Monday, 29 February 2016

Adelaide supports Siberian deportees

Support Deportees from Siberia

Šalpa Sibiro Tremtiniams komiteto

The Adelaide Lithuanian community would at times organise special committees for various projects.  Formed on 24 March 1996, Support Deportees from Siberia committee was presided over by Stase Paceviciene.

During the period 1941-1953, some 132,000 Lithuanians were deported to remote areas of the USSR, in Siberia, the Arctic Circle areas and Central Asia. They were not allowed to leave the remote villages they were brought to. More than 70 percent of the deportees were women and children. Around 50,000 of the deportees were not able to return to Lithuania ever again. Those that did return to life in Lithuania, faced discrimination for jobs and social guarantees, their children were denied higher education.

Money was raised from donations, lunches, in lieu of flowers at funerals.  Money was divided and sent to different areas around Lithuania.  Each place that received funds provided a detailed list of how much and to whom it was given.
Some examples below:
Marijampolė       17 people received between 100-150 Litai
Alytus                16 people received between 100 – 200 litai
Panemė              6 people received 100 litai
Panevėžys           20 people each received 200 litai
The committee consisted of:
President:            Stase Pascevičienė
Treasurer:           Algis Zamoiskis
Members:            Marytė Neverauskienė, Henrikas Butvila, Janina Vabolienė, Ieva Pocienė, Aldona Patupiene.
The committee was active for five years until 2000, and in that time just under $20 000 was collected and distributed.
Total collected $19 189.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Lithuanians in China

Sometimes one can find treasurers in the Lithuanian Archives here.  I had looked at the documents below several times and didn't think much of them at first.  It wasn't until I scanned them that I realised these documents relate to Lithuanians in China.  I read the word Charbine in the documents, registered that that was an odd word in Lithuanian, and then it clicked that it was Harbin in English.  I did recall reading that some Lithuanians who arrived in Australia had done so from China.

Harbin, China, is located 1500 miles inland in Heilongjiang Province, a region also referred to as Manchuria.
In 1898, an influx of Eastern European migrants, mainly Russians arrived to build and service the Chinese Eastern Railway on land leased from China.  Many staff members of railways with their families remained in Harbin after the October coup, and then came immigrants from Russia, torn by civil war and destroyed by terror. In the first half of last century, Harbin, was often called the Russian city.  I assume the Lithuanians that resided there came for similar reasons.

In 1913 the Chinese Eastern Railway census showed its ethnic composition as: Russians – 34313, Chinese (that is, including Hans, Manchus etc.) – 23537, Jews – 5032, Poles – 2556, Japanese – 696, Germans – 564, Tatars – 234, Latvians – 218, Georgians – 183, Estonians – 172, Lithuanians – 142, Armenians – 124; there were also Karaims, Ukrainians, Bashkirs, and some Western Europeans. In total, 68549 citizens of 53 nationalities, speaking 45 languages.

Shanghai also had a number of Lithuanian residents at the time.  Harbin had a Lithuanian consulate.

The two documents below are from the Lithuanian citizen society of Harbin and the Consulate, one to an opening of Lithuanian library in 1936 and the other to a party at the Modern Hotel for the 20th anniversary of Independence of the Lithuanian Republic in 1938.  The invitations are made out to a Mrs Meiliunas.

There were several Meiliunas family members who arrived in Australia after WWII, and I am not sure if these documents belong to one of those members or came from a different source.  There is no Mrs K Meiliunas registered in the National Archives.

At this time I am not sure how they became part of the Archives.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Relatives from Lithuania

Before Netflix, internet downloads, even DVD's, videos were the latest technology back in the 1990's.  To make its way to Adelaide, a world away from Lithuania came a tv series called Gimines (Relatives). 

The series dealt with the various problems in a newly independent Lithuania.  Issues of land reclamation, racketeers, mafia and love triangles. The series ran from 1993 to 2007.

The series came as 10 videos (40 episodes), available for borrowing from the Adelaide Library for only $3 per week per video.  One needed to request the videos as the whole Adelaide Lithuanian community seemed to want to watch it (Duplicate copies were made).  The serial was purchased by the Adelaide Lithuanian Community Council and Adelaide Lithuanian Union.

It seems almost laughable now, that something so small as this caused a great stir in the community.  But Lithuanians in Australia would have never seen a program on tv in their native language, and for those who never returned home it gave them a glimpse of what life was like in Lithuanian then.

Cast of Gimines 20 years later