Saturday, March 23, 2013

Geographical renaming: from Breslau to Wrocław

Places change over the course of time; and so do their names [1]. An example is today's city of Wrocław (pronounced “rock-law”), located on the River Oder (Polish: Odra) in southwest Poland, which was known as Breslau (the ending “lau” rhymes with “cow”) until, at the end of World War II, the Allied powers agreed upon putting former German territories east of the Oder and the Lusatian Neisse rivers under Polish administration [2].

Breslau was the capital of Silesia, which for over a millennium experienced multiple influences and has been—as a whole or in parts—under Bohemian (Austrian Habsburgian), Czechoslovakian, German, Moravian, Polish and Prussian rule [2]. Notice that this is an alphabetical and not a chronological order. Breslau also had a large and diverse Jewish community [3]. Today, Wrocław is the capital of the province (voivodeship) of Lower Silesia. Visitors come for sight-seeing from around the world [4,5]. The way foreigners and tourists experience Wrocław may still depend on their background and biography.  For some it (still) is a haunted place and ghost town [5]:  spooky it may be, but it is not a deserted ghost town. Wrocław is a thriving city that has plenty to offer.

Keywords: History, geography, languages, translation.

References and more to explore
[1] Wikipedia: List of city name changes [].
[2] Trilingual History of Silesia:
[3] Polin Travel Jeweish Guide: Wroclaw [].
[4] Breslau (Wrocław) - Geschichte und Sehenswürdigkeiten [].
[5] Alex Webber: Wrocław, Poland's ghost town. The Guardian, October 30, 2009 [].

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