The Silesian Voivodeship between German, Austrian and Polish Law - an analysis of a legal interspace 

The reorganisation of Europe after the First World War – with the re-establishment or formation of states on the former territory of the empires Austria-Hungary, Prussia and Russia – confronted the young republics with challenging difficulties of legal particularism. From a legal point of view, the resurrected Poland in particular disintegrated into several legal systems and was only able to fully unify some areas of law in the short interwar period. 

Within the Second Polish Republic, the Silesian Voivodeship held a special position. It was the only autonomous voivodeship in the polish state. The constitutional act of 15th July 1920 (Dziennik Ustaw Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej No. 73, poz. 497) granted autonomy to the Silesian Voivodeship, it provided for the establishment of a separate legislative body (Silesian Sejm) for the Silesian Voivodeship. Consequently, depending on the subject matter, the legislative competences belonged either to the regular polish Parliament or to the Silesian Sejm. Moreover, the act of 15th July 1920 determined the adoption of the previous legal system into the body of law of the Silesian Voivodeship. 

Unlike the other voivodships, which were formed from the former territories of a single partitioning power, the Silesian Voivodeship unit consisted of former Prussian and Austrian territories. This circumstance could have presented the voivodeship of Silesia with particular difficulties of legal fragmentation. For in addition to the new Polish legal acts, Prussian law applied in some parts of the Silesian Voivodeship, and Austrian law in other parts. The organisation of the authorities was also inconsistent due to this particularism. During the inter-war period, a gradual unification of the law began. 

We would like to explore the origins and development of the Silesian Voivodeship from a legal-historical perspective in the broadest sense. 

Projektpartnerin:  Dr. Kamila Staudigl-Ciechowicz LL.M., Department of Legal and Constitutional History, University of Vienna

Publikation: Martin Löhnig/Kamila Staudigl-Ciechowicz (Hrsg.), The Silesian Voivodeship: Analysis of a “legal interspace”, Berlin (Duncker&Humblot) 2024.