own decision, taken without cabinet or caucus debate, to give legitimacy to the forced annexations by the Soviet Union of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, carried out in 1940 by a mixture of military force, terror and political fraud under the secret terms of the Nazi Soviet Pact of August, 1939.
Balts in Australia were horrified and began to campaign against the decision.  Recorded in a Lithuanian newspaper in Boston was a poem coined by an Australian Lithuanian.

I’m glad I’m a Lithuanian,
I’m happy I am free
I wish I was a big dog,
And Whitlam was a tree.

Vienybe 1974.IX.27

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Baltic Games 1973

Baltic Games 1973

For a time every two years, from 1969, Baltic Games were held in Australia over the Anzac long weekend.  When held in Adelaide the Forrestville basketball stadium was a hive of activity as Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians came to compete with each other in volleyball and basketball.  Created to help strengthen ties among young Australians of Baltic descent, 200 competitors, some top of their field would compete.
Among the Latvian basketballers, Andris Blicavs[i], SA State player Peter Vitols, NSW state player Maris Jaunalkanis for the men and Ilze Blicavs[ii] for the women.

Lithuanians had American born Frank Chickowski and superstar Karen Maar[iii] will be the Estonian top women basketballer.
The Estonians had a strong volleyball team, all members of their team had played State volleyball.  Their women’s team contains only one player who hasn’t played State and were coached by national women’s volleyball coach Juhan Olesk.

Dual Olympic basketballer Mike Dancis was the opening flag bearer for the opening of the games by Don Dunstan.

[i] Blicavs played for the Australia men's national basketball team during the 1970s. He competed for Australia at the 1974 World Championship in Puerto Rico and the 1978 World Championship in the Philippines. Blicavs also represented Australia at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

[ii] Blicavs played for the Australia women's national basketball team during the 1970s and competed for Australia at the 1975 World Championship held in Colombia

[iii] Karin Maar-Fields-McRobert (born 11 June 1953)