Monday, 9 November 2015


The 1933 Australian Census recorded 37 males and 22 females in the state of Victoria who stated that their birthplace was Lithuania. As noted in previous posts and comments, given the changing jurisdictions in that region during and after the First World War, others born there may have recorded their birthplace as Russia, Germany, or Poland.

As with the other states, the early Victorian migrants included a mix of pre-World War One arrivals and those who arrived in the 1920s and 1930s. The earliest arrivals to Victoria were probably Lithuanian Jews (Litvaks) fleeing persecution in czarist Russia in the 1880s.  Some of their stories are well documented elsewhere, for example:

An economic depression hit Victoria in the 1890s and may have temporarily put a brake on further migration, but in the early twentieth century a steady stream of mainly single men - Litvaks, ethnic Lithuanians, and others born in the region of Lithuania - started arriving and settling in Victoria. Many of them enlisted in the 1st AIF and served at Gallipoli, Egypt or the Western Front during the First World War and have been described in previous posts:

  • Samuel BRITAIN from Vilnius (see my post of 7 May 2015);
  • Harry COOPER from Kaunas (7 May);
  • Joe IPP from Kaunas (14 May);
  • Adolph MISHKINIS from Zarasai (30 April);
  • Reuben ROSENFIELD from Raseiniai (2 April);
  • Emerick SCHIMKOVITCH from Zarasai (21 May); and
  • Nathan WATCHMAN from Navarėnai (19 March).

In the 1920s and 1930s a new generation of migrants arrived, for example:

Jonas JAKOVLEVAS, born in Kaunas in 1897.  Naturalisation records at the Australian National Archives state that his father was Russian and Jonas had spent his youth in Russia, serving as a pilot in the Russian airforce in World War One before returning to Lithuania in 1921. He married a Lithuanian girl from Telšiai in 1924 and a son Alex (Aliekseij) was born in 1927. Jonas arrived in Australia alone at the end of 1929 and his wife and son followed 3 years later. By the mid 1930s Jonas was operating his own photographic business 'Ivan Studios' at 190 Bourke Street, Melbourne.

Kazys ZAKAS, born at Lygumai in 1898.  His naturalisation records show that he arrived in 1930 and that by the mid 1930s he was operating his own business as a 'knitting manufacturer' in Melbourne.

Metraštis No.1 (1961) records that when the first ship carrying World War Two DPs (Displaced Persons) arrived in Melbourne in 1947 the Lithuanians on board were greeted by two early migrants; Jonas Jakovlevas and a man identified only by his surname, Paliokas, who had been born in Ventė and lived in Australia since 1928 (p.10). That publication also records a story by one of the first DPs (Kazys Mieldažys) that that they were visited on the ship by Paliokas and also by Mr and Mrs Jakovlevas who subsequently sent parcels to some of the Lithuanians when they were at the Bonegilla migrant camp and later allowed them to use their apartment in Melbourne for music and song rehearsals as well as helping the newcomers in many other ways (p 24).

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