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The Province of Silesia ( ; ) was a province of the Kingdom of Prussiamarker from 1815 to 1919; the territory had been conquered from Habsburg Austria during the 18th century Silesian Wars. The provincial capital was Breslaumarker. During the Weimar Republicmarker, in 1919, Silesia was divided into the separate provinces of Upper Silesia and Lower Silesia. The two provinces were reunited into a single province from 1938-41.

History

In 1740, King Frederick II (the Great) of Prussiamarker annexed most of Silesia as part of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). By war's end, the Kingdom of Prussia had conquered almost all of Silesia, while some parts of Silesia in the extreme southeast, like the Duchy of Teschen and Duchy of Troppau, remained possessions of the Habsburg Monarchy as Austrian Silesiamarker.

The Seven Years' War (1756-1763) confirmed Prussian control over most of Silesia, and it became one of the most loyal territories of Prussia. The territories of Prussia were reorganized in 1815 following the Napoleonic Wars. The Province of Silesia was created out of the Silesian territories acquired by Prussia in the Silesian Wars, as well as Upper Lusatiamarker near Görlitzmarker, which was formerly part of the Kingdom of Saxonymarker.

As a Prussian province, Silesia became part of the German Empiremarker during the Prussian-led unification of Germany in 1871. There was considerable industrialization in Silesia, and many people moved there at that time. According to the census of 1905, three-quarters of the inhabitants were Germans, while the bulk of the population to the east of the Oder River were Poles.

Following World War I, some parts of the Province of Silesia were transferred to the Second Polish Republicmarker and Czechoslovakiamarker (Czech Silesia). In 1919, the parts remaining in Weimar Germanymarker were reorganized into the two provinces of Lower Silesia (Niederschlesien) and Upper Silesia (Oberschlesien). Between 1938 and 1941, Upper and Lower Silesia were merged to a single province, the Province of Silesia. After the Nazi Germany conquest of Polandmarker in late 1939, the Province of Silesia was extended when a part of former Polandmarker was merged into that province. In 1941, the Province was divided again, to the provinces of Upper and Lower Silesia.

Most of Silesia is now within Polandmarker, though the majority of people with German heritage were expelled following World War II. Small parts of the former Province of Silesia lie within modern Germany (Niederschlesischer Oberlausitzkreis).

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