The social basis and the circumstances of the German minority revealing itself in Opole Silesia in 1989 Cover Image

Baza społeczna i okoliczności ujawnienia się mniejszości niemieckiej na Śląsku Opolskim w 1989 roku
The social basis and the circumstances of the German minority revealing itself in Opole Silesia in 1989

Author(s): Michał Lis
Subject(s): History
Published by: Instytut Śląski
Keywords: Opole Province; German minority; genesis of German minority; German minority revealing circumstances; social basis of German minority

Summary/Abstract: One of the elements distinguishing Opole Province (also called Opole Silesia) in Poland is the German minority, homogeneously inhabiting the area of the upper Odra River. The Poland’s National Census of 2002 proved that its members constitute 69.9% of the whole German population living in Poland and 10.03% of the population of the Province. The author accepted the aim of the paper to be explanation of the genesis of the minority, its social basis and the circumstances of its revealing itself after the fall of the Communist system. In his four-part argumentation, the author shows, first, the native population as the Polish minority in the German Regency of Opole. Its size, on the basis of declarations relating to the Polish language chosen as the mother tongue, or using both the Polish and the German languages, was assessed, following the censuses, to be over 535.7 thousand in 1925 and almost 365.6 thousand in 1933. After the War, when the German population had been displaced, as a result of the nationality verification project carried out in the area of the former Opole Regency the confirmation of declared Polish nationality was obtained by almost 851.5 thousand people. From 1952, part of the verified citizens began to acknowledge their closer relations with the German culture and character, which gave rise to their submitting applications for permission to leave for the Federal Republic of Germany. Until the fall of the system – including the illegal emigration – this had led to the transfer of over 468 thousand inhabitants from the historical upper Silesia to Germany. Following the democratization of Poland, the German minority, whose basis in Opole Silesia was the native population, revealed its existence. In the first period, its leaders were said to have collected 200–250 thousand declarations of membership. The author shows the stages of the minority’s organizing itself: first – in the atmosphere of uncertainty, hence including extreme behaviors, then – in the conditions of normalization of the relations between Poland and the Federal Republic of Germany, as proper realization of the right of a minority to preserve, express, cherish and develop its ethnic, cultural and language identity, without being in danger of enforced assimilation.

  • Issue Year: 2010
  • Issue No: 69
  • Page Range: 31-54
  • Page Count: 24
  • Language: Polish