Saturday, 10 August 2019

Ona Baužienė (Anna Bauze)

In 1983 Anna Bauze was awarded a BEM (British Empire Medal) for her services to the Australian Lithuanian community. She had arrived in Australia as a young woman in 1930 and was an important and popular member of the Lithuanian community until her death in 2003. Here is a brief outline of this remarkable woman's story.

Ona was born in Essen, Germany in 1904. Her father Juozas Vyšniauskas was employed at the Krupps Steel Works and her mother Antanina Ravinaitė Vyšniauskienė worked on rural estates. Their settled life in Germany was turned upside down in 1905 when they were forced to leave during the Russo-Japanese War; the Tsarist government demanded that all young Lithuanian men return to Russia and the German authorities said they should either leave or be deported. Like many others, the Vyšniauskas family decided to move to Scotland and Ona grew up in the industrial town of Motherwell.

By 1922, with Lithuania having secured her independence, the family decided it was time to return home. Ona had completed high school and was training for a teaching vocation in Scotland, but had also been raised within the strong Lithuanian community in Scotland and so was able to adjust to the transition remarkably well. She was soon working as a clerk at the Vilkaviškis courthouse. In 1927 she married a young army officer, Antanas Bauže. However by that time the family was becoming disillusioned with the political situation in Lithuania - a military coup d'etat in 1926 had installed an authoritarian government. Ona's parents left Lithuania for Brazil in 1929 and Ona and Antanas Bauže left for Australia in 1930.

Attitudes to non-British migrants in Australia at that time were sharpened by the effects of the Great Depression. For example, Adelaide's daily paper 'The Advertiser' reported on 18 August 1930 that 202 foreign migrants (including Lithuanians) had entered the state of South Australia during the first 7 months of the year and that the state's Premier had been asked to make a strong protest to the Federal government about ongoing migration. Fortunately those Lithuanians who had arrived after living in Britain or other English-speaking countries appear to have been reasonably well accepted.

Ona and Antanas Bauže settled in Sydney and were soon raising a family and operating a grocery store in Paddington. Ona's memoir (published in 2002) is a useful source of information on Sydney's Lithuanians of the 1930s, including the Scots Lithuanians Frank and Maggie Augustas (Augustaitis) at Redfern; Bella and Joe Miller (Plaušinis) at Waterloo; and the Kairaitis, Peters and Patrick families at Blacktown.

The Sydney Lithuanian Women's Social Services Association around 1960; Anna Bauze is standing in the top row, centre.

Ona Bauze played a unique role, contributing to both the early (pre-WW2) Sydney Lithuanian community and the growth of the much larger community which developed with post-WW2 migration. She took an interest in welfare issues, for example by assisting new arrivals with accommodation and employment. One of her significant achievements involved planning and fundraising for the building of the Lithuanian Retirement Village at Engadine, Sydney, which was officially opened in 1984.  Read more about that project by clicking here.

Click here for a 2003 In Memoriam tribute to Anna Bauze.

'A Lithuanian in Australia: Memories of My Life' by Anna Bauze; Sydney, 2002;
Metraštis; Sydney, 1961 (for the image above);
Sydney Lithuanian  Information Centre website (see links).

No comments:

Post a Comment