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.
Upper Silesia is situated on the upper Oder River, north of the Eastern Sudetes mountain range and the Moravian Gate, which form the southern border with the historic Moravia region. Within the adjacent Silesian Beskids to the east, the Vistula River rises and turns eastwards, the Biała and Przemsza tributaries mark the eastern border with Lesser Poland. In the north, Upper Silesia borders on Greater Poland, and in the west on the Lower Silesian lands (the adjacent region around Wrocław also referred to as Middle Silesia).
It is currently split into a larger Polish and the smaller Czech Silesian part, which is located within the Czech regions of Moravia-Silesia and Olomouc. The Polish Upper Silesian territory covers most of the Opole Voivodeship, except for the Lower Silesian counties of Brzeg and Namysłów, and the western half of the Silesian Voivodeship (except for the Lesser Polish counties of Będzin, Bielsko-Biała, Częstochowa with the city of Częstochowa, Kłobuck, Myszków, Zawiercie and Żywiec, as well as the cities of Dąbrowa Górnicza, Jaworzno and Sosnowiec).
According to the 9th century Bavarian Geographer, the West Slavic Opolanie tribe had settled on the upper Oder River since the days of the Migration Period, centered on the gord of Opole. At the time of Prince Svatopluk I (871–894), all Silesia was a part of his Great Moravian realm. Upon its dissolution after 906, the region fell under the influence of the Přemyslid rulers of Bohemia, Duke Spytihněv I (894–915) and his son Vratislaus I (915–921), possibly the founder and name giver of the Silesian capital Wrocław (Czech: Vratislav).
By 990 the newly installed Piast duke Mieszko I of the Polans had conquered large parts of Silesia. From the Middle Silesia fortress of Niemcza, his son and successor Bolesław I Chrobry (992–1025), having established the Diocese of Wrocław, subdued the Upper Silesian lands of the pagan Opolanie, which for several hundred years were part of Poland, though contested by Bohemian dukes like Bretislaus I, who from 1025 invaded Silesia several times. Finally in 1137, the Polish prince Bolesław III Wrymouth (1107–1138) came to terms with Duke Soběslav I of Bohemia, when a peace was made confirming the border along the Sudetes.
However, this arrangement fell apart when upon the death of Bolesław III and his testament the fragmentation of Poland began, which decisively enfeebled its central authority. The newly established Duchy of Silesia became the ancestral homeland of the Silesian Piasts, descendants of Bolesław's eldest son Władysław II the Exile, who nevertheless saw themselves barred from the succession to the Polish throne and only were able to regain their Silesian home territory with the aid of the Holy Roman Emperor.
The failure of the Agnatic seniority principle of inheritance also led to the split-up of the Silesian province itself: in 1172 Władysław's second son Mieszko IV Tanglefoot claimed his rights and received the Upper Silesian Duchy of Racibórz as an allodium from the hands of his elder brother Duke Bolesław I the Tall of Silesia. In the struggle around the Polish throne, Mieszko additionally received the former Lesser Polish lands of Bytom, Oświęcim, Zator, Siewierz and Pszczyna from the new Polish High Duke Casimir II the Just in 1177. When in 1202 Mieszko Tanglefoot had annexed the Duchy of Opole of his deceased nephew Jarosław, he ruled over all Upper Silesia as Duke of Opole and Racibórz.
In the early 13th century the ties of the Silesian Piasts with the neighbouring Holy Roman Empire grew stronger as several dukes married scions of German nobility. Promoted by the Lower Silesian Duke Henry I the Bearded, from 1230 also regent over Upper Silesia for the minor sons of his late cousin Duke Casimir I of Opole, large parts of the Silesian lands were settled with German immigrants in the course of the Ostsiedlung, establishing numerous cities according to German town law. The plans to re-unifiy Silesia shattered upon the Mongol invasion of Poland and the death of Duke Henry II the Pious at the 1241 Battle of Legnica. Upper Silesia further fragmented upon the death of Duke Władysław Opolski in 1281 into the duchies of Bytom, Opole, Racibórz and Cieszyn. About 1269 the Duchy of Opava was established on adjacent Moravian territory, ruled by the Přemyslid duke Nicholas I, whose descendants inherited the Duchy of Racibórz in 1336. As they ruled both duchies in personal union, Opava grew into the Upper Silesian territory.
In 1327 the Upper Silesian dukes, like most of their Lower Silesian cousins, had sworn allegiance to King John of Bohemia, thereby becoming vassals of the Bohemian kingdom. During the re-establishment of Poland under King Casimir III the Great, all Silesia was specifically excluded as non-Polish land by the 1335 Treaty of Trentschin becoming a land of the Bohemian Crown and — indirectly — of the Holy Roman Empire. By the mid-14th century, the influx of German settlers into Upper Silesia was stopped by the Black Death pandemic. Unlike in Lower Silesia, the Germanization process was halted; still a majority of the population spoke Polish and Silesian as their native language, often together with German (Silesian German) as a second language. In the southernmost areas, also Lach dialects were spoken. While Latin, Czech and German language were used as official languages in towns and cities, only in the 1550s (during the Protestant Reformation) did records with Polish names start to appear.
Upper Silesia was hit by the Hussite Wars and in 1469 was conquered by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, while the Duchies of Oświęcim and Zator fell back to the Polish Crown. Upon the death of the Jagiellonian king Louis II in 1526, the Bohemian crown lands were inherited by the Austrian House of Habsburg. In the 16th century, large parts of Silesia had turned Protestant, promoted by reformers like Caspar Schwenckfeld. After the 1620 Battle of White Mountain, the Catholic Emperors of the Habsburg dynasty forcibly re-introduced Catholicism, led by the Jesuits.
Lower Silesia and most of Upper Silesia were occupied by the Kingdom of Prussia in 1742 during the First Silesian War and annexed by the terms of the Treaty of Breslau. A small part south of the Opava River remained within the Habsburg-ruled Bohemian Crown as the "Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia", colloquially called Austrian Silesia. Incorporated into the Prussian Silesia Province from 1815, Upper Silesia became an industrial area taking advantage of its plentiful coal and iron ore. Prussian Upper Silesia became a part of the German Empire in 1871.
The earliest exact census figures on ethnolinguistic or national structure (Nationalverschiedenheit) of the Prussian part of Upper Silesia, come from year 1819. The last pre-WW1 general census figures available, are from 1910 (if not including the 1911 census of school children - Sprachzählung unter den Schulkindern - which revealed a higher percent of Polish-speakers among school children than the 1910 census among the general populace). Figures (Table 1.) show that large demographic changes took place between 1819 and 1910, with the region's total population quadrupling, the percent of German-speakers increasing significantly, and that of Polish-speakers declining considerably. Also the total land area in which Polish language was spoken, as well as the land area in which it was spoken by the majority, declined between 1790 and 1890. Polish authors before 1918 estimated the number of Poles in Prussian Upper Silesia as slightly higher than according to official German censuses.
|Table 1. Numbers of Polish-speaking and German-speaking inhabitants (Regierungsbezirk Oppeln)|
|Year||1819 ||1828 ||1831 ||1837 ||1840 ||1843 ||1846 ||1852 ||1858 ||1861 ||1867 ||1890 ||1900 ||1905 ||1910 |
|Polish||377,100 (67.2%)||418,437||456,348||495,362||525,395||540,402||568,582||584,293||612,849||665,865||742,153||918,728 (58.2%)||1,048,230 (56.1%)||1,158,805 (56.9%)||Census data, monolingual Polish: 1,169,340 (53.0%)
up to 1,560,000 with bilinguals
|German||162,600 (29.0%)||255,383||257,852||290,168||330,099||348,094||364,175||363,990||406,950||409,218||457,545||566,523 (35.9%)||684,397 (36.6%)||757,200 (37.2%)||884,045 (40.0%)|
United States Immigration Commission in 1911 classified Polish-speaking Silesians as Poles.
In 1919, after World War I, the eastern part of Prussian Upper Silesia (with a majority of ethnic Poles) came under Polish rule as the Silesian Voivodeship, while the mostly German-speaking western part remained part of the Weimar Republic as the newly established Upper Silesia Province. In early 1919, the Polish–Czechoslovak War broke out around Cieszyn Silesia, whereafter Czechoslovakia gained the Zaolzie strip in addition to the Hlučín Region.
From 1919-1921 three Silesian Uprisings occurred among the Polish-speaking populace of Upper Silesia; the Battle of Annaberg was fought in the region in 1921. In the Upper Silesia plebiscite of March 1921, a majority of 59.4% voted against merging with Poland and a minority of 40.6% voted for, with clear lines dividing Polish and German communities. The plan to divide the region was suggested by the Inter-Allied Commission on Upper Silesia, headed by the French general Henri Le Rond. The plan was decided by an ambassadors conference in Paris on 20 October 1921. The exact border, the maintenance of cross-border railway traffic and other necessary co-operations, as well as equal rights for all inhabitants in both parts of Upper Silesia, were all fixed by the German-Polish Accord on East Silesia, signed in Geneva on May 15, 1922. On June 20 1922, the Weimar Republic ceded, de facto, the East Upper Silesia region, becoming part of Silesian Voivodeship of the Second Polish Republic.
After 1945, almost all of Upper Silesia that was not ceded to Poland in 1922 was placed under the administration of the Republic of Poland. A majority of the German-speaking population had fled or were expelled, an activity that was euphemized as "transfers [to] be effected in an orderly and humane manner" in accordance with the decision of the victorious Allied powers at their 1945 meeting at Potsdam. This expulsion program also included German speaking inhabitants of Lower Silesia, eastern Brandenburg, eastern Pomerania, Gdańsk (Danzig), and East Prussia. The German expellees were transported to the present day Germany (including the former East Germany), and they were replaced with Poles, many from former Polish provinces taken over by the USSR in the east. A good many German-speaking Upper Silesians were relocated in Bavaria. A small part of Upper Silesia stayed as part of Czechoslovakia as Czech Silesia.
The expulsions of German-speakers did not totally eliminate the presence of a population that considered itself German. Upper Silesia, in 1945, had a considerable number of Roman Catholic mixed bilingual inhabitants that spoke both German and Polish dialects, and their Polish linguistic skills were considered solid enough for them to be kept in the area.
The area formally became part of the Republic of Poland by virtue of the German-Polish border treaty of 14 November 1990.
With the fall of communism and Poland's joining the European Union, there were enough of these remaining in Upper Silesia to allow for the recognition of the German minority in Poland by the Polish government.
The historical capital of Upper Silesia is Opole, nevertheless the largest towns of the region, including Katowice, are located in the Upper Silesian Industrial Region, the total population of which is about 3,000,000.
Population figures as of 1995 (all in Poland unless otherwise indicated)
Nationalverschiedenheit 1819: Polen - 377,100; Deutsche - 162,600; Mährer - 12,000; Juden - 8,000; Tschechen - 1,600; Gesamtbevölkerung: 561,203
East Upper Silesia (German: Ostoberschlesien) is a term denoting the easternmost extremity of Silesia, the eastern part of the Upper Silesian region around the city of Katowice (German: Kattowitz). The term is used primarily to denote those areas that became part of the Second Polish Republic on 20 June 1922, as a consequence of the post-World War I Treaty of Versailles. Prior to World War II, the Second Polish Republic administered the area as Autonomous Silesian Voivodeship. East Upper Silesia was also known as Polish (Upper) Silesia, and the German (Upper) Silesia was known as West Upper Silesia.Gau Upper Silesia
The Gau Upper Silesia (German: Gau Oberschlesien) was an administrative division of Nazi Germany from 1941 to 1945 in the Upper Silesia part of the Prussian Province of Silesia. The Gau was created when the Gau Silesia was split into Upper Silesia and Lower Silesia in 1941. The Gau included territory annexed by Nazi Germany after the German invasion of Poland.Gliwice
Gliwice [ɡlʲiˈvʲit͡sɛ] (listen) (German: Gleiwitz) is a city in Upper Silesia, in southern Poland. The city is located in the Silesian Highlands, on the Kłodnica river (a tributary of the Oder). It lies approximately 25 km West from Katowice, regional capital of the Silesian Voivodeship.
Gliwice is the westernmost city of the Upper Silesian metropolis, a conurbation of 1.9 million people, and is the third-largest city of this area, with 183,392 permanent residents as of 2015. It also lies within the larger Upper Silesian metropolitan area which has a population of about 5.3 million people and spans across most of eastern Upper Silesia, western Lesser Poland and the Moravian-Silesian Region in the Czech Republic. It is one of the major college towns in Poland, thanks to the Silesian University of Technology, which was founded in 1945 by academics of Lwow University of Technology expelled from Soviet Ukraine in 1945-48. Over 20,000 people study in Gliwice. Gliwice is an important industrial center of Poland. Following an economic transformation in the 1990s, Gliwice switched from steelworks and coal mining to automotive and machine industry. The last remaining coal mine in Gliwice was set to close before 2021, however following its good economic results this decision has been postponed.Founded in the 13th century, Gliwice is one of the oldest settlements in Upper Silesia. Gliwice's medieval old town was severely destroyed by the Red Army in World War II, however has since been rebuilt and underwent a major restoration in recent years. Gliwice's most historical structures include St Bartholomew's church (15th century), Gliwice Castle and city walls (14th century), Armenian Church (originally a hospital, 15th century) and All Saints Old Town Church (15th century). Gliwice is also known for its Radio Tower, where Gleiwitz incident happened shortly before the outbreak of World War II and which is though to be the world’s tallest wooden construction, as well as Weichmann Textile House, one of the first buildings designed by world-renowned architect Erich Mendelsohn. Gliwice will host the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2019 which will take place on 24 November 2019.High German languages
The High German languages or High German dialects (German: hochdeutsche Mundarten) comprise the varieties of German spoken south of the Benrath and Uerdingen isoglosses in central and southern Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Luxembourg, as well as in neighboring portions of France (Alsace and northern Lorraine), Italy (South Tyrol), the Czech Republic (Bohemia), and Poland (Upper Silesia). They are also spoken in diaspora in Romania, Russia, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, and Namibia.
The High German languages are marked by the High German consonant shift, separating them from Low German and Low Franconian (Dutch) within the continental West Germanic dialect continuum.History of Silesia
In the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C. (late Bronze Age) Silesia belonged to the Lusatian culture. About 500 BC Scyths arrived, and later Celts in the South and Southwest.
During the 1st century BC Silingi and other Germanic people settled in Silesia. For this period we have written reports of antique authors who included the area.
Slavs arrived in this territory around the 6th century.
The first known states in Silesia were those of Greater Moravia and Bohemia. In the 10th century, Mieszko I incorporated Silesia into the Polish state. It remained part of Poland until the Fragmentation of Poland. Afterwards it was divided between Piast dukes, descendants of Władysław II the Exile, High Duke of Poland.
In the Middle Ages, Silesia was divided among many duchies ruled by various dukes of the Piast dynasty. During this time, cultural and ethnic German influence increased due to immigrants from the German-speaking components of the Holy Roman Empire. Between the years 1289–1292 Bohemian king Wenceslaus II became suzerain of some Upper Silesian duchies. Silesia subsequently became a possession of the Crown of Bohemia under the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th century, and passed with that Crown to the Habsburg Monarchy in 1526. The Duchy of Crossen was inherited by Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1476 and, with the renunciation by King Ferdinand I and estates of Bohemia in 1538, it 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 and subsequently made the Prussian Province of Silesia.
After World War I, Lower Silesia, having by far a German majority, remained with Germany while Upper Silesia, after a series of insurrections by the Polish inhabitants, was split. Part joined the Second Polish Republic and was administered as the Silesian Voivodeship. The Prussian Province of Silesia within Germany was divided into the Provinces of Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia. Austrian Silesia (officially: Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia; almost identical with modern-day Czech Silesia), the small portion of Silesia retained by Austria after the Silesian Wars, became part of the new Czechoslovakia. During the Second World War Nazi Germany invaded Polish parts of Upper Silesia. Jews were subject to genocide in the Holocaust, while German plans towards Poles involved ethnic cleansing and biological extermination. In 1945 both provinces were occupied by the Soviet Union. According to the Potsdam agreement most of this territory was afterwards transferred to Poland. The vast majority of the native ethnic German population was expelled by force and replaced by Polish settlers who had themselves been expelled from eastern Polish Borderlands.Józef Szmidt
Józef Szmidt (born 28 March 1935 in Miechowitz, Beuthen, Province of Upper Silesia, Germany as Josef Schmidt) is a former Polish athlete.
With a jump of 17.03m in 1960, Szmidt was the first triple jumper to reach 17 metres.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 Soviet army 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.Landsmannschaft Schlesien
The Landsmannschaft Schlesien - Nieder- und Oberschlesien e.V. ("Territorial Association of Silesia - Lower and Upper Silesia", "Homeland Association of Silesia - Lower and Upper Silesia") is an organization of Germans born in the former Prussian provinces of Lower and Upper Silesia, and their descendants, who currently live in Germany. The Landsmannschaft Schlesien was established in March 1950 and is a member of the Federation of Expellees, and has its headquarters in Königswinter, North Rhine-Westphalia.Metropolitan Association of Upper Silesia and Dąbrowa Basin
The Metropolitan Association of Upper Silesia and Dąbrowa Basin, usually referred to in Poland as the Silesian Metropolis (Polish: Górnośląsko-Zagłębiowska Metropolia; Metropolia Silesia), is an association of municipalities composed of 14 neighbouring cities in the Polish Province of Silesia. The seat of the metropolitan council is Katowice, the largest agglomeration of the Silesian Metropolis. The association is not to be confused with the local conurbation forming one continuous area in the geographical context, i.e.: the Katowice Urban Area, and the Upper Silesian metropolitan area.
The Silesian Metropolis lies within one of the largest urban areas in the European Union. Its population is over 2 million people (2008), within the much larger urban zone (LUZ), with a population of 2,746,460 according to Eurostat, and also, as part of the still wider Silesian metropolitan area, with a population of 5,294,000 according to the European Spatial Planning Observation Network.The Metropolitan Association of Upper Silesia and Dąbrowa Basin was created in June 2017 by a decree of Poland's Council of Ministers as an expansion of the already existing Metropolitan Association of Upper Silesia (Polish: Górnośląsko-Zagłębiowska Metropolia). The original union was formally approved by the mayors of all participating cities ten year earlier in Świętochłowice. The Union's registration was signed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration of the Republic of Poland (MSWiA) on 8 June 2007 in Katowice. The purpose of the metropolitan union is to maintain a strong urban and industrially developed area with internationally competitive profile and unified management of all infrastructure.Nysa, Poland
Nysa [ˈnɨsa] (listen) (German: Neisse or Neiße) is a town in southwestern Poland on the Eastern Neisse (Nysa Kłodzka) river, situated in the Opole Voivodeship. With 44,419 inhabitants (2016), it is the capital of Nysa County. It comprises the urban portion of the surrounding Gmina Nysa. Historically the town was part of Upper Silesia.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.Province of Upper Silesia
The Province of Upper Silesia (German: Provinz Oberschlesien; Silesian German: Provinz Oberschläsing; Silesian: Prowincyjŏ Gōrny Ślōnsk; Polish: Prowincja Górny Śląsk) was a province of the Free State of Prussia from 1919 to 1945. It comprised much of the region of Upper Silesia and was eventually divided into two government regions (Regierungsbezirke) called Kattowitz (1939-1945), and Oppeln (1819-1945). The provincial capital was Oppeln (1919–1938) and Kattowitz (1941–1945), while other major towns included Beuthen, Gleiwitz, Hindenburg O.S., Neiße, Ratibor and Auschwitz, added in 1941 (the place of future extermination of Jews in World War II). Between 1938 and 1941 it was reunited with Lower Silesia as the Province of Silesia.Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Katowice
The Archdiocese of Katowice (Latin: Katovicen(sis)) is the Latin Metropolitan archdiocese of an ecclesiastical province in Western Poland.Silesia
Silesia (; Polish: Śląsk [ɕlɔ̃sk]; Czech: Slezsko; German: Schlesien [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.Silesian Uprisings
The Silesian Uprisings (German: Aufstände in Oberschlesien; Polish: Powstania śląskie) were a series of three armed uprisings of the Poles and Polish Silesians of Upper Silesia, from 1919 to 1921, against German rule; the resistance hoped to break away from Germany in order to join the Second Polish Republic, which had been established in the wake of World War I. In the latter-day history of Poland after World War II, the insurrections were celebrated as centrepieces of national pride by the Polish state.Silesian Voivodeship (1920–39)
The Silesian Voivodeship (Polish: Województwo Śląskie) was an autonomous province (voivodeship) of the interwar Second Polish Republic. It became part of the newly reborn Poland as a result of the 1921 Upper Silesia plebiscite, the Geneva Conventions, three Upper Silesian Uprisings, and the eventual partition of Upper Silesia between Poland, Germany and Czechoslovakia. The capital of the voivodeship was Katowice.The voivodeship was dissolved on October 8, 1939 following the German invasion of Poland, and its territory was incorporated into the German Province of Silesia. After the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, its territory was incorporated into a new, larger Silesian Voivodeship which existed until 1950.Silesians
Silesians (Silesian German: Schläsinger or Schläsier; Silesian: Ślůnzoki or Ślōnzoki; German: Schlesier; Polish: Ślązacy; Czech: Slezané) is a geographical term for 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, Silesians inhabiting Poland are considered to belong to a Polish ethnographic group, and they speak a dialect of Polish. United States Immigration Commission also counted Silesian as one of the dialects of Polish. As a result of German influence, Silesians have been influenced by German culture. Many German Silesians and their descendants who inhabited both Lower and Upper 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. At the time, 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.Upper Silesia plebiscite
The Upper Silesia plebiscite was a plebiscite mandated by the Versailles Treaty and carried out on 20 March 1921 to determine a section of the border between Weimar Germany and Poland. The region was ethnically mixed with both Germans and Poles; according to prewar statistics, ethnic Poles formed 60 percent of the population. Under the previous rule by the German Empire, Poles claimed they had faced discrimination, making them effectively second class citizens. The period of the plebiscite campaign and inter-Allied occupation was marked by violence. There were three Polish uprisings, and German volunteer paramilitary units came to the region as well.
The area was policed by French, British, and Italian troops, and overseen by an Inter-Allied Commission. The Allies planned a partition of the region, but a Polish insurgency took control of over half the area. The Germans responded with volunteer paramilitary units from all over Germany, which fought the Polish units. In the end, after renewed Allied military intervention, the final position of the opposing forces became, roughly, the new border. The decision was handed over to the League of Nations, which confirmed this border, and Poland received roughly one third of the plebiscite zone by area, including the greater part of the industrial region.
After the referendum, on 20 October 1921, an ambassadors conference in Paris decided to divide the region. Consequently, the German-Polish Accord on East Silesia (Geneva Convention), a minority treaty was concluded on 15 May 1922 which dealt with the constitutional and legal future of Upper Silesia which has partly became Polish territory.Zabrze
Zabrze (; Polish pronunciation: [ˈzabʐɛ] (listen); German: 1915–1945: Hindenburg O.S., full form: Hindenburg in Oberschlesien, 1905–1915: Zabrze, Silesian: Zobrze) is a city in Silesia in southern Poland, near Katowice. The west district of the Silesian Metropolis, a metropolis with a population of around 2 million. It is in the Silesian Highlands, on the Bytomka River, a tributary of the Oder.
Zabrze is in the Silesian Voivodeship, which was reformulated in 1999. Before 1999 it was in Katowice Voivodeship. It is one of the cities composing the 2.7 million inhabitant conurbation referred to as the Katowice urban area, itself a major centre in the greater Silesian metropolitan area which is populated by just over five million people. The population of Zabrze as of December 2017 is 174,349, down from June 2009 when the population was 188,122.