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.


Jonas Mockunas said...

Great post, Daina. Thanks for sharing.

Ernestas Lukoševičius said...

Ačiū Daina,labai įdomu.Ernestas

Jonas Mockunas said...

For more information on Lithuanians in China see