Assessing Actions and Outcomes in Contemporary Central-Eastern Europe
Polish Protestants in Trans-Olza Cieszyn Silesia Towards the Polish-German and Czech-German Reconciliation
The Evangelical Church, traditionally uniting the parishioners of Polish, German and Czech nationality, is one of the most characteristic symbols of Cieszyn Silesia. Agreeable coexistence, positive relationships that were built for decades between neighbours of various nationalities are now gone in the chaos of humans going astray and being subjected to Hitler’s occupation. The basis for coexistence was further destroyed by the nationalist and socialist policy that was built in a brutal manner. The horrible crimes of the Nazi occupants against the Jewish, Polish and Czech people during the period of World War II served as the justification for further injustice between the years 1945-1947 – this time committed on Germans. They formed the background for advancing a new thesis of collective guilt, which justified the expulsion of Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia, including Cieszyn Silesia. The matters among the Protestants from Czechoslovakian Cieszyn Silesia were even more complicated than among those from other parts of the country. Here, not only were Germans perceived as being guilty of the crimes, but Poles as well. Despite the enormous wartime sacrifice of Poles from Cieszyn Silesia, the Czechs perceived them as enemies of the Czechoslovakian statehood and attempted to expel them from the country, to the other side of the Olza River.
Today, when Poland, the Czech Republic, and Germany belong to the European Union, the mutual understanding between Polish-German, German-Czech and Polish-Czech gains new meaning and dimension. “Conciliation”, a word that is close to the hearts of Christians representing all...
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