Last updated
Bazylika konkatedralna w Chelmzy.JPG
Co-Cathedral Basilica of Chełmża seen from the lake
POL Chelmza COA.svg
Coat of arms
Poland adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Coordinates: 53°11′5″N18°36′15″E / 53.18472°N 18.60417°E / 53.18472; 18.60417 Coordinates: 53°11′5″N18°36′15″E / 53.18472°N 18.60417°E / 53.18472; 18.60417
CountryFlag of Poland.svg  Poland
Voivodeship Kuyavian-Pomeranian
County Toruń
Gmina Chełmża (urban gmina)
Town rights1251
  Total7.84 km2 (3.03 sq mi)
  Density1,900/km2 (5,000/sq mi)
Postal code
Vehicle registration CTR

Chełmża [ˈxɛu̯mʐa] (German : Kulmsee, [1] earlier Culmsee), is a town in north-central Poland, in the Toruń County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship. It is located at around 53°11′5″N18°36′15″E / 53.18472°N 18.60417°E / 53.18472; 18.60417 . It is one of the historic centers of Chełmno Land.



The town Chełmża is placed at the lake named Jezioro Chełmżyńskie (area 2.71 km²), earlier the lake itself was named Culmsee [2] and therefore eponym of the town [3] [ circular reference ], that earlier had the name Culmsee, too. (see History)


The first signs of settlement date to 10,000 BC when reindeer hunters made their visits to the area. Around 4500 BC the first agricultural settlements were founded. [4] Goth tribes also moved through the area on their trek from Scandinavia and North Germany. Visible signs of existence of the Old Prussians also exist. Around the 7th century the Slavic Lechitic tribe of Goplans arrived in the area. [4]

In the time of first Piasts and the formation of Poland, Chełmno Land and the settlement of Łoza (now the town of Chełmża) was incorporated into Chełmno castellany. [4] After the death of Bolesław III Wrymouth in 1138 it was handed over to his son Bolesław IV the Curly – as part of Masovia within Piast-ruled Poland. [4] The fights with nearby Old Prussian tribes resulted in several raids that destroyed the area. In the 13th century the ruler of the area was Konrad I who in order to Christianize the Old Prussians brought a missionary Bishop Christian of Oliva. [4] The bishop was granted a number of possession including the settlement of Łoza. Later Teutonic Knights were granted local lands to support the bishop by military means. [4] However, in time the knights took over the possession of Christian's diocese, dividing the area into four dioceses in 1243, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chełmno. At the end of 1245 Heidenreich of the Diocese of Chełmno (Culm) became the bishop of diocese. He picked Łoza as place of his stay. It was during that time that Łoza received its new name Culmense and became part of the residence of the bishop who resided and governed in Warmia from 1245 to 1263. In 1251 (before July 22) Bishop Heidenreich bestowed city rights to Łoza and renamed it Culmsee (Kulmsee). [5] [6]

Chelmza Co-Cathedral overlooking the Old Town Chelmza katedra 02.jpg
Chełmża Co-Cathedral overlooking the Old Town

On July 22, the bishop also founded the cathedral which was built starting in 1254. Bishop Heidenreich received permissions for his undertakings directly from the pope[ citation needed ]. Later, in 1255 the four dioceses of Prussia, including the Bishopric of Culm were put under the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Riga as metropolitan[ citation needed ].

In the 1250s Jutta von Sangerhausen came to live in the region and settled at Bielczyny.[ citation needed ] In 1256 she founded the St. George church. It was her wish to be interred at the town's cathedral-church and upon her death in 1260 her wish was granted.[ citation needed ] The 5th of May is her memorial day. The nearby village of Bielczyny and the cathedral soon became a destination for pilgrims to her shrine.[ citation needed ]

The town witnessed many wars and uprisings. The nearby Old Prussians besieged the town in 1268 and 1273. [7] Additionally in the 15th century the town experienced the wars between Teutonic Knights and Poland. [4] In 1410 the Polish army took the town and the bishop of Chełmno Arnold Stapil made a tribute to Polish King Władysław II Jagiełło. In 1422 Chełmża was taken again by the forces of the king and destroyed in large part. In 1454, the town joined the anti-Teutonic Prussian Confederation, [7] upon the request of which Polish King Casimir IV Jagiellon re-incorporated the region and town into Poland that same year, what was eventually confirmed following the Thirteen Years' War in 1466. [4] [8] Synods of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Chełmno were held in Chełmża several times between the 14th and 17th centuries. [7] In 1552, Chełmża was visited by Polish King Sigismund II Augustus. [7] In 1621 and 1627 the town hosted the court of Polish King Sigismund III Vasa along with Prince Władysław.

Renaissance tombstone of Bishop Piotr Kostka in the Co-Cathedral Konkatedra w Chelmzy-renesansowy nagrobek biskupa Piotra Kostki.jpg
Renaissance tombstone of Bishop Piotr Kostka in the Co-Cathedral

The Swedish invasions of Poland of 1626–29 and 1655–60 brought devastation to the town. [4] In the beginning of the 18th-century Russian, Saxon, Swedish armies went through the area along with supporters of Stanisław Leszczyński. The constant warfare led to the fall of the city, and its breaking point was reached due a plague that happened in years 1708–1710. [4] A next series of wars in 1733–1735 and in 1756–1763 along with fire in 1762 almost completely destroyed the city. [4]

After the First Partition of Poland on 15 September 1772 Chełmża was taken over by the Kingdom of Prussia. At that time it counted only 600 inhabitants. [4] From 1807 to 1815 it was part of the Polish Duchy of Warsaw only to be taken over by Prussia again after 1815 and Congress of Vienna. The town's population in 1831 counted 1,200 people and in 1871 3,000. [4] Its economic situation improved as it became an economic center for local villages benefited with good soil. During the Spring of Nations in 1848 Polish patriotism reinvigorated. Circle of Polish League was established and Polish newspaper "Biedaczek" is being distributed in the years 1849–1850 by Julian Prejs. [4]

In 1866 “Towarzystwo Rolniczo-Przemysłowe” is created, an association dealing in industry and agriculture. In 1879 a regional court is established in Chełmża. Two banks and school are established as well. Jews, who made up 8% of local population, built in the 1880s a synagogue. [4] The industrial development was increased and agricultural manufacturing plant and railway terminal were completed in 1882. The population rose as well from 3,400 in 1880, 8,987 in 1900, [1] and 10,600 in 1910. [4] In 1869 a local church choir “Cecylia” was founded, which exists to this day. Around 1900, the town formed a language island of Swabian German. [9]

Mass grave of Polish civilians killed by the German Grenzschutz in 1919 Chelmza - Cmentarz Nowy - panoramio (2).jpg
Mass grave of Polish civilians killed by the German Grenzschutz in 1919

The development of the town was stopped due to the First World War. The living conditions declined and street riots became widespread. Poles rose up against Germanisation and protests were made against forced teaching in schools in German language. [4] In November 1918 Poland regained independence, and on 8 January 1919 local Poles attacked a Grenzschutz unit but were repelled. In revenge the Germans shelled the town by artillery, and seven civilians, including two boys aged 8 and 12, were killed. Additionally the Germans arrested several people upon suspicion of leading the protests. [4]

On 21 January[ clarification needed ] as result of Treaty of Versailles, Chełmża became part of Poland again. A part of the German population was deported (2000 people). The population now counted 98% Poles, 1.8% Germans, 0.2% Jews.[ citation needed ] The overall number of Chełmża citizens rose from 10,700 in 1921 to 13,000 in 1939. After the Great Depression in 1929 wages became lower and unemployment rose. National Democrats and at the second place socialists led by Stanisław Nehring became the main parties in Chełmża. [4] “Gazeta Chełmżyńska” and “Głos Chełmżyński” were two papers distributed in the city. The mayor of the city was Bronisław Kurzętkowski from 1920 to 1933 and Wiktor Barwicki from 1933 till 1939.

Memorial to local Poles murdered by the Germans and Russians during World War II Miejsce pamieci ofiar wojny przy starym cmentarzu. - panoramio (2).jpg
Memorial to local Poles murdered by the Germans and Russians during World War II

After the joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland, which started World War II in September 1939, the town was occupied by Germany, which carried out a genocidal campaign against the local Polish and Jewish population. Chełmża was one of the sites of executions of Poles carried out by Germany in 1939 as part of the Intelligenzaktion . [10] Many local Poles, especially teachers, were also massacred in the Barbarka forest in present-day Toruń, also as part of the Intelligenzaktion. [11] The German state at the time considered Poles and Jews to be untermenschen and planned their eradication as national groups. To escape this fate many local Poles took the III and IV group of Volksliste. In early 1945, in Chełmża, Polish forced labourers evacuated from Jajkowo were forcibly conscripted by the Germans to the Organisation Todt, however, some managed to escape. [12] As result of German extermination and repressions the population of the town declined to 10,000 in March 1945. [4]

In January 1945 the Red Army took Chełmża, thus ending the German occupation. Soviet repressions followed and 600 people of German descent were deported to Siberia. The losses inflicted by German occupation regarding the population were gradually reversed and in 1980 Chełmża counted 15,000 inhabitants. [4]


The most notable sports clubs of the town are football club Legia Chełmża  [ pl ] and rowing club Chełmżyńskie Towarzystwo Wioślarskie 1927  [ pl ].

Famous residents

Memorial plaque at the birthplace and childhood home of Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski Freilichowski plaque.JPG
Memorial plaque at the birthplace and childhood home of Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski

Related Research Articles

Starogard Gdański Place in Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Starogard Gdański is a town in Pomeranian Voivodeship in northern Poland with 48,328 inhabitants (2004).

Chełmno Town in Kuyavian-Pomeranian, Poland

Chełmno 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).

Ciechanów Place in Masovian Voivodeship, Poland

Ciechanów(listen) is a town in north-central Poland. As of 2018, it had 44,209 inhabitants. From 1975 to 1998, it was the capital of the Ciechanów Voivodeship. Since 1999, it has been situated in the Masovian Voivodeship.

Gostyń Place in Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland

Gostyń is a town in western Poland, seat of the Gostyń County and Gmina Gostyń in the Greater Poland Voivodeship. According to 30 June 2004 data its population was 20,746.

Kościan Place in Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland

Kościan is a town on the Obra canal in west-central Poland, with a population of 23 952 inhabitants as of June 2014. Situated in the Greater Poland Voivodeship, previously in Leszno Voivodeship (1975–1998), it is the capital of Kościan County. Polish nobleman Ignacy Wyssogota Zakrzewski was born nearby.

Lubawa Place in Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, Poland

Lubawapronounced [luˈbava] is a town in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, Poland. It is located in Iława County on the Sandela River, some 18 km (11 mi) southeast of Iława.

Wyrzysk Place in Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland

Wyrzysk(listen) is a town in Poland with 5,263 (2004) inhabitants, situated in Piła County, Greater Poland Voivodeship.

Przasnysz Place in Masovian Voivodeship, Poland

Przasnysz is a town in Poland. Located in the Masovian Voivodship, about 110 km north of Warsaw and about 115 km south of Olsztyn, it is the capital of Przasnysz County. It has 18,093 inhabitants (2004). It was one of the most important towns in Mazovia during the Middle Ages. Przasnysz was granted town privileges in 1427.

Dobrzyń nad Wisłą Place in Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Dobrzyń nad Wisłą is a town in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland. It lies on the Vistula River in the vicinity of Włocławek. As of 2004 the town had a population of 2,400.

Wąbrzeźno Place in Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Wąbrzeźno(listen) is a town in Poland, in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, about 35 kilometres northeast of Toruń. It is the capital of the Wąbrzeźno County. The population is 13,971 inhabitants (2004).

Międzychód Place in Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland

Międzychód is a town in Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland, the administrative seat of Międzychód County. It is located on the southern shore of the Warta river, about 75 km (47 mi) west of Poznań. Population is 10,915 (2009).

Pelplin Place in Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Pelplin is a town in northern Poland, in the Tczew County, Pomeranian Voivodship. Population: 8,320 (2009).

Radziejów Place in Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Radziejów is a town in Poland, in Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, about 45 km south of Toruń. It is the capital of Radziejów County. Its population is 5,804 (2004).

Skarszewy Place in Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Skarszewy is a small town 40 kilometres south of Gdańsk in Starogard Gdański County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, northern Poland. It is located between Kościerzyna and Tczew. Population: 6 809. In 2005 the town was given the title the Pearl of Pomerania. It is the seat of the urban-rural administrative district Gmina Skarszewy.

Kowalewo Pomorskie Town in Golub-Dobrzyń County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Kowalewo Pomorskie is a town in Golub-Dobrzyń County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland. It is the capital of the Gmina Kowalewo Pomorskie. From 1975–1998 the city belonged to the Toruń Voivodeship.

Praszka Place in Opole Voivodeship, Poland

Praszka is a town in Olesno County, Opole Voivodeship, Poland, with 7,655 inhabitants (2019).

Łasin Place in Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Łasin is a town in Grudziądz County, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland, with 3,271 inhabitants (2004). It is the seat of the gmina called Gmina Łasin. It lies approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) east of Grudziądz and 78 km (48 mi) north-east of Toruń. It is located within the historic Chełmno Land.

The Bishopric of Culm was a Roman Catholic diocese in Chełmno Land, founded in medieval Prussia in 1243 and disbanded in 1992.

Władysławów, Greater Poland Voivodeship Village in Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland

Władysławów is a village in Turek County, Greater Poland Voivodeship, in west-central Poland. It is the seat of the gmina called Gmina Władysławów. It lies approximately 10 kilometres (6 mi) north of Turek and 111 km (69 mi) east of the regional capital Poznań.

Chełmno Land Historical region in north-central Poland

Chełmno land is a historical region, located in central-northern Poland.


  1. 1 2 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Kulmsee"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 15 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 944.
  2. Topographische Karte 2877 Culmsee 1:25000 Messtischblatt Deutsches Reich; Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie
  3. Chełmża
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 "Historia Chełmży". Chełmża Urząd Miasta (in Polish). Archived from the original on December 19, 2008.
  5. Max Perlbach, Preussische Regesten [Prussian Documents: Ann. Thor. Chron. terre Pruss. Ss.r.Pr. III 59, 468)
  6. Urkundenbuch des Bisthums Culm
  7. 1 2 3 4 Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich, Tom I (in Polish). Warszawa. 1880. p. 569.
  8. Górski, Karol (1949). Związek Pruski i poddanie się Prus Polsce: zbiór tekstów źródłowych (in Polish). Poznań: Instytut Zachodni. pp. 54, 88.
  9. Elard Hugo Meyer. Deutsche Volkskunde. BoD – Books on Demand. p. 303.
  10. The Pomeranian Crime 1939. Warsaw: IPN. 2018. p. 40.
  11. Wardzyńska, Maria (2009). Był rok 1939. Operacja niemieckiej policji bezpieczeństwa w Polsce. Intelligenzaktion (in Polish). Warszawa: IPN. pp. 162–163.
  12. Paczoska, Alicja (2002). "Obóz robot fortyfikacyjnych w Jajkowie koło Brodnicy". Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej (in Polish). No. 8-9 (19-20). IPN. p. 53. ISSN   1641-9561.