Silesia – city state or ethnic region?

copyright - Wojciech WilczykRecently, the Poland’s Minister for the Interior and Administration Ludwik Dorn publicly announced that the government are moving forward in their plans for the creation of a super-Silesian urban aglommeration. copyright Wojciech WilczykThe superpolis will swallow up seventeen towns and cities who will have no option to opt out of being part of the new metropolitan area. The idea is that Śląsk (Silesia) will be able to compete with the other larger cities – Warsaw, Poznań, Wrocław and the Gdańsk-Gdynia-Sopot aglommeration for business. Katowice is most interested with the city mayor happy with the idea. However, it seems that the other sixteen city and town mayors are not too keen on relinquishing their positions for the greater good of the region…

Śląsk in its early stagesŚląsk is most definitely a defined and definable European region. It’s enough just to look back into history and see that the Śląsk tribes were well and truly active already in the early stages of the development of Slav-dom. The tribes that settled in the Upper Silesian (Górnośląski) region or were in close proximity to the region were primarily the Ślęzanie. Also, the Opolanie, Golęszyce, Bieżuńczanie and Dziadoszanie.

There is a lot of historical weight behind the move to create a super-city that will cover a huge area from Gliwice to Jaworzno. But will this help to unite the people of the region or will it cause tension between the proud denizens of each city who will all be lumped together?

There are calls for Śląsk autonomy and the Movement for Śląsk Autonomy has been very active in recent years pushing for more legislation that will help self-determination. Recently, a Śląsk took on Poland in a football match. Ironically, the game finished 1-1. Self-determination is of great importance. The criteria for nationhood can often be encapsulated in: (1) ethinicity, (2) language, (3) territory. There are some countries that do not possess all three. Belgium? Luxembourg? Switzerland? Many believe Śląsk possesses all three conditions. Nobody can doubt there is a definite ‘Śląsk-ness’. The Ślęzanie were Slavonic tribes and their genes have slowly filtered down, albeit watered down, but still. Some Silesians are calling for “Śląski” to be included in their passports as a mark of their different identity. Statistics show that around 300,000 people believe in their ‘otherness’. Estimates suggest that a further 3 million people belong to this ethic category. With regards to language, there is a dialect-language problem here. There is no point getting into this, but the differentiation between dialect and language does not preclude nationhood. As for territory… perhaps the Śląsk city state is close to being born…


14 thoughts on “Silesia – city state or ethnic region?

  1. Oh yeah, let them create their autonomy! Getting a tax reduction because there are no more mines or unemployed miners to pay for suits me just fine. Revoke their voting rights and say goodbye to PiS.

  2. No, not really. Many Silesians claim that they are more german than polish. Plus, they are conservative and don’t want to hear about closing any mines, since it’s their “way of life”. I say let them go and let us see how they will do on their own.

  3. Most Poles seem to be afraid of Silesian calls for autonomy because they think it means Silesia will break away and join Germany. More autonomy for Silesia is probably an unrealistic option, although there are some regions – Kashuby, for instance that may have more of a chance of autonomy.

  4. Czibo’s right! Let them heve their “autonomy” but in a more colonial way. Like dominium or something. If they can pull it out good for them (and us). Ff thay can’t also good for us.

  5. Czibo, didn’t know you’re such a radical hoodie :P. Do you really think it’s possible for Silesia to join Germany? Maybe 50 years ago, yes. But now I thinks it’s hardly possible (in Poland) to create country within a country or even let a part of Poland to break away.

    As for the mines etc., I think it has nothing to do with Silesians being conservative. It’s just as you wrote: it’s their way of life; or rather a way to make a living coz, as we all know, mining industry is the main source of income for Silesians. If I were them, I wouldn’t like the idea of closing or selling out the mines too.

    Mazoku, “let them have their autonomy but in a more ‘colonial way’?” I don’t get it… We’re in the 21st century, why should we go back to colonial times???

  6. I don`t really think creating one big Silesian city is possible- I can well remember all the fights between Żory,Jastrzębie and Rybnik citizens during concerts or football matches.Besides,a lot of people living in Silesia came here from all over the country to find jobs and flats and they`re not believed to be Silesians,so they wouldn`t like the idea of a strange `autonomy`.And coal mines are not the only places you can find here.What`s more,not many of us claim to be `more German than Polish`.

  7. How about a federal system, analogous to Germany or Switzerland or the USA? I have been saying for years that the Silesians, dealing with a post-heavy industry world, have more in common with the northern Czech filth belt than they do with Warsaw or Bialystok. And what about the górale? How about a Tatran Republic covering both the Polish and Slovak sides of the mountains? (And wasn’t there such an idea in WW2?)

    My ideal Europe would consist of smaller states (Scotland/Alba, the Basque country/Euskadi, Britanny/Breizh – add your favourites) functioning together in various kinds of military, cultural and economic co-operation, at micro-regional, macro-regional and pan-European levels. That’s why the idea of an EU-style military pact appeals to me, for example (though I guess it wdn’t to anyone born into the Warsaw ‘Pact’ – although many of those same people don’t seem to have a problem belonging to NATO :D).

    As for Silesia, I’ve never really been there for long, so I’m not in a position to comment. And as for trying to make it into a megapolis by means of a decision from ‘above’ – i.e. not as a result of a grassroots campaign – well, I don’t need to tell anyone here how well Poles have responded historically to having ‘great ideas’ imposed from them from above. 🙂

  8. Right on for federal systems! Definitely a positive step forward. I’ve actually just returned from Śląsk and most people there think it’s the oddest idea they’ve ever heard. The most common sentence being: “But what happens when you put Sosnowiec people together with Bytom people?” or “You can’t put Chorzów and Zabrze together!” Animosities are everywhere. Will a federal system change that?

  9. Federal system? Sue, tell me where to sign. In my understanding th more diversity and fragmentation there is the better. I strongly support the idea of variety and diversity, as this is the key for progress.

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