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Memento : Issue 19
16 memento january 2002 On the instructions of Ar thur Calwell, Minister for Immigration and architect of the great post-World War II immigration scheme, Baltic people were the first to be chosen. He and his Cabinet thought that their white skin, blonde hair and good looks would favourably impress an Australian population that might otherwise object to the large-scale immigration planned by the government. As the number of potential Baltic immigrants diminished, refugees from other countries were accepted. On arrival in Australia they were all called Balts regardless of their origins, so the government invented the term 'New Australians'. In our May 2001 issue of Memento, we told the story of researcher Ann Smith who found details of her mother in our files of displaced persons brought to Australia after World War II. She discovered that her mother arrived in Australia on 28 November 1947 on board the USAT General Stuart Heintzelman, the first of many boats used to transpor t immigrants to Australia. Ann was keen to make contact with others searching for family members amongst these displaced persons. Our story was spread by the broader media, and Ann has been amazed by the number of people who have answered her call. At the same time, Ray Tar vydas has been researching the history of Baltic settlement in Australia, especially in Tasmania. In 1998, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first postwar Baltic immigrants in Tasmania, he published a book titled From Amber Coast to Apple Isle -- 50 Years of Baltic Immigrants in Tasmania, 1948--1998. Ray is currently poring over our passenger lists of boats arriving in Australia during 1948--52, with the aim of compiling a database of all Baltic immigrants to Australia. Every day we come closer to entering the names of all of these displaced persons into our database RecordSearch, to facilitate the task of researchers like Ann and Ray! the Baltic connection Searching for A443, 1951/15/5054 Did you know that the first displaced persons to emigrate to Australia in the late 1940s and early 1950s were Baltic? These Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian refugees from communist rule in their native lands were among the mass of people languishing in camps in Western Europe before Australia and other countries took them in. Last meal aboard the ship before settling in Australia.