Upper Silesia

Upper Silesia Map

Upper Silesia Map, 1921

Flag of Upper Silesia

Flag of Upper Silesia

Current Status: Split between the Provinces of Opele and Silesia in Poland.
Population (1921): 2,073,663
Capital (1921): Opole (Oppeln)

Historical Dates:

  • 1815 to 1919: Part of the Province of Silesia in the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire.
  • 1919: Silesia divided into Upper and Lower Silesia after the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I.
  • A Plebiscite is ordered to be held in Upper Silesia in 1921 by the Interallied Commission, to allow the residents to determime if they wished to join Germany or Poland.
  • 1921: The plebiscte is held, policed by French, British, and Italian troops on March 21st. The results were 60% in favour of Germany, mostly in the west and 40% in favour of Poland, mostly in the east. The territory is eventually divided between Germany and Poland in the approximate area of ethnic division.
  • 1945: After World War II, all of Upper Silesia was ceded to Poland.
C.I.H.S circular overprint for official commision mail

C.I.H.S circular overprint for official commision mail in Upper Silesia

The first stamps issued for Upper Silesia were official stamps, for use by the Iner-allied Commission for Upper Silesia. These were made by overprinting German stamps with C.I.H.S. in a circle. The initials stood for Commission interalliée de Haute-Silésie, the French name for the commission. Many different values were overprinted with rubber handstamps in various colours. These provisional stamps were issued in the capital, Opeln, in early February, 1920.

Shortly after, on February 20, a new set of regular stamps was issued, depicting the stamps value in a center oval, surrounded by Commission interalliée de Haute-Silésie and the plebiscite territory name in German and Polish, Oberschlesien and Gorny Slask. These may be the world’s first stamps in three languages. Nine different values were issued, followed by several surcharge overprints.

Upper_Silesia_Numerals

Upper Silesia Numeral Stamps

Yet another set, consisting of seventeen values, was issued on March 20. It became known as the “Mining Issue”, representing one of the most important industries of the Silesia region.

These stamps are the most common of Upper Silesia, and many stamp collectors try to get as many different preadable postmarks as possible on them.

Upper_Silesia_Mining_Issue

A selection of the Upper Silesia mining stamps - high values

C.G.H.S overprint, inverted

Official stamps for Commission Government use were created in April, 1920, by overprinting German official stamps with C.G.H.S, for Commission de Gouverment Haute Silésie. These are interesting in that many varieties exist, such as inverted, sideways, and double overprints.

On March 20, 1921, eight values of the mining issue were overprinted to publicize the plebiscite. These stamps are quite scarce in postally used condition, and forged overprints and postmarks are known.

Plebiscite overprint

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