Where is Upper Silesia?

All of Silesia is a historic land in central Europe. Today it is splited beetween Polish, German and Czech administrations. Upper Silesia, on the other hand, is the eastern part of Silesia, which is divided by Polish and Czech administrations. For most of the time, these lands were part of Western European civilizations, such as part of the Bohemian Crown, the Holy Roman Empire and Prussia . This led to the development of the unique Silesian language, which is a mixture of Slavic languages and German.

Flag and Emblem

The coat of arms of Upper Silesia is a golden Eagle on a blue shield. The flag of Upper Silesia, like the Eagle, consists of gold and blue. Although there are various variants of the Silesian flag which are widely accepted, such as the variant with the coat of arms on the flag.

So why just Upper Silesia and not Silesia?

Why do we, while speaking about Silesia, mean mostly its “upper” part? The origins of the division of Silesia into Upper and Lower reach the 12th century, and later the Industrial Revolution, which brought more and more people to Upper Silesia looking for work. The industrial revolution needed a labor force as numerous as Silesia had never seen before. Although our region has always stood between Germanic and Slavic civilizations, but this time led to more dynamic ethnic and linguistic changes. It was here, in the 1920s, that a new policy was developing that put Upper Silesia first and foremost. The second very important thing is that after World War II there were virtually no Silesians left in Lower Silesia. 99% of them fled or left to Germany. In their place, the Polish government brought in people living in the former eastern lands of the pre-war Poland. Therefore, neither the languages nor the indigenous culture of Lower Silesia remained. Just as there was a Silesian minority left in Upper Silesia, which took over Silesia’s 1150-year legacy, such people did not remain in Lower Silesia. It is also worth mentioning that, at a slow pace, the interest of Lower Silesians in their region is growing and the Silesian national consciousness is being renewed. It’s not entirely clear yet, but the first steps towards this have been taken.

Brief History

Until 1918 – Silesia Up to the Great War
The history of Upper Silesia is a good one to start with in the year 875, when the Silesian territories came under the Great Moravian Reich. Later, until 1194, Silesia constantly passed between Czechs and Poles, with moments of Silesian independence. From 1194 to 1627 (with small breaks) is the time when Silesia was a de facto independent state(s). In 1627 Silesia came under Austrian rule and our sovereignty gradually diminished, and remains so till this day. In 1742, after Prussia won the First Silesian War, most of Silesia went to Prussia. In the mid-18th century, the first coal mines begin to show up in Upper Silesia, starting the Industrial Revolution in Silesia. In the 19th century, Upper Silesia is one of the most industrialized parts of the world. 

1918-1939 – Upper Silesia’s Dream of Independence
In 1918, Germany loses the First World War and Silesia’s historical enemy, Poland, is reborn on the map. Silesians, wanting to take advantage of the weakness of the lost Germany, build organizations leading to the declaration of Upper Silesian independence. Silesian demands are presented at the peace conference in French Versailles. There was also a proposal to organize a plebiscite in Upper Silesia, the options were to remain in Germany, merge with Poland, or create an independent Upper Silesian state. This proposal is agreed to by the British, Italians, Americans, against were the French, because they knew that in such a scenario the majority would vote for a free state. The French were very keen that such a rich region should fall to Poland, their new ally. Ultimately, the French have the most to say, so a plebiscite is decided, with only Germany or Poland as options. A plebiscite takes place in 1921, with 59.6% of the people voting to remain in Germany. The Poles, as well as the French, are very uncomfortable with such a scenario, but they were ready for such an eventuality. They fabricate a so-called “uprising”, putting degraded a day before Polish soldiers, across the Silesian border, and force the Silesians to fight against themselves. After this fratricidal struggle, the Poles demand that Upper Silesia be divided, so that its richest part falls to Poland. This is what happens. In the 20-year interwar period, Silesia is divided between Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia.

After 1939 – Dark Times
During World War II, all of Silesia is placed within the borders of the Third Reich. In turn, after the war, Stalin, the USSR dictator, as compensation for the eastern Polish lands taken away, gives the Poles the vast majority of Silesia – not only Upper Silesia, but also Lower Silesia. Nearly everyone from Lower Silesia either fled to Germany or were forced to leave and seek refuge there. In Upper Silesia, the situation is similar, but not everyone is able to leave. Poles immediately after the war began the process of Polonization, banned the German language, and for using Silesian language one could not hope for any better prospects in work or society. From 1945 to 1952, Polish concentration camps operated in Silesia, where Silesians classified as enemies of the Polish nation were tortured. Silesians were forced to forget their language and culture.

Current Situation

After the fall of communism in 1989, freedom of speech regarding Silesian affairs became greater, but not to the point of being completly immune form punishment. The Poles passed a law in which one could be jailed for 25 years for forming separatist organizations. The Poles further failed to acknowledge the crimes committed against the Silesians, and Polish propaganda history is carried out in schools. Based on the 2021 census, there are 585,700 Silesians in the Republic of Poland, wich Poland regularly don’t allow to be recognized as a national minority. Likewise, the Silesian language to this day is not officially recognized as a language, which means we can’t officially learn it in schools, nor can we do any resolutions in governmental offices. In Silesia autonomy has not been restored wich was promised by the Poles to us in 1920.
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