Silesia: a varied landscape and a heterogeneous society with a rich culture and history. HAUS SCHLESIEN's interactive online portal "Schlesien im Spiegel der Geschichte" ("Silesia in the Mirror of History") invites you on a rich journey of discovery. Here you can follow traces of Silesian culture, understand the historical background and learn about the ruptures and continuities that have shaped this fascinating region.
The region of Silesia is diverse – it is characterized by a varied landscape, a rich culture and a heterogeneous society. Over the centuries, it has remained a crossroads of different cultures. Changing territorial affiliations, multiple border shifts and differently motivated migratory movements into and out of the region have led to a remarkable cultural and ethnic diversity that has strongly shaped Silesia in the past and continues to do so today.
With the foundation of the Bishopric of Wroclaw in the year 1,000, the first loose territorial union of the Silesian tribes took place, which also formed a political unit with the Duchy of Silesia from the 12th century. The hereditary regulations of the Silesian
The Piasts were a Polish ruling dynasty that produced kings and other important nobles over a period of more than 700 years. Their last Silesian bloodline came to an end in 1675. The Piasts have remained present in the Polish culture of remembrance up to the present day.
led to the region being split up into smaller individual principalities, which subordinated themselves to the crown of Bohemia in the 14th century. As a result of the three Silesian Wars between Austria and Prussia, Silesia became a Prussian province, with only a small area remaining part of Austria. The decisions reached at the Congress of Vienna and the Peace Treaty of Versailles resulted in significant border shifts. After the Second World War, most of Silesia was placed under Polish administration, a small part became part of Czechoslovakia, and the western corner remained with Germany. Most of the German population was expelled, while Poles from the territories that had been ceded to the Soviet Union and other parts of the country were resettled in the region. Today, the region of Silesia is divided among three countries and is located in Central Europe.
These changes of power, border shifts and migratory movements have left visible traces in the landscape, cityscapes and culture. However, hardly any turning point was as abrupt and absolute for the cities and towns as that of 1945/1946. In addition to the destruction caused by the war, the region experienced an almost complete population exchange after the end of the war. In Lower Silesia, almost all Germans were expelled, in Upper Silesia a large part of them – they had to leave behind houses and farms, belongings and property. In their place, evacuees from Poland's eastern territories, Poles from other parts of the People's Republic, and so-called repatriates were settled there – a heterogeneous group that first had to navigate how to come together. The towns, which had been founded and shaped centuries earlier according to German law, were now given Polish names. Streets and squares were renamed, and work soon began to remove the German traces from houses and streetscapes. The names of the towns changed, the people were foreign, but the landscape, the layout of the town and the houses – at least those that had not been destroyed – often remained the same. In their own way, streetscapes and architecture reveal breaks and continuities, so that a comparison between then and now can be revealing and sometimes like a look into a history book.
This interactive online portal invites you to get to know the diversity of Silesia – to understand historical backgrounds, to go in search of traces and to discover the breaks and continuities in the region. An interactive map, which shows border shifts and migration flows over the centuries, provides the necessary historical background. A second map invites you to travel by mouse click, to numerous historical and present-day views of Silesian cities and towns – some of them placed directly next to each other in pairs of images. The visual material is complemented with short explanations and essays.