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Chelmno

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Chelmno

For the Nazi German extermination camp located near a village with a similar name, Chełmno nad Nerem, see Chełmno extermination camp. For the village in western Poland, see Chełmno, Szamotuły County.
Chełmno

Church of St. James and St. Nicholas - a medieval gothic church in Chełmno.

Coat of arms
Chełmno
Chełmno

Coordinates: 53°21′57″N 18°25′22″E / 53.36583°N 18.42278°E / 53.36583; 18.42278

Country  Poland
Voivodeship Kuyavian-Pomeranian
County Chełmno County
Gmina Chełmno (urban gmina)
Area
 • Total 13.56 km2 (5.24 sq mi)
Elevation 75 m (246 ft)
Population (2006)
 • Total 20,388
 • Density 1,500/km2 (3,900/sq mi)
Postal code 86-200
Website http://www.chelmno.pl/

Chełmno Toruń Voivodeship (1975–1998).

Name

Culm was the German name of the town, used by the Germans since the arrival of the Teutonic Knights in the settlement and was also used in official documents regarding the town, when it prospered as a member of the Hanseatic League.[1] After centuries under Polish jurisdiction, the city was officially renamed from its Polish Chełmno name to Kulm, 100 years after it fell back to Prussia in 1772, as part of a Germanization effort.[2] During the Nazi occupation in World War II, the town was once again renamed to Kulm. The town also has been known as Culm in English.

History

The first written mention of Chełmno is known from a document allegedly issued in 1065 by Duke Boleslaus II 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 Chelmno Land were part of the Teutonic Knights' state until 1466, when after the Thirteen Years' War Chełmno was incorporated into Poland and made the capital of Chełmno Voivodeship.

In 1772, following the First Partition of Poland-Lithuania, the city was taken over by the Kingdom of Prussia. Between 1807 and 1815 Chełmno was part of the Duchy of Warsaw, being reannexed by Prussia at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Kulm had been a garrison town. In 1776 Frederic the Great founded here a cadet school which was to serve in Germanising Polish areas and nobility[3] In 1890 the garrison included 561 military staff.[4] On 1 October 1890 the cadet school was moved to Köslin in Farther Pomerania.[5]

Chełmno returned to Poland in 1920 following World War I.

When World War II broke out in 1939, Nazi German authorities murdered 5,000 Polish civilians upon taking control of the territory.[6] The atrocities took place in Klamry, Małe Czyste, Podwiesk, Plutowo, Dąbrowa Chełmińska, and Wielkie Łunawy, while many other Poles were executed in forests.[6] 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).

Demographics

Since its founding, the city had a mixed population of Germans and Poles, with the latter making 2/3 of its population in the second half of the 19th century.[2]

Number of inhabitants in years
Year Inhabitants Notes
1843 5,000[7]
1890 9,762 incl. 3,450 Protestants and 470 Jews.[4]
1900 11,079 together with the garrison, incl. 3,530 Protestants and 339 Jews.[5]
1921 11,700 incl. 1,060 Germans.[8]
1969 18,000 [9]
2006 20,388

Main sights

Chełmno has a well-preserved medieval center, with five Gothic churches and a beautiful Renaissance town hall in the middle of the market square.

  • Gothic churches:
    • Church of St Mary, former main parochial church of town, built 1280-1320 (with St. Valentine relic)
    • Church of Saints Jacob 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

Chełmno gives its name to the protected area called Chełmno Landscape Park, which stretches along the right bank of the Vistula.

Notable residents

References

Coordinates: 53°22′N 18°25′E / 53.367°N 18.417°E / 53.367; 18.417

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