Introduction to Polish Plebiscites: Upper Silesia (Górny Śląsk)

Silesia is an industrial area in southwest Poland, bordering Germany and former Czechoslovakia. Upper Silesia, the eastern Part of Silesia, was the most complicated and bitterly contested of the plebiscite territories. During negotiations in London and indeed at an earlier period, the German government had declared that the possession of Upper Silesia was indispensable to Germany if she was to fulfil her obligations in regard to reparations. After some negotiation, the plebiscite was fixed for 20 March 1921 and resulted in 717122 votes being cast for Germany against 483514 for Poland. All the towns in the plebiscite territory and most of the villages gave German majorities. Of the districts, only those of Pless and Rybnik in the southeast, Tarnowitz in the east and Tost-Gleiwitz in the interior showed considerable Polish majorities, while in Lublinitz and Gross Strelitz, the votes cast on either side were practically equal. All the areas of the industrial district in a narrower sense - Beuthen, Hindenburg, Kattowitz and Königshütte - had slight German majorities, though in Beuthen and Kattowitz this was entirely due to the town vote, as the country parishes had given Polish majorities. However, most of the area of Upper Silesia voted for Poland. The Polish side pointed to the fact that German majority was achieved artificially by the votes of Silesian emigrants from Western Germany. Without their votes, the vote count was almost 1:1. The land was finally divided between Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany, with Germany getting the lion's share.