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History

The Department of History boasts 6,000 diversified artefacts that fall into various categories. The oldest exhibits come from the 17th century. These are parchment documents written in German or Latin with their wax seals still attached.

The collection can be divided into several categories.


Silesiana (Silesian artefacts) coming from the 19th and 20th century and most of them cover the years between 1919-1922 – the time of the Silesian Uprisings , the Plebiscite and the historical moment of Upper Silesia returning to Poland. They comprise various documents, posters, brochures, propaganda slips and also a wide selection of ‘notgelds’ (substitute banknotes) from 1917-1922. The items of particular interest include: an identity card that belonged to a woman working for the Polish Plebiscite Commission with a signature of Wojciech Korfanty, diplomas of decoration, medals and other mementos from the celebrated day that the Polish Army entered and was greeted in Katowice. In the Department, one can find items documenting the achievements of  the  ‘Sokół’ ("Falcon") Polish Gymnastic Society – hundreds of documents, certificates, publications and rally badges. To complement this collection, there are all kinds of banners from the interwar period including  the ones representing the Silesian Insurgents’ Association from Bogucice, Wełnowiec, Ochojec, Zawodzie, Olza, the ‘Sokół’ Gymnastic Society  – branches in ‘Szklarnia’ (Mysłowice), Dąb-Józefowiec Załęże, the Polish Women's Association, and the ‘Elewator’ Factory.

The banner of the Sokół Gymnastic Society, Gniazdo Dąb-Józefowiec, blessed in 1919 The Order of the White Eagle awarded to Wojciech Korfanty by president Polish Republic in 1997 A pendant of the Sokół Gymnastic Society, 1920s’

The department has also accumulated an impressive collection of postcards featuring the Silesian landscape, cities and industrial facilities, the oldest of which dates back to the 1890s. Moreover, one can also find here a vast array of personal and public documents. The most precious of all are three volumes of correspondence from 1826, 1828 and 1829 exchanged between Count Ballestrem and the ‘King of Zinc’ Karol Godula and the minutes taken on the 6th of October 1924 at the Council meeting of the Załęże municipality, that is the last meeting ever, as Załęże soon became a part of Katowice.

A postcard: Katowice – a railway station, early 20th century 

A postcard: Katowice, Ferdynand coal-mine, early 20th century A postcard: Katowice, the city, early 20th century


The core part of the Lvov artefacts consists of hundreds of items including a collection of theatre posters from 1919-1939 of the ‘Gwiazda’ ("Star") Craft Association from Łyczaków as well as birth certificates from 18th, 19th and 20th centuries stamped with wafer seals of parishes representing the various denominations of Eastern Galicia, plus school certificates and guild certificates issued to apprentices.
The phaleristic collection is comprised of state decorations received during the years of the Second Polish Republic and afterwards, the most prominent of them being the Order of the White Eagle awarded posthumously to Wojciech Korfanty.


The collection of militaria includes 19th and 20th century examples of hand weaponry including sables used by the 75th Infantry Regiment and the 23rd Light Artillery Regiment, as well as guns. The most interesting item on display is a revolver made by the shop of S. Goldberger - a gunsmith from Wrocław, and a Dreyse machine gun from 1841. The period of World War II is represented by weapons from Poland, Russia, England, and Germany as well as Polish and Russian cannons, details of equipment of bunkers and other items. They are also part of the permanent exhibition entitled ‘Arms Industry within Silesia during the 19th and 20th century’. The collection is complemented by military uniforms and equipment, documents, badges and sport trophies from the interwar period. A captivating part of the exhibition is a collection of stamps issued by Oflag II C postal service between 1940 and 1944.

 

 

 A Polish sword of the cavalry officer, model 1917

 

Another interesting part of this section is the cartographic collection – maps of Silesia ranging from the 16th to the 18th century, military maps, mining field allocation maps, city maps and the full equipment of a print shop  (still in working condition) that belonged to Jan Eichhorn, presented as a part of the permanent exhibition entitled ‘In Jan Eichhorn’s print shop’).
You may also visit the website of the History of the Silesian Uprisings Workshop, where you can find a ‘List of the Silesian Insurgents’   verified by the Association of Silesian Insurgents in 1936-39.

 A journeyman’s letter from a Lvov leather worker, 1809

 

A map of Oświęcim and Zator Duchies, prepared in 1563, the first cartographic visualisation Pszczyna region