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100th Anniversary of the Return of a Part of Upper Silesia to Poland

On 5 July 1921, following several days’ long negotiations, a truce was called, thus ending the Third Silesian Uprising, one of Poland’s victorious national spurts. Another round of long talks started to discuss the boundary lines and only in October 1921, by decision of the League of Nations and Conference of Ambassadors, the disputed land was ultimately divided between Poland and Germany. Poland received a territorially smaller albeit more industralised area, including approximately half of Upper Silesian metalworks and two thirds of hard coal mines.

On 15 June 1922, the Inter-Allied Commission notified the governments of Poland and Germany that they should take over the lands of Upper Silesia awarded to them within a month. Parties to the conflict carried out the operation in several steps. A parade of French troops of the Allied Armies took place on a market square in Katowice, from which they marched out. After the military units of the Allied Forces were withdrawn, on 20 June 1922 the Polish Army under the command of General Stanisław Szeptycki entered the assigned area. The troops crossed the border bridge in Szopienice (presently, one of Katowice’s districts) and they were greeted in large numbers by the Silesians, led by uprising dictator Wojciech Korfanty and Silesian Voivode Józef Rymer. Then, the Polish troops marched to the Katowice market square, where they were greeted by crowds. Almost 30 festively decorated welcome gates were set up by the town residents along the route of the march.

In the days that followed, the Polish troops received an enthusiastic reception from the towns they were taking over. A total of over 200 – often very impressive – triumphant gates were constructed in the region.

On 16 July 1922, the act of the Government of the Republic of Poland taking over a part of Upper Silesia was signed during a solemn ceremony in Katowice. An autonomous Silesian Voivodeship was formed on the land, with Katowice as its capital. The industry and financial capital of Upper Silesia played an essential role in the economic reconstruction of the Second Republic of Poland.

The reverse of the coin depicts a triumphal gate in Królewska Huta (presently Chorzów) prepared for the reception of the Polish Army (on 23 June 1922). It was constructed by Silesian uprising insurgent Antoni Kopieczny. The initials of Wojciech Korfany and Józej Piłsudski as well as the symbols of mining and metallurgy can be seen over the main arch.

On the obverse, the borders of Upper Silesia are reproduced. By the decision of the League of Nations and Conference of Ambassadors, in October 1921 Upper Silesia became part of the Second Republic of Poland.

Zygmunt Woźniczka, PhD, DSc, ProfTit