A plebiscite that did not take place. The path towards dividing Cieszyn Silesia
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Instytut Śląski w Opolu
Online publication date: 2021-07-23
Publication date: 2021-07-23
Corresponding author
Piotr Pałys
KMW 2021;312(2):271-294
In the face of a collapsing state, the Poles and Czechs decided to take control over the Cieszyn Silesia. On 5 November 1918, an agreement regulating the areas of influence was reached. Prague initially accepted it with reluctance, but upon ratifying it the issue of utmost impor-tance became the liquidation of the German irredentism. After gaining control over all cities of Opawa Silesia before the end of 1918, they began their aggressive actions in Cieszyn Silesia on 3 January 1919. Czechoslovak armies were finally stopped at Skoczów. The Supreme Council decided on 3 February 1919 on the borders, leaving the Koszyce-Bohumin railway in Czech hands. The Czechs, referring to their historical rights, wanted to set the border on the Białka river (Karel Kramář) or upper Vistula (Edvard Beneš). The Poles favoured the borders estab-lished on 5 November 1918. As further suggestions of the borderlines were not approved, the Supreme Council decided on 11 September 1919 to hold a plebiscite. The Poles suggested that the Białka poviat should be Polish and the Friedek poviat – Czech, and that the plebiscite should pertain only to Cieszyn and Fryštát poviats. The Inter-Allied Commission for Plebiscites took over the authority on the plebiscite area upon arriving to Cieszyn on 30 January 1920. Two prefectures – Eastern for Poland and Western for Czechoslovakia – on the areas within the con-temporary borders were established. Already in February 1920, the Czechs began eliminating the Poles aware of their national identity within the Western prefecture. The Czech terror faced the armed resistance of the Polish party. On 21 May 1920, 10 thousand Polish miners went to strike in the coalfields. It was feared that a spontaneous uprising might break out. The inability of the Inter-Allied Commission to control the situation as well as the international situation led to abandoning the idea of a plebiscite, and the decision on the final determination of Cieszyn Silesia borders was left to the Conference of Ambassadors.
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