Silesian Institute Society
Silesian Institute Society
“Silesian Studies,” the most important periodical issued by the Silesian Institute (formerly the Governmental Research Institute – Silesian Institute in Opole and the Silesian Institute Society), is one of the scientific journals of interdisciplinary character present on the Polish publishing market for the longest time. Initially (in the years 1949–1952), individual volumes of the series appeared as special issues of “Przegląd Zachodni” (Western Review). At that time already, “Silesian Studies” were associated with the name of professor Seweryn Wysłouch, who – managing the Wrocław branch of the Western Institute and at the same time the School of the History of Polish State and Law of the Polish University in Wrocław – gathered around himself a circle of young persons who set out the course for the research on the history of Silesia over years. Among his students, there were Karol Jonca, Kazimierz Orzechowski and Franciszek Ryszka. The Wrocław branch of the Western Institute was wound up in 1953, and thereupon studies on Silesia were centralised within the Silesian Research Department of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
The idea of issuing a scientific journal devoted to the recent history of political, socio-economic and national problems and the history of political system and law in the 19th and 20th centuries revived in 1957, when professor Wysłouch established the Silesian Institute in Opole, reactivating its periodical “Silesian Studies.” He once more gathered a circle of students around this journal, trying as well to enrich it with other distinguished experts on Silesia. Professor Wysłouch was the managing editor of this journal until his death in 1968. He was succeeded in this post by other distinguished experts on Silesia: professor Józef Kokot, professor Karol Jonca, professor Wiesław Lesiuk and assistant professor Stanisław Senft. Since 1st February 2020, the journal has been managed by dr Bartosz Kuswik. Over the years, “Silesian Studies” appeared with varying frequency, as semi-annual or annual respectively. In 2013, the practice of issuing two volumes per calendar year was restored. In the following year, the practice of focusing each volume around a leading subject was introduced.
Nowadays “Silesian Studies” provide venue to historians, political science scholars, sociologists, economists and other researchers who address the most relevant problems concerning Silesia within its historical borders. “Silesian Studies” are also intended to provide a forum where researchers from Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic and other countries can exchange their views upon issues connected with regions, ethnic minorities and the question of nationality in Central Europe.
Until 2020, 85 volumes have been issued within the new series. Each volume has a fixed structure consisting of two sections: “Articles” and “Miscellanea and Materials.” Since 2010, a separate column “Reviews” has appeared as well, and it serves for the publication of larger reviews and information about research projects concerning Silesia, as well as about other forms of scientific life. “Silesian Studies” are listed in the Index Copernicus and in the CEEOL – Central and Eastern European Online Library databases.
Professor Seweryn Wysłouch (1900–1968) was a distinguished historian and researcher of the political system and law of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the social and economic issues concerning Silesia in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as one of the precursors of Sovietology and an expert in the field of minority issues. He was born in 1900 in Polesie in a gentry family. The specific location of the family estate on the historical Lithuanian-Belorussian land and the intellectual atmosphere at home undoubtedly had impact upon his research cognisance.
He took active part in military actions. At the age of 23, he commenced his studies at the School of Law and Social Sciences, after which he became its academic. In that period, Seweryn Wysłouch combined research work with social and political activity. The fruit of his research interests was the collection of publications in the field of ethnic relations, including – principally – the issues of the Belorussian minority.
The repercussions of the war period left their stamp upon Seweryn Wysłouch’s later life. Under the new circumstances, he could not continue exploring the research area he had formerly assumed. In view of this, he became rector of the University of Wrocław. He held that position until 1952.
He accomplished the rector’s duties concurrently with research work at the School of the History of Polish State and Law, which he managed until his last days. The circle of his most renowned graduates includes Kazimierz Orzechowski, Franciszek Ryszka, Józef Popkiewicz, Karol Połomski, Karol Jonca and Alfred Konieczny.
Aside from his scientific and didactic duties at the University of Wrocław, from 1946, he was also the head of the Wrocław branch of the Silesian Institute in Katowice that also included the Institute’s Documentation Section; subsequently, he became head of the Wrocław branch of the Western Institute and managed it until its liquidation in 1953.
In all those institutions, he succeeded in developing German studies, which encompassed – among others – the issues of the national policy in Silesia, the application of the Nazi legislation, the period of World War II, or farmers’ right to land in Silesia.
Seweryn Wysłouch was object of interest of the PUWP authorities. The party documentation on denunciations abounds in statements concerning his hostile attitude towards the surrounding reality, his criticism of the international political situation and his engagement in propaganda activity. Moreover, professor Wysłouch’s didactic activity was estimated negatively as well, and his purported gross deficiencies in knowledge were emphasised, deduced from his lack of consideration for the Marxist approach to history. As a result, his activity was restricted, e.g. he was dismissed from conducting Master Thesis seminars and deprived of the possibility to cooperate with entrusted partners, and the Wrocław branch of the Western Institute was wound up.
This hard experience, paradoxically, allowed professor Wysłouch to undertake the research deliberation for which he had lacked time before. Thanks to those occurrences, he could now focus on issues of the social and political history of Silesia. During that period, he became – using the term coined by Juliusz Bardach – “an ardent Silesian,” as well as “the spokesman of the Upper Silesia and Opole Silesia village.”
Due to the political shift in 1956, professor Wysłouch’s rehabilitation took place, manifested in the act of entrusting him with the function of the dean of the School of Law in October of that year. He held that position until 1958, taking up a number of interesting initiatives and organisational ventures, e.g. the formation of the Vocational Administration Study.
Within a short time, professor Wysłouch got involved in the reactivation of the Silesian Institute in Opole the grand reopening of which took place in 1957. He was among its main founding members. For many years to come, professor Wysłouch was President of the Scientific Council of the Silesian Institute. His impressive engagement in organising the activity of this institution was interrupted by a severe illness, which led to his death. On 27th February 1968 we lost – to quote Monsignor Bolesław Kominek – “the awakener […] the great, […] wise and far-sighted brother form the East, whom we had awaited here in the West, whom the lands had awaited and old memorabilia, in readiness to raise with him everything to life.”