Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Arrivals from China and Japan

The Australian Lithuanian Community Archives are located in Adelaide, South Australia, and managed by Daina Pocius. Earlier this year Daina posted an interesting item on her blog 'SA Lithuanian History' about Lithuanians in Harbin, China, in the 1930s (click here for a link to that post). That prompted me to think about what other records might exist of Lithuanians arriving in Australia from Harbin (Manchuria) or elsewhere in East Asia.

China, early 1930s, with Japanese occupied Manchuria and Harbin (source:http://www.balticasia.lt/straipsniai/istorija/lietuviai-kinijoje-xix-1940-m/ ) 

A 2014 article 'Lithuanians in China, 19th Century to 1940' by Gediminas Giedraitis on the BalticAsia website (in Lithuanian) provided an introduction to how and why some people had made their way to eastern China, over 4000 km from their birthplace. The first group to arrive were participants or supporters of the 1863 uprising who had been banished to Siberia and from there escaped into China. They were followed by several other waves of deported or displaced Lithuanians who also decided that life in China was a better option. There was also one significant group of voluntary migrants, the construction workers who came to work on the East China Railway at the end of the 19th century and stayed. By the 1930s there were an estimated 1000 Lithuanians residing in eastern China, including perhaps 350 in Harbin and 150 in Shanghai.

Lithuanians in Shanghai (1920s/30s)

Then I consulted Elena Govor's book Russian Anzacs in Australian History and found that the route from the Russian Far East to Australia was not an unusual migratory route in the early 20th century (pp 22-23):
This choice of route was encouraged to some extent by the activities of emigration agents in far-eastern ports and the availability of steamship services to Australia. These Russians usually came via Harbin (China) and the Japanese port of Moji, from where Japanese steamships sailed ... [to] Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.  ... Almost all of them disembarked at Brisbane.

So here are some examples of these migration patterns. Although in many cases we have scant details, there is enough to see that this was a regular corridor for people who had settled in China as well as those who simply used it as a transit route:

1910: The ROMASZKIEWICZ family arrived in Brisbane from Nagasaki, Japan, aboard the Kumano Maru. Sigismund Romaszkiewicz was born in Krekenava, Lithuania, in 1876 and appears to have lived in Harbin from at least 1900; this link to the Russian Anzacs website provides more details.

1911: The DAPKEWITCH family arrived in Brisbane aboard the Yawata Maru. Jan (John) Dapkewitch had been born in Vilkaviskis in 1877 and married Paulina Svershchevska in Harbin in 1905. They had had two children before arriving in Australia: Nina, born in Belarus in 1906, and John, born in Kamchatka in 1910 (source: Foster Family Tree on ancestry.com.au).

1911: Joseph MANJIKE, born in 1873 in Vilnius, arrived in Brisbane from Manchuria. See my earlier post on Joseph here.

1914: Edward Charles PHILLULE (?PILIULIS), born in 1881, arrived in Brisbane from Japan aboard the St Albans; see my earlier post on E C Phillule here.

1923: Josephine RUCKMAN, born in 1863 in Kaunas, arrived at Brisbane on the Yoshino Maru with her sons John and Felix and a daughter (source: National Archives of Australia).

1923: Bronislau KRETOVITCH, born in Vilnius in 1889, had first arrived in Brisbane on the Yawata Maru in 1911 leaving his wife Vida and family behind in Harbin. After service in the AIF during World War 1 (see the Russian Anzacs link here) he made a return visit to Harbin and then came back to Australia in 1923, arriving in Melbourne from Kobe on the Tango Maru.  He was followed by his daughter Jadvyga Kretovitch who arrived in Melbourne in 1928 on the Aki Maru.    

1938: The AGRANOFF family arrived in Sydney aboard the Kamo Maru. The Jewish parents Chaim and Rachel had been born in Lithuania, but their children Faivel (Paul) and Sara Lia were born and raised in Harbin (source: National Archives of Australia).

Harbin in the 1920s (commercial postcard)


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