Chełmno ([ˈxɛu̯mnɔ] (listen); older English: Culm; German: Kulm (help·info)) is a town in northern Poland near the Vistula river with 20,000 inhabitants and the historical capital of Chełmno Land. Situated in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999, Chełmno was previously in Toruń Voivodeship (1975–1998).
Chełmno Old Town with the Renaissance Town Hall on the right
|Gmina||Chełmno (urban gmina)|
|• Total||13.56 km2 (5.24 sq mi)|
|Elevation||75 m (246 ft)|
|• Density||1,500/km2 (3,900/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
The city's name Chełmno comes from chelm, the old Polish word for hill. After the arrival of the Teutonic Knights in 1232 the Latin name Colmen was used. During the Middle Ages, the Germanized name Culm was used in official documents regarding the town, as the city was a member of the Hanseatic League and part of the State of the Teutonic Order. Chełmno came under Prussian jurisdiction in 1772 and, as part of a larger Germanization effort, the city was officially renamed Kulm. During the Nazi occupation in World War II, the town was again renamed from Chełmno to Kulm.
The first written mention of Chełmno is known from a document allegedly issued in 1065 by Duke Boleslaus of Poland for the Benedictine monastery in Mogilno. In 1226 Duke Konrad I of Masovia invited the Teutonic Knights to Chełmno Land. In 1233 Kulm was granted city rights known as "Kulm law" (renewed in 1251), the model system for over 200 Polish towns. The town grew prosperous as a member of the mercantile Hanseatic League. Kulm and Chełmno Land were part of the Teutonic Knights' state until 1454. In 1440, the town was one of the founding members of the Prussian Confederation, which opposed Teutonic rule, and upon the request of which King Casimir IV Jagiellon reincorporated the territory to the Kingdom of Poland in 1454. In May 1454 the town pledged allegiance to the Polish King in Toruń. After the end of the Thirteen Years' War, the Teutonic Knights renounced claims to the town, and recognized it as part of Poland. It was made the capital of Chełmno Voivodeship.
In 1772, following the First Partition of Poland, the city was taken over by the Kingdom of Prussia. Between 1807 and 1815 Chełmno was part of the Polish Duchy of Warsaw, being reannexed by Prussia at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
As Kulm, it had been a garrison town. In 1776 Frederick the Great founded here a cadet school which was to serve in Germanising Polish areas and nobility In 1890 the garrison included 561 military staff. On 1 October 1890 the cadet school was moved to Koszalin (then Köslin) in Farther Pomerania. Also as part of Anti-Polish policies, the Prussians abolished the local Polish academy, and closed down Catholic monasteries. Poles were subjected to various repressions, local Polish newspapers were confiscated.
Renown Polish surgeon Ludwik Rydygier opened his private clinic in the town in 1878, where he conducted pioneering surgical operations, including the first in Poland and second in the world surgical removal of the pylorus in a patient suffering from stomach cancer in 1880 and the first in the world peptic ulcer resection in 1881. Rydygier sold the clinic to one of his employees, Leon Polewski, in 1887, due to harassment from the Prussian authorities.
When World War II broke out in 1939, Nazi German authorities murdered 5,000 Polish civilians upon taking control of the territory. The atrocities took place in Klamry, Małe Czyste, Podwiesk, Plutowo, Dąbrowa Chełmińska, and Wielkie Łunawy, while many other Poles were executed in forests. The rest of the Polish population was expelled to the General Government in line with the German policy of Lebensraum. Polish Secret State resistance groups such as Polska Żyje ("Poland Lives"), Rota, Grunwald, and Szare Szeregi were also active in the area. The area was administered as part of Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia and served as the seat of the district/county (kreis) of Kulm.
On 25 January 1945 German forces set fire to several buildings in the city, including a hospital, a railway terminal, and a brewery, while retreating (see scorched earth).
|1890||9,762||incl. 3,450 Protestants and 470 Jews.|
|1900||11,079||together with the garrison, incl. 3,530 Protestants and 339 Jews.|
|1921||11,700||incl. 1,060 Germans.|
- Gothic churches:
- Church of St Mary, former main parochial church of town, built 1280-1320 (with St. Valentine relic)
- Church of Saints James and Nicholas, former Franciscan church, from the 14th century, rebuilt in the 19th century
- Church of Saints Peter and Paul, former Dominican church, from the 13th and 14th centuries, rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries
- Church of Saints John the Baptist and Johns the Evangelist, former Benedictine and Cistercian nuns' church, with monastery, built 1290-1330
- Church of Holy Ghost, from 1280–90
- Town hall, whose oldest part comes from the end of the 13th century, rebuilt in manneristic style (under Italian influence) in 1567-1572
- City walls which surround whole city, preserved almost as a whole, with watch towers and Grudziądzka Gate
- Arsenal building constructed in 1811, now the seat of public library in Chełmno
- Baroque building of the Chełmno Academy, reconstructed in the 19th century
- Park Planty
- Monument of Ludwik Rydygier
- Brunon Bendig (1938–2006), amateur boxer
- Adam Cieśliński (born 1982), footballer
- Friedrich-Carl Cranz (1886–1941), general
- Hans Dominik (1870–1910), colonial officer
- Roderich von Erckert (1821-1900), ethnographer
- Friedrich Fülleborn (1866–1933), physician and tropical disease specialist
- Heinz Guderian (1888–1954), German general, blitzkrieg and tank theorist
- Wojciech Stanisław Leski (1702–1758), Bishop of Chelmno
- Hermann Löns (1866–1914), writer
- Ernst Wilhelm Lotz (1890–1914), writer
- Michael Otto (born 1943), entrepreneur
- Franciszek Raszeja (1896–1942), doctor
- Leon Raszeja (1901–1939), lawyer
- Maksymilian Raszeja (1889–1939), theologian
- Ludwik Rydygier (1850–1920), renown surgeon and professor of medicine
- Antoni Grabowski (1857–1921), chemical engineer, Esperanto activist
- Georg Salzberger (1882–1975), Jewish rabbi
- Walter Schilling (1895–1943), Wehrmacht general
- Kurt Schumacher (1895–1952), politician
- Max Sperling (1905–1984), Wehrmacht officer
- Max Stirner (1806–1856), philosopher
- Adolf Wach (1843–1926), German jurist
- Jakub Zabłocki (1984–2015), footballer
- Acta Universitatis Nicolai Copernici: Nauki humanistyczo-społeczne, Issues 22-28 Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika, 1967, page 6
- Słownik etymologiczny nazw geograficznych Polski Maria Malec Wydawn. Naukowe PWN, 2002, page 56
- Heinrich Gottfried Philipp Gengler: Regesten und Urkunden zur Verfassungs- und Rechtsgeschichte der deutschen Städte im Mittelalter, Erlangen 1863, pp. 679-680.
- Blitzkrieg w Polsce wrzesien 1939 Richard Hargreaves, page 29, Bellona Warsaw 2009
- Karol Górski, Związek Pruski i poddanie się Prus Polsce: zbiór tekstów źródłowych, Instytut Zachodni, Poznań, 1949, p. 11 (in Polish)
- Górski, p. 76
- Polacy i Niemcy wobec siebie Stanisław Salmonowicz, Ośrodek Badań Naukowych im. W. Kętrzyńskiego, 1993
- Brockhaus Konversations-Lexikon. 14th edition, vol. 4, Berlin and Vienna 1892, p. 624-625 (in German).
- Meyers Konversations-Lexikon. 6th edition, vol. 11, Leipzig and Vienna 1908, p. 785-786 (in German).
- "Chełmno w dniu odzyskania niepodległości 22 stycznia 1920 roku". Chelmno.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- Stanisław Marian Brzozowski. "Ludwik Rydygier". Internetowy Polski Słownik Biograficzny (in Polish). Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- Institute of National Remembrance data, based on Leszczynski, Kazimierz "Eksterminacja ludności w Polsce w czasie okupacji niemieckiej 1939-1945", Warsaw, 1962
- Universal-Lexikon der Gegenwart und Vergangenheit (H. A. Pierer, ed.). 2nd edition, vol. 17, Altenburg 1843, p. 51 (in German).
- Der Große Brockhaus. 15th edition, vol. 4, Leipzig 1929, p. 297-298 (in German).
- Meyers Enzyklopädisches Lexikon. 9th edition, vol. 6, Mannheim/Vienna/Zürich 1972, p. 122 (in German).
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