Silesia (/sɪˈliːʒə, -ʃə, saɪ-/; Polish: Śląsk [ɕlɔ̃sk]; Czech: Slezsko; German: Schlesien (help·info) [ˈʃleːzi̯ən]; Silesian German: Schläsing; Silesian: Ślůnsk [ɕlonsk]; Lower Sorbian: Šlazyńska; Upper Sorbian: Šleska; Latin: Silesia) is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with small parts in the Czech Republic and Germany. Its area is about 40,000 km2 (15,444 sq mi), and its population about 8,000,000. Silesia is located along the Oder River. It consists of Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia.
The region is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław. The biggest metropolitan area is the Upper Silesian metropolitan area, the centre of which is Katowice. Parts of the Czech city of Ostrava fall within the borders of Silesia.
Silesia's borders and national affiliation have changed over time, both when it was a hereditary possession of noble houses and after the rise of modern nation-states. The first known states to hold power there were probably those of Greater Moravia at the end of the 9th century and Bohemia early in the 10th century. In the 10th century, Silesia was incorporated into the early Polish state, and after its division in the 12th century became a Piast duchy. In the 14th century, it became a constituent part of the Bohemian Crown Lands under the Holy Roman Empire, which passed to the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy in 1526.
Most of Silesia was conquered by Prussia in 1742 and transferred from Austria to Prussia in the Treaty of Berlin. Later, Silesia became, as a province of Prussia, a part of the German Empire and the subsequent Weimar Republic. The varied history with changing aristocratic possessions resulted in an abundance of castles in Silesia, especially in the Jelenia Góra valley. After World War I, the easternmost part of this region, i.e. an eastern strip of Upper Silesia, was awarded to Poland by the Entente Powers after insurrections by Poles and the Upper Silesian plebiscite. The remaining former Austrian parts of Silesia were partitioned to Czechoslovakia, forming part of Czechoslovakia's German-settled Sudetenland region, and are today part of the Czech Republic. In 1945, after World War II, the bulk of Silesia was transferred, on demands of the Polish delegation, to Polish jurisdiction by the Potsdam Agreement of the victorious Allied Powers and became part of Poland. The small Lusatian strip west of the Oder–Neisse line, which had belonged to Silesia since 1815, remained in Germany. The largest town and cultural centre of this region is Görlitz.
Most inhabitants of Silesia today speak the national languages of their respective countries, while before the population shifts after 1945, the majority of Silesia's population spoke German. The population of Upper Silesia is native (with some immigrants from Poland who came in the 19th to 20th centuries), while Lower Silesia was settled by a German-speaking population before 1945. An ongoing debate exists whether Silesian speech should be considered a dialect of Polish or a separate language. Also, a Lower Silesian German dialect is used, although today it is almost extinct. It is used by expellees who relocated to the remaining parts of Germany, as well as by Germans who stayed in their Lower Silesian home.
|• Total||40,000 km2 (20,000 sq mi)|
|• Density||200/km2 (520/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
The names of Silesia in the different languages most likely share their etymology—Latin and English: Silesia; Polish: Śląsk; Old Polish: Ślążsk[o]; Silesian: Ślůnsk; German: Schlesien; Silesian German: Schläsing; Czech: Slezsko; Slovak: Sliezsko; Kashubian: Sląsk; Upper Sorbian: Šleska; Lower Sorbian: Šlazyńska. The names all relate to the name of a river (now Ślęza) and mountain (Mount Ślęża) in mid-southern Silesia. The mountain served as a cultic place.
According to some Polish Slavists, the name Ślęża [ˈɕlɛ̃ʐa] or Ślęż [ˈɕlɛ̃ʐ] is directly related to the Old Slavic words ślęg [ˈɕlɛ̃ɡ] or śląg [ˈɕlɔ̃ɡ], which means dampness, moisture, or humidity. They disagree with the hypothesis of an origin for the name Śląsk [ˈɕlɔ̃sk] from the name of the Silings tribe, an etymology preferred by some German authors.
In the fourth century BC, Celts entered Silesia, settling around Mount Ślęża near modern Wrocław, Oława, and Strzelin. Germanic Lugii tribes were first recorded within Silesia in the 1st century. Slavic peoples arrived in the region around the 7th century, and by the early ninth century, their settlements had stabilized. Local Slavs started to erect boundary structures like the Silesian Przesieka and the Silesia Walls. The eastern border of Silesian settlement was situated to the west of the Bytom, and east from Racibórz and Cieszyn. East of this line dwelt a closely related Slav tribe, the Vistulans. Their northern border was in the valley of the Barycz River, north of which lived the Polans.
The first known states in Silesia were Greater Moravia and Bohemia. In the 10th century, the Polish ruler Mieszko I of the Piast dynasty incorporated Silesia into the Polish state. During the Fragmentation of Poland, Silesia and the rest of the country were divided among many independent duchies ruled by various Silesian dukes. During this time, German cultural and ethnic influence increased as a result of immigration from German-speaking parts of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1178, parts of the Duchy of Kraków around Bytom, Oświęcim, Chrzanów, and Siewierz were transferred to the Silesian Piasts, although their population was primarily Vistulan and not of Silesian descent.
Between 1289 and 1292, Bohemian king Wenceslaus II became suzerain of some of the Upper Silesian duchies. Polish kings had not renounced their hereditary rights to Silesia until 1335. The province became part of the Bohemian Crown under the Holy Roman Empire, and passed with that crown to the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria in 1526.
In the 15th century, several changes were made to Silesia's borders. Parts of the territories which had been transferred to the Silesian Piasts in 1178 were bought by the Polish kings in the second half of the 15th century (the Duchy of Oświęcim in 1457; the Duchy of Zator in 1494). The Bytom area remained in the possession of the Silesian Piasts, though it was a part of the Diocese of Kraków. The Duchy of Crossen was inherited by the Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1476, and with the renunciation of King Ferdinand I and the estates of Bohemia in 1538, became an integral part of Brandenburg.
In 1742, most of Silesia was seized by King Frederick the Great of Prussia in the War of the Austrian Succession, eventually becoming the Prussian Province of Silesia in 1815; consequently, Silesia became part of the German Empire when it was proclaimed in 1871.
After World War I, a part of Silesia, Upper Silesia, was contested by Germany and the newly independent Second Polish Republic. The League of Nations organized a plebiscite to decide the issue in 1921. It resulted in 60% of votes being cast for Germany and 40% for Poland. Following the third Silesian Uprising (1921), however, the easternmost portion of Upper Silesia (including Katowice), with a majority ethnic Polish population, was awarded to Poland, becoming the Silesian Voivodeship. The Prussian Province of Silesia within Germany was then divided into the provinces of Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia. Meanwhile, Austrian Silesia, the small portion of Silesia retained by Austria after the Silesian Wars, was mostly awarded to the new Czechoslovakia (becoming known as Czech Silesia), although most of Cieszyn and territory to the east of it went to Poland as Zaolzie.
Polish Silesia was among the first regions invaded during Germany's 1939 attack on Poland. One of the claimed goals of Nazi occupation, particularly in Upper Silesia, was the extermination of those whom Nazis viewed as subhuman, namely Jews and ethnic Poles. The Polish and Jewish population of the then Polish part of Silesia was subjected to genocide involving ethnic cleansing and mass murder, while German colonists were settled in pursuit of Lebensraum. Two thousand Polish intellectuals, politicians, and businessmen were murdered in the Intelligenzaktion Schlesien in 1940 as part of a Poland-wide Germanization program. Silesia also housed one of the two main wartime centers where medical experiments were conducted on kidnapped Polish children by Nazis.
The Potsdam Conference of 1945 defined the Oder-Neisse line as the border between Germany and Poland. Millions of Germans in Silesia either fled or were expelled, and were replaced by Polish population forcibly re-settled by the Soviet Union from other regions. After 1945 and in 1946, nearly all of the 4.5 million Silesians of German descent fled, or were interned in camps and forcibly expelled, including some thousand German Jews who survived the Holocaust and had returned to Silesia; 634,106 Silesians died in the expulsion, nearly 14% of the population. The newly formed Polish United Workers' Party created a Ministry of the Recovered Territories that claimed half of the available arable land for state-run collectivized farms. Many of the new Polish Silesians who resented the Germans for their invasion in 1939 and brutality in occupation now resented the newly formed Polish communist government for their population shifting and interference in agricultural and industrial affairs.
The administrative division of Silesia within Poland has changed several times since 1945. Since 1999, it has been divided between Lubusz Voivodeship, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Opole Voivodeship, and Silesian Voivodeship. Czech Silesia is now part of the Czech Republic, forming the Moravian-Silesian Region and the northern part of the Olomouc Region. Germany retains the Silesia-Lusatia region (Niederschlesien-Oberlausitz or Schlesische Oberlausitz) west of the Neisse, which is part of the federal state of Saxony.
Most of Silesia is relatively flat, although its southern border is generally mountainous. It is primarily located in a swath running along both banks of the upper and middle Oder (Odra) River, but it extends eastwards to the upper Vistula River. The region also includes many tributaries of the Oder, including the Bóbr (and its tributary the Kwisa), the Barycz and the Nysa Kłodzka. The Sudeten Mountains run along most of the southern edge of the region, though at its south-eastern extreme it reaches the Silesian Beskids and Moravian-Silesian Beskids, which belong to the Carpathian Mountains range.
Historically, Silesia was bounded to the west by the Kwisa and Bóbr Rivers, while the territory west of the Kwisa was in Upper Lusatia (earlier Milsko). However, because part of Upper Lusatia was included in the Province of Silesia in 1815, in Germany Görlitz, Niederschlesischer Oberlausitzkreis and neighbouring areas are considered parts of historical Silesia. Those districts, along with Poland's Lower Silesian Voivodeship and parts of Lubusz Voivodeship, make up the geographic region of Lower Silesia.
Silesia has undergone a similar notional extension at its eastern extreme. Historically, it extended only as far as the Brynica River, which separates it from Zagłębie Dąbrowskie in the Lesser Poland region. However, to many Poles today, Silesia (Śląsk) is understood to cover all of the area around Katowice, including Zagłębie. This interpretation is given official sanction in the use of the name Silesian Voivodeship (województwo śląskie) for the province covering this area. In fact, the word Śląsk in Polish (when used without qualification) now commonly refers exclusively to this area (also called Górny Śląsk or Upper Silesia).
As well as the Katowice area, historical Upper Silesia also includes the Opole region (Poland's Opole Voivodeship) and Czech Silesia. Czech Silesia consists of a part of the Moravian-Silesian Region and the Jeseník District in the Olomouc Region.
Silesia is a resource-rich and populous region.
Since the middle of the 18th century, coal has been mined. The industry had grown while Silesia was part of Germany, and peaked in the 1970s under the People's Republic of Poland. During this period, Silesia became one of the world's largest producers of coal, with a record tonnage in 1979. Coal mining declined during the next two decades, but has increased again following the end of Communist rule.
The 41 coal mines in Silesia are mostly part of the Upper Silesian Coal Basin, which lies in the Silesian Upland. The coalfield has an area of about 4,500 km2. Deposits in Lower Silesia have proven to be difficult to exploit and the area's unprofitable mines were closed in 2000. In 2008, an estimated 35 billion tonnes of lignite reserves were found near Legnica, making them some of the largest in the world.
From the fourth century BC, iron ore has been mined in the upland areas of Silesia. The same period had lead, copper, silver, and gold mining. Zinc, cadmium, arsenic, and uranium have also been mined in the region. Lower Silesia features large copper mining and processing between the cities of Legnica, Głogów, Lubin, and Polkowice.
|Mineral Name||Production (tonnes)||Reference|
The region also has a thriving agricultural sector, which produces cereals (wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn), potatoes, rapeseed, sugar beets and others. Milk production is well developed. The Opole Silesia has for decades occupied the top spot in Poland for their indices of effectiveness of agricultural land use.
Mountainous parts of southern Silesia feature many significant and attractive tourism destinations (e.g., Karpacz, Szczyrk, Wisła). Silesia is generally well forested. This is because greenness is generally highly desirable by the local population, particularly in the highly industrialized parts of Silesia.
Silesia has been historically diverse in every aspect. Nowadays, the largest part of Silesia is located in Poland; it is often cited as one of the most diverse regions in that country.
Modern Silesia is inhabited by Poles, Silesians, Germans, and Czechs. The last Polish census of 2002 showed that the Silesians are the largest national minority in Poland, Germans being the second; both groups are located mostly in Upper Silesia. The Czech part of Silesia is inhabited by Czechs, Moravians, Silesians, and Poles.
Before the Second World War, Silesia was inhabited mostly by Germans and Poles, with a Czech and Jewish minority. In 1905, a census showed that 75% of the population were Germans and 25% were Poles. The German population tended to be based in the urban centres and in the rural areas to the north and west, whilst the Polish population was generally rural and could be found in the east and in the south.
|Ethnic group||acc. G. Hassel||%||acc. S. Plater||%||acc. T. Ładogórski||%|
|Population||ca. 2.1 million||100||ca. 2.2 million||100||ca. 1.8 million||100|
Historically, Silesia was about equally split between Protestants (overwhelmingly Lutherans) and Roman Catholics. In an 1890 census taken in the German part, Roman Catholics made up a slight majority of 53%, while the remaining 47% were almost entirely Lutheran. Geographically speaking, Lower Silesia was mostly Lutheran except for the Glatzer Land (now Kłodzko County). Upper Silesia was mostly Roman Catholic except for some of its northwestern parts, which were predominantly Lutheran. Generally speaking, the population was mostly Protestant in the western parts, and it tended to be more Roman Catholic the further east one went. In Upper Silesia, Protestants were concentrated in larger cities and often identified as German. After World War II, the religious demographics changed drastically as Germans, who constituted the bulk of the Protestant population, fled or were forcibly expelled. Poles, who were mostly Roman Catholic, were resettled in their place. Today, Silesia remains predominantly Roman Catholic.
Existing since the 12th century, Silesia's Jewish community was concentrated around Wrocław and Upper Silesia, and numbered 48,003 (1.1% of the population) in 1890, decreasing to 44,985 persons (0.9%) by 1910. In Polish East Upper Silesia, the number of Jews was around 90,000–100,000. Historically the community had suffered a number of localised expulsions such as their 1453 expulsion from Wrocław. From 1712 to 1820 a succession of men held the title Chief Rabbi of Silesia ("Landesrabbiner"): Naphtali ha-Kohen (1712–16); Samuel ben Naphtali (1716–22); Ḥayyim Jonah Te'omim (1722–1727); Baruch b. Reuben Gomperz (1733–54); Joseph Jonas Fränkel (1754–93); Jeremiah Löw Berliner (1793–99); Lewin Saul Fränkel (1800–7); Aaron Karfunkel (1807–16); and Abraham ben Gedaliah Tiktin (1816–20).
After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, following Nazi racial policy, the Jewish population of Silesia was subjected to Nazi genocide with executions performed by Einsatzgruppe z. B.V. led by Udo von Woyrsch and Einsatzgruppe I led by Bruno Streckenbach, imprisonment in ghettos and ethnic cleansing to the General Government. In their efforts to exterminate Poles and Jews through murder and ethnic cleansing Nazi established in Silesia province the Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen camps. Expulsions were carried out openly and reported in the local press. Those sent to ghettos would from 1942 be expelled to concentration and work camps. Between 5 May and 17 June, 20,000 Silesian Jews were sent to Birkenau to gas chambers and during August 1942, 10,000 to 13,000 Silesian Jews were murdered by gassing at Auschwitz. Most Jews in Silesia were exterminated by the Nazis. After the war Silesia became a major centre for repatriation of Jewish population in Poland which survived Nazi German extermination and in autumn 1945, 15,000 Jews were in Lower Silesia, mostly Polish Jews returned from territories now belonging to Soviet Union, rising in 1946 to seventy thousand as Jewish survivors from other regions in Poland were relocated.
The majority of Germans fled or were expelled from the present-day Polish and Czech parts of Silesia during and after World War II. From June 1945 to January 1947, 1.77 million Germans were expelled from Lower Silesia, and 310,000 from Upper Silesia. Today, most German Silesians and their descendants live in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany, many of them in the Ruhr area working as miners, like their ancestors in Silesia. To smooth their integration into West German society after 1945, they were placed into officially recognized organizations, like the Landsmannschaft Schlesien, with financing from the federal West German budget. One of its most notable but controversial spokesmen was the Christian Democratic Union politician Herbert Hupka.
The expulsion of Germans led to widespread underpopulation. The population of the town of Glogau fell from 33,500 to 5,000, and from 1939 to 1966 the population of Wrocław fell by 25%. Attempts to repopulate Silesia proved unsuccessful in the 1940s and 1950s, and Silesia's population did not reach pre-war levels until the late 1970s. The Polish settlers who repopulated Silesia were mainly from the former Polish Eastern Borderlands, which was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1939. The former German city of Breslau was repopulated with refugees from the formerly Polish city of Lwów.
The following table lists the cities in Silesia with a population greater than 30,000 (2015).
|1||Wrocław||632,067||293 km2 (113 sq mi)||Lower Silesian Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|2||Katowice||304,362||165 km2 (64 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|3||Ostrava*||302,968||214 km2 (83 sq mi)||Moravian-Silesian Region||Czech Silesia/Moravia|
|4||Gliwice||185,450||134 km2 (52 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|5||Zabrze||178,357||80 km2 (31 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|6||Bielsko-Biała*||173,699||125 km2 (48 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia/Lesser Poland|
|7||Bytom||173,439||69 km2 (27 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|8||Ruda Śląska||141,521||78 km2 (30 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|9||Rybnik||140,173||148 km2 (57 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|10||Tychy||128,799||82 km2 (32 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|11||Opole||120,146||97 km2 (37 sq mi)||Opole Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|12||Zielona Góra||118,405||58 km2 (22 sq mi)||Lubusz Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|13||Wałbrzych||117,926||85 km2 (33 sq mi)||Lower Silesian Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|14||Chorzów||110,761||33 km2 (13 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|15||Legnica||101,992||56 km2 (22 sq mi)||Lower Silesian Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|16||Jastrzębie-Zdrój||91,235||85 km2 (33 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|17||Jelenia Góra||81,985||109 km2 (42 sq mi)||Lower Silesian Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|18||Havířov||76,381||32 km2 (12 sq mi)||Moravian-Silesian Region||Czech Silesia|
|19||Mysłowice||75,129||66 km2 (25 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|20||Lubin||74,053||41 km2 (16 sq mi)||Lower Silesian Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|21||Głogów||68,997||35 km2 (14 sq mi)||Lower Silesian Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|22||Siemianowice Śląskie||68,844||25 km2 (10 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|23||Kędzierzyn-Koźle||63,194||124 km2 (48 sq mi)||Opole Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|24||Żory||62,038||65 km2 (25 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|25||Tarnowskie Góry||60,957||84 km2 (32 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|26||Świdnica||59,182||22 km2 (8 sq mi)||Lower Silesian Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|27||Opava||57,676||91 km2 (35 sq mi)||Moravian-Silesian Region||Czech Silesia|
|28||Piekary Śląskie||57,148||40 km2 (15 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|29||Frýdek-Místek*||56,945||52 km2 (20 sq mi)||Moravian-Silesian Region||Czech Silesia/Moravia|
|30||Karviná||55,985||57 km2 (22 sq mi)||Moravian-Silesian Region||Czech Silesia|
|31||Racibórz||55,930||75 km2 (29 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|32||Görlitz**||55,255||68 km2 (26 sq mi)||Free State of Saxony||Historically part of Lusatia, Görlitz was considered part of Lower Silesia in years 1319–1329 and 1815–1945|
|33||Świętochłowice||51,824||13 km2 (5 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|34||Wodzisław Śląski||48,731||50 km2 (19 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|35||Nysa||44,899||27 km2 (10 sq mi)||Opole Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|36||Mikołów||39,776||79 km2 (31 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|37||Nowa Sól||39,721||22 km2 (8 sq mi)||Lubusz Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|38||Bolesławiec||39,603||24 km2 (9 sq mi)||Lower Silesian Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|39||Knurów||39,090||34 km2 (13 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|40||Oleśnica||37,303||21 km2 (8 sq mi)||Lower Silesian Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|41||Brzeg||36,980||15 km2 (6 sq mi)||Opole Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|42||Cieszyn||35,918||29 km2 (11 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|43||Třinec||35,884||85 km2 (33 sq mi)||Moravian-Silesian Region||Czech Silesia|
|44||Czechowice-Dziedzice||35,684||33 km2 (13 sq mi)||Silesian Voivodeship||Upper Silesia|
|45||Dzierżoniów||34,428||20 km2 (8 sq mi)||Lower Silesian Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|46||Hoyerswerda/Wojerecy**||33,843||96 km2 (37 sq mi)||Free State of Saxony||Historically part of Lusatia, Hoyerswerda was considered part of Lower Silesia in years 1825–1945|
|47||Oława||32,240||27 km2 (10 sq mi)||Lower Silesian Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
|48||Zgorzelec**||31,890||16 km2 (6 sq mi)||Lower Silesian Voivodeship||Historically part of Lusatia, Zgorzelec was considered part of Lower Silesia in years 1319–1329 and 1815–1945|
|49||Bielawa||31,186||36 km2 (14 sq mi)||Lower Silesian Voivodeship||Lower Silesia|
* Only part in Silesia
The emblems of Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia originate from the emblems of the Piasts of Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia. The coat of arms of Upper Silesia depicts the golden eagle on the blue shield. The coat of arms of Lower Silesia depicts a black eagle on a golden (yellow) shield.
Flags with their colors refer to the coat of arms of Silesia.
Da die Silingen offensichtlich ihren Namen im mittelalterlichen pagus silensis und dem mons slenz – möglicherweise mit dem Zobten gleichzusetzen [...] – hinterließen und damit einer ganzen Landschaft – Schlesien – den Namen gaben [...]
Media related to Silesia at Wikimedia Commons
Austrian Silesia (German: Österreichisch-Schlesien (historically also Oesterreichisch-Schlesien, Oesterreichisch Schlesien, österreichisch Schlesien); Czech: Rakouské Slezsko; Silesian: Austrijacki Ślůnsk; Polish: Śląsk Austriacki), officially the Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia (German: Herzogtum Ober- und Niederschlesien (historically Herzogthum Ober- und Niederschlesien); Czech: Vévodství Horní a Dolní Slezsko), was an autonomous region of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Habsburg Monarchy (from 1804 the Austrian Empire, and from 1867 Cisleithanian Austria-Hungary). It is largely coterminous with the present-day region of Czech Silesia and was, historically, part of the larger Silesia region.Bohemia
Bohemia ( boh-HEE-mee-ə; Czech: Čechy; German: Böhmen ; Polish: Czechy; Latin: Bohemia) is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands in the present-day Czechia. In a broader meaning, Bohemia sometimes refers to the entire Czech territory, including Moravia and Czech Silesia, especially in a historical context, such as the Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by Bohemian kings.
Bohemia was a duchy of Great Moravia, later an independent principality, a kingdom in the Holy Roman Empire, and subsequently a part of the Habsburg Monarchy and the Austrian Empire. After World War I and the establishment of an independent Czechoslovak state, Bohemia became a part of Czechoslovakia. Between 1938 and 1945, border regions with sizeable German-speaking minorities of all three Czech lands were joined to Nazi Germany as the Sudetenland.The remainder of Czech territory became the Second Czechoslovak Republic and was subsequently occupied as the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, In 1969, the Czech lands (including Bohemia) were given autonomy within Czechoslovakia as the Czech Socialist Republic. In 1990, the name was changed to the Czech Republic, which became a separate state in 1993 with the split of Czechoslovakia.Until 1948, Bohemia was an administrative unit of Czechoslovakia as one of its "lands" ("země"). Since then, administrative reforms have replaced self-governing lands with a modified system of "regions" ("kraje") which do not follow the borders of the historical Czech lands (or the regions from the 1960 and 2000 reforms). However, the three lands are mentioned in the preamble of the Constitution of the Czech Republic: "We, citizens of the Czech Republic in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia…"Bohemia had an area of 52,065 km2 (20,102 sq mi) and today is home to approximately 6.5 million of the Czech Republic's 10.5 million inhabitants. Bohemia was bordered in the south by Upper and Lower Austria (both in Austria), in the west by Bavaria and in the north by Saxony and Lusatia (all in Germany), in the northeast by Silesia (in Poland), and in the east by Moravia (also part of the Czech Republic). Bohemia's borders were mostly marked by mountain ranges such as the Bohemian Forest, the Ore Mountains, and the Krkonoše, a part of the Sudetes range; the Bohemian-Moravian border roughly follows the Elbe-Danube watershed.Cieszyn Silesia
Cieszyn Silesia or Těšín Silesia or Teschen Silesia (Polish: Śląsk Cieszyński, Czech: Těšínské Slezsko or Těšínsko, German: Teschener Schlesien or Olsagebiet), is a historical region in south-eastern Silesia, centered on the towns of Cieszyn and Český Těšín and bisected by the Olza River. Since 1920 it has been divided between Poland and Czechoslovakia, and later the Czech Republic. It covers an area of about 2,280 square kilometres (880 sq mi) and has about 810,000 inhabitants, of which 1,002 square kilometres (387 sq mi) (44%) is in Poland, while 1,280 square kilometres (494 sq mi) (56%) is in the Czech Republic.
The historical boundaries of the region are roughly the same as those of the former independent Duchy of Teschen/Cieszyn. Currently, over half of Cieszyn Silesia forms one of the euroregions, the Cieszyn Silesia Euroregion, with the rest of it belonging to Euroregion Beskydy.Czech Silesia
Czech Silesia (; Czech: České Slezsko, Silesian: Czeski Ślůnsk, German: Tschechisch-Schlesien, Polish: Śląsk Czeski; sometimes Moravian Silesia, Czech: Moravské Slezsko, Silesian: Morawski Ślůnsk, German: Mährisch-Schlesien, Polish: Śląsk Morawski) is the name given to the part of the historical region of Silesia presently located in the Czech Republic. While not today an administrative entity in itself, Czech Silesia is, together with Bohemia and Moravia, one of the three historical Czech lands. In this context, it is often mentioned as "Silesia" even though it is only around one tenth of the area of the historic land of Silesia.
It lies in the north-east of the Czech Republic, predominantly in the Moravian-Silesian Region, with a section in the northern Olomouc Region. It is almost identical in extent with the Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia, also known as Austrian Silesia before 1918; between 1938 and 1945, part of the area was also alluded to as Sudeten Silesia (German: Sudetenschlesien, Czech: Sudetské Slezsko, Silesian: Sudecki Ślůnsk, Polish: Śląsk Sudecki): a reference to the Sudetenland.Görlitz
Görlitz ([ˈɡœɐ̯lɪts] (listen); Upper Lusatian dialect: Gerlz, Gerltz, and Gerltsch, Polish: Zgorzelec, Upper Sorbian: Zhorjelc, Lower Sorbian: Zgórjelc, Czech: Zhořelec) is a town in the German federal state of Saxony. Located in the region of Lusatia on the Lusatian Neisse River, it is the second largest town of Lusatia after Cottbus, and the largest in Upper Lusatia. Seat of the district of Görlitz, Germany's easternmost district, its approximately 56,000 inhabitants also make Görlitz the sixth largest town of the Free State of Saxony. It lies opposite the Polish town of Zgorzelec, which was part of Görlitz until 1945. While not Lusatiophone itself, the town lies just east of the Sorbian-speaking parts of Lusatia.
From 1815 until 1918, Görlitz belonged to the Province of Silesia in the Kingdom of Prussia, and later to the Province of Lower Silesia in the Free State of Prussia. It is the largest town of the former Province of Lower Silesia that lies west of the Oder-Neisse line and hence remains in Germany today. Thus it is both the most Silesian town, in terms of character, and the largest in Germany today. The town combines Lusatian and Silesian traditions as well as German and Sorbian culture. Görlitz has a rich architectural heritage. Many movie-makers have used the various sites as locations.Katowice
Katowice (Polish: [katɔˈvʲit͡sɛ] (listen); officially Miasto Katowice; Silesian: Katowicy; German: Kattowitz) is a city in southern Poland, with a city-proper population of 297,197 making it the eleventh-largest city in Poland as of 2017 and is the center of the Katowice metropolitan area, which has approximately 2 million people.
Throughout the mid-18th century, Katowice had developed into a village upon the discovery of rich coal reserves in the area. In 1742 the First Silesian War transferred Upper Silesia, including Katowice, to Prussia. Subsequently, from the second half of the 18th century, many German or Prussian craftsmen, merchants and artists began to settle in the region, which had been inhabited mostly by Poles over the past hundreds of years. Simultaneously Silesia experienced the influx of the first Jewish settlers. In the first half of the 19th century, intensive industrialization transformed local mills and farms into industrial steelworks, mines, foundries and artisan workshops. This also contributed to the establishment of companies and eventual rapid growth of the city. At the same time, Katowice became linked to the railway system with the first train arriving at the main station in 1847.The outbreak of World War I was favourable for Katowice due to the prospering steel industry. Following Germany's defeat and the Silesian Uprisings, Katowice and parts of Upper Silesia were annexed by the Second Polish Republic. Poland was then backed by the Geneva Convention and the ethnic Silesian minority. On 3 May 1921, the Polish army entered Katowice and the Polish administration took control. The city became the capital of the autonomous Silesian Voivodeship as well as the seat of the Silesian Parliament and Committee of Upper Silesia. After the plebiscite, many former German citizens emigrated, however a vibrant German community remained until the end of World War II. In 1939, after the Wehrmacht seized the town, Katowice and the provinces were incorporated into the Third Reich. The town was eventually liberated by the Allies on 27 January 1945.Katowice is a center of science, culture, industry, business, trade, and transportation in Upper Silesia and southern Poland, and the main city in the Upper Silesian Industrial Region. Katowice lies within an urban zone, with a population of 2,746,460 according to Eurostat, and also part of the wider Silesian metropolitan area, with a population of 5,294,000 according to the European Spatial Planning Observation Network.Today, the city is considered as an emerging metropolis. The whole metropolitan area is the 16th most economically powerful city by GDP in the European Union with an output amounting to $114.5 billion.Katowice is the seat of the Polish National Radio Symphony and Orchestra. It also hosts the finals of Intel Extreme Masters, an Esports video game tournament. In 2015, Katowice joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and was named a UNESCO City of Music.Lower Silesia
Lower Silesia (Polish: Dolny Śląsk; Czech: Dolní Slezsko; Latin: Silesia Inferior; German: Niederschlesien; Silesian German: Niederschläsing; Silesian: Dolny Ślůnsk) is the northwestern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia; Upper Silesia is to the southeast.
Throughout its history Lower Silesia has been under the control of the medieval Kingdom of Poland, the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy from 1526. In 1742 nearly all of the region was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia and became part of the German Empire in 1871, except for a small part which formed the southern part of the Lower Silesian Duchy of Nysa and had been incorporated into Austrian Silesia in 1742. After 1945 the main part of the former Prussian Province of Lower Silesia fell to the Republic of Poland, while a smaller part west of the Oder-Neisse line remained within East Germany and historical parts of Austrian Lower Silesia (Jesenicko, Opavsko regions) remained as a part of Czechoslovakia.Lower Silesian Voivodeship
Lower Silesian Voivodeship, or Lower Silesia Province (Polish: województwo dolnośląskie [vɔjɛˈvut͡stfɔ dɔlnɔˈɕlɔ̃skʲɛ]), in southwestern Poland, is one of the 16 voivodeships (provinces) into which Poland is divided.
Lower Silesia was part of Medieval Poland during the Piast dynasty. After the testament of Bolesław III Wrymouth in 1138, Poland entered a period of fragmentation. Silesia became a province of Poland as a duchy, which later on became divided into many small duchies reigned by dukes and princes of the Piast dynasty. During this time, cultural and ethnic Germanic influence prospered due to immigrants from the German-speaking areas of the Holy Roman Empire. This also impacted on the local architecture as well as traditions and cuisine. At the same time, Lower Silesia was a leading Polish cultural center. The Book of Henryków, which contains the earliest known sentence written in the Polish language, as well as Statuta synodalia Episcoporum Wratislaviensis, which contains the oldest printed text in Polish, were both created here. Both texts can be seen in Wrocław. Złotoryja, Poland's first town, was granted municipal privileges by Henry the Bearded. Over the centuries, Lower Silesia has experienced epochal events such as the Protestant Reformation, the Silesian Wars, industrialisation, and the two World Wars.
Lower Silesia is one of the richest provinces in Poland as it has valuable natural resources such as copper, brown coal and rock materials, which are exploited by the biggest enterprises. Its well developed and varied industries attract both domestic and foreign investors.Its capital and largest city is Wrocław, situated on the Odra River. It is one of Poland's largest and most dynamic cities with a rapidly growing international profile, and is regarded as one of the most important commercial, educational and tourist sites in the whole country. Burial sites of Polish monarchs and consorts are located in Wrocław and Trzebnica. Furthermore, the voivodeship is famous for its many castles and palaces and is one of Poland's most visited regions by tourists.Moravian-Silesian Region
The Moravian-Silesian Region (Czech: Moravskoslezský kraj; Polish: Kraj morawsko-śląski; Slovak: Moravsko-sliezsky kraj), is one of the 14 administrative Regions of the Czech Republic. Before May 2001 it was called the Ostrava Region (Czech: Ostravský kraj). The region is located in the north-eastern part of its historical region of Moravia and in most of the Czech part of the historical region of Silesia. The region borders the Olomouc Region to the west and the Zlín Region to the south. It also borders two other countries – Poland (Opole and Silesian Voivodeships) to the north and Slovakia (Žilina Region) to the east.
Once a highly industrialized region, it was called the "Steel Heart of the Country" in the communist era. There are, in addition, several mountainous areas where the landscape is relatively preserved. Nowadays, the economy of the region benefits from its location in the Czech/Polish/Slovak borderlands.Opava
Opava (Czech pronunciation: [ˈopava] (listen); German: Troppau, Lower Silesian: Tropp, Polish: Opawa, Latin: Oppavia) is a city in the eastern Czech Republic on the river Opava, located to the north-west of Ostrava. Opava is one of the historical centres of Silesia. It was a historical capital of Czech Silesia. Opava is now in the Moravian-Silesian Region and has a population of 57,843.Province of Lower Silesia
The Province of Lower Silesia (German: Provinz Niederschlesien; Silesian German: Provinz Niederschläsing; Polish: Prowincja Dolny Śląsk; Silesian: Prowincyjŏ Dolny Ślůnsk) was a province of the Free State of Prussia from 1919 to 1945. Between 1938 and 1941 it was reunited with Upper Silesia as the Province of Silesia. The capital of Lower Silesia was Breslau (now Wrocław in Poland). The province was further divided into two administrative regions (Regierungsbezirke), Breslau and Liegnitz.The province was not congruent with the historical region of Lower Silesia, which now lies mainly in Poland. It additionally comprised the Upper Lusatian districts of Görlitz, Rothenburg and Hoyerswerda in the west, that until 1815 had belonged to the Kingdom of Saxony, as well as the former County of Kladsko in the southeast.
The province was disestablished at the end of World War II and with the implementation of the Oder–Neisse line in 1945, the area east of the Neisse river fell to the Republic of Poland. The smaller western part was incorporated into the German states of Saxony and Brandenburg.Province of Silesia
The Province of Silesia (German: Provinz Schlesien; Polish: Prowincja Śląska; Silesian: Prowincyjŏ Ślōnskŏ) was a province of Prussia from 1815 to 1919. The Silesia region was part of the Prussian realm since 1740 and established as an official province in 1815, then became part of the German Empire in 1871. In 1919, as part of the Free State of Prussia within Weimar Germany, Silesia was divided into the provinces of Upper Silesia and Lower Silesia. Silesia was reunified briefly from 1938 to 1941 as a province of Nazi Germany before being divided back into Upper Silesia and Lower Silesia.
Breslau (present-day Wrocław, Poland) was the provincial capital.Silesian Voivodeship
Silesian Voivodeship, or Silesia Province (Polish: województwo śląskie [vɔjɛˈvut͡stfɔ ˈɕlɔ̃skʲɛ]), German: Woiwodschaft Schlesien, Czech: Slezské vojvodství) is a voivodeship, or province, in southern Poland, centered on the historic region known as Upper Silesia (Górny Śląsk), with Katowice serving as its capital.
Despite the Silesian Voivodeship's name, most of the historic Silesia region lies outside the present Silesian Voivodeship — divided among Lubusz, Lower Silesian, and Opole Voivodeships — while the eastern half of Silesian Voivodeship (and, notably, Częstochowa in the north) was historically part of Lesser Poland.
The Voivodeship was created on 1 January 1999 out of the former Katowice, Częstochowa and Bielsko-Biała Voivodeships, pursuant to the Polish local government reforms adopted in 1998.
It is the most densely populated voivodeship in Poland and within the area of 12,300 squared kilometres, there are almost 5 million inhabitants. It is also the largest urbanised area in Central and Eastern Europe. In relation to economy, over 13% of Poland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is generated here, making the Silesian Voivodeship one of the wealthiest provinces in the country.Silesian language
Silesian or Upper Silesian (Silesian: ślōnskŏ gŏdka / ślůnsko godka [ˈɕlonskɔ ˈɡɔtka]; Czech: slezština; Polish: gwara śląska, mowa śląska, etnolekt śląski; German: Wasserpolnisch) is a West Slavic lect, part of its Lechitic group. Its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by Central German due to the existence of numerous Silesian German speakers in the area prior to World War II and after, until the 1990s.It is spoken in Upper Silesia and partly in Czech Silesia. While generally regarded as one of the four major dialects of Polish, it is sometimes classified as a distinct language.Silesians
Silesians (Silesian German: Schläsinger or Schläsier; Silesian language: Ślůnzoki or Ślōnzoki; German: Schlesier; Polish: Ślązacy; Czech: Slezané) are the inhabitants of Silesia, a historical region in Central Europe divided by the current national boundaries of Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic.
According to M.E. Sharpe, today, Silesians inhabiting Poland are considered to belong to a Polish ethnographic group, and they speak a dialect of Polish. As a result of German influence, Silesians have been influenced by German culture. Many German Silesians and their descendants who inhabited both Upper and Lower Silesia have been displaced to Germany in 1945-47.
There have been some debates on whether or not the Silesians (historically, Upper Silesians) constitute a distinct nation. In modern history, they have often been pressured to declare themselves to be German, Polish or Czech, and use the language of the nation was in control of Silesia. Nevertheless, 847,000 people declared themselves to be of Silesian nationality in the 2011 Polish national census (including 376,000 who declared it to be their only nationality, 436,000 who declared to be their first nationality, 411,000 who declared to be their second one, and 431,000 who declared joint Silesian and Polish nationality), (173,153 in Poland in 2002 maintaining its position as the largest minority group. About 126,000 people declared themselves as members of the German minority (58,000 declared it jointly with Polish nationality), making it the third largest minority group in the country (93% of Germans living in Poland are in the Polish part of Silesia). 12,231 people declared themselves to be of Silesian nationality in the Czech national census of 2011 (44,446 in Czechoslovakia in 1991), and 6,361 people declared joint Silesian and Moravian nationality in the Slovak national census.During the German occupation of Poland, Nazi authorities conducted a census in East Upper Silesia in 1940. 157,057 people declared Silesian nationality (Slonzaken Volk), and the Silesian language was declared by 288,445 people. However, the Silesian nationality could only be declared in the Cieszyn part of the region. Approximately 400–500,000 respondents from the other areas of East Upper Silesia who declared "Upper Silesian nationality" (Oberschlesier) were assigned to the German nationality category. After World War II in Poland, the 1945 census showed a sizable group of people in Upper Silesia who declared Silesian nationality. According to police reports, 22% of people in Zabrze considered themselves to be Silesians, and that number was around 50% in Strzelce County.Sudetenland
The Sudetenland ( (listen); German: [zuˈdeːtn̩ˌlant]; Czech and Slovak: Sudety; Polish: Kraj Sudecki) is the historical German name for the northern, southern, and western areas of former Czechoslovakia which were inhabited primarily by Sudeten Germans. These German speakers had predominated in the border districts of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia from the time of the Austrian Empire.
The word "Sudetenland" did not come into being until the early part of the 20th century and did not come to prominence until over a decade into the century, after the First World War, when the German-dominated Austria-Hungary was dismembered and the Sudeten Germans found themselves living in the new country of Czechoslovakia. The Sudeten crisis of 1938 was provoked by the Pan-Germanist demands of Germany that the Sudetenland be annexed to Germany, which happened after the later Munich Agreement. Part of the borderland was invaded and annexed by Poland. When Czechoslovakia was reconstituted after the Second World War, the Sudeten Germans were expelled and the region today is inhabited almost exclusively by Czech speakers.
The word Sudetenland is a German compound of Land, meaning "country", and Sudeten, the name of the Sudeten Mountains, which run along the northern Czech border and Lower Silesia (now in Poland). The Sudetenland encompassed areas well beyond those mountains, however.
Parts of the now Czech regions of Karlovy Vary, Liberec, Olomouc, Moravia-Silesia, and Ústí nad Labem are within the area called Sudetenland.University of Silesia in Katowice
The University of Silesia in Katowice (Polish: Uniwersytet Śląski w Katowicach, UŚ) is an autonomous state-run university in Silesia Province, Katowice, Poland. It should not be confused with a similarly named university in the Czech Republic, the Silesian University in Opava (Slezská univerzita v Opavě).
The university offers higher education and research facilities. It offers undergraduate, masters, and PhD degree programs, as well as postgraduate, postdoctoral research, habilitation, and continuous education and training programs.Upper Silesia
Upper Silesia (Polish: Górny Śląsk; Silesian Polish: Gůrny Ślůnsk; Czech: Horní Slezsko; German: Oberschlesien; Silesian German: Oberschläsing; Latin: Silesia Superior) is the southeastern part of the historical and geographical region of Silesia, located mostly in Poland, with small parts in the Czech Republic.
Since the 9th century, Upper Silesia has been part of (chronologically) Greater Moravia, the Duchy of Bohemia, the Piast Kingdom of Poland, again of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown and the Holy Roman Empire, as well as of the Habsburg Monarchy from 1526. In 1742 the greater part of Upper Silesia was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia, and in 1871 it became part of the German Empire. After the Second World War it was placed under the administration of the Republic of Poland, in 1945. Following the German-Polish border treaty of 14 November 1990 it became Polish.Zielona Góra
Zielona Góra [ʑeˈlɔna ˈɡura] (listen) (German: Grünberg in Schlesien) is the largest city in Lubusz Voivodeship, in western Poland, with 139,813 inhabitants (2017). Zielona Góra has been in Lubusz Voivodeship since 1999, prior to which it was the capital of Zielona Góra Voivodeship from 1950 to 1998. It is the seat of the province's elected assembly, while the seat of the centrally appointed governor is located in the city of Gorzów Wielkopolski. Zielona Góra has a favourable geographical position, being located not far from the Polish-German border and on several international road and rail routes connecting Scandinavia with Southern Europe and Warsaw with Berlin. The region is also closely associated with vineyards and holds an annual Wine Fest.The city's history began when Polish Duke Henry the Bearded brought first settlers to the area in 1222. In 1323 Zielona Góra was granted town privileges and subsequently passed to Bohemia in 1335. In 1526 it became part of the Habsburg Empire and experienced a wave of witch trials in the 17th century. As a result of the First Silesian War, Zielona Góra was annexed by Prussia and remained in Germany until the end of World War II in 1945. In accordance with the Potsdam Agreement, the province was handed over to Poland and resettled with Poles, most of whom came from Central Poland, but some also had been expelled from the Eastern Borderlands.
Zielona Góra is surrounded by tree-covered hills and the adjacent woodland alone makes up approximately half of the city's total area. The name of the city itself translates to 'Green Mountain' in both Polish and German. Moreover, Zielona Góra features several tourist attractions and important historical sites including the preserved medieval Old Town, 13th-century Market Square, tenements, palaces, parks and the famous Palm House on Wine Hill. Its strong connection to vineyards and grape-picking earned Zielona Góra a nickname "The City of Wine".