Silesia after 1945

After 1945, Silesia had a difficult start: it was destroyed by the war, the people who had been settled there were in the beginning not familiar with the country, and the land was subjected to the constraints of a dictatorship. In the years of 1948/49, a rigorous process of Stalinisation stifled any political impulses apart from the United Polish Workers’ Party (PZPR). The only countervailing power in the society was the church.

Economy, too, suffered a slow start after 1945. It was only at the end of the 1950-ies that the nationalised heavy industry of Upper Silesia was modernised step by step and that new industries began to develop in Lower Silesia. The insufficient supply of the population resulted in repeated protests. Strikes in Danzig in 1970 and in 1976 spread rapidly to Silesia. In the 1980-ies, Breslau/Wroclaw and the Upper Silesian region were among the centres of the resistance movement called Solidarność.

Since 1989, Silesia has embarked upon a new path. It ranks among the wealthiest and most developed regions in Poland. Thanks to its geographic location, its cosmopolitan population and its economic power, Silesia is in the position to play an important role within the new Europe.

Picture postcard of the “Exhibition on the Regained Territories“, 1948. Photo: © SMG