Volume 9/2017/2


Joanna Lusek
School Strikes in the Bytom Commune in 1906 and 1920

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries Upper Silesia was the arena of spectacular social and political movements. An experimental area in this regard was Bytom (Beuthen) along with its commune, where the Polish and German communities would clash and where even the tiniest of animosities were blown up to the scale of diplomatic scandals due to the propaganda. The school strikes in 1906 and 1920 had a significant impact on the awakening and formation of the Polish consciousness in Upper Silesia. The school strikes that took place in Upper Silesia in 1906 were aimed at introducing the teaching of religion in the Polish language. In the Bytom commune the strikes were incidental in character; they did not gain the support of the Polish political elites. As a consequence, no Polish minority schools were created in Bytom before World War 1. The situation changed significantly only during the twentyyear period between the wars. In 1919 a conference of teachers in Bytom gave rise to the Upper Silesian Teachers Association and in 1923 the Polish-Catholic School Association for Opolian Silesia was founded. The main objective of the former was to admonish the authorities about giving equal rights to the Polish language and the right to create Polish schools, while the latter aimed to work out a legal basis for a private and public Polish minority school system, organising courses for teachers as well as materially supporting youth organisations and creating scholarship funds. The authorities not fulfilling the postulates for organising regular classes in Polish became the direct reason for holding a strike in the summer of 1920. The strike also encompassed the Bytom commune with 11.4 thousand participants (34.3%).

Keywords: school strikes; Upper Silesia; Bytom.

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Article 07