Schlesier

Silesians: the inhabitants of Silesia, the region on the borderland of cultural influences of Germany, Poland and Czech Republic. In ethnographic literature, Silesians was the name for the indigenous population of a Slavic origin using mainly the local dialects of Polish with numerous Germanisms and Czechisms. This group has created a specific folk culture, consisting in a patois, folklore, architecture, art and literature, and also celebrations. Silesians are mostly Catholic, although Protestants also form a large group. Since the mid-19th century various Silesia independence movements are active, claiming to be the representatives of a separate Silesian nation (e.g. Silesian People’s Party in the 19th century). In the interwar period in Poland Silesians had their own parliament with considerable autonomy in local issues. In 1997 the activists of the Silesian Autonomy Movement (Ruch Autonomii Śląska) and the Silesian Academic Association (Śląski Związek Akademicki) endeavoured to register the organization of Związek Ludności Narodowości Śląskiej (the Association of the Population of a Silesian Origin), but both the Polish courts and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg refused the registration. According to the latest censuses in the Czech Republic, the Silesian nationality was declared by 44,000 people; in Poland – 173,000 (presently the largest ethnic minority). German organizations in Silesia have at present about 60,000-80,000 active members.

The term was created within the framework of the project Zapisywanie świata żydowskiego w Polsce [recording the Jewish environment in Poland], whose author is Anka Grupińska, a well-known Polish journalist and writer, specializing in the modern history of the Polish Jews. The project, initiated in 2006 by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, consists in recording interviews with Polish Jews from all generations.
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