100 years ago Silesia returned home. It returned to Poland on the map, but in fact it never ceased to be a spiritual part of Poland.

Poland, free and independent, would not be the same country without Silesia. And perhaps it could not have survived at all. The Silesians followed their hearts and chose Poland. They wanted to be Poles and no force could separate them from Poland.

The Polish and Silesian identities always went hand in hand, and also complemented and strengthened each other. Thanks to Silesia’s return to Poland the new state could flourish anew.

Mateusz Morawiecki

Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland



Between Poland, Czechia, Austria and Prussia


Silesia had been connected to the Polish state since the times of Mieszko I, who placed the region under his rule around the year 990. The ties between Silesia and Poland remained strong despite the division into districts (starting from 1138). They were strengthened by the awareness of a common statehood and dynasty as well as a common church organisation (supremacy of the Archbishop of Gniezno). Silesian dukes sometimes claimed the Cracow throne and sovereignty over the other Polish lands. Silesia mediated in the reception of West European models, such as town privileges and the establishment of villages under the new law.

In the 14th century, the ties between the Silesian duchies and Poland were loosened when the local dukes subordinated themselves to the Czechs. Nevertheless, in the following centuries, the common history was remembered, and the Jagiellonians temporarily acquired the Czech crown and Silesia, which later were taken by the Habsburg monarchy (from 1526). In the 16th century, the Reformation progressed in Silesia but was later halted by the Counter-Reformation. In the 17th century, Silesia suffered terrible devastation during the Thirty Years’ War (population shrank by 1/3, while towns, castles and villages were destroyed), which bypassed Poland.

In the following century, Silesia returned to the path of growth. Upper Silesia (the eastern part of Silesia, called by this name since the 15th century) had rich deposits of lead, silver and calamine. Prussia, in an attempt to gain those rich resources and become a superpower, conquered most of Silesia during the so-called Silesian Wars (1740–1763), with the exception of Cieszyn, which remained under Austrian rule.


+ View of Racibórz in the mid-18th century, copperplate engraving by Friedrich Bernard Werner (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)

+ Image of the seal of Władysław, Duke of Opole and Racibórz (WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

+ A view of the “Królewska” ironworks in mid-19th century. Erected at the turn of the 19th century, this ironworks was among the first modern plants of its kind, supplied with coal from the neighbouring mine. The project was initiated by Friedrich Wilhelm von Reden. The plant gave rise to the town of Königshshütte (Royal Ironworks), today known as Chorzóww. Engraving by Ernst Knippel (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)

+ The Klodnica Canal (built in 1792–1812), one of the projects finalised by the “father” of Silesian industry Friedrich Wilhelm von Reden, which stimulated dynamic development of Upper Silesia. Ernst Knippel, engraving (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)

+ Silesia was the place of the first town settlements and town privileges in the territory of the present-day Poland (Złotoryja in 1211, Lwówek Śląski in 1217). Between the 13th and 15th century, the Silesian duchies were the most urbanised and economically developed area of modern-day Poland. Panorama of Nysa, wood engraving from Hartman Schedel’s World Chronicle, 1493 (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)


+  The map of the Silesian duchies of Oświęcim and Zator, incorporated into Poland in 1564 and remaining as part of Poland until the first partition in 1772, is the oldest Polish detailed map (first edition: 1563). Author: Stanisław Porębski, edition of 1573 (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)


+  View of Racibórz in the mid-18th century, copperplate engraving by Friedrich Bernard Werner  (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)


+ Map of Upper Silesia from Atlas Silesiae... by Johann Homann, published by his heirs in 1750 (OWNED BY MUZEUM ŚLĄSKIE W KATOWICACH)


Wystawa plenerowa z okazji 100. rocznicy powrotu Śląska do Macierzy. Dofinansowano ze środków Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego

Projekt realizowany w ramach obchodów stulecia odzyskania niepodległości oraz odbudowy polskiej państwowości

Muzeum Śląskie w Katowicach jest instytucją kultury Samorządu Województwa Śląskiego współprowadzoną przez Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego