Note: In The Illusion of Peace Victoria Estes used this text as part of her research.
I first found this book in the high-density collection at the FHL Library in July 2017. A few things caught my immediate attention. One was the map of Germany showing the numerous Lithuanian DP camps in West Germany in 1948 on page 140; the other was the reference to DPs in Belgium because at this time the person we were seeking had “Belgium” stamped on his EWZ papers and we thought perhaps he had emigrated there. With specific information like this at my fingertips, I knew that this book was a must read for the fall of 2017 through Interlibrary Loan or that I could buy it on Amazon or Google for about $137.00 in hard cover. I chose the former.
The book is an amazing study of a very specific topic, one I had never considered. Although I had visited Toronto in 1977 and in 1995, I had not known that many Lithuanian DPs had settled there in the late 1940s. I should have known. Plus, the new information that I had close family in Winnipeg was a further reason to acquire background knowledge on the subject.
The following link from the LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES, Volume 33, No.1 – Spring 1987, provides a most adequate summary of the book and acknowledges the language, literacy, history, and research behind this most readable volume.
I can only add some personal insights.
I really liked the succinct history of Lithuania at the beginning of the book in Chapter 1, pages 1 to 19, “Lithuania in World War Two.” Of particular importance is the history of Lithuania up to 1941. Equally important is Chapter 2, “Lithuanians in Wartime Germany,1944-45”, pages 20 to 40, a topic also covered in previous posts.
And finally, a description in Chapter 3, pages 41 to 64, of “Displaced Persons Camps: “A Temporary Life”
Other posts in 2017 allude to Chapter 4, Canadian Immigration Policy, referenced in the Eastes posts.
New information centered around the various contracts that the official Canadian immigration policy included. Divided between research of the actual records and interviews of immigrants, various chapters in Part II discuss the one-year labor contracts in Canadian forestry, mining, domestics, and agriculture, beginning in 1947 and ending in 1950.
After reading about the various labor contracts, I was eager to find out the circumstances under which my family members came to Winnipeg. It seems to have been allowed to come, that at least one of them had to be somehow part of this contractual system or did they have a sponsor? Who would that be?
The remaining chapters in Part 3 bring the reader forward to a generation of remembrances as well as the blending of two cultures the children and grandchildren of the DPs experienced. The book ends with a longing for “the old country” and the acceptance of carrying on Lithuanian culture in a new environment.
My interest centered on the Lithuanian settlement in Winnipeg, one of the smaller Canadian Lithuanian colonies (page 319) as that is where my newly-discovered family settled, but I also became aware of Lithuanians in Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton, Sudbury, London, and Windsor. Western colonies included Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver, (page 248) some of which I had visited in my pre-genealogical days, fully unaware that Lithuanians DPs made these cities the cosmopolitan areas they are today. Certainly, my loss.
Although this book is not a genealogical “must” for research, it certainly satisfies my need to understand the people and the land my grandparents left, and a new land which became the home of a younger half-sister of my much-loved grandmother. It provided a backdrop for the family story that there were somehow related Spurgats In Canada when in reality, there were no Spurgats but closely related Hutops and their descendants who reside there today.