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Abstract

When describing the Evangelical-Augsburg religious architecture of the 20th and 21st century in the Cieszyn Silesia, it is worth drawing attention to the origins of the boundaries in this historical and geographical region. The Reformation first appeared in Silesia in Wroclaw, where in 1519 Martin Luther’s works were printed, and where in 1545 Prince Waclaw III Adam Pogrobowiec recognized the Augsburg Confession as the official religion of the Duchy of Cieszyn. Unfortunately, when the Habsburgs seized power in the Duchy in the 17th century, a persecution of Lutherans began, which for years afterwards hampered the development of Protestant architecture in the area. The crucial event that fundamentally changed the fate of the local Protestants was the publication in 1781 of the Patent of Tolerance by Joseph II. It contained detailed regulations for the building of Protestant places of worship, which influenced the shape and the aesthetics of local Evangelical churches until the 20th century. The beginning of the last century saw some new projects of a liturgical character. The neo-Gothic chapel of ease in Bogumin, designed by J. Leisching and built in 1901, was one of the first Evangelical-Augsburg churches erected in Cieszyn Silesia. The Evangelical cemetery chapel in Dębowiec was also constructed in the neo-Gothic style, as the latter became non-denominational from the end of the 19th century. The large scale of the building (consecrated in 1912) designed by Karol Majeranowski made it possible for regular Sunday services to take place in the chapel. Another significant architectural addition was the new Evangelical cemetery in Bielsko, designed by H. Mayr. During the interwar period, the well-organized Silesian-Cieszyn Lutheran community built many new chapels and churches. In the 1920s and 1930s, several large cemetery chapels were erected in the Cieszyn diocese. Their scale was well beyond the sepulchral requirements of the times. Worth mentioning are the chapels in Godziszów, Simoradz, and Kozakowice Dolne. Their architecture attests to the fact that the Evangelical-Augsburg community has long been faithful to traditional designs dating back to the 18th century. In the interwar period, new churches of considerable size were erected in Cieszyn Silesia. Most were built in the part of the region situated on the Czechoslovak side. The two most outstanding churches, the German Evangelical church in Rozwoj, and the Silesian Evangelical- -Augsburg church in Niwy, were erected in Český Těšín. Their architecture recalls neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque architecture. Despite the rather conservative tastes of the Silesian-Cieszyn Evangelical-Augsburg diaspora, the architect T. Michejda made a successful synthesis of modernism and “the national style” in the Evangelical church in Istebna (consecrated in 1930). On the other hand, in his Evangelical- -Augsburg church in Trzanowice, Michejd minimised the details of the façade to create a building in the international style of the 1930s. After the Second World War, the Evangelical-Augsburg architecture of the years 1948–1956 in Cieszyn Silesia returned to the artistic language known for decades, which recalled the archetypal designs of patent churches. Examples of this design are in Wieszczęta- Kowale and Olbrachcice. The first positive change in the attitude towards the avant-garde solutions can be seen in the buildings erected by the Evangelicals in the 1960s. The most important churches built or designed in this decade were in Cierlick (by B. Firla) and in Wisla Czarne (by K. Kozieł). The Evangelical-Augsburg church in Wisła Czarne (1970) introduced a series of churches linked to the critical regionalism. The Evangelical-Augsburg church in Cisowinica, consecrated in 1981, is an example of the evolution of this concept. Stanisław Kwaśniewicz and Edward Kisiel were representatives of yet another concept of designing churches in the period of late modernism in Cieszyn Silesia. Kwaśniewicz applied expressionist forms in the Evangelical-Augsburg chapel in Bażanowice, while Kisiel combined expressionism and regional contextualism in the churches in Puków and Cieszyn Marklowice. The Protestant architecture of the Cieszyn Silesia created in the more recent years recalls postmodernist forms yet is still firmly grounded in the local tradition. Some of the newer churches are, however, a warning sign of the dangers of losing moderation typical of Protestant architecture. Only time will tell if this is a durable trend or a momentary “straying” of the Silesian-Cieszyn Evangelicals.
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