April 15, 2016

2460 POLAND (Lower Silesia) - Wrocław

Located on the  Oder in the Silesian Lowlands of Central Europe, at roughly 40km north from the Sudeten Mountains, Wrocław is the historical capital of Silesia. In the 10th century, the Bohemian duke Vratislaus I founded here a Bohemian stronghold, Vratislavia, probably named after the duke's name. In 990, Duke  Mieszko I of Poland conquered Silesia including Wroclaw. The chronicle Gesta principum Polonorum, written in 1112-1116, named Wrocław, along with Kraków and Sandomierz, as one of the three capitals of the Polish Kingdom.

In the 13th century, Wrocław was the political centre of the Polish kingdom. After the Mongol invasion (1240-1241) the town was partly populated by German settlers who, in the following centuries, becomed its dominant ethnic group. The town expanded and adopted in 1242 German town law.. The city council used Latin and German, and "Breslau", the Germanized name of the city, appeared for the first time in written records. In 1335 it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Bohemia, then a part of the Holy Roman Empire, and in 1387 joined the  Hanseatic League.

The Protestant Reformation reached the town in 1518 and the city became Protestant. However, from 1526 Silesia was ruled by the Catholic House of Habsburg. The Kingdom of Prussia annexed the town and most of Silesia during the War of the Austrian Succession in the 1740s. The Unification of Germany in 1871 turned Breslau into the sixth-largest city in the German Empire. Its population more than tripled to over half a million between 1860 and 1910.

Important landmarks were inaugurated in 1910, the Kaiser bridge and the Technical University, which now houses the Wrocław University of Technology. The 1900 census listed 98% as German-speakers, with 5,363 Polish-speakers (1.3%), and another 3,103 (0.7%) speaking both German and Polish. The Jewish community was among the most important in Germany, producing several distinguished artists and scientists. Following WWI, Breslau became the capital of the newly created Prussian Province of Lower Silesia of the Weimar Republic in 1919.

Known as a stronghold of left wing liberalism during the German Empire, Breslau eventually became one of the strongest support bases of the Nazis. For most of WWII, the fighting did not affect the city. At the end of 1944 an additional 30,000-60,000 Poles were moved into the city after Nazis crushed the Warsaw Uprising. In February 1945, when the Red Army approached the city, Gauleiter Karl Hanke declared the city a Festung (fortress) to be held at all costs. By the end of the Battle of Breslau, half the city had been destroyed.

After the war, along with almost all of Lower Silesia, the city became part of Poland under the terms of the  Potsdam Conference, and almost all of the German inhabitants fled or were forcibly expelled between 1945 and 1949. Wrocław is now a unique European city of mixed heritage, with architecture influenced by Bohemian, Austrian and Prussian traditions, such as Silesian Gothic and its Baroque style of court builders of Habsburg Austria (Fischer von Erlach). On the other hand, the city is famous for its large number of nightclubs and pubs.

About the stamps

The souvenir sheet, a joint issue of Turkey and Poland, was issued on November 28, 2014, to mark the 600 years of Turkish-Polish diplomatic relations

The other stamp, depicting All Saints Collegiate Church in Sieradz, is part of the series Polish Cities, about which I wrote here.

Wrocław - Wikipedia

Sender: Tom Goats
Sent from Wrocław (Lower Silesia / Poland), on 14.05.2015

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