The article was originally published in December 2013 issue of“Lapas” (2013, no. 65, p. 10.)
With the announcement on page 2 that subscriptions for Lapas are increasing next year, I would like to acquaint readers with the history of Lapas and how it came into existence.
When I arrived in Brisbane [Australia] in 1990 and first went to the Lithuanian Club in September of that year, I met a number of Lithuanians around my age then (37), give or take a few years either way, who spoke little or no Lithuanian. Some of them told me they grew up feeling they did not fit in as they were brought up Lithuanian, but without speaking the language, so there was an inner turmoil of where they belonged. I related to this too. Although born in Australia, I was brought up Lithuanian also, and when I started school, I didn‘t know a word of English, so I never really fitted in either.
The article was originally published in premier issue of “Lithuanian Heritage Magazine” (2014, vol. 1, no. 1, p. 2), as an editorial signed by the publishers and editors.
1994 marks the 120th anniversary of Lithuanian press in America. In 1874 a one-page leaflet by an anonymous author, written in the Lithuanian language, was printed in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.
From that humble beginning, newspapers and magazines of every type, size and ideological context began to be published. They would serve the needs of the hundreds of thousands of Lithuanian immigrants arriving to the shores of the New World.
The purpose of those publications was threefold: First, to keep the newcomers up-to-date on conditions and events occurring in Lithuania – particularly in the ancestral homes and farms they left behind; second, to preserve and perpetuate the language, customs and traditions of those who had already settled in America and had begun to assimilate into its fastpaced environment; and third, – since Lithuania was under Russian czarist oppression at the time – to awaken the immigrants’ patriotic spirit and to nurture the idea of a future free and independent Lithuania.
There were ten issues of The Lithuanian Times. Juozas Algimantas Kazlasfounded the publication and edited the first 9 issues, from January 1989 to September 1991. Aukse Trojanas was the editor of the last issue, in September 1992.
The Lithuanian Times was intended primarily for New York and especially Manhattan Lithuanians, many of whom were young and middle-aged professionals who had arrived from other parts of the U.S. The title was a deliberate imitation of The New York Times, and the contents provided quick information to busy people in English with an occasional dash of humor. Each issue consisted of two sides of one sheet of paper of standard American size. In addition to making it a compact source of information, this format also made it easy to duplicate and to mail. Duplication was often done by Kazlas using a photocopy machine at work after hours, at the Shearson-Lehman financial corporation on Wall St., or in the office of a lawyer friend. With his wife, theatre director, actor and instructor Rasa Allan Kazlas, they would stuff several hundred copies of the newsletter into envelopes, attach stamps and mail them.
23 to October 31, the visitors of the National Library of Lithuania had an
opportunity to see the exhibit dedicated to Lithuanian-Canadian Community, Inc.
and its political, cultural, and educational activities over the past 67 years.
The organizers of the exhibition are the Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada and
the Lithuanian-Canadian Community, Inc.
The exhibition presents
the history of Lithuanians in Canada: the establishment and development of the
Lithuanian Community, its political, cultural, and social activities, as well
as significant support to Lithuania, especially in the early 1990s. The stands
showcase the photos from the first Lithuanian Days in Canada, the World
Lithuanian Community Congress in New York, and the first World Lithuanian Youth
Congress in Chicago. The exhibition also demonstrates the cooperation of the
Lithuanian-Canadians with the Reform Movement of Lithuania and the state of Lithuania
after the restoration of independence, and reminds of many other important events
that took place during the 67-year-old history of the Community.
The exposition was
supplemented by a video which was specially prepared by the staff of the
National Library of Lithuania. In the video, various people from the field of culture,
diplomacy and politics share their thoughts about Lithuanians in Canada, the
development of relations between Canada and Lithuania and other important
issues. The video in Lithuanian can be found on “Youtube”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFmRiZJyT0Y
In the early September,
the Lithuanian Minister of Culture, Mindaugas
Kvietkauskas, visited New York and Chicago. In New York, the Minister met
with the director of YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Jonathan Brent. They discussed the cooperation between the
Institute and Lithuania and other relevant issues in preparation for next year’s
commemoration of Vilna Gaon (born Elijah ben Solomon Zalman) and Lithuanian Jewish history.
The Minister participated
in the Litvak Days organized for the first time in New York and Chicago on the
initiative of the Consulate of the Republic of Lithuania in NY. The event
included a public lecture and three debates. In New York, Kvietkauskas, along
with writer Tomas Venclova and Prof.
Saulius Sužiedėlis participated in
the discussion “Challenges of Multiculturalism in Contemporary Lithuania.”
While in New
York, Kvietkauskas also visited one of the world’s largest American avant-garde
film archives, Anthology Film Archives, founded in the early 1960s by
Lithuanian-American Jonas Mekas. The
Minister participated in the opening of the exhibition of the Lithuanian
American artist Vytautas Ignas and met with representatives of the Lithuanian
Alliance of America and the Lithuanian National Foundation.
Kvietkauskas paid a visit at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Poetry
Foundation in Chicago, and met with the leaders of the Lithuanian World Center
in Lemont. At the UIC, where students can learn Lithuanian language as part of
their academic curriculum, the Minister participated in a discussion “The Narratives
of Pluralism: Lithuania’s Past and Present” and met with the students of the
Lithuanian Culture course.
On June 14, 1949
in Augsburg, Germany, Lithuania’s Supreme Liberation Committee published a
pocket-size book World Community of
Lithuanians (Dr. Haas & Cie., KG., Augsburg), also known as the
Lithuanian Charter. The document laid the foundations of the Lithuanian World
Community, Inc., brought together and provided the new meaning to thousands of
Lithuanian war refugees.
Charter empowered Lithuanians, who after WWII once again found themselves
homeless, to continue to fight for Lithuania’s independence and to strive to
maintain at all costs not only the family and kinship, but also the national
connection, so that “each countryman met abroad [would] be like brother.”
of the Lithuanian Charter was Committee’s response to the rapidly changing
situation of Lithuanian war refugees in post-war Germany and the future full of
anxiety and uncertainty. At the end of the war, it became clear that Lithuania
would not regain its independence yet, therefore many refugees decided to take
advantage of the opportunity to immigrate to Canada, Australia, the United
States and other countries not affected by war. Prelate Mykolas Krupavičius,
the chairman of the Committee, and other members of the organization decided to
establish a Lithuanian community in each country and create one united
Lithuanian community abroad.