Silesian Uprisings of 1919, 1920, and 1921

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Silesian Uprisings of 1919, 1920, and 1921


armed revolts of the Polish population of Upper Silesia, which was under German rule. The Silesian Uprisings were struggles for national and social liberation and the reunification of the Polish population of Upper Silesia with Poland; they were directed against the terms of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, which had merely provided for the holding of a plebiscite in Upper Silesia.

The Silesian Uprising of 1919, which broke out on August 17, mainly involved localized outbreaks in the southeastern part of Upper Silesia by detachments of the Polish Military Organization, created during World War I (1914–18). The uprising was not supported by the government of Poland, which shunned conflict with the Entente powers, and it was suppressed by German troops. An Inter-Allied Commission, organized by the victors of World War I, intervened in Upper Silesia but did little to curb the terror of the German authorities against the Polish population. German troops were withdrawn from Upper Silesia, French, Italian, and British troops were brought in, and Polish and German plebiscite commissariats were organized.

The Silesian Uprising of 1920 began on August 19 in response to anti-Polish nationalistic provocations by the German authorities; as a result of the provocations, the Polish plebiscite commissariat called a general strike of the workers of Upper Silesia. The insurgents demanded the dissolution of German armed organizations in Upper Silesia, the establishment of a Polish civil guard, and an end to the war that bourgeois Poland had unleashed against Soviet Russia in 1920. The insurgents gained control of a number of powiaty (districts). However, the uprising came to an end on August 25, since the Inter-Allied Commission’s decision to create a mixed police force fully satisfied the Polish plebiscite commissariat.

The Silesian Uprising of 1921, which began on the night of May 2, was provoked by the results of the plebiscite of Mar. 20, 1921, which were unfavorable to the Polish population of Silesia; the plebiscite had been influenced by pressure from the German administration. In the course of the uprising, 190,000 workers, 60,000 of whom were armed, went out on strike. After gaining control of a number of powiaty, the insurgents organized a supreme authority, headed by the dictator W. Korfanty, an executive board (including representatives of the Polish Socialist Party, the National Workers’ Union, and other groupings), and a supreme command. Despite an almost complete lack of aid from the Polish government, the insurgents continued to offer armed resistance to the German forces stationed in Upper Silesia. At the demand of the Entente, both the military forces of the insurgents and the German troops began withdrawing from Upper Silesia in mid-June, concluding the process on July 5.

The Silesian Uprisings prompted the Council of the League of Nations to adopt a resolution in October 1921 transferring 29 percent of the territory and 46 percent of the population of Upper Silesia to Poland. This resolution was more favorable to the Polish people than the one outlined earlier by the Entente, although its territorial concessions still did not correspond to the actual area of Polish settlement in Silesia.


Powstania Śląskie: 1919, 1920, 1921. Warsaw, 1971.
W pięćdziesiątą rocznicepowstań Śląskich i plebiscytu. Katowice, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Exactly the same goes for the supposedly missing, according to him, powstania slaskie (the Silesian Uprisings of 1919, 1920, and 1921).