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Che?mno Old Town with the Renaissance Town Hall on the right
Che?mno Old Town with the Renaissance Town Hall on the right
Flag of Che?mno
Coat of arms of Che?mno
Coat of arms
Che?mno is located in Poland
Coordinates: 53°20?57?N 18°25?23?E / 53.34917°N 18.42306°E / 53.34917; 18.42306Coordinates: 53°20?57?N 18°25?23?E / 53.34917°N 18.42306°E / 53.34917; 18.42306
Country Poland
CountyChe?mno County
GminaChe?mno (urban gmina)
 o Total13.56 km2 (5.24 sq mi)
75 m (246 ft)
 o Total20,388
 o Density1,500/km2 (3,900/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 o Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code

Che?mno (['x?u?mn?] ; older English: Culm; German: About this soundKulm ) is a town in northern Poland near the Vistula river with 20,000 inhabitants and the historical capital of Che?mno Land. Situated in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999, Che?mno was previously in Toru? Voivodeship (1975-1998).


The city's name Che?mno comes from chelm, the old Polish word for hill.[1][2] 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.[3] Che?mno came under Prussian jurisdiction in 1772 and, as part of a larger Germanization effort, the city was officially renamed Kulm.[4] During the Nazi occupation in World War II, the town was again renamed from Che?mno to Kulm.


Medieval town walls with the Powder Tower

The first written mention of Che?mno 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 Che?mno 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 was made the nominal see of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Che?mno under the archbishop of Riga by the papal legate William of Modena in 1243 (however, the cathedral and the residence of the bishop were located actually in the adjacent Che?m?a). The town grew prosperous as a member of the mercantile Hanseatic League. Kulm and Che?mno 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,[5] 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 Toru?.[6] 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 Che?mno Voivodeship. After dissolution of the Archdiocese of Riga in 1566, the bishops of Che?mno attended the councils of the Ecclesiastical province of the metropolitan of Gniezno. This practice was recognised by the Holy See by the Bull De salute animarum in 1821, when Che?mno diocese became de jure a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Gniezno. Che?mno diocese was enlarged on that occasion (Górzno, Krajna and Dzia?dowo).

In 1772, following the First Partition of Poland, the city was taken over by the Kingdom of Prussia. Between 1807 and 1815 Che?mno 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[7] In 1890 the garrison included 561 military staff.[8] On 1 October 1890 the cadet school was moved to Koszalin (then Köslin) in Farther Pomerania.[9] Also as part of Anti-Polish policies, the Prussians abolished the local Polish academy, and closed down Catholic monasteries.[10] Poles were subjected to various repressions, local Polish newspapers were confiscated.[10]

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.[11] Rydygier sold the clinic to one of his employees, Leon Polewski, in 1887, due to harassment from the Prussian authorities.[11]

On January 22, 1920 Polish troops were greeted by a large crowd of residents and Che?mno was reintegrated with Poland, which regained independence after World War I.[10]

When World War II broke out in 1939, Nazi German authorities murdered 5,000 Polish civilians upon taking control of the territory.[12] The atrocities took place in Klamry, Ma?e Czyste, Podwiesk, Plutowo, D?browa Che?mi?ska, and Wielkie ?unawy, while many other Poles were executed in forests.[12] 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 ?yje ("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).


Convent of the Sisters of Charity in Che?mno
Church of the Assumption in Che?mno

Since its founding, the city had a mixed population of Poles and Germans, with the former making 2/3 of its population in the second half of the 19th century.[4]

Number of inhabitants in years
Year Inhabitants Notes
1843 5,000[13]
1890 9,762 incl. 3,450 Protestants and 470 Jews.[8]
1900 11,079 together with the garrison, incl. 3,530 Protestants and 339 Jews.[9]
1921 11,700 incl. 1,060 Germans.[14]
1969 18,000[15]
2006 20,388

Main sights

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

The Old Town is one of Poland's official national Historic Monuments (Pomnik historii), as designated 20 April 2005, and tracked by the National Heritage Board of Poland.

Town Hall in Che?mno
  • 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 Grudzi?dzka Gate
  • Arsenal building constructed in 1811, now the seat of public library in Che?mno
  • Baroque building of the Che?mno Academy, reconstructed in the 19th century
  • Park Planty
  • Monument of Ludwik Rydygier

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

Notable residents

Statue of Ludwik Rydygier in Che?mno, the first surgeon in the world to carry out a peptic ulcer resection.


See also


  1. ^ Acta Universitatis Nicolai Copernici: Nauki humanistyczo-spo?eczne, Issues 22-28 Uniwersytet Miko?aja Kopernika, 1967, page 6
  2. ^ S?ownik etymologiczny nazw geograficznych Polski Maria Malec Wydawn. Naukowe PWN, 2002, page 56
  3. ^ Heinrich Gottfried Philipp Gengler: Regesten und Urkunden zur Verfassungs- und Rechtsgeschichte der deutschen Städte im Mittelalter, Erlangen 1863, pp. 679-680.
  4. ^ a b Blitzkrieg w Polsce wrzesien 1939 Richard Hargreaves, page 29, Bellona Warsaw 2009
  5. ^ Karol Górski, Zwi?zek Pruski i poddanie si? Prus Polsce: zbiór tekstów ?ród?owych, Instytut Zachodni, Pozna?, 1949, p. 11 (in Polish)
  6. ^ Górski, p. 76
  7. ^ Polacy i Niemcy wobec siebie Stanis?aw Salmonowicz, O?rodek Bada? Naukowych im. W. K?trzy?skiego, 1993
  8. ^ a b Brockhaus Konversations-Lexikon. 14th edition, vol. 4, Berlin and Vienna 1892, p. 624-625 (in German).
  9. ^ a b Meyers Konversations-Lexikon. 6th edition, vol. 11, Leipzig and Vienna 1908, p. 785-786 (in German).
  10. ^ a b c "Che?mno w dniu odzyskania niepodleg?o?ci 22 stycznia 1920 roku". (in Polish). Retrieved 2020.
  11. ^ a b Stanis?aw Marian Brzozowski. "Ludwik Rydygier". Internetowy Polski S?ownik Biograficzny (in Polish). Retrieved 2020.
  12. ^ a b Institute of National Remembrance data, based on Leszczynski, Kazimierz "Eksterminacja ludno?ci w Polsce w czasie okupacji niemieckiej 1939-1945", Warsaw, 1962
  13. ^ Universal-Lexikon der Gegenwart und Vergangenheit (H. A. Pierer, ed.). 2nd edition, vol. 17, Altenburg 1843, p. 51 (in German).
  14. ^ Der Große Brockhaus. 15th edition, vol. 4, Leipzig 1929, p. 297-298 (in German).
  15. ^ Meyers Enzyklopädisches Lexikon. 9th edition, vol. 6, Mannheim/Vienna/Zürich 1972, p. 122 (in German).

External links

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