Between the Polish Catholic Mission and the German Catholic Church: A Case Study of (Spät-)Aussiedler from Upper Silesia in Poland

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Justyna KIJONKA, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland
The paper discusses the problems of the national, ethnic and regional identity of (Spät-)Aussiedler from Upper Silesia in the context of the language of religious practices. For this group of migrants, the choice of the language of the service, prayer and confession often was and is still combined with their national identity, biography and the religious socialization from the region of their origin and the peculiarity of the Catholic Church in Upper Silesia.

Migration from Poland to the Federal Republic of Germany after 1970 was one of the most significant demographic processes not only for Poland, but also for Germany. Between 1970 and 2000 more than one million Polish citizens – especially from Upper Silesia – were recognized as being of German descent. Some of the migrants joined the German Catholic Church and some joined the Polish Catholic Mission. There are also numerous groups of migrants who participate in both the German and Polish ministries. Emigrants from Poland who came to the Federal Republic of Germany as (Spät)Aussiedler were mainly Catholic and are still an important group of the faithful in Germany.

The paper is based on research that I carried out on migrants who had come to West Germany from Upper Silesia between 1970 and 2000 and received (Spät-)Aussiedler status. An important part of that research was also the participant observations during religious services and pilgrimages. The data collected during an enquiry in the archives of the Bishopric of Essen is also analyzed.

In my paper, I will try answer the question of how and in which aspects regional and national identity determines the choice of the language of religious practices. The long time perspective and the characteristic of (Spät-)Aussiedler migrants from Upper Silesia and the differences between Polish and German Catholic Churches play important roles in my presentation.