Upper Silesia plebiscite


Upper Silesia plebiscite

Upper Silesia plebiscite was a plebiscite for self-determination of Upper Silesia demanded by one of the clauses of the Treaty of Versailles. The German government had declared during the negotiations in London, and indeed at an earlier period, that the possession of Upper Silesia was indispensable to Germany if she was to fulfill her obligations in regard to reparations. Meanwhile, the Little Treaty of Versailles had already established Poland as sovereign state partly on prewar Eastern territories of Germany, thus creating disputed areas. After some negotiations the plebiscite was set in Upper Silesia for March 20, 1921. There were 1,186,758 votes cast in an area inhabited by 2,073,663 persons.pl icon Results of a plebiscite in three Polish districts conducted between July 1920 and March 1921. cite web|url=http://quellen.herder-institut.de/M01/quellen/plebiszite.pdf |publisher=Główny Urząd Statystyczny Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej GUS, Annual ("Main Statistical Office of the Republic of Poland") |title=Rocznik statystyki Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej|date=1920/1922, part II |accessdate=2008-01-23 |format=pdf, 623 KB] It resulted in 717,122 votes being cast for Germany and 483,514 for Poland. The towns and most of the villages in the plebiscite territory gave German majorities. However, the districts of Pless (Pszczyna) and Rybnik in the southeast, as well as Tarnowitz (Tarnowskie Góry) in the east and Tost-Gleiwitz (Gliwice) in the interior showed considerable Polish majorities, while in Lublinitz (Lubliniec) and Groß Strehlitz (Strzelce Opolskie) the votes cast on either side were practically equal. All the districts of the industrial zone in a narrower sense - Beuthen (Bytom), Hindenburg (Zabrze), Kattowitz (Katowice), and Königshütte (Chorzów) - had slight German majorities, though in Beuthen and Kattowitz this was due entirely to the town vote. Many country communes of Upper Silesia had given Polish majorities. The Polish side alleged, that German majority in the cities was achieved artificially by the votes of Silesian emigrants brought in from western Germany only to vote for the plebiscite. Without their presence, the Polish representatives claimed, the vote count would have been almost 1:1. This situation led to the outbreak of Third Silesian Uprising, started by Polish nationalist milicians.

Details

Treaty of Versailles had a clause demanding a plebiscite in Upper Silesia. The German government had already declared during the negotiations in London that the possession of Upper Silesia was indispensable to Germany if she was to fulfill her obligations in regard to reparations. After some negotiation the plebiscite was fixed for March 20, and resulted in 717,122 votes being cast for Germany against 483,514 for Poland, the result very different from the last 1910 census, where Poles had clear 60% majority.

With the results of the Plebiscite making the ultimate fate of Upper Silesia unclear, fighting erupted in the province between insurgent Polish forces and German militias (The Third Silesian Uprising). The Germanophone section of the population made strong complaints, being firmly convinced that the French division of the Upper Silesian army of occupation was favoring the insurrection by refusing to do anything.

Twelve days after the start of the Uprising Wojciech Korfanty offered to take his Upper Silesian forces behind a line of demarcation, on condition that the released territory would not be occupied by German forces, but by Allied troops. It was not, however, till July 1 that the British troops arrived in Upper Silesia and began to advance in company with those of the Allies towards the former frontier. Simultaneously with this advance the Inter-Allied Commission pronounced a general amnesty for the illegal actions committed during the recent violence, with the exception of acts of revenge and cruelty. The German defense force was finally withdrawn and disbanded and quiet was restored.

As the Supreme Council was unable to come to an agreement on the partition of the Upper Silesian territory on the lines of the plebiscite, a solution was found by turning the question over to the Council of the League of Nations. Agreements between the Germans and Poles in Upper Silesia and appeals issued by both sides, as well as the dispatch of six battalions of Allied troops and the disbandment of the local guards, contributed markedly to the pacification of the district. On the basis of the reports of a League commission and those of its experts, the Council awarded the greater part of the Upper Silesian industrial district to Poland. Poland obtained almost exactly half of the 1,950,000 inhabitants, "viz.", 965,000, but not quite a third of the territory, "i.e.", only 3,214.26 km² (1,255 mi²) out of 10,950.89 km² (4,265 mi²).

German and Polish officials, under a League of Nations recommendation, agreed to come up with protections of minority interests that would last for 15 years. Special measures were threatened in case either of the two states should refuse to participate in the drawing up of such regulations, or to accept them subsequently.

Polish Government had decided to give Upper Silesia considerable autonomy with Silesian Parliament as a constituency and Silesian Autonomous Voivodship Council as the executive body. On the German side the new Prussian province of Upper Silesia ("Oberschlesien") with regional government in Oppeln was formed.

Reference

ee also

*Territorial changes of Germany after World War I
*Territorial changes of Poland after World War I
*East Prussian plebiscite

External links

* [http://www.mhk.katowice.pl/korfanty/dane/zrodlowe.htm Wojciech Korfanty's proclamation after plebiscite]
* [http://oberschlesiende.h619444.serverkompetenz.net/oberschlesien/Abstimmung/abstimm.htm Exact plebiscite results - according to villages and discrits] (in German)
* [http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/classes/33d/projects/1920s/CarlosVersaillesMap650pxw.png1920 map showing German territory's changes, including marked area for the Upper Silesia plebiscite]
* [http://info-poland.buffalo.edu/classroom/LFigs/Fig8.pdf Map of interwar Poland; shows plebiscite areas]
* [http://img.iap.pl/s/87/201574/Edytor/Image/Aktualnosci/Duza%20mapa.jpgMap of interwar Poland; shows plebiscite areas] (in color, Polish)

References

*Czesław Madajczyk, Tadeusz Jędruszczak, "Plebiscyt i trzecie powstanie śląskie" ("Plebiscite and Third Silesian Uprising") [in:] "Historia Polski" ("History of Poland"), Vol.IV, part 1, PAN, Warszawa 1984 ISBN 83-01-03865-9
*Kazimierz Popiołek, "Historia Śląska od pradziejów do 1945 roku" ("History of Poland since prehistory until 1945", "Śląski Inst. Naukowy" (Silesian Science Institute) 1984 ISBN 83-21-60151-0


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