Keeping the Recovered Territories: Evolving Administrative Approaches Toward Indigenous Silesians

Stefanie M. Woodard, Kennesaw State University


This article traces changes in Polish administrative approaches toward indigenous Upper Silesians in the 1960s and 1970s. By commissioning reports from voivodeship leaders in 1967, the Ministry of Internal Affairs recognized that native Silesians held reservations toward Poland and, moreover, that postwar Polonization efforts may have backfired. These officials further understood the need to act quickly against disintegration trends. Although administrators in Katowice and Opole noted that relatively few Silesians engaged in clearly anti-Polish activities, these leaders still believed that West German influence threatened their authority in Silesia. Increasing West German involvement in the area, particularly through care packages and tourism, seemed to support this conclusion. In response to fears of West German infiltration and the rise in emigration applications, local authorities sought to bolster a distinctly Silesian identity. Opole officials in particular argued that strengthening a regional identity, rather than a Polish one, could combat the tendency toward disintegration in Silesia. This policy shift underscored an even greater change in attitude toward the borderland population: instead of treating native Silesians as an innate threat to Polish sovereignty, as had been the case immediately after the war, the administration now viewed them as essential for maintaining authority in western Poland.