Journalist, activist Emīls Dēliņš dies at 82

Emīls Dēliņš, founder of the newspaper Austrālijas Latvietis, a community activist and Latvia’s honorary consul general in Australia, died Feb. 21 in Melbourne. He was 82.

The funeral service is scheduled at 1 p.m. March 2 in Holy Cross Church in Melbourne. The Rev. Aldis Elberts will officiate.

Dēliņš was born May 15, 1921, in Rīga. A 1940 graduate of the French lycée in Rīga, Dēliņš studied agriculture at the Latvian Academy of Agriculture and chemistry at the University of Latvia, according to his son, Jānis.

Like thousands of other Latvians, he fled his homeland during World War II. From 1945-1947 he worked for the Latvian Displaced Persons’ camp newspapers Lībekas Vēstnesis and Latviešu Ziņas.

In 1949 he immigrated to Australia, where he founded Austrālijas Latvietis. He edited the newspaper until 2000.

Dēliņš wrote frequently for the Latvian and Australian press, according to Latvju enciklopēdija, 1962-1982, lectured about literature and translated plays into Latvian from the French and German languages.

He also was active in the Latvian community in Australia, serving the Latvian Federation in Australia and New Zealand as well as the World Federation of Free Latvians.

Dēliņš also worked on broader Baltics-related political issues. In 1974 under the government of Prime Minister E.G. Whitlam, Australia announced that it no longer recognized the Baltic States, according to the Web site of the Latvian Foreign Ministry. That decision was reversed in 1975 under Prime Minister M.J. Fraser, thanks in part to the efforts of Dēliņš, and Australia returned to its earlier stance that the Baltic states were illegally incorporated into the Soviet Union.

In 1979, Dēliņš was named Latvia’s honorary vice consul in Australia, in 1982 was promoted to honorary consul, and in 1992 was promoted to honorary general consul. Since 1993 he also had served as honorary consul to New Zealand.

Dēliņš received many honors for his work in the Latvian community, including being twice recognized by the World Federation of Free Latvians’ Culture Fund for his work in journalism. In 1997, Dēliņš was awarded the Order of Three Stars, Latvia’s highest civilian honor. The Latvian Academy of Sciences in 2000 conferred on Dēliņš an honorary doctorate in political studies.

In 1996 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the nation’s Latvian community.

Dēliņš was a godson of former Latvian President Kārlis Ulmanis.

Dēliņš is survived by a daughter, Maruta Tauriņa of Sydney, Australia; two sons, Jānis of Melbourne, Australia, and Daris of New York, and three grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Nīna, in 2002. His son Jānis is Latvia’s honorary vice consul in Melbourne.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

3 thoughts on “Journalist, activist Emīls Dēliņš dies at 82

  1. Actually, Dēliņš migrated to Australia from Germany in 1947. He arrived at Fremantle on the “USAT General Stuart Heintzelman” on 28 November 1947. He published a book about his first year and some months in Australia, “Pirmais Gads, Latviesu Iecelotaji Australija,
    1947-49: ãno 1947. Gada decembra lidz 1949”. There was a copy online, to which Dēliņš himself referred me. Now I wish I had downloaded the whole lot because it has disappeared from the Web. Please post here if you know where I can find a copy!

  2. I have a copy of this in pdf format which I can email you, which my dad gave to me before he passed away in 2008. He was on this ship when it arrived in Fremantle WA.
    I am trying to find an english version, I don’t speak Latvian.
    I have emailed the Sydney Latvian Society to see if they know of a english version.
    I live in WA.

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