Český Těšín (Czech: [ˈtʃɛskiː ˈcɛʃiːn] (listen); Polish: Czeski Cieszyn [ˈt͡ʂɛskʲi ˈt͡ɕɛʂɨn] (listen); German: Tschechisch-Teschen) is a town in the Karviná District in the Moravian-Silesian Region of the Czech Republic. It has about 23,000 inhabitants.
|• Mayor||Gabriela Hřebačková|
|• Total||33.79 km2 (13.05 sq mi)|
|Elevation||270 m (890 ft)|
|• Density||690/km2 (1,800/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
735 62, 737 01
Český Těšín lies on the west bank of the Olza river, in the heart of the historical region of Cieszyn Silesia. Until the 1920 division of the region between Poland and Czechoslovakia it was just a western suburb of the town of Teschen, which after the division fell to Poland as Cieszyn. The combined population of the Czech and Polish parts of the town is around 57,000 (23,500 in Těšín, 33,500 in Cieszyn).
The historic centre in Český Těšín is well preserved and is protected by law as an urban monument zone.
The area was originally a small western suburb of the town of Cieszyn (that time known under its German name Teschen) in the Duchy of Teschen within Cieszyn Silesia of Austria-Hungary. Teschen was known for its national and cultural diversity, consisting mostly of German, Polish, Jewish and Czech communities. In 1849, the western part of Teschen was home to only 14.9% of the town's total population: in 1880 24% and in 1910 33.4%. There was also a small but lively Hungarian community in the town, mostly officers and administrative workers.
According to the Austrian census of 1910, Teschen had 22,489 inhabitants, 13,254 (61.5%) of them were German-speaking, 6,832 (31.7%) were Polish-speaking and 1,437 (6.6%) were Czech-speaking. The most populous religious groups were Roman Catholics with 15,138 (67.3%) followed by Protestants with 5,174 (23%) and the Jews with 2,112 (9.4%).
Following the fall of Austria-Hungary, Czech and Polish local governments were established. Both of them claimed that the whole of Cieszyn Silesia belonged to Czechoslovakia or Poland respectively. To calm down the friction which developed, the local governments concluded an interim agreement on division of the area running along ethnic lines. The division line imposed by the interim agreement was seen as unacceptable by the central Czechoslovak government, mainly because the crucial railway connecting the Czech lands with eastern Slovakia was controlled by Poland, and access to that railway was vital for Czechoslovakia at that time.
Despite the division being only interim, Poland decided to organize elections to the Sejm (Polish parliament) in the area. To prevent this, Czechoslovakia decided to attack the Polish part of the region on 23 January 1919. After the Polish–Czechoslovak War, Czechoslovakia forced Poland, which was at that time at war also with the West Ukrainian National Republic, to withdraw from the larger part of the area. After a ceasefire, the entire area was divided by the decision of the Spa Conference from July 1920, thus in practice creating a Zaolzie area, leaving a sizable Polish minority on the Czech side and dividing the town of Cieszyn between the two states.
In 1938, following the Munich Agreement allowing the German annexation of the Sudetenland, Poland coerced Czechoslovakia to surrender the region of Zaolzie (including Český Těšín). Following negotiations with Czech authorities, Polish troops and authorities entered it on 2 October 1938, and the territory was annexed by Poland and again joined to Cieszyn. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the entire territory was annexed by Nazi Germany. In 1941, Nazi Germany established the camp Stalag VIII-D here. After the war, the sizeable German-speaking community was expelled, and the 1920 borders were restored.
The first Jews in the area of Český Těšín were first documented in the early 18th century. The oldest Jewish prayer houses had existed in Český Těšín since the early 20th century. It was run by the Schomre Schabos (Guardians of Shabbat) society. After 1869 the Jewish minority increased rapidly and in 1914 they made up 40% of the Těšín population. They significantly contributed to the establishment, development and maintenance of trade contacts with neighbouring countries.
After the division of Teschen in 1920, there were no synagogues and cemetery in the Czech part of the town, and new ones had to be established. The Jewish Community of Český Těšín was established in 1923.
In 1938, there was a sizeable Jewish minority in the town, about 1,500 in Cieszyn and 1,300 in Český Těšín. Nearly all of them were killed by Nazi Germany in concentration camps. Most of the synagogues were destroyed. Today, only one synagogue still stands in the town, used as a Polish cultural centre.
As of 2021, the Poles make up 14.3% of the town's population, although the number of people with Polish heritage is considerably higher. The town is an important cultural and educational center of the Polish minority in Zaolzie. The number of Poles is however decreasing as a result of continuing assimilation. Although a border town, there is no longer any real ethnic tension between Czechs and Poles.
The diversity of the town is not only ethnic, but also religious. Many Christian denominations are present in the town. In the past a large Jewish community lived there. According to the 2021 census, 31.6% of the population is religious, out of whom 34.4% are Roman Catholics, and 3.7% are Czech Brethren.
The town is a centre of commerce, including the paper industry.
Těšín Theatre has Czech and Polish ensembles, where plays are presented in both the Czech and Polish languages. It is one of the few theatres outside Poland which has a professional Polish ensemble.
Alongside several Czech primary schools and one gymnasium, the town has both a Polish primary school and a gymnasium. The Pedagogical Centre for Polish National Education in Český Těšín takes care of the needs of schools with the Polish teaching language in the Czech Republic.
After the division of Teschen in 1920, there were no Lutheran churches in Český Těšín. In 1927 the local German population built a Lutheran church in the town, and in 1932 the second Lutheran church was built. The church of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren was constructed in 1929.
In 1928–1929 the Jewish community built a new synagogue on Breitegasse Street, which is to date the only synagogue in the town which still stands. It was the only synagogue not destroyed by Nazis due to its proximity to other residential buildings. In 1967 the building was bought by the Polish Cultural and Educational Union. It is not protected as a cultural monument. Together with fragment of the Jewish cemetery, which was established in 1926, it is the only Jewish monument in the town.
The town hall is the landmark of the town square. The 54 metres (177 ft)-long structure was built in 1928.
Český Těšín is home to the Museum of Cieszyn Silesia, founded in 1948.
- Jiří Třanovský (1592–1637), Protestant scholar and poet
- Simon R. Blatteis (1876–1968), New York pathologist
- Viktor Ullmann (1898–1944), Jewish composer and musician
- Ludvík Aškenazy (1921–1986), Jewish writer
- Terry Haass (1923–2016), French painter
- František Vláčil (1924–1999), film director
- Jaromír Hanzlík (born 1948), actor
- Jiří Drahoš (born 1949), chemist and politician
- Jaromír Nohavica (born 1953), musician; lived here
- Luděk Čajka (1963–1990), ice hockey player
Twin towns – sister citiesEdit
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- Zahradnik, Stanisław; Marek Ryczkowski (1992). Korzenie Zaolzia. Warszawa - Prague - Trzyniec: PAI-press. p. 147. OCLC 177389723.
- "Polské národnostní školství v Moravskoslezském kraji" (in Czech). Moravian-Silesian Region. Retrieved 3 May 2022.
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- "Památky" (in Czech). Tourist Information Centre Český Těšín. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
- "Homepage: Partnerská města" (in Czech). Město Český Těšín. Retrieved 7 January 2022.