Povojnové osudy rodín z Horného Sliezska na príklade akcií odnemčovania

Postwar Fates of Families from Upper Silesia in the Process of De-Germanisation

Family exists at every stage of human development and in every system. Family is the basic social unit consisting of the spouses, their children and other relatives, tied by blood and social bonds. The most important task of the family is the organisation and maintenance of their household, taking care of basic needs and emotional life of its members as well. One of the external features enabling to recognise members of a particular family is a common surname or a name traditionally shared by the family. Such external signs of a family became problematic when of German origin, in particular during the period of increased anti-German propaganda in the 1940s. It was when a ruthless fight began against any signs of German origin, both material and spiritual, remaining in those areas. Among other operations, an action was launched the goal of which was a compulsory change of German-sounding names and surnames. The action fermented conflicts within families and stirred up feelings of aversion towards the Polish administration and state. The growing pressure exerted on the families, which much aggravated their lives, made the process of normalisation of the Silesian society in the post-war period much more difficult. The threats regarded not only the Silesian population, the so-called autochthons, but also immigrants to the region. The process of de-Germanisation of names and surnames affected both the Silesians and immigrants who had had German names for generations.