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Coat of arms and flag
Basic data
biggest town: Wroclaw (Wroclaw)
Area: 40,319 km²
Old Silesia with today's national borders.
Location of the Prussian province of Silesia within the boundaries from 1815 (outlined in yellow) and Austrian Silesia until 1742 (outlined in turquoise) in the boundaries since 1993 (red)
Coat of arms of Silesia (illustration from the 15th century)

Silesia ( Silesian Schläsing , Schlonsakisch Ślůnsk , Sorbian Šleska , Polish Śląsk , Czech Slezsko, Latin Silesia ) is a region in Central Europe on both sides of the upper and middle reaches of the Oder and extends in the south along the Sudetes and Beskids . Silesia is now largely in Poland (after changes in 1922 and 1945). A small part in the west of the former Prussian province of Lower Silesia belongs toGermany , a southern part of Upper Silesia to the Czech Republic .


From around 100 AD at the latest, Silesia was settled by the Vandal Silingen and Germanic Lugians . From around 550–600 AD the West Slavic Slensans and Opolans immigrated . The armed conflicts between the Duchy of Bohemia and the Kingdom of Poland for supremacy in Silesia, which had been going on since the end of the 10th century , were only ended in 1137 with the Pentecostal Peace of Glatz and a clear borderline was established. With the death of the Polish Duke Bolesław III. "Crooked mouth"In 1138 Poland was divided into individual parts. The territory of Silesia fell to the eldest son Władysław . He founded the Duchy of Silesia and was the progenitor of the Silesian Piasts . In 1159 he died in exile in Altenburg, Thuringia . Only in 1163 were his three sons allowed to return and take possession of Silesia, which had been wrested from their father. In the course of the dissolution of the seniority principle applicable to the Kingdom of Poland , the Duchy of Silesia, along with other Polish duchies, de facto achieved political independence.

Under Duke Heinrich I “the Bearded” , who succeeded his father Bolesław I as Duke of Silesia in 1201 , the settlement of Silesia with Germans and Dutch was encouraged. Likewise under his son of the same name Heinrich II. , Who was appointed co-regent by his father in 1226. He fell in 1241 during the Mongol invasion in the Battle of Liegnitz . Under his descendants, the Duchy of Silesia was split up into numerous partial duchies from 1249 onwards , the dukes of which subsequently turned politically to the Kingdom of Bohemia . Between 1289 and 1292 almost all Upper Silesian dukes placed their partial duchies under the fief of Duke Wenceslaus II.In 1327 the Duchy of Opole followed, and by 1329 most of the Lower Silesian partial duchies followed. In 1331 the dukes of Glogau and 1336 of Münsterberg also paid homage to the Bohemian King John of Luxembourg . In 1342 the clerical principality of Neisse followed this example. As early as 1335, the conditions achieved by then were recognized with the Treaty of Trenčín . King Charles IV subordinated Silesia to the Holy Roman Empire in 1348 . However, since it was only indirectly subordinate to him, the dukes of Silesia and the Neiss prince-bishop did not have the imperial estateand thus neither a seat nor a vote in the Reichstag . They were only subject to Bohemia.

Only after the death of the childless Duke Bolko II , whose niece Anna von Schweidnitz was married to the Roman-German and Bohemian King Charles IV, did the Duchy of Schweidnitz inherit the Bohemia in 1368. With the death of Duke Georg Wilhelm I in 1675, the duchies of Liegnitz , Brieg , Wohlau and Ohlau, the last of the Silesian duchies to fall back to Bohemia.

After the First Silesian War in 1742, Silesia fell with most of it to Prussia , while the southern part remained with Bohemia and was known as Austrian Silesia . From 1815 the Prussian part formed the province of Silesia . It was divided into the sub-provinces of Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia from 1919 to 1938 and from 1941 to 1945 .

In 1920 part of the Cieszyn Silesia around the Olsa and in 1922 Eastern Upper Silesia as the Autonomous Silesian Voivodeship was annexed to Poland. During the Second World War , the Prussian sub-province of Upper Silesia was divided between 1939 and 1944 by the previous Autonomous Voivodeship of Silesia and other areas, u. a. Auschwitz and the former New Silesia , enlarged.

The largest part of the Prussian province of Silesia within the borders of 1937 was placed under provisional Polish administrative sovereignty according to the resolutions of the Potsdam Conference in 1945 ("West displacement of Poland") , but was de facto incorporated directly into the People's Republic of Poland . Since 1989 it has belonged to the Republic of Poland under international law , smaller parts belong to Germany and the Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia ). The GDR diplomatically recognized the border with Poland as early as 1950 with the Görlitz AgreementFederal Republic of Germany, the western state border of Poland initially through the Warsaw Treaty (ratified in 1972) and finally with the German-Polish border treaty of 1990.

The main part of the Silesian part belonging to Poland has been divided into three voivodships since 1999: Lower Silesian Voivodeship , Opole Voivodeship and Silesian Voivodeship . Some smaller areas were divided into neighboring voivodships.

The part of Upper Lusatia, which the Kingdom of Saxony had to cede to the Kingdom of Prussia in 1815 and which belonged to the provinces of Silesia and Lower Silesia from 1816 or 1825 to 1945, came back to the State of Saxony in 1945 - west of the Lusatian Neisse . Today it is located in the north of the Saxon districts of Görlitz and Bautzen and in the south of the Brandenburg district of Oberspreewald-Lausitz .

In 2000, Czech Silesia was divided into the Moravian-Silesian Region and the Olomouc Region .

Location and geography

The Sudetes in southern Silesia
The Oder forms the backbone of Silesia.
Silesia's capital, Wroclaw, is also located on the banks of the Oder.

Silesia lies in the eastern part of Central Europe on the upper and middle reaches of the Oder , which flows through the vast Silesian Plain. In the south, Silesia borders on Bohemia and Moravia , in the west on Upper Lusatia , in the northwest on Lower Lusatia and the country of Lebus , in the north on Greater Poland and in the east on Lesser Poland .

The region is an area with natural boundaries insofar as it includes the catchment area of the Upper and Middle or almost completely. Only the headwaters of the river in Moravia and the tributary of the Bartsch ( Barycz ) , a right tributary of the Oder, which is partly in Greater Poland , are outside the borders of Silesia. Other important tributaries of the Oder in Silesia are the Olsa ( Olza ) , the Glatzer Neisse ( Nysa Kłodzka ) , the Lohe ( Ślęza ) , the Schweidnitzer Weistritz ( Bystrzyca ) , the Willow (Widawa ) as well as the Bober ( Bóbr ) and the Queis ( Kwisa ) . The Bober-Queis line also forms the boundary between Silesia and the Lausitz to the west. In addition,the headwaters of the Vistula ( Wisła ) lie in the Silesian Beskids in south-eastern Silesia.

The Trebnitz Ridge , an old glacial terminal moraine with heights of up to 270  m npm , whose middle section is called the Katzengebirge , runs through the north of Silesia and the south of Greater Poland . Silesia has only a small share of the Beskids , a sub-mountain range of the Carpathian Mountains on the border with Lesser Poland , while the main mountains of Silesia are the Sudetes , a low mountain range with some subalpine areas on the southern border with Moravia and Bohemia. In the Giant Mountains lies the Schneekoppe , which with 1602  m npmhighest elevation in Silesia. Jizera Mountains , Waldenburger Bergland , Eulengebirge , Heuscheuergebirge and Glatzer Schneegebirge are further parts of the Sudeten Mountains in Silesia.

As the most important Silesian city, the city ​​of Wroclaw is the traditional metropolis of the region.

Silesian population and its borders throughout history

Silesia in the German Empire
Denomination card (Protestant / Catholic; approx. 1890)
Population density of Silesia (around 1910)
The Friedenskirche Schweidnitz

In the Bronze Age , Silesia was part of the Lusatian culture . In the last centuries before the turn of the times there was a Germanic settlement, with the migration of peoples around 550–600 AD settlement by West Slavic tribes.

The Germanic colonization of Silesia was carried out by the Vandals immigrating from the north . Their main tribes were the Hasdinger, Lygier ( Lugier ) and Silinger (sometimes Selinger)), whereby this Schlesien (old-German Slesie (n)) gave the name. Archaeological finds testify that Celts were also at home in this area in pre-Germanic times. Celtic and Germanic finds exist, but later sites also show that the cultural styles of both peoples merged. Most of the Vandals withdrew in the course of the migration towards the south, with many clans remaining in Silesia. The advancing Slavs initially lived next to each other with the remaining vandals. Here, too, archaeological sites testify that both peoples have merged with one another. Places of major armed conflict are not known.

Belonging to different rulers changed. Silesia initially belonged to the Great Moravian Empire , then was ruled by Duke Boleslav II (Bohemia) appointed by the German Emperor . However, when this kept Meissen occupied, Thuringian-Saxon troops of Emperor Otto III moved. together with Mieszko, the first Duke of the Polans , who was married to Oda von Haldensleben in 986 (987, 989, 990) against Bohemia. Thereupon Mieszko I , who was also the emperor's liege, was used as Duke of Silesia for his help. The country was fairly sparsely populated, and after four fifths of the population was affected by the Mongol stormhad perished, the Silesian Piasts tried hard to get German colonists in the 13th century , so that until the expulsion of the Germans in 1945–1947, the majority of the areas in Lower Silesia and a large part of the areas in Upper Silesia had a German majority. With the annexation to the Crown of Bohemia in 1348, Silesia became part of the Holy Roman Empire . Culturally, the connections to the west were more pronounced than the political ties to Bohemia or Austria would have corresponded. Large parts of the population in Lower Silesia joined the Reformation . In Upper Silesia , where Germans likeSlavic Silesians remained mostly Catholic , the border between the peoples was fluid. From 1740/45 ( Frederick II's Silesian Wars ) to 1918, most of Silesia belonged to the Kingdom of Prussia , then to the Free State of Prussia and thus from 1871 to 1945 to the German Empire . During the time of the Empire , the German, Polish and Silesian languages ​​were widespread in Silesia; German was generally spoken in Lower Silesia, and the population in Upper Silesia was bilingual ( German and Silesian ).

Silesia has for the most part actually been part of Poland since 1945; since the German-Polish border treaty that came into force in 1992 as one of the former German eastern territories, also under international law. The Polish Silesia is now divided into the Lower Silesian Voivodeship with the capital Wroclaw , the Opole Voivodeship with the capital Opole and the Silesian Voivodeship with the capital Katowice . Small parts of the peripheral areas of Silesia also belong to the Lubusz Voivodeship in the north-west, the Greater Poland Voivodeship in the north and the Lesser Poland Voivodeshipin the East. However, the Lower Silesian Voivodeship also includes the Polish part of Upper Lusatia , while parts of Little Poland around Czestochowa are in the northeast of the Silesian Voivodeship.

The historic county of Glatz on the border with Bohemia only came to Silesia with the Hubertusburg Peace in 1763 and is now part of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship with its capital Glatz .

A small part of southern Silesia, the region of Czech Silesia (formerly Austrian Silesia ), belongs to the Czech Republic .

Part of the former Prussian province of Silesia is now in the Free State of Saxony , but historically this area largely belongs to Upper Lusatia, which only became Silesian in 1815 . Places remaining in Germany that had previously belonged to Silesia are, on the one hand, Kromlau , Jämlitz , Bloischdorf and Tschernitz ; they belonged to the Duchy of Sagan for centuries and were Silesian exclaves in Lusatia until they were brought to the province of Brandenburg after 1815 when the border was cleared were reclassified. Even longer, namely continuously until 1945, belongedPechern - in a corner of the Duchy of Sagan reaching over the Neisse - to Silesia.

Until the time of flight and expulsion as a result of the Second World War, German Silesian was spoken by the resident German population in Silesia , a Central German dialect . In Upper Silesia and especially in the Opole region , German and the so-called Slavic Silesian ( Schlonsakisch ) , a Polish dialect and a West Slavic language, which the Silesians also call "ślónska godka" ( Silesian language ), are spoken today in addition to Polish strong with the Teschen dialect is related, with numerous influences from German and Czech, which are mostly incomprehensible to Polish native speakers.


Early days

The Zobtenberg (Ślęża) rising from the lowlands played an important role in the early history of Silesia.

In the second half of the 2nd millennium BC In BC (late Bronze Age ) Silesia was part of the Lausitz culture . Some Czech and Polish - less so by German - scientists consider their carriers to be the ancestors of the Slavs. These scientists are at odds with the usual assumption that the Slavs migrated west from the areas between the Dnieper and the Bug in the 5th and 6th centuries AD . At the turn of the ages , Silingians , Vandals , Lugians and others became GermanicColonized peoples. For this period there are written testimonies by ancient authors who included the area in their reports on the settlement area between the Rhine and the Vistula called Germania magna .

Opinions about the origin of the name Silesia (Latin Silesia ) go in two directions:

  1. It goes back to the Vandal tribe of the Silingers. After the withdrawal or destruction of Silinger during the barbarian invasions in the 5th century populated by 500 West Slavic again stems from the East Silesia, of which the names of golensizi , opolans , Slensanen , Dedosizen , Trebowanen and Boboranen have survived.
  2. It goes on the name of the river Ślęza or the mountain Ślęża (also called Sobótka ), the place of an old Slavic cult. The mountain Ślęża (German Zobten ) is centrally located in Silesia; the name itself is linked to the word "ślęg", "śląg", which means wet, boggy terrain, swampy area.

A combination of both opinions is represented in modern research: the name of the landscape goes back to that of the mountain, this in turn to that of the Silinger.

Moravian-Bohemian Period (879-992)

In the year 880 (according to some sources before 879) all of Silesia was annexed to the Moravian Empire by Svatopluk I , which was contested by Gerard Labuda and Idzi Panic , among others . Certainly, however, Moravian influences increased in the second half of the 9th century and from the archaeological point of view one can speak of a kind of common cultural region, Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, Lesser Poland, the greater part of Silesia and the southeastern Elbeland at that time included. With the collapse of this empire after 906, the Přemyslids expanded their power over Silesia. This probably already happened at the time of the first BohemianDuke Spytihněv I. and was by his successor Vratislav I continued. Vratislav extended his domain beyond the land of the Golensizen to include the Central Silesian areas to the left of the Oder . To protect the border, he founded the castle "Vratislavia" ( Breslau , Polish: Wrocław, Czech: Vratislav). This later evolved to the center of Silesia as a ducal and Episcopal seat, and Nimptsch , the capital of Gau Slenzane , lost its importance. Prince Boleslav I , who founded the Boleslavecz Castle ( Bolesławiec) was able to expand its sphere of influence significantly. In addition to the land of the Boborans and Opolans , he probably also owned the areas of the Wislanes with the city of Krakow and the Dedosizen between 950 and 963 .

Silesia between Bohemia and Poland (from around 900 to 1137)

The Empire of Bolesław I the Brave (around 1025)
  • Silesia between Poland and Bohemia around 1040
  • Duchy of Silesia in the territories of Poland under Duke Bolesław III. Crooked mouth (around 1138)

    With the appointment as Duke by Emperor Otto, the first Polish Piast Duchy arose between the Warta , Vistula and Pilica under Mieszko I. With the support of Emperor Otto II , who welcomed a power restriction by Prince Boleslav II of Prague , Mieszko I began an intensive south expansion and conquered Central Silesia with the strategically important castle Nimptsch (Niemcza) , after having already after 970 the land of the Dedosizen at the mouth of the Bober in the Oder. The power of the Přemyslids in Silesia was also to be restricted from the west. Emperor Otto I had given the tithe of the Dedosizenland to the diocese of Meissen , established in 968 , but Mieszko I had anticipated the implementation of this eastern expansion. In league with Emperor Otto III. Mieszko's son Bolesław I the Brave continued the Christianization of Silesia and founded the Diocese of Wroclaw in 1000 , which remained connected to the Polish Archdiocese of Gniezno as a suffragan until the 19th century .

    Bolesław I conquered the areas of the pagan Opolans, Golensizen and Wislanen around 990 or after another between 1012/13 and was thus able to completely integrate the whole of Silesia including parts of Lusatia and Lesser Poland into his duchy. The first phase of Polish rule over Silesia thus reached its climax.

    When King Bolesław I the Brave died in 1025, the Kingdom of Poland began to collapse rapidly. Power in Poland and thus also in Silesia passed to local leaders. When in 1037 a pagan revolt against the Christian church broke out in large parts of Poland and the Wroclaw bishops were driven to Schmograu (Smogorzów) and the Ritschen (Ryczyn) , Duke Břetislav I of Bohemia took advantage of the opportunity in 1038 and captured the Bohemian Polish War Silesia return. In 1054 Silesia returned to the Duchy of Poland after Emperor Heinrich III. in the Peace of Quedlinburg Břetislav I. had been able to move and renounce SilesiaCasimir I the innovator had agreed to pay a tribute to Bohemia in return. This agreement became the occasion for several smaller wars between Bohemia and Poland after the Polish rulers had refused to pay the Silesian rent since King Bolesław II the Bold . It was not until the Pentecostal Peace of Glatz , concluded in 1137 and confirmed in 1138, that a permanent border was drawn between Poland, including Silesia, as well as Bohemia and Moravia. The controversial Glatzer Land, as well as parts of the Golensizenland south of the Zinna river , the Troppauer Land, remained in Bohemia and Moravia.

    The Kingdom of Poland was divided into several duchies under the Polish Seniorate Constitution introduced in 1138 , the Seniorate of Poland, one of which was the Duchy of Silesia under Senior Duke Władysław II the expellee , who thus established the line of the Silesian Piasts . From 1138 a fratricidal war began, which led to the deposition of Władysław II and the fragmentation of Poland.

    The rule of the Silesian Piasts (1137-1335)

    German colonization of the Slavic areas from around 1200 (map excerpt from: FW Putzgers: Historischer Schul-Atlas. 1905)
    View of the Wroclaw Cathedral Island (Ostrów Tumski)
    Territorial development of the Duchy of Silesia in the period 1185–1201

    In a dispute with his younger brothers, Duke Władysław II of Silesia sought refuge with his family in the Holy Roman Empire in 1146 and asked his brother-in-law, the Roman-German King Konrad III. for political support by submitting himself and his lost duchy to the suzerainty of the emperor. Both King Konrad and his successor Emperor Friedrich I led campaigns against Poland in 1146 and 1157, respectively. Senior Duke Bolesław IV. "Kraushaar" of Mazovia and Lesser Polandpromised the return of the Duchy of Silesia to Władysław to the displaced, but delayed it until 1163. Only under threat of further acts of war did Bolesław IV hand over Silesia to the three sons of Władysław II. The elder, Bolesław I the Tall One († 1201), received Central and Lower Silesia as the Duchy of Silesia ( ducatus Silesiae ) with the center of Wroclaw . The middle, Mieszko IV. "Sacrum" († 1211), got the or higher lying areas Ratibor and Teschen . Conrad I († around 1180/90) became Duke of Glogau . In 1201 the Mieszko area around Opole becameexpanded and combined to form the Duchy of Opole ( ducatus Opoliensis ). This created the Opole branch of the Silesian Piasts.

    With the formal repeal of the Seniorate Constitution in 1180 in Łęczyca and especially since the death of Senior Duke Mieszkos III. Particularism reached its climax in Poland in the absence of a strong and unifying central power, and the Piast Empire increasingly disintegrated into independent feudal principalities, including the duchies of Silesia and Opole; nevertheless, the various piastic branches continued to feel that they were part of a large family in dynastic bond.

    The invasion of Silesia by Mongol armies in 1241 and the associated devastation of the country as well as the resulting massive decimation of the Slavic population to one fifth created the structural requirements for the area to be repopulated with German settlers from the Holy Roman Empire . Duke Heinrich I and his wife Hedwig von Andechs had already called German settlers from the east to Silesia at the beginning of the 13th century in order to increase the economic power of the duchy. After the Mongol invasion, the East German colonization initiated by the Silesian Piasts took placebut on a broad basis. The German settlers founded more than 100 new cities and over 1200 villages under German law as well as many churches and hospitals . The original Slavic settlements also adapted to a large extent legally, socially and linguistically to the German settlements. Among the immigrants were also knights who built small hilltop castles and residential towers in the vicinity of the great princely castles and weakened the local nobility by remaining dependent on the princes. Most of the settlers came from the East Franconian language area, but also from Saxony, eastern Thuringia and fromLower Austria , from the Glatzer Land and Upper Silesia as well as from the area around Fulda in Hesse . The dialect of the German Silesians therefore became a dialect that combined Thuringian-Upper Saxon, Middle Bavarian and Hessian features. The population grew at least five times. For centuries, Silesia was a bridge between west and east and between north and south.

    From 1249 the Duchy of Silesia and from 1281 the Duchy of Opole disintegrated into more than a dozen small Piastic Silesian duchies that were at war with each other . During this power vacuum , at the end of the 13th century the Bohemian kings and later the reunited Kingdom of Poland under the Kujavian Piasts, the descendants of Duke Casimir II “the Righteous” , tried to subjugate the now virtually independent Silesian duchies to their respective supremacy .

    Silesia falls to the Bohemian Crown (1335–1526)

    Coat of arms of Silesia under the arms of the Bohemian crown lands in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague
    Duchy of Silesia (light yellow) around 1370 (depicted on a Polish map)
    Silesia around 1512
    Silesia in the Holy Roman Empire as part of the Habsburgs

    As the first Silesian duke, Casimir II of Cosel - Beuthen voluntarily accepted the Bohemian fiefdom on January 9, 1289 . Subsequently, Mesko I von Teschen and his younger brother Bolko I von Opole also turned politically to Bohemia. On January 17, 1291, they paid homage to the Bohemian King Wenceslaus II in Olomouc , with whom they also concluded an alliance that was equivalent to a fiefdom agreement. The alliance with Mesko was of particular importance to King Wenceslaus, as its area provided a direct route to Krakowled, whose conquest was important in Wenceslas aspirations for the Polish throne. Bolko I of Opole was appointed governor of Cracow by King Wenceslaus in the same year .

    Due to the extinction of the direct line of the Přemyslids in 1306, the Silesian policy of the Crown of Bohemia, which had come to John of Luxembourg in 1311 , was delayed . On January 6, 1327, the Breslau Duke Heinrich VI. its territory to Bohemia, in the same year the remaining Upper Silesian partial duchies followed and in 1329 the dukes of Liegnitz , Brieg , Oels , Sagan and Steinau . In 1331 the dukes of Glogau paid homage , in 1336 duke Bolko II of Münsterberg and in 1342 the clerical principality of Neisse. Only after the death of the childless Duke Bolko II , whose niece Anna von Schweidnitz was married to the Roman-German and Bohemian King Charles IV, did the Duchy of Schweidnitz inherit the Bohemia in 1368.

    In the Treaty of Visegrád 1335, in the Treaty of Trenčín (1335, confirmed 1339) and in the Treaty of Namslau 1348, the Polish King Casimir III waived . the great on claims of the royal line of the Piasts to the old Duchy of Silesia in return for the renunciation of the Bohemian kings from the German house of Luxembourg to the Polish crown, which they as heirs of the Přemyslids Wenceslaus II and Wenceslaus III claimed. Casimir III later tried, albeit in vain, to have this contract canceled by the Pope. On April 7, 1348, King Charles IV finally incorporated .the Silesian partial duchies, with the exception of the Duchy of Schweidnitz-Jauer, in the countries of the Bohemian Crown . Silesia thus indirectly became part of the Holy Roman Empire, which was to be called the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation from the time of the late Middle Ages (around 1486) . However, since the dukes and the prince-bishop were not granted the imperial status, they did not have a seat and vote on the imperial diets and were therefore only subject to Bohemia. In 1372, Kazimir's successor Ludwig I, in his capacity as King of Poland, fully confirmed the Trenčín waiver.

    Between 1331 and 1675 (with the exception of the Duchy of Schweidnitz-Jauer, which came directly to Bohemia under inheritance law in 1368) all of the Silesian partial duchies fell to the Crown of Bohemia by reversion . As direct Bohemian crown ownership, they were designated as hereditary principalities. The feudal dependence of Bohemia weakened the position of the Silesian Piasts in domestic and foreign policy issues, at the same time it strengthened the role of the immigrant lower nobility, to which both the princes and the Bohemian crown increasingly transferred manors as fiefdoms , including princely castles and small towns with their districts.

    The Troppauer Land, which has belonged to Bohemia since 1137 , was elevated to the Duchy of Troppau in 1318 for Duke Nicholas II , whose father of the same name founded the Troppau branch of the Přemyslids . After the death of the Ratibor Duke Lestko , the Bohemian King John of Luxembourg awarded Ratibor in 1337 to Duke Nicholas II of Troppau, who was married to a sister of Lestko. Subsequently, the Duchy of Racibórz was also owned by the Opava Přemyslids until the death of Duke Valentin . Through the personal union with Ratibor, the Duchy of Opava also turned to Silesia.

    In the 14th and early 15th centuries, Silesia was able to develop further undisturbed in every respect. At the beginning of the 15th century the terms Upper and Lower Silesia emerged. Upper Silesia comprised the area of ​​the Duchy of Opole with its partial duchies as well as the Premyslid (Troppau) Ratibor. Lower Silesia , located to the west, accordingly comprised the principalities of the undivided Duchy of Silesia, including the spiritual principality of Neisse .

    The Hussite Wars , which were directed against Catholics and Germans, hit Silesia particularly hard as a Catholic and German side of Bohemia. Loss of people and settlements, economic decline and a wave of Slavicization triggered by the Hussites were the result. The situation only improved in 1469 when the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus conquered Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia and was confirmed in his possession in the Peace of Olomouc in 1479. Matthias set a general peace in the countrythrough and reorganized and centralized the state administration. He created the office of a royal governor, which was usually held by the Breslau bishop, and the prince days as a permanent institution.

    After Corvinus' death in 1490, Silesia again became a fiefdom of the King of Bohemia, Ladislaus II of the Jagiellonian dynasty . In the meantime, the border duchies of Auschwitz and Zator fell to Poland in 1457 and Zator in 1494, Sagan to the Wettins in 1472, and Crossen in 1482 to Brandenburg . On the other hand, the sons of the former Bohemian King Georg von Podiebrad , who were raised to Count von Glatz , came into the possession of the Silesian duchies of Münsterberg , Oels and Troppau .

    Silesia under the House of Habsburg (1526–1742)

    After the death of the Bohemian King Ludwig II in the Battle of Mohács (1526) , the Bohemian royal dignity came to Ferdinand I and thus to the dynasty of the Austrian Habsburgs . From 1526 to 1742 the Habsburgs, as kings of Bohemia, were also dukes of Silesia. Almost all of Silesia became Protestant in the 16th century. Well-known Silesian reformers were, among others, Johann Heß and Caspar von Schwenckfeld , whose theology was invoked by the Schwenkfeldians , who were represented in Silesia until the 17th century . The radical Reformation Anabaptist movement also trained communities in Silesia (Gabrieler ). The persecution of Protestants in the course of the Counter-Reformation carried out in the Habsburg lands after 1620 was ended in Silesia by agreements of tolerance. In 1537, the Liegnitz Duke Friedrich II, contrary to the agreements, appointed the Brandenburg Hohenzollern as heirs, but was forced to revoke this inheritance contract as early as 1546. When the last duke from the ducal line of Liegnitz, Georg Wilhelm , who was also the last Piast, died in 1675 , Kurbrandenburg laid claim to its duchies. Later, the Prussian king Friedrich II ( the great) from this a claim to all of Silesia for Prussia. Since the second half of the 17th century, Silesia was the economically most important area of ​​the Habsburg monarchy (textile production).

    Prussian Silesia and Austrian Silesia (1742–1918)

    Coat of arms of the Prussian province of Silesia
    Silesia after the Silesian Wars
    The Silesian weavers
    Prussian Province of Silesia within the borders from 1816 to 1919 (Map 1905)
    Opole , capital of Upper Silesia.

    After the First Silesian War it was agreed in the preliminary peace of Breslau (1742) that Austria had to cede Lower and Upper Silesia to the Oppa as well as the Bohemian County of Glatz to Prussia. Frederick the Great was able to defend this acquisition in the Second Silesian War and also in the Third Silesian War (1756 to 1763).

    A smaller part of Upper Silesia around Troppau , Jägerndorf , Teschen and Bielitz, as well as the southern part of the Principality of Neisse, which belongs to Lower Silesia (= the political district of Freiwaldau until 1938 ) remained as Austrian Silesia (officially: "Duchy of Upper and Lower Silesia") until 1918 of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy . First (until 1782) as part of the Kingdom of Bohemia , then (until 1849 and 1860–1861) Moravia . According to a decree of March 4, 1849, all peoples of the Empire became Austria, including Silesians, have equal rights. With the decree of December 30, 1849, the Silesian Land was formed as crown land . A Silesian Landtag (Silesian Convent) was founded in Opava , with 30 elected members and the Wroclaw bishop ; from 1866 six Silesian deputies were even members of the State Council in Vienna , appointed the Austrian finance minister and held other high state offices in Austria. The Silesian Parliament was working with a ten-year break (1851-1861) before the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1918. Also to Austria were in 1772 the duchiesAuschwitz and Zator , who came to Poland from Silesia in the 15th century.

    After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the confederatively organized German Confederation emerged as the successor to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation , which was dissolved in 1806 and to which both Austria and Prussia belonged. Prussia reorganized its territories as provinces and Silesia became one of the first ten provinces with Breslau as the provincial capital. In 1816 the north-eastern half of Upper Lusatia, to be ceded by the Kingdom of Saxony, was added to the Prussian province. After the dissolution of the German Confederation in 1866 through the Prague Peace Treaty and the formation of theNorth German Confederation (1867) and the German Empire (1871), only Prussian Silesia became part of the German national state .

    Population of Silesia (around 1900)
    category Prussian Austrian total
    number percentage number percentage number percentage
    total 4,942,611 100.0% 680.422 100.0% 5,623,033 100.0%
    German 3,741,300 75.7% 304.149 44.7% 4,045,449 71.9%
    defined as "Polish" 1,100,831 22.3% 225,900 33.2% 1,326,731 23.6%
    Slavic 100,480 2.0% 150.373 22.1% 250,853 4.5%

    In the Reichstag elections at the end of the 19th century, the majority of Upper Silesians voted for the Catholic center. Initially, the Lower Silesians predominantly voted for the party of the “German Freedom”, later increasingly the SPD. With the beginning of industrialization, Upper Silesia with its hard coal mines became one of the economically most important regions of the German Empire alongside the Ruhr area.

    The ethnolinguistic structure of Upper Silesia (1819–1910)

    The situation according to districts in 1910:

    1910 census population German Polish Bilingual
    Opole administrative district 2,207,981 884.045 40.04% 1,169,340 52.96% 88,798 4.02%
    Bytom city 67,718 41,071 60.65% 22,401 33.08% 3,494 5.16%
    Bytom country 195,844 59,308 30.28% 123.016 62.81% 11,678 5.96%
    Cosel 75,673 16,433 21.72% 56,794 75.05% 2,298 3.04%
    Falkenberg 37,526 33,286 88.70% 3.815 10.17% 364 0.97%
    Gliwice city 66,981 49,543 73.97% 9,843 14.70% 7,434 11.10%
    Tost-Gliwice 80,515 16,408 20.38% 61.509 76.39% 2,533 3.15%
    Groß Strehlitz 73,383 12,616 17.19% 58.102 79.18% 1,781 2.43%
    Zabrze 159,810 63,875 39.97% 81,567 51.04% 13,964 8.74%
    Kreuzburg 51.906 24,363 46.94% 24,487 47.18% 3,001 5.78%
    Neustadt OS 97,537 51,489 52.79% 43,787 44.89% 2.176 2.23%
    Opole city 33,907 27,128 80.01% 5,371 15.84% 1,382 4.08%
    Opole country 117.906 23,740 20.13% 89,323 75.76% 2,937 2.49%
    Ratibor city 38,424 22,914 59.63% 11,525 29.99% 3,637 9.47%
    Racibórz land 118.923 13,316 11.20% 56,765 47.73% 1,576 1.33%
    Rosenberg OS 52,341 8,586 16.40% 42,234 80.69% 1,514 2.89%
    Katowice city 43.173 36,891 85.45% 5,766 13.36% 363 0.84%
    Katowice Country 216,807 65,763 30.33% 140,592 64.85% 7,419 3.42%
    Koenigshütte 72,641 39,276 54.07% 24,687 33.98% 8,355 11.50%
    Lublinitz 50,388 7,384 14.65% 39,969 79.32% 2,885 5.73%
    Pleas 122,897 16,464 13.40% 105,744 86.04% 445 0.36%
    Rybnik 131,630 24,872 18.90% 102,430 77.82% 3,615 2.75%
    Tarnowitz 77,583 20,969 27.03% 51,858 66.84% 4,742 6.11%
    Number of Polish-speaking and German-speaking population (Opole administrative district)
    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%) 1,169,340 (53.0%)
    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%)
    Prussian Province of Silesia around 1905, with grayscale marking of the regional relative distribution of the Polish language

    Interwar period (1919–1939)

    Entrance sign from Beuthen on the border (1922–1939)
    German border post near Beuthen
    Silesia in the German Reich
    borders from 1922–1937
    Silesian Voivodeship (1922–1939) (Eastern Upper Silesia) in Poland in the interwar period

    After the First World War , there were profound geopolitical changes in Central Europe. The losers of the war, the imperial German Empire and Austria-Hungary , who until then had divided Silesia, had to surrender their parts of Silesia in whole (kuk) or in part (German Empire) in favor of the newly formed states Poland and Czechoslovakia. Upper Silesia was particularly controversial. The 13th point of the "official peace goals of the Allies" (formulated by US President Woodrow Wilson ) provided for the restoration of an independent Polish state, specifically not within the historical limits before the partitions of Poland, but with all “areas inhabited by an undeniably Polish population”.

    Upper Silesia was linguistically a mixed area (Silesian / Polish or Czech approx. 60%, German approx. 40%) and the majority was Catholic (88%). The population of Lower Silesia was mostly German-speaking or Sorbian-speaking and, with the exception of the largely Catholic County of Glatz, predominantly Protestant (68%). The number of speakers was determined exactly only in Poland and was in the year 2002 56.643, which declared 36,606 other than Polish nationality . A total of 173,200 (2002 census) in Poland and 10,800 in the Czech Republic (2001 census) of the respondents described themselves as ethnic Silesians. How many people (or if any at all) in Germany call themselves (Polish) Silesians and, if applicable, how many speak the Polish dialect Silesian has never been determined.

    Partitions of Silesia after 1919

    As early as 1920, as stipulated in the Versailles Treaty , with the north-eastern half of the district of Groß Wartenberg and the Reichthaler Ländchen ( Lkr. Namslau ) as well as small parts of the districts of Guhrau and Militsch, some border areas of Lower Silesia fell to Poland without asking the population. The treaty also provided that all of Upper Silesia should be awarded to Poland. However, this was changed in favor of a plebiscite , mainly due to British influence . The referendum in Upper Silesiatook place in March 1921, with 59.4% voting for remaining with the German Reich and 40.6% for joining Poland. The turnout was 98%. In 664 municipalities the majority voted for Germany, in 597 for Poland. The tensions that lasted over three years before and after the plebiscite resulted in three propolian uprisings in Upper Silesia . The final division of Upper Silesia was not decided until 1922, with the Allied Supreme Council awarding around 70% of the voting area to the German Reich and around 30% to Poland, without the line of division always corresponding to local majority ratios in the plebiscite.

    The economically profitable East Upper Silesia went to Poland. In the now autonomous Silesian Voivodeship with Katowice as the capital, special agreements were made for the German population who remained there. The main part of Silesia remained with the German Reich even after these partitions and was subdivided into the Prussian provinces of Lower Silesia with the capital Wroclaw and Upper Silesia with the capital Opole, which were created in 1919 . The Upper President (head of administration of the province) provided the center in Upper Silesia until 1933, and the SPD in Lower Silesia until 1932.

    The Hultschiner Ländchen  - the southern part of the Racibórz district  - had already been militarily occupied by Czechoslovakia at the end of 1918 and came to Czechoslovakia in September 1919 with the Treaty of St. Germain . After the First World War, the Austrian crown land of Austrian Silesia came mainly to the newly founded Czechoslovakia - this area now belongs to the Czech Republic  - a small part to Poland . At the beginning of 1919 the Polish-Czechoslovak border war broke out in the industrial area around Teschen. Under pressure from France, Czechoslovakia agreed to a division of the city, through which the greater part of it fell to Poland, while the greater part of the Cieszyn region went to Czechoslovakia. From 1920 onwards, the entire Polish part of the former crown land formed the aforementioned Autonomous Voivodeship of Silesia .

    Beginning in October 1938 came as a result of the Munich Agreement , the populated by Germans Czechoslovak Silesia as part of the Sudetenland to the German Reich , the majority Polish populated central strip ( Zaolzie ) of Olsagebiets a few weeks later to Poland.

    Second World War (1939–1945)

    Administrative districts and counties in the Upper Silesia Gau (1943)

    In 1938 the two provinces of Upper and Lower Silesia, which had been separate since 1919, were reunited to form the Province of Silesia , and the capital was again Wroclaw. After the attack by the Wehrmacht on Poland in September 1939, the Autonomous Voivodeship of Silesia and parts of Lesser Poland , including the so-called New Silesia, were attached to the Province of Silesia. However, only the area of ​​the previous Autonomous Voivodeship of Silesia and the town of Biala, which is intertwined with Bielitz, were treated as inland in terms of passport law, while the rest of the annexed area was subject to a police borderwas separated. In 1941 Upper and Lower Silesia were divided again, with Breslau becoming the capital of the Lower Silesian Gaus and the city of Katowice , which was the capital of the Silesian Autonomous Voivodeship from 1922 to 1939 , and the capital of the Upper Silesian Gaus. At that time, Auschwitz in Lesser Poland (Polish: Oświęcim) also became part of the Upper Silesia district. This is where the Nazi regime established its largest extermination camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau , in which around 1.5 million people, mainly Jews from Poland and other parts of Europe and non-Jewish Poles, were murdered. In addition, from 1940 to 1945 there was the Groß-Rosen concentration camp about 60 km from Wroclaw with numerousOutdoor storage . The Riese site management had been working in the Owl Mountains since 1943 .

    Expulsion of the German population (1945–1947)

    After the end of World War II in Europe, the Allies treated Germany within the borders of 1937 at the Potsdam Conference . The area of ​​the province of Silesia east of the Oder-Neisse line was placed under Polish administration in 1945 . According to the agreement reached, the final definition of the border between the united Germany and Poland should be reserved for a final peace conference. After the administration was taken over by the Polish civil authorities, this larger part of Silesia was administratively incorporated into the Polish state, the German place names were removed and the German population largely expelledor (forcibly) polonized .

    Some of the then 4.5 million Silesians fled from the advancing Red Army from the beginning of 1945 . From the early summer of 1945, the expulsion of the Germans was organized by Polish authorities. The Bierut decrees issued for this made possible for areas that were outside the imperial borders of 1937the confiscation of all movable and immovable property of persons of German nationality for the benefit of the Polish state. In addition, immediately after the end of the war, local Polish administrative authorities carried out "wild expulsions" from areas within the imperial borders of 1937. The remaining backward population had to endure discrimination from the Polish state from 1945 onwards. The use of the German language was banned in public life, in churches and schools, as well as in private life. In June 1945 all Germans were expelled from a strip of territory about 30 kilometers wide immediately east of the Lusatian Neisse.

    Since the new Polish administration was by no means consolidated at this point in time, many Silesians who had fled were initially able to return to their homeland in the summer of 1945 before they were finally expelled in 1946 and 1947. Around 1.2 million Germans in Upper Silesia and around 150,000 in Lower Silesia initially escaped the expulsion entirely. In the case of the Upper Silesians, the reason was the ambiguous national identity (bilingualism, “floating nationality”), and in the case of the Lower Silesians who were not expelled, their usefulness as skilled workers , especially in the mining industry around the towns of Waldenburg and Neurode. The vast majority of these German Lower Silesians emigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany between 1958 and 1960, and to a lesser extent to the GDR . According to the Census 2002 140.895 German living in Silesia (1.61% of the total population of Silesia), of which the Province of Lower Silesia 2.158 / 0.074%, in the province of Opole 106,855 / 10,033% and in the province of Silesia 31,882 / 0.672%. Most of the Upper Silesians who were not displaced emigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany from around the mid-1970s for economic and political reasons or - as has been the case especially since the mid-1980s - illegally with a tourist visacame to the Federal Republic of Germany, where they had an expellee status and thus u. a. were given the right to compensation for property left behind in Silesia if other conditions were met, e.g. B. no preservation or sale of property possible, etc. The peak of the resettlement or emigration wave of German Poles was in early 1990, regardless of or precisely because of the recognition of the German minority in Poland .

    The property of the Germans who fled and expelled was confiscated without compensation by two Polish decrees in 1946 as "abandoned or ownerless property". The later German-Polish resettlers from Silesia, on the other hand, did not lose all of their property; after 1990 some of them got back part of their property in Poland.

    The exact number of deaths in the eviction from Silesia is not known. As evidenced by the " total survey to clarify the fate of the German population in the expulsion territories" (Munich, 1964) were killed 51,926 known by name Lower Silesia (without Breslau) demonstrably "during and as a result of the expulsion," including 2,308 suicides. In addition, there are 210,923 "unresolved cases" known by name, 93,866 of which were reported missing and 48,325 reported death. For Wroclaw, which was recorded separately, the numbers are: 7,488 proven dead, of which 251 were suicides. 89,931 unexplained cases known by name, of which 37,579 reported missing persons and 1,769 reported death (Volume II, p. 456 of the overall survey). 41,632 of the Oberschlesiern have been proven to have died, 302 of them by suicide. Of the 232,206 unresolved cases recorded by name, 46,353 were found missing and 2,048 were reported dead. This results in a total of 634,106 resolved deaths and unexplained missing persons in connection with the expulsion of the German population from Silesia. Based on a total of 4,592. 700 inhabitants (1938 census) this results in a population loss due to clarified deaths and unexplained missing persons of 13.8% of the total population. If you add the 4,592,700 inhabitants who died in the war and those who fled during the war, the percentage is even higher.

    Some of the new residents in Lower Silesia and Upper Silesia came from the areas east of the Curzon Line that had fallen to the Soviet Union as part of the “ West displacement of Poland ” .

    Post-war period until 1990

    Postage stamp commemorating the expulsion in 1945
    Languages ​​and dialects in Silesia, "G1" includes the area of ​​"Silesian" (Upper Silesia) and G2 (Lower Silesian area) of Polish (new mixed dialects).

    In the then Polish part of Silesia, mostly Poles from central Poland and from the former eastern Poland were resettled. In addition, tens of thousands of Ukrainians resettled or expelled from Poland between April and July 1947 as part of Aktion Weichsel ( Akcja Wisła ) , and Poles from Bosnia , Romania and France , including Greek communists. More than 100,000 Polish Jews also came to Lower Silesia, most of them later emigrated to the West and to Israel .

    Those areas of Silesia that were part of Czechoslovakia until the Munich Agreement of 1938, i.e. the Sudeten German areas of the former Austria-Silesia that came to Germany through this agreement, but also the area on the left bank of the Olsa with the western part of Teschen and the Hultschiner Ländchen , belonged from 1945 to the re-established ČSR. The German population was largely expelled from here , as a result, many Czechs from the Czech interior, Czech repatriates , Slovaks , Hungarians and Roma settled there. The west of theLusatian Neisse part of the province of Lower Silesia remained German and essentially became part of Saxony again after 130 years . Geographically it is part of Upper Lusatia .

    Shortly after its establishment, the governments of the GDR and Poland signed the Görlitz Agreement of July 6, 1950, which recognized the Oder-Neisse Line as the final “German-Polish state border”. This was called in official parlance "Oder-Neisse peace border". The Federal Republic of Germany, also founded in 1949, recognized the Oder-Neisse Line in the Warsaw Treaty on December 7, 1970, subject to a change as part of a peace settlement as a de facto “inviolable” western border of the People's Republic of Poland.

    Since 1990

    From west to east: the Lower Silesian , Opole and Silesian Voivodeships within Poland
    Location Moravian Silesia (ocher) in the political division of the Czech Republic next to Bohemia and Moravia

    With the entry into force of the border treaty between Germany and Poland, the part of the former Prussian Silesia east of the Neisse came under international law to the Republic of Poland. When the voivodeships were reorganized in 1999, the historical borders of Silesia were partially taken into account again.

    The Polish Silesia is now mainly in the provinces of Lower Silesia , Opole and Silesia divided, small parts belong to the Province Lebus and the Provinces wholesale and Lesser Poland .

    Silesia is developing positively economically, the automotive industry in Bielsko-Biała and Gleiwitz is particularly successful . Wroclaw and its surroundings are among the most popular investment locations in Poland. In the past decade, numerous important infrastructure projects including the expansion of the A4 motorway have been implemented in all Silesian voivodeships . In Wrocław, a new international terminal at the Nicolaus Copernicus Airport was built until it went into operation in March 2012 .

    In January 2005 the Sejm passed a new minority law. Then it became possible in around 20 municipalities in Upper Silesia with more than 20% German-speaking population to introduce bilingual place-name signs and German as an auxiliary administrative language.

    The present-day Czech part of Silesia is divided into two regions. The originally more structurally stronger eastern part belongs to the Moravskoslezský kraj . This region, which is oriented towards the center of Ostrau , is struggling with the decline of mining and the structural change that goes with it. The previously structurally weaker and sparsely populated western part around the town of Freiwaldau belongs to the Olomoucký kraj .

    The part of the Prussian part of Upper Lusatia that remained with Germany, which was formerly administered in the Province of Silesia, is now divided between the Saxon districts of Bautzen and Görlitz and the Brandenburg district of Oberspreewald-Lausitz after several district reforms .


    See: Silesian Culture


    See: Silesian cuisine


    See: Silesian costume


    Coat of arms of (Lower) Silesia

    The coat of arms of Silesia shows a gold-armored, black eagle on a gold background. The eagle has a silver crescent moon on its chest - usually with a cross. Originally the coat of arms goes back to Heinrich II the Pious , Duke of Silesia. Subsequently, other dukes of Silesia and Wroclaw bore this coat of arms. The dukes of the other Lower Silesian principalities also included the Silesian eagle in their coat of arms. In contrast, a different color scheme for the coat of arms has been in use in Upper Silesia since the 14th century. Nevertheless, the black eagle remained the coat of arms of Silesia, even if it did not form a territorial unit.

    Sometimes the Silesian eagle - as in the coat of arms of the province of Silesia - is depicted with the ducal hat . In the Weimar Republic and after the end of the German Empire, the eagle was depicted without a crown. The coat of arms of today's Lower Silesian Voivodeship also shows an uncrowned eagle, which is designed after the Silesian coat of arms on Henry IV's grave .

    Coat of arms of Upper Silesia

    The Upper Silesian coat of arms goes back to the Dukes of Opole and shows a gold-armored, golden eagle on a blue background. The coat of arms has been shown in this color since the 14th century, and the eagle has been depicted with a crown since the 15th century. With the extinction of the Upper Silesian Piasts in the sub-principalities - who had also adopted this representation - this coat of arms was used less frequently (especially in the Prussian province of Silesia).

    With the establishment of the Prussian province of Upper Silesia, a new coat of arms became necessary, designed by Otto Hupp and officially adopted on June 1, 1926. The coat of arms shows half an uncrowned Upper Silesian eagle on a blue background, in the middle a golden scythe and underneath, also golden, mallets and iron . The coat of arms takes on characteristic Upper Silesian motifs, such as the Piast eagle, the scythe representing agriculture and the crossed hammers as a symbol for mining , but at the same time, with the half eagle, it indicates the division of Upper Silesia in 1922.

    Today's coat of arms of the Silesian Voivodeship shows the uncrowned Upper Silesian eagle in contrast to that of the Opole Voivodeship .

    Economy and Infrastructure

    Polish share

    The traditional traffic axis of Silesia is the Oder and streets running parallel to it. Many cities have historically emerged at places where the Oder could be crossed. The Via Regia also ran from west to east . The area is crossed by the old Amber Road in a north-south direction . In 1846 the Lower Silesian-Märkische Railway was built, which connected Berlin with Breslau. In 1847, the Upper Silesian Railway was followed by an eastern continuation to Myslowitz. In 1847 Görlitz was reached from the east from Kohlfurt , creating a continuous connection from Breslau to Dresdenoriginated. The mountainous regions in southern Silesia were opened up by the Silesian Mountain Railway, in the north important connections were created by the Breslau-Schweidnitz-Freiburg Railway Company . After the Second World War, the connections to the Polish heartland such as Łódź or alternatively via Poznan to Warsaw and the Wroclaw-Stettin connection became more important. There are also motorways and expressways such as the A4 , A8 and A18 as well as S1 , S3 and S7. There are international airports in Katowice and Wroclaw .

    Czech share

    The part of Silesia, which today belongs to the Czech Republic, was opened up by various railway lines that were built during the rule of the Habsburgs . These include, for example, the railway lines of the Kaiser Ferdinands-Nordbahn and the Hannsdorf – Ziegenhals and Jägerndorf – Ziegenhals lines . Mining and steelworks played an important role economically. The Witkowitz ironworks are an example of this .

    German share

    Information board "Lower Silesia" on the A 4

    From the time of the Silesian duchies there are only a few villages - these are Pechern and some former exclaves on the border between Upper Lusatia and Lower Lusatia - in Germany (within the borders of 1990). Görlitz is considered to be the German center of the part of Upper Lusatia, ceded by Saxony to Prussia in 1815, which was under the provinces of Silesia and Lower Silesia from 1816 to 1945. In 1847 the Dresden – Görlitz railway line was opened. The Görlitz station is reached Poland by rail connections from Berlin, Dresden and Zittau as well as connections from the direction.


    Several senior dukes of Poland came from Silesia (e.g. Henry I the Bearded and his descendants), saints of the Catholic Church, Austrian ministers and other high officials, but also outstanding scientists, painters, poets and writers.

    Silesians were the writer Walenty Roździeński actually Valentin Brusek (1570–1641) and the Nobel Prize laureate Gerhart Hauptmann (1862–1946), who described the harsh living conditions of the Silesian craftsmen and workers in their works, the first in his poem “Officina ferraria” the lot of the Silesian miners and hammer smiths of the 16th century. In his drama " Die Weber ", Hauptmann processed the uprisings of the Silesian linen weavers of the 19th century. The writer Hermann Stehr was also a Silesian . Also the poet Andreas Gryphius, born in Glogau in 1616, was a Silesian. He mainly addressed the Thirty Years War with its effects on Silesia.

    Martin Opitz (Von der Deutschen Poeterey) was born in Bunzlau, the Expressionist writer Max Herrmann-Neisse comes from Neisse.

    Angelus Silesius Schlesischer Engel was born in Breslau. A poet, theologian and doctor, one of the most famous poets of the German baroque .

    Silesians were also the poet of German Romanticism Joseph von Eichendorff ( Lubowitz Palace 1788 – Neiße 1857) and Óndra Łysohorsky, born in Erwin Goj (1905–1989), who, besides poetry, created the codification of the Silesian dialect Lachish , and who stood between Biedermeier and realism Karl von Holtei .

    Of the Silesian painters, only Michael Willmann and Adolph von Menzel should be mentioned here.

    The Silesian scientists include: B. the physicist and Nobel Prize winner Maria Goeppert-Mayer , Kurt Alder and the doctor and bacteriologist Paul Ehrlich , as well as the chemist and Nobel Prize winner Fritz Haber and the American historian Fritz Stern . A total of 13 Nobel Prize winners were born in Silesia (see Wroclaw) - more than in any other German country. The zoologist Bernhard Grzimek was born in Neisse O / S and received an Oscar for his film " Serengeti must not die " with his son Michael . The Protestant church historian also comes from SilesiaChristian-Erdmann Schott , who presented numerous studies on the history of Protestantism in Silesia and gave sermons for refugees and expellees from Protestant Silesia from 1993–2013.

    Hanna Reitsch (1912–1979) from Silesia was one of the best-known and most successful German aviators of the 20th century. Reitsch flew over 40 records in all classes and aircraft types.

    The best-known actors born in Silesia include Willy Fritsch , Viktor de Kowa , Georg Thomalla , Thekla Carola Wied , Judy Winter , Hanna Schygulla and the director Wolfgang Liebeneiner .

    Other prominent Silesians are Paul Albert Glaeser-Wilken , Dietrich Bonhoeffer , Alfred Biolek , Wolfgang Thierse , Klaus Töpfer , Manfred Kanther , Erich Mende , Katja Ebstein , Adam Taubitz , Joachim Meisner , Friedrich Nowottny , Kurt Masur , Klaus Schaller , Günther Rittau and Dieter Hildebrandt , the German national soccer players Miroslav Klose (Opole / Oppeln) and Lukas Podolski(Gliwice / Gleiwitz), the ice hockey player and referee Josef Kompalla and the children's book author and illustrator Janosch .

    See also

    Portal: Silesia  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Silesia



    • Gustav Adolf Tzschoppe and Gustav Adolf Harald Stenzel : Document collection on the history of the origins of the cities and the introduction and spread of German colonists and rights in Silesia and Upper Lusatia . Hamburg 1832 ( full text ).
    • Georg Korn , Hrsg .: Silesian documents on the history of trade law in particular of the guild system from the time before 1400. Breslau 1867 ( full text ).
    • Ludwig Oelsner : Silesian documents on the history of the Jews in the Middle Ages . Vienna 1864 ( full text ).

    Web links

    Wiktionary: Silesia  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Commons : Silesia  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
    Wikisource: Silesia  - Sources and full texts


    1. ↑ Who, since the Duchy of Malopolska took possession of Krakow in 1291, claimed to be a King of Poland.
    2. ^ Mieszko I with Emperor against Bohemia, is installed as Duke of Silesia
    3. ^ Vandals . In: Herbert Jankuhn, Heinrich Beck u. a. (Ed.): Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde . 2nd Edition. tape 33 . de Gruyter, Berlin and New York 2006.
    4. ^ Idzi Panic (editor): Śląsk Cieszyński w czasach prehistorycznych [Cieszyn Silesia in the prehistoric era] . Starostwo Powiatowe w Cieszynie, Cieszyn 2012, ISBN 978-83-926929-6-6 , p. 228 (Polish).
    5. Jump up Piotr Bogoń: Na przedpolu Bramy Morawskiej - obecność wpływów południowych na Górnym Śląsku i zachodnich krańcach Małopolski we wczesnym średniowieczu , Katowice, 2012, p. 41
    6. Jacek Poleski: Wczesnośredniowieczne grody plemienne i państwowe w polskiej części Karpat Zachodnich [E arly Mediaeval Tribal and Statehood Strongholds in the Polish Part of the Western Carpathians ] In: Wczesne średniowiecze w Karpatach polskich. red. Jan Gancarski. Krosno 2006, ISBN 83-86588-83-7 , p. 208 (Polish)
    7. Few of these small-aristocratic residential towers have survived, including Tepliwoda Castle , the Dittersbach tower (Dzietrzychowice in the rural municipality of Żagań ) and the Wittgendorf residential tower .
    8. ^ Rudolf Žáček: Dějiny Slezska v datech . Libri, Praha 2004, ISBN 80-7277-172-8 , pp. 56-58.
    9. Joachim Bahlcke Silesia and the Silesians , ISBN 3-7844-2549-6 , p. 28.
    10. ^ Georg Wilhelm Sante (ed.): History of the German Lands - "Territories Ploetz". Vol. 1: The territories until the end of the old empire . A.-G.-Ploetz-Verlag, Würzburg 1964, p. 136.
    11. ^ Václav Filip, Karl Borchardt: Silesia, Georg von Podiebrad and the Roman Curia. Karlstadt am Main - Würzburg 2005 (= scientific writings of the Association for the History of Silesia. Volume 6).
    12. ^ Meyer's large conversation lexicon, 6th edition, Leipzig and Vienna, 1909.
    13. Jakob Spett: Nationality map of the eastern provinces of the German Empire based on the results of the official census of 1910 designed by Ing.Jakob Spett . Justus Perthes, January 1, 1910 ( [accessed March 14, 2017]).
    14. Georg Hassel: Statistical outline of the entire European and the most distinguished non-European states, in terms of their development, size, population, financial and military constitution, presented in tabular form . First issue: Which represents the two great powers Austria and Prussia and the German Confederation . Verlag des Geographisches Institut Weimar (1823), p. 34; Total population 1819 - 561.203; National Diversity 1819: Poland - 377,100; Germans - 162,600; Moravians - 12,000; Jews - 8,000 and Czechs - 1,600
    15. a b c d e f g h i j Paul Weber: The Poles in Upper Silesia: a statistical study . Publishing bookstore by Julius Springer, Berlin (1913), pp. 8–9,
    16. ^ A b c d Paul Weber: The Poles in Upper Silesia: a statistical study . Publishing bookstore by Julius Springer, Berlin (1913), p. 27,
    17. See this website by Falter et al. a. 1986, p. 118.
    18. Landsmannschaft der Oberschlesier e. V. The referendum in Upper Silesia in 1921 - results by constituencies and municipalities; The constituencies include either a district or an urban district and the district that includes it. ( Memento from March 9, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
    19. ^ Ordinance on the restriction of travel with parts of the territory of the Greater German Reich and with the Generalgouvernement of July 20, 1940, Paragraph 1, Paragraph 1 Number b). , she mentions an inclusion only of the city ​​of Biala, which is intertwined with Bielitz
    20. ^ First ordinance for the implementation of the ordinance on the collection of a social equalization tax of 10 August 1940, paragraph 7 ; she names a border line along the Soła .
    21. ^ Franz-Josef Sehr : Professor from Poland in Beselich annually for decades . In: Yearbook for the Limburg-Weilburg district 2020 . The district committee of the district of Limburg-Weilburg, Limburg-Weilburg 2019, ISBN 3-927006-57-2 , p. 223-228 .
    22. Source: Volume II, p. 353 of this documentation.
    23. Source: Volume II, p. 405 of this documentation.
    24. Cf. Ulrich Schmilewski: The Silesian nobility up to the end of the 13th century: origin, composition and political-social role. Würzburg 2002 (= Scientific Writings of the Association for the History of Silesia. Volume 5).
    25. Officina Ferraria . ( Wikisource )
    26. Gerhart Hauptmann . ( Memento of August 14, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) LeMO
    27. ^ House of German-Polish Cooperation Andreas Gryphius
    28. ^ Christian Andree , Jürgen Hein (ed.): Karl von Holtei (1798-1880). A Silesian poet between Biedermeier and realism. Würzburg 2005, pp. 349-397.
    29. See also Michael Sachs: Historisches Ärztelexikon für Schlesien. Volume 1–2: Wunstorf 1997–1999, Volume 3–4: Frankfurt 2002–2006, Volume 5: Pfaffenhofen (Ilm) 2011.
    30. ^ Landsmannschaft Schlesien - Nieder- und Oberschlesien eV: Nobel Prize Winner Silesia
    31. See also Dietrich Meyer , Gustav Adolf Benrath, Ulrich Hutter-Wolandt, Ludwig Petry and Horst Weigelt (eds.): On the history of the Protestant Church in Silesia. Munich 1992.