Chełmno, Ger. Kulm, city (1993 est. pop. 21,600), Kujawsko-Pomorskie prov., N central Poland. Its industries manufacture iron goods and beer. It was founded by Teutonic Knights in 1231, passed to Poland in 1466, and was included in Prussia in 1772. It reverted to Poland in 1919. Among its historic buildings are two Gothic churches and a 16th-century town hall.

For the concentration camp located near a village with a similar name, Chełmno nad Nerem, see Chełmno extermination camp.
Chełmno [] (older Culm; ) is a town in northern Poland near the Vistula river with 20,000 inhabitants and the historical capital of Chełmno Land (Culmerland). Situated in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999, Chełmno was previously in Toruń Voivodeship (1975–1998).


The name is derived from the Old Slavic word for hill (chełm, in modern Polish language wzgórze). This is a cognate of the English word hill and similar words in other related languages.

Culm was the German name, officially used between 1772 and 1807 and again between 1815 and 1920. During the Nazi occupation in World War II, the town was called Kulm. The town also has been known as Culm in English, but Chełmno is now more commonly used.


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 (Kulmerland). In 1233 Chełmno 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. Chełmno and Chełmno Land were part of the Teutonic Knights' state until 1466, when after the Thirteen Years' War Chełmno was incorporated back into Poland and made the capital of Chełmno Voivodeship.

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

The city had a mixed German/Polish population during most of his history. Around 1900 the city was about one-third German and two-thirds Polish. Chełmno returned to Poland in 1920 following World War I. During the interwar period the town experienced renewed economic growth.

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.

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).

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 SS Jacob and Nicholas, former Franciscan church, from 14th c., rebuild in 19 c.
    • Church of SS Peter and Paul, former Dominican church, from 13-14th c. rebuild in 18 and 19th c.
    • Church of SS John the Baptist and Johns the Evangelist, former Benedictine and Cictercian 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

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