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GoPoland!: Where to Go: Katowice: History

Katowice is a child of industry: it owes its size to the Industrial Revolution and all that followed it. From a starting population of about 500 people, Katowice grew, and grew again until 200 years later, it now contains almost half a million people.

Industry took strong hold here because this region sits on top of a lot of coal (some even claim a tenth of known global supplies). That coal, and other metals in this rich earth, attracted the Prussian overlords who developed the area under the Partitions. Their heavy investment in it provided a serious bone of contention at the end of WWI.

Like many cities in Silesia, the population was a healthy mix of Germans, Poles, and assorted others. When the war ended, both the Germans and the Poles claimed this entire industrial region. Germany spent the money, they felt it proper to continue to reap the commercial profits. Poland - newly reborn after the war - badly needed some ready-made industry. While politicians haggled, Katowice's Poles voted with their arms in three insurrections (1919-20-21). It worked; Silesia was cut, more or less, down the middle and Katowice ended up in Polish hands.

This area really came into its own under communism, simply due to the politically correct professions practiced here. Miners fared well, but the land and the people's health did not. Even today the region and Katowice suffer from serious pollution. But clean-ups are in the works, the area is revamping its antiquated equipment, and this strengthening industrial base of Poland should continue to grow.

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