The German name (Czech Tesin, Polish Cieszyn) for a small enclave (850
sq km) tucked into the nothern foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, straddling the border
between the Czech Republic and Poland just east of the Czech city of Ostrava. Teschen
is also considered the easternmost tip of Silesia (Slask). The area is bisected by the
Olsa River, a tributary of the uppermost Odra river.
A city existed on the Olsa river as early as the 11th century. This city became the seat
of the Duchy of Teschen, which was created in 1282 as the former Polish principality of
Silesia fell apart. Some time in the early 14th century, the Dukes of Teschen swore their
fealty to the Kings of Bohemia, along with the rest of Silesia. In 1653, Silesia became
part of the Austrian Empire.
During the 1740-1742 War of the Austrian Succession, Prussian king Frederick the Great conquered most of Silesia from
Austrian Archduchess Maria Theresa, but Teschen was one of the areas the Maria Theresa held
In 1920, Teschen was the principal point of contention between the newly-formed Poland
and Czechoslovakia. The commission set up by the Treaty of Versailles divided the
enclave in half along the Olsa, giving the western half to Czechoslovakia and the eastern
half to Poland.
In October, 1938, The powers of Europe signed the Munich Pact, essentially looking the
other way while Nazi Germany dismembered Czechoslovakia. The military regime in Warsaw (led
by Edward Smigly-Rusz) took its little slice, the Czech portion of Teschen. Polish
occupation, of course, lasted only ten months before the Nazis invaded Poland September 1939.
After World War II, the boundary set in 1920 was restored.
Today, the Polish city of Cieszyn has about 36,000 people and is an important border
crossing. Across the Olsa, the Czech town of Ceský Tesín has about 26,000 people.
G D |_ O W
Km _.-|_/ \ L Z
E _.-' `-._ A
_.-' `-._ _ N Kw
_R _.-' C / \`-.--. D
\\/ Z `-./ <
\ P E `-.__
M`. C O |C
/ R H T\
A \ E .-'\
\ P / K
N \_ B / A
`-. .--._ ___.-' V
Y `-. / `-.__-._/ O A
_ |`-.__.-' | L I
| `-' A U S T R I A | S
B = Brno
C = Cieszyn
D = Dresden
Km = Chemnitz (Karl-Marx_Stadt)
Kw = Katowice
O = Ostrava
P = Praha (Prague)
T = Cesky Tesin
W = Wroclaw (Breslau)
Z = Czestochowa