The Lithuanian National Broadcaster, the Lithuanian National Radio and Television, has created a series of documentaries “Viltis abipus Atlanto” (Hope on Both Sides of the Atlantic) which narrate stories of famous American-Lithuanians and Lithuanian cultural phenomena in the US. Three films are dedicated to the first wave of economic emigrants from Lithuania and its three descendants, doctor Aldona Šliūpaitė, collector and journalist Aleksandras Mykolas Račkus, and Stanley Balzekas Jr., the founder of the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago. Other series present the second wave of political refugees, American-Lithuanian poet Kazys Bradūnas and the American-Lithuanian activist Juozas Polikaitis. The other two documentaries are dedicated to the oldest and longest-running Lithuanian newspaper Draugas and the Lithuanian neighborhood in Chicago, Marquette Park.
The new book discusses the mass waves of Lithuanian emigration in 1868-2020, their emergence and the public reaction to them. The author of the book, prof. Alfonsas Eidintas, raises a series of important questions: How do the emigration centers affect the current emigration; What is the impact of the emigration on the homeland; How does it affect the nation; Is emigration useful or damaging to nation’s and state’s development?
The book distinguishes two periods of Lithuanian mass emigration: from 1868 to 1915 and from 1990 to 2020. Prof. Eidintas does not doubt that both of them have been extremely significant for the life of the Lithuanian nation and the state.
The first wave of mass emigration significantly reduced the number of Lithuanians in Lithuania. Emigration to America was economically, politically and culturally the most significant in the life of the Lithuanian nation. First of all, Lithuanian colonies were established in America, which became a magnet for new emigrants. Mass exodus from Lithuania was not viewed ambiguously. Although it weakened Lithuanian nation, Lithuanians in the United States, mobilized by their own organizations, helped culturally and economically to achieve the nation’s aspirations. Prof. Eidintas notes that not only cultural and economic but also political support was received and constantly expected from Lithuanian colonies in the US.
Baltic University was founded in Hamburg, Germany, on March 14, 1946. Later on, it moved to Pinneberg and functioned there until October 1949. Pranas Jurkus was a student at the Baltic University. He never forgot his first Alma Mater. Throughout his life, Jurkus was collecting material about the University professors and students and was instrumental in arranging the commemorations of the University anniversaries. In March of 2021, he donated the Baltic University archive to the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago, USA, where it will be available to the researchers.
The branch of the Lithuanian National Museum of Art which has been operated as the Vytautas Kasiulis Art Museum has been transformed into the Lithuanian Diaspora Art Museum. In order to form a new identity of the museum and to acquaint visitors with the contribution of Lithuanian artists who have lived and created abroad, an extensive program has been prepared.
In May-June, the museum will open two exhibitions of Lithuanian diaspora artists: “Unknown Juozapas Jurkūnas (Jur Jurkun)” and “Vaclovas Ratas: Beyond the Equator.” In November-December, the museum will host a personal exhibition “Antanas Mončys: Faces and Spirits” dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Antanas Mončys and an exhibition “Between Expectations and Opportunities” reflecting the works of women artists in interwar Vilnius. On October 27, the Lithuanian National Museum of Art and the Lithuanian Cultural Research Institute will organize an interdisciplinary conference “Migration: Concepts and Experiences” at the National Gallery of Art. In May 2022, the museum will host an extensive exposition dedicated to the art of the Lithuanian diaspora.
A new book “West Midlands Ho!” is a compelling work of local history, focused on a particular corner of England but set against a background of tumultuous international events. In the book, Lithuanian author Aldona Grupas reveals the personal tales of Lithuanian migrants who moved to Britain in the wake of WWII. Unable to return to their homeland due to the Soviet occupation, from 1947 onwards, several thousand refugees swapped the refugee camps of Allied-occupied Germany for basic accommodation in Britain, along with jobs in manufacturing and agriculture. In the following decades, they put down roots in Britain, all the while keeping their Lithuanian identity alive. In a series of interviews, Grupas teases out the personal experiences of five members of this migrant community in the West Midlands of England.
The book begins with an overview of Lithuanian history, taking in WWII and the post-war Soviet period. Drawing on existing literature, Grupas explains why so many Lithuanians were stuck in Germany in the post-war period and were subsequently offered new lives in Britain under resettlement programs like Balt Cygnet and Westward Ho!
Birutė Galdikas, the Canadian-Lithuanian scientist, came to the attention of National Geographic as one of the twenty women pioneers, who had been almost forgotten today. In the article “These 20 women were trailblazing explorers—why did history forget them?” celebrating March as Women’s History Month, National Geographic introduces Birutė Galdikas (born 1946), one of the female scientists dubbed Trimates, who has researched orangutans since the 1970s. Believing women to possess more patience and perception than men, paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey supported three young female scientists to live among the great apes. With funding from National Geographic, he helped set up field stations for Jane Goodall to study chimpanzees in Tanzania, Dian Fossey to live with mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and Galdikas to observe orangutans in Indonesian Borneo. The three women went on to complete groundbreaking research.
When Galdikas first entered Tanjung Puting National Reserve in 1971, orangutans were thought to be difficult—if not impossible—to study. More solitary than other primates, they roamed over large areas of dense tree canopy. But before long, Galdikas could spot them in the wild and even get close enough to interact with them. She transformed her home into a “halfway house” for animals transitioning out of captivity and raised the orphans almost as her own children, according to a 1975 cover story that she wrote for National Geographic.