“My parents Bronius and Dominika Savickas left Lithuania in 1944. They spent three months in Poland and six months in Gratz, Austria, in camps. Then they ended up in Wangen, Germany. I was born there in September 1945 and named Romuald Paul Savickas. My mother worked as a dentist in a clinic at the railway station.
In 1949 the family were resettled to Australia and arrived here after a voyage on migration ship SS Skaugum. On first arriving in Australia they were sent to a camp in Cowra NSW in 1949. They were then, still 1949, transferred to the camp in Benalla where they stayed until 1953, four years. Paul was a child of four years when he entered the camp and eight when he left. He says the time in the migrant camp is one of the most defining experiences in his life.
"After all the turmoil of the war in my parents’ generation and the rather long transition into normalcy for them, I ended up as the beneficiary of their sacrifice. Life has been good to me."
"In 1953, while I was still in the camp, I saw the film Peter Pan in the hall/movie theatre there. It was the first movie I had ever seen and seeing it made a vivid impression. (...) There were just these simple pleasures for the kids in the camp, like going to movies."
In the Migrant Camp Paul's mother worked as assistant to the supervisor (who was Polish). Paul says: “My father first worked for the government to repay our passage. He then bought a truck and used it to carry firewood from NSW to Melbourne."
In 1953, the family moved to Melbourne when he was 8. In 1957 the Savickas family moved to the United States, changed their name to Stevens as part of US Naturalisation. Paul now lives in Redmond, WA, USA. Through all those years, Paul has kept his mother's dentistry tools as well as her drill.
Information was exchanged between Paul Stevens and Sabine Smyth in several emails, then collated as above by Sabine, which required some editing.
Paul came to the November 2017 Benalla Migrant Camp Reunion (50 Years On) and brought his mother’s tools and drill which he donated to the camp on this occasion.
|Date of Birth
|Tuesday 4th September 1945