Situation in Upper Silesia before the outbreak of World War II
The end of the 1930s in Upper Silesia saw, on the one hand, an increase in the German threat, and, on the other, intensifying patriotic attitudes among the voivodship inhabitants. The death of Wojciech Korfanty, almost on the eve of the outbreak of World War II, had a symbolic significance.
Towards the end of the 1930s, as the Third Reich grew more powerful, the position of the opposition parties in Upper Silesia towards the Sanacja government was softened. The defence of the Polish raison d’état was seen as the overriding value. Due to an increasing number of actions against the Polish state and spy scandals, anti-German sentiment grew stronger. The authorities were called on to combat the hostile irredentism. The threat from the Third Reich stimulated patriotic attitudes, manifested in contributions to collections for the National Defence Fund, accelerated Polonisation of surnames, and pressure to Polonise the industrial sector.
In October 1938, the Silesian Voivodship expanded its territory by incorporating Trans-Olza.
Wojciech Korfanty, a Christian Democracy activist, dictator of the Third Silesian Uprising and one of the fathers of Poland’s independence, died on 17 August 1939. His funeral on 20 August 1939 turned into a great patriotic manifestation for Silesians.
1 September 1939 marked the outbreak of World War II, thus disrupting the continuity of Polish administration in the Silesian Voivodship.
+ Entry into of Trans-Olza. Polish Army infantry enters Jablunkov, October 1938 (NATIONAL DIGITAL ARCHIVES OF POLAND)
+ Entry into of Trans-Olza. Polish Army Cavalry entering Jablunkov, October 1938 (NATIONAL DIGITAL ARCHIVES OF POLAND)
(OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)
+ Entry into of Trans-Olza. Tribune of honour on the market square of Fryštát, October 1938. First on the left, wearing a hat: Silesian Voivod Michał Grażyński. Next to him: General Władysław Bortnowski, the commander-in-chief of the Polish army that entered Trans-Olza (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)
+ Policeman on duty (NATIONAL DIGITAL ARCHIVES OF POLAND)
+ Funeral of Wojciech Korfanty in Katowice, 20 August 1939. The procession is headed by Bishop of Silesia Stanisław Adamski (NATIONAL DIGITAL ARCHIVES OF POLAND)
+ Funeral procession during Wojciech Korfanty’s funeral. 20 August 1939 (NATIONAL DIGITAL ARCHIVES OF POLAND)
+ Wojciech Korfanty is the most recognisable politician of Upper Silesia, who strove to connect the region to Poland. He was the national leader of the Polish population of Upper Silesia during the uprisings and the plebiscite, one of the founders of independent Poland, and a politician linked to the Christian Democratic Party. In the photo: Wojciech Korfanty during the ceremony of the incorporation of Upper Silesia to Poland on the Katowice market square, 20 June 1922. Photograph by Stefan Pierzchalski (NATIONAL DIGITAL ARCHIVES OF POLAND
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