The conditions for the economic independce of the Polish minority in the Opole Silesia (from the second half of XIX century to the Second World War)
The Upper Silesia and its western part, the Opole Silesia, has a historical experience regarding the Polish-German struggle on the field of economic life. Almost immediately, after the national revival in the region had started, the efforts to strengthen the organizations and whole social groups appeared to be an important economic issue. The polish co-operative movement played a crucial role in this task. The co-operative movement rose as a society’s self-defence against the growing exploitation by early capitalism. Until the year 1914, since the establishment of the first people’s bank in Bytom in the year 1885, the 17 people’s banks, three local branches and one parcelling partnership were set up in the districts with the Polish-speaking population. These institutions had more than 13 thousand members and approximately 30 thousand depositors. The main objective was to strengthen the economic position of the Polish society by providing favourable credits, mainly loans for house-building, setting up small enterprises, workshops, shops and farmsteads’ equipment. The banks did not perform only economic functions as very quickly they became significant centres of the Polish public life at the district level. With the outbreak of the Second World War, the Polish co-operative movement was liquidated by means of the political-administrative coercion, this process being a part of the general operation against the leaders of minorities.
cooperative movement; Polish minority in Germany i XIX and XX century; Polish people's banks in Upper Silesia