Silesians are essentially ethnic Germans who lived in Silesia. Historically, Silesia had been populated by scattered groups of Slavs and Poles, but the ravages of the Tartars in the 12th century virtually exterminated them. Subsequently it became populated by Germanic tribes from Frankonia, Saxonia, Thuringia and Hesse. In 1261 Duke Heinrich III introduced the Municipal Law of Magdeburg, a civic constitution based on German law, to Breslau, and successive Silesian administrations, notably in that century, encouraged German migration into Silesia. Over the centuries the people mingled and a new idiom was created: the Silesian dialect. Silesia became part of the German Kingdom of Bohemia, and afterwards, for centuries, Silesia became part of Austria and then Prussia. In the 19th century Poles immigrated into Silesia to work in the coal mines and factories. .
In 1945 Silesia fell into the Soviet Union's Zone of Occupation of Germany. They soon gave it to their client state, Communist Poland. The ethnic Germans were murdered or driven out. However, a few German Silesians were retained to manage the factories but were forced to learn Polish. In 1953, Konrad Adenauer addressing the homeless Silesian refugees, said:
"You will all be back in your homeland someday":
- The Formation of a Modern Labour Force: Upper Silesia 1865-1914 by Lawrence Schofer, University of California Press, 1975, ISBN 0-520-02651-9
- Orderly and Humane (sic) - The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War, by Professor R. M. Douglas, Yale University Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-300-19820-1.