Monday, 20 July 2015

Departures #1

Lithuanian migration to Australia has not always involved one-way traffic.  It was not unusual for people to arrive in Australia, spend some time here, and then move on.

For example, probably several hundred World War Two Displaced Persons from Lithuania made their way from Australia to North America after they had worked off their debt to the Australian Government by completing their contractual 2 year employment obligations in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Overseas migration statistics published by the Australian Government in the late 1920s and early 1930s give us an indication of the mobility of earlier Lithuanian migrants:
  • 51 Lithuanians arrived in Australia during 1928 and 7 departed;
  • 13 Lithuanians arrived in Australia during 1931, and 7 departed;
  • no Lithuanians arrived in Australia in the first quarter of 1932, but 2 departed; 
  • 2 Lithuanians arrived in the last quarter of 1932, none departed;
  • 3 Lithuanians arrived in the quarter ended 30 June 1933, but 5 departed.   
Somewhat surprisingly both inward and outward flows continued as the Great Depression gathered momentum.  The landing requirement was raised in 1928 from 50 pounds to 200 pounds (while British immigrants needed only 3 pounds).  Assisted migration from the UK was suspended as unemployment became a major issue from 1929 onwards.  Soon there were reports of 20,000 British immigrants stranded in Australia.  The risks for non-British migrants would likely have been even higher.

Metrastis No 1 provides details of several Lithuanians who left Australia during the 1920s:
  • Stasys URNIEŽIUS - who we have already encountered in an earlier post on First World War Anzacs - returned to Lithuania in 1920;  
  • Jonas BALAIKA had arrived from England around 1912 and left Australia for Lithuania via England in 1922 (there will be more on this man's story next week);
  • ? ŠLEKYS, having arrived in 1928 returned to Lithuania the following year;
  • Vladas DAPKUS arrived in Australia in 1928 and was one of the founders of the Australian Lithuanian Society in Sydney, but left for Argentina in 1930 and from there for Lithuania;
  • J JASIUNAS, also one of the founders of the Australian Lithuanian Society, returned to Lithuania in 1930.

Sources: Trove; Metrastis No 1; Eric Richards, Destination Australia (UNSW Press 2008)

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