German tragedy of destiny

Silesia

 

<-- HOME | <-- FLIGHT AND EXPULSION

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 Breslau

 

 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.

 

937

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

 

968

Expansion of the empire to the east.

 

1201

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

 

1740

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

 

1742

Silesia is divided into a Prussian and an Austrian Silesia.

 

1763

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

 

1922

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.

 

1945

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