Český Těšín (Polish Czeski Cieszyn, during the Polish occupation
from 1938 to 1939 Cieszyn Zachodni (Western Těšín), German
Tschechisch Teschen, Silesian Czeski Ćeszyn) is a city in eastern
Bohemia, in Silesia, on the border with Poland. After Jablunkov and
Třinec, it is the third easternmost town in the whole of the Czech
Republic. It lies on the left, west, bank of the border river Olše
(Olza). Approximately 24,000 inhabitants live here on an area of
3,381 ha. In 2001, 16.1% of the city's population declared
themselves to be of Polish nationality and 4.4% to be of Slovak
Český Těšín is one of the most important and busiest border crossings to the Republic of Poland. Cultural traditions include regular festivals and shows.
Since the end of the 20th century, there have been proposals to delete the word "Czech" from the name of the city. In September 2007, the city council almost unanimously rejected one of the other requests from the local architect Karel Cieślar to rename the city from Český Těšín to Těšín.
The city was established in 1920 by a decision of the
Ambassadorial Conference on the division of the disputed territory
of the Těšín region between the newly emerging Czechoslovakia and
Poland. The established border ran through the town of Těšín along
the Olše River, dividing it into two parts. On the territory of
today's Český Těšín, there was the industrial district of the town
of Saská kupa (Sachsenberg in German), established at the turn of
the 18th and 19th centuries.
According to the Austrian census in 1910, the western part of Těšín (which became an independent Český Těšín) with an area of 265 hectares (39.6% of the whole Těšín) had 6837 inhabitants (30.4% of the population of Těšín) in 380 buildings (30.9% buildings in the city), with a population density of 2580 persons / km², of which 6524 had permanent residence in the city, 4167 (60.9%) spoke German, 2195 (32.1%) Polish and only 160 (2.3%) Czech.
In the middle of the 19th century, the Košice-Bohumín railway was brought here, and later also the Railway of Silesian Towns from Frýdek to Bílsko. A large train station was built here, which was until 1920 the main railway station of the town of Těšín. From 1911, a tram even ran from the station to the historic part of the city. The division of the city led to the decline of the importance of the city in the region and to the slowing down of its development. Polský Těšín lost important railway connections and industry, Český Těšín was again cut off from the historic center, administrative offices and cultural and educational facilities.
The cadastral territory of the nascent Český Těšín had an area of 2.66 km² at that time, and it had a population of just over 8,000. The newly emerging city had promising development prospects. There was a railway station on its cadastre, from where trains departed to Třinec, Jablunkov and Slovakia to Košice, as well as to the nearby mining town of Karviná and to the railway junction in Bohumín, from where there was a connection via Ostrava to Brno and Prague. This was the basis of the demographic and urban development of the city. Local industry and trades also played a significant role in this context. The most important local manufacturing industries were construction companies, which were then entrusted with the construction of a number of public buildings - hospitals, schools, churches and the town hall. In addition to state- or city-funded buildings, the construction of cooperative and private facilities has also developed. Many shops and restaurants were established. After 1933, the Avion Café, built next to the old National Hotel, right next to the bridge under the castle, became the center of social and cultural life. In 1921, a Czech grammar school was founded. An important local company was the printing and publishing house of K. Prochasky.
In the first period of its independent existence, Český Těšín developed as a modern city center of the easternmost tip of the Czech lands, as a city located considerably eccentrically on the very borders of the state, but benefiting greatly from its proper administrative purpose and railway junction.
Český Těšín was not burdened by a one-sided connection to some branches of production, such as many nearby mining and metallurgical towns; The city thus provided a solid basis for job opportunities and social employment in general, was migratory attractive and grew rapidly in its initial stage.
In October 1938, after the ultimatum of the Polish government, which abused the weakening of the Czechoslovak Republic after the Munich Agreement, Český Těšín was occupied by Polish troops and annexed to Polish Těšín as Cieszyn Zachodni (Western Těšín). After the defeat of Poland in 1939, he was annexed to Germany along with the Polish part. The retreating Polish troops then blew up the bridge over the Alder.
During the Second World War, the Stalag VIII D Teschen POW camp was located on the territory of Český Těšín. This camp was established in the spring of 1941 in a part of town called Kontešinec. It was built on the site of old wooden barracks, which were built during the First World War. At that time, the barracks served as an infirmary for the wounded and sick soldiers of Austria-Hungary. From 1920 to 1938, the building belonged to the Czechoslovak army. After the occupation of the city in 1939, the German command placed military vehicles here, because the buildings were already in a dilapidated condition and were only suitable for garages of military equipment. After the decision to establish a prison camp was issued, the barracks were hastily repaired. In addition, watchtowers were built and the whole camp was surrounded by barbed wire. Groups of bushes were also removed from around the camp and headquarters buildings were built. Initially, prisoners from France, Yugoslavia, Belgium and Poland, and later from Great Britain, the Soviet Union, Italy and other countries, were placed in the camp and its branches.
Although no war operations took place directly in Český Těšín,
the statistics capture quite a lot of war damage. The waterworks and
gasworks were destroyed from public buildings, and the internal
equipment of hospitals, printers, railway stations, post offices and
other businesses was looted. According to the official report, there
were ten companies in the city as of December 31, 1947 - Kametz and
Gorniak brickyards, Svoboda and Kutzer et al., Korner et al. -
production of iron structures, Lorenz file shop, gas plant, dairy
and production of liqueurs from Schlesinger and Zuweiss. As of the
same date, there were 351 shops and trades in the city. A number of
schools (16 schools were taught), cultural facilities and
associations remained a typical feature of Český Těšín even after
the war. Already in the autumn of 1945, the Theater of Cieszyn
Silesia was founded. A significant impulse was, albeit only
temporary, the resumption of publishing the Těšínské noviny. After
the Second World War, the majority of the German population and
parts of Poles were displaced until then, and Czechs from the
interior began to move to the city instead.
In 1945, Těšín was divided again and the bridges on the Olša between Cieszyn and Český Těšín became the most important border crossing between Czechoslovakia and Poland. The first post-war years and the following decades until the end of the 1950s restored to the city the political-administrative role and social significance of the pre-Munich period. After 1945, there were also major changes in the urban construction of Český Těšín. At first, interest was focused on repairs to existing buildings and equipment. The construction of new buildings soon began, especially residential buildings, because the demand for housing in Český Těšín was high. Initially, gaps were stopped in the city center and its immediate surroundings, but over time it became clear that this would not be enough. Consideration began to be given to other areas further away from the city center. In 1949, a study of the town master plan was prepared, which already included Svibice, which was administratively merged with the town in 1947. On the basis of this study, a zoning plan was later drawn up, according to which the town was built after 1960.
A bus station was built on the site of the former Thonet-Mundus furniture factory. Between 1958 and 1960, a new family house district was established in Kontešinec, on the site of the German Stalag VIII D Teschen camp. In April 1961, the House of Culture was ceremoniously opened with a theater - the Czech and Polish stage, an observatory and a library. In 1969, the construction of a housing estate began in the area between Ostravská, Slezská, Hrabinská and Úvoz streets. In 1960, Český Těšín lost the status of a district town as part of a nationwide reorganization of the territorial administrative system, which resulted in a reduction in the city's attractiveness within the Czech Těšín region.
The stereotypical housing development from the 1960s to the 1980s significantly expanded the city's housing stock, but it did not benefit the city much in terms of urban or functional. In the 1980s, Český Těšín was a center of settlement of peripheral importance. It became known mainly as a center of the paper and printing industry (production of notebooks, book printing). At this time, a new border crossing Český Těšín-Cottbus / Boguszowice was also opened on the outskirts of the city, which relieved traffic in the city center. In 1990, cooperation was established with the city of Cieszyn in the field of culture.
Český Těšín is an important center of the Polish national minority in the Czech Republic. There is a Polish theater scene and Český Těšín is the seat of most Polish organizations in the Czech Republic.