Oskar Kolberg did not conduct regular research in Silesia. The reason for that was, probably, the organization of his work. He usually commenced his research by finding a manor, a parish or a school, where he could stay. In those places he received some basic information, which helped him to get in touch with other people. However, he could not apply the same pattern of work in Silesia. The intelligentsia was either germanised or German; the same applied to people who lived in manors and most of the parishes. German people were rather inhospitable to Polish nationals. Even Józef Bliziński, a friend of Kolberg, wrote to him in a letter from 1886: “After publishing so many volumes you are already a well-known ethnographer in Europe. If you started to look for any Polish features of Silesia, you would certainly suffer a fate similar to Kraszewski [Kraszewski was sentences to 3 years of imprisonment for conspiracy]. The iron prince desires Silesia to be German.” In the time of the ‘iron prince’, i.e. Otto von Bismarck, Kolberg encountered difficulties with finding a host. Nevertheless, he was interested in Silesia, and was going to publish a monograph of this region to which he was collecting material.

He worked as the accountant at the Warsaw-Vienna Railway. It is probable that he had contacts with some workers from Silesia. It is known that he met some informants from Upper Silesia while he was in Wola Rasztowska in Mazovia. Thanks to them he documented some fairy tales.

The Kolberg’s notes include the following entry about the Silesians:

“The Silesians are generally open, trustful and warm-hearted, yet rational. Moreover, they are tenacious and willing to learn. They love poetry and music. A Silesian feels a strong attachment to his homeland, even though he has a predilection for constant movement. He is obedient and loyal. Many Silesian soldiers gave evidence for their valour. Those who have Polish roots are characterized by strong body and lively eyes. They possess also the pure Polish features, such as inborn hospitality and cheerfulness. Moreover, they like life’s comforts and enjoy working, yet they are much better at breeding, driving carts, mining and working at a foundry or in a forest than at farming”.


There is no evidence that Oskar Kolberg visited Bytom. However, when, in 1868 he stayed in Wola Rasztowska in Mazovia, he met a group of Silesians, probably from the vicinity of Bytom. An informant whose name was Koźlik told him a fairy tale, which can be summarized in the following way:


Kolberg wrote in his list of travels that in 1842 he visited Wrocław on his way to Lądek Zdrój, where he went with his mother. It is possible that he collected some material during this trip. Some of the materials from the region of Silesia come from the vicinity of Wrocław.