“All About the Silesian Problem” (E12)

  • Originally Published: Syndicated Piece, News Publishing Co. (spotted in the Oakland Tribune and The Charlotte News, among other outlets), August 14, 1921
  • First Reprinted: Love Conquers All
  • Original Byline: Robert C. Benchley


Nearly 20 years before Silesia became a flashpoint in Hitler’s monstrous Anschluss aggressions, Benchley subjects East-Central Europe’s ruling classes to a whimsically withering historical inquiry. Mocking the practice of dignifying dizzyingly stupid aristocratic and irredentist spats with naming conventions derived from mathematics, RB proposes a novel answer to the “Silesian Question.”


Describing a series of political production numbers scarcely less absurd than the Habsburg Vanities and the Polish Partition Follies of 1772, 1793, and 1795, RB takes the reader on a mellifluously mad journey into the heart of anti-democratic darkness. I refer here, of course, to the epochal Summoning of the Storkrath, where the political will of the Duchy’s assembled nobles, welterweights and licensed pilots coalesced around a policy of strict indifference (at best) to the actual needs of everyone else in Silesia.

Favourite Moment:
“And he was the kind of man who would stop at nothing when it pleased him to augment his duchy.”

Reprint Notes:

  • Topical reference to France and England “splitting” over the Silesian problem has been removed from the version in Love Conquers All. Presumably they got over it.
  • Title in The Charlotte News: “Silesian Problem Clear”
  • Title in the Oakland Tribune: “Silesia Row is Explained By Benchley”