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Zdzisław Broński „Uskok”

Zdzisław Broński was born on 24 December 1912 in Radzic Stary in the Lublin region, to a large peasant family. He attended the Stefan Batory Gymnasium in Lublin, and in 1934 was called up for military service in the 50th Infantry Regiment in Włodzimierz Wołyński, where he completed non-commissioned officer school. He was active in self-education circles and the Union of Rural Youth “Siew”.

In the defensive war of September 1939, he was taken prisoner by the Germans. After escaping from a stalag (prisoner of war camp), he returned to his homeland to become involved in the Polish Armed Organisation (Polska Organizacja Zbrojna), which merged with the Home Army. He headed a unit (eventually 60 soldiers) which was part of the “Lublin” Inspectorate, operating mainly in the forests of Parczew, Zawieprzyce and Kozłówka. In May 1944, he was promoted to the rank of reserve second lieutenant, and a month later he was assigned to the 27th Volhynian Infantry Division of the Home Army.

He participated in Operation Tempest. After the Red Army seized the Lublin region, he was searched for, but could not be caught. He reconstructed his flying column of several dozen men, which became part of the “Freedom and Independence” (WiN) organization. His family was repressed: on 26 April 1945, the communists burned the buildings of the family house, and on 24 April 1946 they arrested his father, Franciszek, on charges of helping his son.

Promoted on 1 June 1945 to the rank of lieutenant, Zdzisław Broński, “Uskok”, became a commander of all partisan groups in the Lubartów District; he was directly subordinate to Major Hieronim Dekutowski, alias Zapora, the commander of the Lublin Region units and member of the Silent Unseen paratroopers (Cichociemni). Lieutenant Broński’s partisans took part in many actions against the communist units, e.g. on the night of 31 October to 1 November 1946 they captured Łęczna, where they disarmed the local headquarters of the Citizens’ Militia (Milicja Obywatelska).

Due to communist manhunts and terror, “Uskok” changed his tactics of fighting and divided the unit into several patrols, which operated in the Lubartów District. By an order of 12 September 1947, Major Dekutowski, who decided to cross to the West, appointed Broński, promoted to the rank of captain, his successor. In a private letter to “Uskok” he wrote: “Mate, most importantly, don’t let anyone trick you or sway you, when I go there I’ll sort out our affairs first. We’ll be in contact anyway. Cheers – Hieronim.”

From autumn 1947 Zdzisław Broński was hiding in a bunker under the Lisowski family barn in Dąbrówka (now Nowogród). The communists twice offered a financial reward for revealing his whereabouts. “Uskok” was handed over by his former subordinate, Franciszek Kasperek, alias “Hardy”, who, after revealing himself, became an agent of the UB (Department of Security) after coming out of hiding. On 21 May 1949 an operational group of the Citizens’ Militia, the Internal Security Corps and the UB surrounded the hideout of Broński, who, not wanting to fall into the hands of the communists, blew himself up with a grenade. His body was taken to Lublin and presented to his family for identification, and then abandoned at a location unknown to this day.

Before his death, Captain Zdzisław Broński wrote in his diary: “Life is worth sacrificing only for one idea, the idea of freedom! If we fight and sacrifice, it is because we want to live, but live as free people, in a free homeland.”

Tadeusz Płużański