German tragedy of destiny









3,588,000 people were expulsed from Silesia, of which 435,000

lost their lives on the way.


In this province once lived 4,751,000 Germans in 3934 settlements.


The German Silesia


 Major cities:

Breslau, Beuthen/O.S., Bielitz, Brieg, Bunzlau, Gleiwitz, Glogau,

Görlitz, Grünberg, Hindenburg/O.S., Hirschberg, Kattowitz,

Königshütte, Lauban, Liegnitz, Myslowitz, Neisse, Oels, Oppeln,

Pless, Ratibor, Schweidnitz, Teschen and Waldenburg



Silesia in a nutshell


Capital: Breslau

Area: 36,318 km²

Population: 4,869,512 (1939)

Counties: Breslau, Liegnitz, Oppeln


The province of Silesia is larger than the area of Denmark.


In 1163 Silesia became independent of Poland, from the 13th century was incorporated into the German Reich. In 1335 Poland permanently renounced claims to Silesia.


The small area in the south of Silesia, the so-called "Hultschiner Ländchen", was ceded in 1919 to Czechoslovakia.


The area around the southern tip of Wartenberg with the cities of Tarnowitz, Königshütte and Kattowitz had in 1919/1922 to be given to Poland.


After the war ended in 1945, virtually the whole of Silesia came under Polish administration. The Neisse at Lausitz formed the new border and only a very small tip of Silesia around Hoyerswerda remained German territory.





 History of Silesia


around 200 B.C.

Settlement by Vandal tribes.


Until the turn of the eras

Silesia is part of the first German empire under the Marcomanni King Marbod.



Otto I expanded the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation from the Elbe to the Oder.



Expansion of the empire to the east.



Henry I of Silesia founded his Silesian empire within the framework of the German Empire.



Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia begins the first of the three Silesian wars for the conquest of Silesia.



Silesia is divided into a Prussian and an Austrian Silesia.



In the Peace of Hubertusburg Silesia is permanently assigned to Prussia.



Contrary to the will of the people declared by popular vote in 1921 to remain in Germany Silesia is divided under the Geneva Convention. Upper Silesia with the cities of Kattowitz and Königshütte falls to Poland, the Hultschiner Ländchen is awarded to Czechoslovakia.



Due to flight and expulsion 3,153,000 Germans lost their native Silesia.






Flight and expulsion


The evacuation order for Silesia was issued very late, only on 20 January 1945. The Red Army advanced in such a tempo that an orderly escape was impossible.


In addition, there were the snowy and icy roads and extreme Siberian temperatures which made it difficult to escape.


Scene from the movie Children of the Storm



The route by train west of Breslau was blocked by the Soviet advance as far as the Oder. Virtually the only way open was south over the giant mountains of the Glazer Bergland or through Ratibor to Bohemia and Moravia.


The fleeing Silesians went through several layers of hell. If the trek was not overwhelmed by Russian assault troops and they managed to Bohemia and Moravia, they stumbled into the marauding groups of the Czechs.


The people who fled in the direction of Dresden fell into the furnace of hell of the Allied bomb attacks.


The inhabitants of Breslau who didn't succeed to leave the city died in their thousands in the hail of Soviet shells, in the heat of fire and flame throwers or by the violence of the Russian soldiers. The city was captured on 6 May 1945.


Due to frost, exhaustion starvation, hostilities and the aggression of the Soviet soldiers, while on the run and during the subsequent expulsion, over 400,000 people lost their lives.


About 3,000,000 Silesians were driven from their homes.


435,000 dead



 Polish government's decrees of expulsion:



Translation of the last paragraph: "All homes in the city must remain open, the flat or house keys must be inserted outside."





Important personalities of Silesia


Famous names; who knows their Silesian roots?


 Willibald Alexis - Breslau, 1798-1871, poet


 August Borsig - Breslau, 1804-1854, engine builder


 Friedrich Bergius - Goldschmieden, 1884-1949, chemist (Nobel-Laureate)


 Otto Julius Bierbaum - Grünberg, 1865-1910, poet


 Paul Ehrlich - Strehlen, 1854-1915, medic


 Baron Joseph von Eichendorff - Lubowitz Castle, 1788-1857, writer and poet


Gustav Freytag - Kreuzburg, 1816-1895, cultural historian, writer 


 Heinrich Robert Göppert - Sprottau, 1800-1884, botanist


 Andreas Gryphius ryphius - Glogau, 1616-1664, playwright, poet


Johann Christian Günther - Striegau, 1695-1723, poet


Bernhard Grzimek - Neiße,

1909-1987, zoologist


Fritz Haber - Breslau,

1868-1934, chemist (Nobel-Laureate)


Gerhart Hauptmann - Obersalzbrunn,

1862-1946, writer (Nobel-Laureate)


 Georg Heym - Hirschberg, 1887-1912, poet


Christian Hofmann von Hofmannswaldau - Breslau, 1617-1679, poet


August Kopisch - Breslau,

1799-1853, poet


Heinrich Laube - Sprottau,

1806-1884, writer


Friedrich von Logau - Liegnitz,

1604-1655, poet


Gregor Mendel - Heinzendorf,

1822-1884, biologist, nature researcher


Adolph Menzel - Breslau,

1815-1905, illustrator, painter


Martin Opitz - Brunzlau,

1597-1639, poet


Friedrich Daniel Schleiermacher - Breslau, 1768-1834, philosopher


Angelus Silesius - Breslau, 1624-1677, poet


Count Moritz Strachwitz - Peterwitz, 1822-1847, poet


Christian von Wolff báró - Breslau, 1679-1754, philosopher