Bruno Arkusinski

Bronisław Arkusinski (1923 - 2018)

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Bronisław (Bruno) Arkusinski
Born in Sulejów, Piotrków Trybunalski, Łódź, Polandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 2 May 1954 in Brookfield, ILmap
Descendants descendants
Father of [private son (1950s - unknown)], [private daughter (1950s - unknown)], [private son (1960s - unknown)], [private son (1960s - unknown)] and [private son (1960s - unknown)]
Died in Cleburne, Johnson, Texas, United Statesmap
Profile last modified 26 Jul 2019 | Created 26 Aug 2017
This page has been accessed 387 times.
Bruno Arkusinski has Polish Roots.
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Bruno Arkusinski migrated from Poland to United States.
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Contents

Biography

Bronisław was born in Sulejów, Poland, on 2 February 1923 to Stansław and Marianna Arkusiński, the oldest of three brothers. [1] He changed his name to Bruno upon emigrating to the United States.

Stanisław Arkusiński built this house on Ul. Dobra Woda in Sulejów. Bruno was born in this house and lived there until he was 18.

Bruno tells stories about Poland

Bruno was hired by a Mr. Piontek to haul lime for sale to Tomaszow, along with Mr. Grabowski. All the lime did not sell, so Bruno was sent by bicycle to Rawa Mazoviecka to make arrangement for delivery of the rest of the lime. Although the customers did not want it, Mr. Piontek sent the lime anyway, and Bruno spent two days in Rawa Mazowiecka before the customers agreed to accept it. [2]

In 1940 Bruno became acquainted with Mr. Grzyb, who had been to France. They went to Pabianice, near Lodz, to trade sugar on the black market. Jews in Piotrków would buy the sugar and resell it in Warsaw.

A second smuggling trip required crossing the border at Kamocka Wola. This time about 22 people were involved. It was a bright, moonlit night, with seven inches of snow on the ground. The German border guard caught the scout that was sent ahead. The group leader decided to attempt the border crossing. Though Bruno disagreed, he went along. Dogs detected them, but the German soldier remained hidden until the smugglers were committed, then the entire group was caught.

They were kept that night in the local school (his uncle's school house) which had been converted to a sentry post. The next day everyone was robbed of all they had, then sent to jail in Tuszyn. Twenty men were kept in a cell for two. There was no air to breathe until one man broke a corner of the window glass to let in fresh air.

They were then sent to an empty factory in Łódz, in an uncovered truck that was already full of people coming from Brzeziny. The people were so packed that the soldiers just threw Bruno on top of the people in the truck. One person jumped off and escaped before the truck arrived at the destination. Another tried, but was caught and severely beaten. The jail was full of lice. Bruno slipped into the bath line twice to try to get rid of the lice.

Two men tried to escape by going up on the roof. They missed the roll call being conducted by a Pole who was a Gestapo member. The official became so angry upon discovering that the men were missing that he threw a metal rod at the group. Fortunately they all dodged it and no one was hurt. The would-be escapees returned to the restroom and claimed they had not heard the call to assembly.

After a week or two, transport was organized to Germany on a train that went to Kalisz and on to Berlin. The train stopped at the Warta River, where most of the people got off and ran away. Bruno decided to stay and go to Germany.

The train went on to Westphalia in the south. There Bruno began working for Bauer Meier in Twiehausen. His friend Jan Filipczyk, whom he had met in the Tuszyn jail, worked for Bauer Meier’s brother in Verlage. [2] [3]

Bruno tells stories about his time in Germany

[4] He and the other "guest" workers assigned to the farmer were treated quite well. The farmer's children and the workers all labored together at the same tasks and ate at the same table. The farmer's kids slept in the house and the workers in the barn, but the way Bruno remembered it, this was the only difference.

Like a typical teenager, Bruno would sometimes goof off instead of working. One task of his was to plow a field. This was done using powerful draft horses. Bruno realized that the day was ending and he was nowhere near completing the job. He whistled to the horses and they picked up speed. Bruno describes the horses pulling the plow so fast that clods of soil flew across the field.

Life on the farm was generally safe. Bruno could watch the fleets of bombers fly overhead on their way to Berlin and other cities. Once a dogfight broke out overhead between a German interceptor and an Allied fighter escort. Bruno dropped the reins and jumped into a furrow, covering his head as bullets from the dogfight between the fighters hit the ground around him. On another occasion an errant bomb fell close to the farmhouse. The explosion broke a window and showered the farmer, his family, and the workers with glass as they were eating.

Toward the end of the war, the German SS came to collect all the workers. No one knew what was happening, or where they were going. Bruno suspected they were all going to be killed. [When I told this story to an Army colonel, the response was, "I know where they were going. The workers were being sent to the front to build fortifications."] Bauer Meier bribed a German officer to let Bruno go. The roads around Twiehausen were crowded with workers. The group Bruno was with came to a bridge at a junction with another road also crowded with workers. There was mass confusion and the soldier guarding Bruno and his buddy looked at them and said, "If you were to run into the woods, I don't think I would see anything." They did not need to be told twice, and took off into the woods. They ran as fast as they could until they saw a German soldier. The escapees and the soldier stared at each other, then each ran - in opposite directions. The soldier was a deserter! Bruno and his buddy ran back to the farm where they hid in the hay for a couple days, not answering when the farmer called for them.

Bruno joined the US Army as part of the Polish Civilian Guard. He was assigned to the 8610 Labor Service Company on May 25, 1946. Further assignments followed with the 4013 LSC and 8584 LSC.

As a member of the civilian guard, Bruno was issued a weapon, but he was not allowed to touch a member of the US military. While he was guarding a facility near a bar, a brawl started among some soldiers that threatened his post. Thinking quickly, Bruno fired his weapon into the air. The bar immediately emptied and the officers put and end to the fight. Standing guard in the cold nights resulted in Bruno losing his sense of smell. 

Bruno Arkusiński was the cook for his Polish Guard company.


Bruno was discharged on 19 July 1949, and registered as a displaced person. He was classified as a Farmer, 2nd class on June 1, 1948, but was reclassified as a Carpenter, 2nd class on November 19. On 3 August 1949 he was accepted for resettlement to the United States.

Bruno was standing in line, waiting to go to France. The last ship to America was loading, and the captain announced that there were still a few openings. Bruno immediately stepped out of the France line and joined the USA line. Bruno returned briefly to his home in Poland to pick up a copy of his birth certificate. His brother Józef stayed in Poland, but Bruno declared that he wanted to see the world. He didn't want to make a scene with his youngest brother Kazimierz who was sleeping, so he left with saying goodbye. He would not see Kazimierz for nearly forty years, until 1985.

NCWC, a Catholic organization, arranged for Bruno to go to the US. He was sponsored by C. Young, a farmer on Long Island. But there was no crop on Sept 23, 1949, so Bruno was sent to Texas. He was the last person of a group of 40 that went to Texas. They took a 4-engine bomber to Houston. They left at 11 pm and arrived in New Orleans at 5 am. Then they flew to Houston. They went on to Austin in a small plane. They spent Sept 24-27 in Rockner, TX where farmers picked people they wanted to work for them. Mr. Butler took those the farmers did not want to work in a brickyard in Elgin. Bruno started on Sept 28, for 60 cents an hour.

Bruno in America

There were two types of jobs in the Butler Brickyard. Indoors, one worked with the kiln firing bricks. Outdoors, one moved bricks around. The indoor jobs paid better so the other guys pushed to the front to get those jobs. Bruno was left with the lower paying outside task, where he hauled bricks from one stack to another - manually of course. But Bruno had the last word. The indoor jobs were extremely uncomfortable from the Texas sun and the brick kiln. Outdoors there was at least a breeze to provide some relief. The guys who pushed for the indoor jobs were soon jealous of Bruno.

Bruno was thrifty, and before long he had enough money saved to buy a car. He told his buddies that he was going to get one. They laughed and laughed at him because they knew he didn't know enough English to take the written drivers test. They themselves tried several times and had failed and they knew English better than he. Bruno went to the car dealer anyway and purchased his car. Then he drove to the licensing office, sat down, and took the test. He could understand most of what he saw on the pages, and he chose the multiple choice letters question by question -- and passed! After the driving portion, he received his license. After driving back to his lodging quarters, his buddies began teasing him about the drivers test. He then pulled out his license and, much to their chagrin, told them he passed. They were dumbfounded. Bruno forged on despite impossible odds.

Bruno Arkusiński with his first car.

The guys had heard stories about work in the auto factories up North that paid much better than the brickyard in Texas. So Bruno and his buddies drove up to Racine, WI. But the stories were exaggerated, and Bruno did not get a job. He tried in Chicago without success, and eventually found work in a cabinet shop.

While in Chicago, Bruno attended some religious meetings put on by another WW II refugee, Pastor Edmund Klute. This proved to be a double blessing. Not only did Bruno become introduced to Bible teachings, but he also met and fell in love with the preacher's daughter. At first Pastor Klute was not enthusiastic about his daughter taking up with an "uneducated peasant", but he was eventually won over. Bruno was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church on 17 May 1952 in Chicago, IL. Bruno married Stephanie Klute (he called her his rose) on 2 May 1954 in Brookfield, IL. He was naturalized as a US citizen on 1 March 1960.

Bruno Arkusiński and Stephanie Klute were married on May 2, 1954.

Edmund Klute was building a house in Glen Ellyn, IL, and Bruno and Stephanie moved in with her parents while Bruno helped Edmund complete the house. While living there they had their first child, Andy. After a year, Bruno moved his young family to the Detroit, MI area. They settled down in the suburb of Inkster, and their second child Debby arrived. A few years later Tim was born. The family was nearly perfect - only a second girl was needed to balance the two boys. Instead, twin boys arrived!

Bruno had always wanted to be a farmer. Most homeowners cultivated a perfect lawn. Bruno planted fruit trees and raspberries - even raising chickens in the back yard. While living in Inkster, MI, he would scour the Strout catalog for low cost farms. Then he would take his annual vacation to drive to this farms and investigate. Eventually he found a place near Gentry, Arkansas. It was 30 acres on a rocky hillside, but it was his own farm. He moved with his family in 1964. In 1969 the small 30 acre farm was upgraded to a 50 acre farm on Highway 12 near the former village of Bloomfield. This place was flat and had fewer rocks, and Bruno and Stephanie lived there until 2004.

Image:Arkusinski-3-7.jpg
Bruno's first home in Arkansas was heated by a wood stove.

Bruno worked days at a cabinet factory, but evenings and weekends he pursued his goal of becoming a farmer. That first farm started with a gentle old cow named Rose who had outlived her usefulness in the commercial dairy herd but was perfect for the startup farm. Rose was soon joined by a trailer of heifers ordered from Wisconsin, a pregnant dairy goat that soon produced a couple of kids, and bantam chickens which quickly dealt with the plague of grasshoppers. From that humble beginning of milking one cow by hand the dairy farm grew into a herd of about 100 cows. Bruno gave each of his children a calf so they would have a personal stake in the farm.

Eventually Bruno switched from a dairy farm to growing fruits and vegetables because "the plants don't cry when they are sick" like the cows would. The Bloomfield Garden Spot became known as the place to get the freshest vegetables. Years were named prosperous vegetable of the season: Year of the cabbage; Year of the corn; Year of the turnip; Year of the potato, etc.

Bruno never lost his desire to see the world. He took his family for exploration drives on Sabbath afternoon just to see where the road would go. There were numerous weekend trips to places of interest in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

In 2011 Bruno and Andy were touring Navajo country in Arizona when they were diverted onto a dirt road. Miles from anywhere, they came upon a dry land cornfield, planted in the same way it had been for centuries. Bruno insisted on stopping and inspecting the corn growing in the desert. Andy was afraid the owner would find them and be upset, but on second thought, Bruno would probably have engaged him in conversation about the similarities and differences in farming methods between Poland and Bikeyah.

Bruno was active in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He served as a deacon in the Detroit Polish church, and a leader in the Polish group in Arkansas.

Click here to see a Google Map of the Polish places in Bruno's story.

Research Notes

  1. The train on which Bruno was taken to Germany was most likely the Warsaw-Kalisz Railway, which passed through Łodz. I used this map to trace current rail lines, assuming they would follow the same path as during WWII. There are several possibilities for the stop on the Warta River.
    • Sieradz. The line crosses the Warta outside of Sieradz, which lies between Łodz and Kalisz. This is unlikely as there is only a single line and no apparent reason for a stop.
    • Gorzów Wielkopolski. The line crosses the Warta again in Gorzów Wielkopolski near Germany, this time in town. There is a rail junction here, so more of a reason to stop.
    • Kostrzyn nad Oda. The Warta joins the Oder at Kostrzyn, and just before that the line crosses the Warta one more time. This would be a logical place for a stop as it is on the border of Germany proper.
  2. Among Bruno's effects is an identification card for Brigada Swietokryska. There is no oral history regarding his association with this organization. Following is an excerpt from Wikipedia. Note the connection with the Polish Guard companies.

    Following the end of the war in Europe, the presence of the brigade in Czechoslovakia became a contentious political issue for the U.S. forces. The British War Office declined to accept the brigade as a reinforcement unit for Polish forces under their command. On August 6, 1945, the brigade was disarmed and moved to a displaced persons camp in Coburg. Subsequently, men of the brigade were used in the formation of 25 Polish guard companies in the American-occupied zone of Germany. The U.S. CIC kept tabs on the brigade's leadership during this time as the U.S. Army did not want any incidents with the Soviet forces. The brigade was demobilized on June 17, 1946 and, under the pressure from communist diplomacy, most of the Polish guard companies were disbanded in 1947. Some of the senior officers of the brigade resettled in the United States.

    The Holy Cross Mountains Brigade tried to join the Polish Armed Forces in the West, but the Polish government-in-exile in London did not agree to allow members of a formation which did not cooperate with the Home Army, did not recognize the Polish Underground State, and collaborated with the Germans to become recognized combatants of the Polish Armed Forces. In the years that followed, the brigade veterans repeatedly sought the status of former Polish soldiers but their petitions were denied until 1988.

Sources

  1. Birth Certificate, issued 22 June 1949 in Sulejów, Poland
  2. 2.0 2.1 Interview of Bruno Arkusinski by Andy Arkusinski, April 2001, Gentry, AR.
  3. Zu der Strafsache gegen Grzyb Józef, Arkusiński Bronisław, Strzelczyk Kazimierz wegen Schmuggels und unbef. Grenzüberschreitung, 1941, Archiwum Państwowe w Łodzi, dokumentacja aktowa, http://www.szukajwarchiwach.pl/39/2199/0/-/3825?q=Arkusinski&wynik=6&rpp=15&page=1#tabJednostka, Accessed 5 April 2018. Collection: 39/2199/0 Prokuratura przy Sądzie Specjalnym w Piotrkowie » Series:: units without series File/unit:: 3825 Translation from the German by Google Translate. “On the criminal case against Grzyb Józef, Arkusiński Bronisław, Strzelczyk Kazimierz for smuggling and unbef. border crossing.” File: Bruno Arrest by Germans.pdf
  4. Stories told by Bruno Arkusinski, various dates, Interviewed by Andy Arkusinski.


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Bruno is 19 degrees from Danielle Liard, 25 degrees from Jack London and 23 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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Categories: Polish Roots