Trip to Poland, 1937 (An Ongoing Series): Katowice

June 12-1937
Hotel Monopol
Katowice is in Upper Silesia
Independent province

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) After some time away from writing about my aunt Helen Bulak's 1937 trip to Poland, I have re-immersed myself in my research of interwar Poland. It's time to get back on the train and rejoin our tour with the Polish Merchants Association for our next stop in Katowice.

According to the itinerary I have from my Aunt Helen's trip, I know that she took an overnight train which left Poznan at 12:38 at night on June 12th and arrived in Katowice at 6:13 in the morning on June 13th. The tour group was transported to the
Hotel Monopol and had breakfast at 7:00 a.m. By 10:00 a.m. they were on the road for a tour of the city. What an exhausting schedule!

Through my research I have learned learned that the group probably arrived in Katowice via the Art Nouveau-style
old train station, the city's major transportation center at the time. The old train station, built in the late 19th century, was and still is located on Ulica (abbreviated ul.) Dworcowa and is almost across the street from the Hotel Monopol. While the function of the old train station was replaced by the new Katowice Central Station it still exists a structure of architectural and historical significance. The historic, high-end Hotel Monopol, also still in existence, is located at the intersection of ul. Dworcowa and ul. Dyrekcyjna. It opened its doors in 1903 and was at the peak of its popularity during the interwar years. For the website of the current hotel check here.

Katowice, a city in
Upper Silesia, earned city status in 1865. According to the 1938 Statesman's Yearbook I discovered the population of the city was estimated at 131,725 on January 1, 1937. Interestingly, the population of the city was reduced to 107,735 by 1945. My guess is my aunt intended to write the population of the city in her diary but never did. Her diary simply states "Population." Throughout it's complicated history, Katowice has been ruled or governed by various entities including Bohemia, Prussia, Austria, Poland, Germany, and the Soviet Union. During the time my Aunt Helen visited Katowice, the city was part of the Second Polish Republic and enjoyed some level of autonomous rule. The city is known for its unique modern architecture, much of it dating from the 1930s.

Unfortunately my aunt's diary is lacking as far as information regarding the sights seen in Katowice. She simply mentions visiting a museum and polytechnic. My guess is that she visited the Silesian Museum. According to Wikipedia the
Silesian Museum or Muzeum Slaskie was one of the largest museums in Poland during the interwar years. I have also searched diligently to discover the technical school they visited. My aunt mentions a polytechnic in her diary and her itinerary mentions the group visited a Szkola Techniczna (technical school) as part of their tour. Unfortunately no specifics are given in either the diary or the itinerary. I tried researching some technical schools myself without luck. In frustration I asked my cousin Marek from Poland, who is often of great assistance, for some suggestions. He mentioned the Silesian Technical Scientific Plant, a technical secondary school which opened with some fanfare in 1931, as a possibility. Given what I know, this seems to make sense.

According to the itinerary, after the tour my aunt's group ate lunch, spent some free time in the city, and ate dinner. They enjoyed an evening's stay at Hotel Monopol and boarded the train at 10:25 a.m. on June 14 for Krakow.

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