were expulsed from Silesia, of which 435,000
lost their lives on
In this province
once lived 4,751,000 Germans in 3934 settlements.
Bielitz, Brieg, Bunzlau, Gleiwitz, Glogau,
Hindenburg/O.S., Hirschberg, Kattowitz,
Liegnitz, Myslowitz, Neisse, Oels, Oppeln,
Schweidnitz, Teschen and Waldenburg
Silesia in a
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
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.
around 200 B.C.
Settlement by Vandal
Until the turn of
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
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.
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
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
Silesians were driven from their homes.
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
personalities of Silesia
Famous names; who
knows their Silesian roots?
- Breslau, 1798-1871, poet
Borsig - Breslau, 1804-1854, engine builder
Bergius - Goldschmieden, 1884-1949, chemist (Nobel-Laureate)
Bierbaum - Grünberg, 1865-1910, poet
Ehrlich - Strehlen, 1854-1915, medic
von Eichendorff - Lubowitz Castle, 1788-1857, writer
Gustav Freytag - Kreuzburg,
1816-1895, cultural historian, writer
Göppert - Sprottau, 1800-1884, botanist
Gryphius ryphius - Glogau, 1616-1664, playwright,
Günther - Striegau, 1695-1723, poet
1868-1934, chemist (Nobel-Laureate)
1862-1946, writer (Nobel-Laureate)
- Hirschberg, 1887-1912, poet
- Breslau, 1617-1679, poet
- Breslau, 1768-1834, philosopher
- Breslau, 1624-1677, poet
Count Moritz Strachwitz - Peterwitz, 1822-1847,
- Breslau, 1679-1754, philosopher