Individual Biographies: Ludwik Bieńkowski (Poland, about 1915)

Figure 1.-- Our reader bveliecves that this is Ludwik Bieńkowski in the uniform of secondary school, perhaps a gymnasium in Poznam. HBC does not have much information on 19h centry school uniforms. Poznan was in German-controlled Poland. The uniform looks to us more like an Austrian uniform, but that is really just a guess at this time.

A reader writes, "I came across your website because I was trying to find information about a person I am researching who appears in an undated photograph that I estimate to be taken about 1916. I have attached the photo of Ludwik (Louis) Korwin Bienkowski I would like to share what I know in exchange for any information that may lead to identifying this uniform further. I could not download the photo of the two Polish boys from the same period. My research is focused on his brother Janusz, but I have been researching Louis as well. Janusz Bieńkowski is known to have had two brothers, Ludwik and Bogdan. Ludwik K. Bieńkowski (ca. 1897-1984; aka, Louis K. Bienkowsk) was the youngest. As his brother, Janusz, he also emigrated from Poland to the United States, but later lived in Utica, New York. Ludwik was a graduate of the Academy of Arts in Krakow, Poland and a fine art painter like his brother Janusz. Ludwik also served in the Polish cavalry during the 1919-1920 war with Russia. Municipal records in Poznań. Poland indicate that Ludwik, was born in Granica on August 25, 1900. Social Security records in the United States list Ludwik's date of birth as August 25, 1897. Newspaper obituaries imply Bienkowski was born in the same year, 1897. However, United States naturalization papers document the year of his birth on one form as 1899 and the other as 1889. Given the numerous clerical errors and omissions in Louis's naturalization papers, either Louis or federal clerks were not adept at typing and these government records seem least accurate of all those examined. Louis's life in Poland, as that of his brothers, is largely a mystery open to speculation. Family photographs show Louis attending high school gymnazium in a military-like uniform, which might suggest that he attended high school in German controlled Poland, perhaps in, or near Poznań. (The family moved around a lot and may have had multiple houses, as their father owned or managed one or more agricultural implement factories.) By 1915 he may have entered the Academy of Arts in Krakow, Poland. If the school offered a four-year program, he probably would have finished his artistic training in the fall of 1919. This speculative educational outline corresponds with municipal records in Poznań that document Ludwik's departure from the city of Poznań on January 1, 1920 to work in the family's factory in Warsaw." [sloma] HBC does not have much information on 19h centry school uniforms. Poznan was in German-controlled Poland. The uniform looks to us more like an Austrian uniform, but that is really just a guess at this time. We do know that many European secondary schools had-military styled uniforms in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. And there were also cadet schools. We note an Austrian boy living in Budapest wearing a similar uniform. I think it is safe to rule out Russian-controlled Poland, but we are not sure about German controlled Poland. German and Austrian armies drove the Russisans out of Poland during World War I (1915). What occured in the schools in German-Austrisn occupied Poland during 1916-18 we are not sure.

A reader writes, "I just came across your site. I want to tell you that in 1907 a Ludwik Bienkowsi, accents as you show them on the site, was a high school teacher in Tarnopol, then Austria, now Ukraine, and Poland in-between. The school, a good 'Gymnasium', name of 'c.k. Gimnazium z jez. wykl. polskim w Tarnopolu' was Polish-language centered. In the year I looked into, he taught Polish, for the class I was interested in (the B-class, the lesser important one on the III level. But all these 'professors' had a flexible repertoire. I hope this may be of interest to you - although then the owner of an industry probably wouldn't be teaching." This is interesting as the reader tells us that in Austriuan controlled areas of Poland, that there were secondary schools teaching in the Polish language. In German and Russian controlled areas of Poland, we believe that there was no instruction in Polish. {Lunzer-Talos}


Sloma, Robert A. E-mail message, June 24, 2009.

Lunzer-Talos, Victoria. E-mail message, April 23, 2011.


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Created: 12:23 AM 6/24/2009
Last edited: 8:07 PM 4/24/2011