Monday, 17 August 2015

Kazys Brazauskas (Key Braz)

Kazys Brazauskas was possibly the first savanoris (volunteer fighter in Lithuania's battles for independence 1918-20) to settle in Australia.

The Australian Lithuanian chronicle Metraštis No. 1 records the following about him:

Kazys was born on 15 December 1898 in the town of Serėdžius in Lithuania.  His father had emigrated to the USA earlier and Kazys and his mother followed in 1912.

Kazys returned to Lithuania, joined the fledgling Lithuanian air force in 1920 and served there for two years.  He was decorated with the Volunteers Medal in recognition for his service during the struggle for independence.
In 1927 he emigrated to Australia, first settling at Port Kembla where he was employed as a technician at the power station.  He was unemployed for a while during the Great Depression, found work as a taxi driver in Sydney, and after a while was re-employed by the power station.  In 1932 he bought 7 acres at Engadine, south of Sydney, and built a home; in 1950 he purchased a 3 acre farm also at Engadine from which he earned a living growing flowers.

Kazys and Jadvyga Brazauskas (Metraštis No.1 p 17)

Kazys served as president of the Australian Lithuanian Society in 1939, the year in which the Society celebrated its 10th anniversary;  the celebrations were held at the Brazauskas property at Engadine.   His wife Jadvyga was also a member of the Society.

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The Lithuanian volunteers site (http://www.versme.lt/sav_b.htm) has a few more details about his place of birth and military service:

  • Kazys Brazauskas was born in Kalvių village in the district of Veliuona* and the county of Jurbarkas.  He served as a volunteer from 4 August 1920 to 5 January 1922, and was discharged as an American citizen.  [* Veliuona is only around 5km downstream along the Nemunas river from Serėdžius]
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Luda Popenhagen (Australian Lithuanians p 159) records a meeting Sydney Lithuanians had with a visiting Lithuanian priest Fr P Bučys (who appears to have migrated to Australia) in 1928:
The participants convened at the Port Kembla home of the Australian Lithuanian Kazimieras ('Keys') Brazauskas.  No action, however, was taken to create a Lithuanian parish in Sydney as the Lithuanian migrants (relatively few in number) did not live in any particular area of the city.
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Kazys Brazauskas died in 1980, aged 82, at Maclean in NSW; he was buried as Kazys Braz.  A public family tree on Ancestry.com.au records that:

  • his wife was Jadvidga Ornatowicz, born in Kaunas in 1901.  She died in Maclean in 1984;
  • they had at least one child born in Lithuania; Kay Kazys Braz (1922-99).


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    1. Thanks! Do you have anymore photos or stories you're happy to share?

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