Awakening of national awareness
In the second half of the 19th century, the Polish national awareness began to emerge in the so-called Prussian Upper Silesia. It was promoted by figures such as Józef Lompa, Juliusz Ligoń and Rev. Konstanty Damrot. As early as during the Springtime of the Peoples, Rev. Józef Szafranek made strong demands for language freedoms for the inhabitants of Upper Silesia. Karol Miarka also fought for this in the press.
In 1871, Germany was unified. Efforts to restrict the influence of the Catholic Church involved the introduction of the Kulturkampf policy by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, which morphed into top-down Germanisation in the aforementioned areas. Paradoxically, this awakened Polish national awareness, additionally enhanced by settlers from Greater Poland and Pomerania coming to Upper Silesia.
The 1880s also saw protests expressed by pro-Polish Upper Silesians against restrictions of their national rights, especially the removal of the Polish language from schools (1872) and the ban on using Polish at rallies (the so-called muzzle law). Fighting for their rights, Poles from Upper Silesia, notably Wojciech Korfanty, broke with the German Centre Party. As the editor of “Górnoślązak” [Upper Silesian], Korfanty expressed this view in 1901 by publishing the pamphlet entitled Precz z Centrum [Down with the Centre]. In 1903, he was elected to the Reichstag, where he represented Poles from Germany. The situation was different in the Duchy of Cieszyn, part of the so-called Austrian Silesia, where Paweł Stalmach was the main inspirer of national activity. The establishment of the Educational Society [Macierzy Szkolnej] for Cieszyn Silesia in 1885 was a huge success.
+ Group photograph of members of the Sokół Gymnastic Society of Bytom, taken in the early 20th century (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)
+ Photograph of Wojciech Korfanty taken in 1903, by Toni Schön (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)
+ Group photograph of workers at the Baildon steelworks, early 20th century (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)
+ Postcard showing buildings of the “Królewska” (Royal) Steelworks (since 1934: Chorzów), early 20th century. On the left: an image of tenement houses in the town centre. On the right: one of the shafts of the König (“King”) mine (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)
+ Postcard with a view of the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Katowice, early 20th century (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)
+ A fragment of Zamkowa Street (now: Wojciech Korfanty Avenue) in Katowice, early years of the 20th century. On the right: the “Grand Hotel” building (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)
+ Postcard presenting the crossing of two main streets in the village of Chorzów, early 20th century (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)
(OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)
+ The Polish-language press in Upper Silesia repeatedly discussed social and national problems in the region. The correspondents describing those problems included a journalist writing under the pseudonym of “Marek from China”. His activity attracted the attention of managers of the local industrial plants, who offered a financial reward for identifying this writer. Despite this, Marek from China remained unknown. His texts suggest that he worked at one of the Upper Silesian steelworks. The group photo shows workers of the “Baildon” steelworks – an example of the community that Marek from China originated from (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)
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