The Szlonzokian Ethnolect in the Context of German and Polish Nationalisms1

Tomasz Kamusella*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyzes the emergence of the Szlonzokian ethnic group or proto-nation in the context of the use of language as an instrument of nationalism in Central Europe. When language was legislated into the statistical measure of nationality in the second half of the nineteenth century, Berlin pressured the Slavophone Catholic peasant-cum-worker population of Upper Silesia to become ‘proper Germans’. Polish ennationalizing pressure was added after the division of Upper Silesia between Poland and Germany in 1922. Ennationalizing policies changed in 1939 when the entire region was reincorporated into wartime Germany and, again, in 1945 following Poland's annexation of Upper Silesia. Frequent border changes, ennationalizing pressures and communism solidified the Szlonzoks into a cohesive group through alienating them vis-à-vis Polishdom and Germandom. Since 1989 those Szlonzoks who have obtained German passports without leaving Poland declare themselves Germans, whereas the majority who have not and who feel to have been abused by the Polish state, declare themselves Szlonzoks. The latter increasingly express their identity in national terms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-39
Number of pages21
JournalStudies in Ethnicity and Nationalism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


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