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Wooden box used by a Lithuanian migrant

Date: 1945
Overall: 65 x 208 x 137 mm, 250 g
Medium: Wood
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from the Australian Lithuanian Community
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Box
Object No: 00008051

User Terms

    This wooden box belonged to a Lithuanian migrant who came to Australia after World War II. This hand made three ply wooden box with dove tail joints was made in Norway. It was used by a migrant during his voyage to Australia to store his shaving accessories.
    SignificanceThis box has historic significance as evidence of the migration of thousands of displaced Europeans to Australia as a result of World War II. It serves as a tangible reminder of the traumatic experiences of those Lithuanians who were dislocated from their homeland and families, and their experiences on board ships as they emigrated to Australia.
    HistoryDuring World War II, much of Western Europe was invaded by Nazi Germany, forcing millions of people to flee their oppressed homelands to displaced persons camps. Lithuania was no exception, with the Soviet Union occupying in 1940 until Germany invaded in 1941. Tens of thousands of Lithuanians fled their homeland with the hope of returning to a liberated nation after the war. At the end of the war, however, the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania for a second time. With the emergence of the Cold War, there was no end in sight to the occupation, and the plight of displaced Lithuanians worsened.

    In the 10 years after the end of World War II, more than two million migrants came to Australia as part of a Government campaign to increase the Australian population. Many of these migrants were displaced persons as a result of the war, with the Australian Government assisting over 170,000 people to Australia.

    The International Refugee Organisation was formed in 1946 in order to transport displaced persons to countries in Europe, North America and Australia. The organisation chartered individuals and families from various European countries including Germany, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Lithuania.

    The voyages were often uncomfortable, with a trip from Germany to Melbourne taking up to a month. Often the ships were not stabilised, resulting in sea sickness, and were fitted with only basic quarters segregated by gender. There was little to do onboard, with passengers reading and signing to entertain themselves.

    After arriving in Australia, the refugees were transferred to migrant hostels and worked for the government in exchange for payment of their passage. Between 1947 and 1951, a total of 9,906 Lithuanians migrated to Australia, with the hopes of starting a new life.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Wooden box, Norwrgia 1944 - 1945, from the Australian Lithuanian community.

    Web title: Wooden box used by a Lithuanian migrant

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