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.
The end of WWII did not bring freedom and liberation for all countries and nations. Central and Eastern Europe fell into the grip of the Soviets and found itself isolated from the free world. Immediately after the war, relations between the Soviet Union and former allies began to deteriorate. It became clear to the Western world countries that the Soviet propaganda was a serious challenge to their national security and that measures needed to be taken to counteract this threat.
The position of the US as one of the superpowers had been particularly important. Assessing the technological possibilities of the time, soon it was realized that radio broadcasts penetrating through the Iron Curtain could be one of the most effective means of ideological struggle against the USSR. The US government devoted a lot of human and material resources to organizing radio broadcasts to Soviet-controlled areas. The waves of US radio stations also reached Lithuania and contributed greatly to the spread of Western and democratic values, the rise of national awareness, and the formation of a critical position towards the Soviet Union.
A book by historian Inga Arlauskaitė Zakšauskienė, “The Descent of Hope. US Radio Broadcasts to Soviet Lithuania” published by Vilnius University Press analysis this phenomenon.
A conversation with the author of the book led by Dr. Ilona Strumickienė, director of the Adolfas Damušis Center for Democratic Studies at the National Library of Lithuania, can be found on Youtube (in Lithuanian):
In April, sad news arrived from Germany. On April 21, 2020, Dr. Vincas Bartusevičius, a long-time friend of the National Library of Lithuania, passed away. Dr. Bartusevičius, a representative of the DP generation, moved to Germany with his parents in 1944 and stayed there for the rest of his life. In 1959, he graduated from the Vasario 16-oji Gymnasium. He studied sociology, history and psychology at the University of Munich and University of Tübingen.
For many decades, Dr. Bartusevičius devoted his time and energy to the Lithuanian cause. He chaired the Ateitis Association of Lithuanian German Students, was the editor of the newsletter Ateitin, active member of the Lithuanian German Youth Association, and the editor of the newspaper Jaunimo žodis. In 1967-1974, Dr. Bartusevičius taught at the Vasario 16-oji Gymnasium. He was active in the Lithuanian German Community, Inc. and served on its board. In 2010, the Board of the LGC awarded Dr. Bartusevičius the title of Honorary Chairman.
The pandemic closed the state borders and seized the flights but it did not cancel our passion to travel. The Lithuanian Community in France came up with an idea to visit and explore significant Lithuanian historical and cultural objects in Paris virtually.