A long-term project about Upper Silesia, the largest industrial region in Poland.
Dynamic industrial development of the Upper Silesia begins in the 18th century, following in the footsteps of the industrial revolution that transformed whole Europe. The vast reserves of black coal turn out to be the main wealth of the region. Traditional economy, based mainly on the agriculture, is slowly declining. Upper Silesia becomes the land of coal mines and steel plants. What follows is the expansion of the cities and the formation of the Upper Silesian agglomeration comprising over a dozen of towns. After the WW2, during the communist era, the region turns into a local El Dorado.
Heavy industry becomes a life-blood of the communist regime and is seen as an icon of the country’s modernization. Upper Silesia witnesses the en masse migration of people from all over Poland. Tens of thousands of them are hoping for work and better lives here. Alas, the socialist economy turns out to be a time bomb for the region. When, after the great Solidarity movement revolution, Poland joins the capitalist market economy, it is the Upper Silesia which suffers its most adverse consequences. Tens of factories shut down, people are left without jobs or prospects. This results in the exclusions of the entire communities, on an unprecedented scale. Smoking factory chimneys are disappearing from the horizon, with them, local residents. Cities are steadily emptying, some people return to their hometowns, the younger ones migrate to other countries of the unifying Europe.
Today the region still exists as the industrial centre of our country, searching intensively for a new identity. Dynamic socioeconomic changes are giving Upper Silesia a new character. And yet not everybody benefits equally from these changes. If you turn around for a moment you can still see the past there behind you.