Chełm [xɛu̯m] ( listen) (German: Kulm, Ukrainian:
Холм) is a city in eastern Poland with 63,949 inhabitants (2015).
It is located to the south-east of Lublin, north of
Zamość and south
of Biała Podlaska, some 25 kilometres (16 miles) from the border with
Chełm used to be the capital of the
Chełm Voivodeship until
it became part of the
Lublin Voivodeship in 1999.
The city is of mostly industrial character, though it also features
numerous notable historical monuments and tourist attractions. Chełm
is a multiple (former) bishopric. Its etymology stems from the Slavic
word "cholm", a hill, in reference to the Wysoka Górka gord.
1.1 Age of partitions
1.2 World War II
Chełm in Jewish literature
4 Notable people
6 International relations
6.1 Twin towns – Sister cities
8 External links
The first traces of settlement in the area of modern
Chełm date back
to at the least 9th century. The following century, a Slavic fortified
town (gord) was created and initially served as a centre of pagan
worship. The etymology of the name is unclear, though most scholars
derive it from the Slavic noun denoting a flat hill. The town's centre
is located on a hill called góra chełmska. However, it is also
theorized that the name is derived from some Celtic root. In 981 the
town, then inhabited by the Eastern Slavic tribe of Buzhans, was made
a part of Kievan Rus', along with the surrounding Cherven Towns.
According to a local legend,
Vladimir the Great
Vladimir the Great built the first stone
castle there in 1001. Following the Polish capture of Kiev in 1018,
the region became part of Poland until returning to Kievan rule in
In 1235, Danylo Romanovych of
Halych granted the town a city charter
and moved the capital of his domain in 1241–1272 after destruction
Halych by Mongols in 1240–1241. Danylo also built a new castle
atop the hill in 1237, one of the few Ruthenian castles that withstood
Mongol attacks, and established an Orthodox eparchy (diocese) centered
at the Basilica of the Birth of the Virgin Mary. Until the 14th
century, the town developed as part of Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia
and then as part of the short-lived Princedom of
Duchy of Belz). In 1366, king Casimir III the Great annexed the region
to Poland during the Galicia–Volhynia Wars. On 4 January 1392, the
town was relocated and
Magdeburg Law was granted with vast internal
Basilica of the Birth of the Virgin Mary
Basilica of the Birth of the Virgin Mary in Chełm
Latin Rite Catholic diocese of
Chełm was created in 1359, but its
seat was moved to
Krasnystaw after 1480. Renamed as Diocese of
Lublin in 1790, it was suppressed in 1805, but since 2005
Chełm is nominally restored and listed by the
Catholic Church as
Latin titular bishopric.
The Orthodox bishopric entered communion with the see of Rome in the
late 16th century as Ukrainian Catholic
Eparchy of Chełm–Bełz,
retaining its Byzantine Rite, but in 1867 it became part of the
imperial Russian Orthodox Church, and is now the Archdiocese of
Chełm of the Polish Orthodox Church.
The town was the capital of a historical region of the Land of Chełm,
administratively a part of the
Ruthenian Voivodeship with the capital
Lviv (Lwów). The city prospered in the 15th and 16th centuries. It
was then that The Golem of
Chełm by Rabbi Elijah Ba'al Shem of Chelm
became famous, but the city declined in the 17th century due to the
wars which ravaged Poland. In the 18th century, the situation in
eastern Poland stabilized and the town started to slowly recover from
the damages suffered during The Deluge and the Khmelnytsky's uprising.
It attracted a number of new settlers from all parts of Poland,
including people of Catholic, Orthodox, and Jewish faiths. In 1794,
Chełm Voivodeship was established.
Chełm was one of the first
towns to join the
Kościuszko's Uprising later that year. In the
Battle of Chełm
Battle of Chełm of 8 June 1794, the forces of Gen. Józef Zajączek
were defeated by the Russians under
Valerian Zubov and Boris Lacy, the
town was yet again sacked by the invading armies. The following year,
as a result of the Third Partition of Poland, the town was annexed by
the Austrian Empire.
Age of partitions
Napoleonic Wars in 1809, in the effect of the
Polish–Austrian War, the town was briefly part of the Duchy of
Warsaw. However, the
Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna of 1815 awarded it to Imperial
Russia. The town entered a period of decline as the local
administrative and religious offices (including the bishopric) were
moved to Lublin. In the mid-19th century, the Russian Army turned the
town into a strong garrison, which made the Russian soldiers a
significant part of the population. The period of decline ended in
1866, when the town was connected to a new railroad. In 1875, the
Uniate bishopric was liquidated by the Russian authorities and all of
the local Uniates were forcibly converted to the Russian Orthodox
Church. In the late 19th century, the local administrative offices
were restored and in 1912 a local gubernia was created. During the
Russian revolution of 1905 in the city was established the Ukrainian
enlightenment society of Prosvita.
During the World War I in 1915 most of the Ukrainian and Russian
population was evacuated to the Sloboda
Ukraine and the Russian
chernozem regions, after which percentage of the Polish population
rose significantly. In 1918, following World War I and the end of
imperial domination over Poland, the town became part of Lublin
Voivodeship (1919–39) in the reborn Second Polish Republic.
World War II
On September 27, 1939 the invading Soviet Red Army occupied Chełm,
but withdrew two weeks later in accordance with the German-Soviet
Frontier Treaty. As early as October 7–9, 1939 the renamed city of
Kulm was occupied by Germans forces. On Friday, the 1st of
December, 1939, at 8 o'clock, the local defenseless Jews were driven
at dawn to the market-square ("Okrąglak" or "Rinek") surrounded by
the fell German SS formations and local indigenous officials. They
were forced on a death march to Hrubieszów.
Jewish cemetery in Chełm
Until 1940, the
German Reich established 16 forced labor camps in the
Lublin district and in 1942, during Operation Reinhard, the highly
secretive Bełżec and the Sobibór extermination camps were built
near the forced labor camps and conducted mass murder of Polish Jews,
some of whom also formed the Sonderkommando. Prisoners employed by
forced labour were also local people from neighboring villages and
Chełm (also Khelm or Kulm in German), which was then
connected to the main railroad line through a 40 km (25 mi)
railroad branch line to further sites of industrialised mass murder.
Almost all of the Jewish population was killed in the Sobibór
extermination camp during the Holocaust in occupied Poland. Some
survivors managed to find shelter in the
Chełm Chalk Tunnels.
Following the 1941
Operation Barbarossa the Germans established a POW
camp in Chełm, called Stalag 319 for the Red Army soldiers captured
in eastern Poland and modern
Ukraine or Belarus, on top of prisoners
brought in from the West (mostly France) for the total of some 200,000
until July 1944. In three years, some 90,000 prisoners lost their
lives there. The monument commemorating the victims of Stalag 319 was
Chełm in May 2009 in the presence of foreign
From 1942 through to 1945,
Chełm was one of numerous locations of the
Volhynian massacres by death squads of
OUN-UPA and the bands of
Ukrainian nationalists. The city and its environs witnessed the
revenge killings as well, between Ukrainians and its Polish
self-defence. As noted by historians
Grzegorz Motyka and
Volodymyr Viatrovych, the subject is highly controversial, because in
1944, Roman Shukhevych, leader of
OUN-UPA issued an order to fabricate
proofs of Polish responsibility for war crimes committed
Chełm in Jewish literature
Further information: Jewish humour § Chełm
By the end of World War II, only a remnant of Chełm's Jewish
population of c. 18,000 survived. They managed to emigrate to Israel,
North America, Central America, South America, or South Africa. Chełm
became well-known thanks to Jewish storytellers and writers such as
Isaac Bashevis Singer, a Nobel Prize-winning novelist in the Yiddish
language, who wrote The Fools of
Chełm and Their History (published
in English translation in 1973), and the great
Yiddish poet Ovsey Driz
(yi) who wrote stories in verse. Notable adaptations of the Chełm
Jewish folklore include the comedy Chelmer Khakhomim ("The Wise Men of
Chelm") by Aaron Zeitlin, The Heroes of Chelm (1942) by Shlomo Simon,
published in English translation as The Wise Men of Helm (Simon, 1945)
and More Wise Men of Helm (Simon, 1965), as well as the book Chelmer
Khakhomim by Y. Y. Trunk. Allen Mandelbaum's "Chelmaxioms :
The Maxims, Axioms, Maxioms of Chelm" (David R. Godine, 1978) treats
the wise men of the Jewish
Chełm as scholars who are knowledgeable
but lacking sense. The
Chełm stories emulate the interpretive process
Midrash and the Talmudic style of argumentation, and continue
the dialogue between rabbinic texts and their manifestation in the
daily arena. The seemingly tangential questioning that is
typical of the
Chełm Jewish Council can be interpreted as a comedic
hint at the vastness of Talmudic literature. The combination of
paralleled argumentation and linguistic commonality allows the Jewish
textual tradition, namely Talmudic, to shine through Chełm
Wysoka Górka, medieval hill fort
Following Poland's return to independence, in the Polish census of
1921: out of the total population of 23,221 there were 12,064 Jews,
9,492 Roman Catholics (Poles), 1,369 Orthodox Christians (Ukrainian,
Ruthenians and Belarusians), and 207 Lutherans (Germans).
In September 1939, at the onset of World War II, Jews constituted 60
percent (18,000) of the city's inhabitants.
Chełmianka Chełm – Polish football club, playing in the III liga
Chełm – women basketball team, 7th place in Sharp Torell Basket
Liga in 2003/2004 season
Elijah Ba'al Shem of Chełm, notable Jewish rabbi
Leon Fleischer, pianist and conductor
Ida Haendel (born 1923), classical violinist
Mykhailo Hrushevsky, Ukrainian historian and politician
Renata Reisfeld, Israeli chemist
Rose Schneiderman, feminist and labor leader
Joseph Serchuk, Sobibor uprising survivor and Jewish partisan
Józef Szydłowski, aircraft engine designer
Szmul Zygielbojm, Bund leader
Most influential Members of Parliament (Sejm) elected from the Biała
Zamość constituency (2006) included: Badach Tadeusz
(SLD-UP), Bratkowski Arkadiusz (PSL), Byra Jan (SLD-UP), Janowski
Zbigniew (SLD-UP), Kwiatkowski Marian (Samoobrona), Lewczuk Henryk
(LPR), Michalski Jerzy (Samoobrona), Nikolski Lech (SLD-UP), Skomra
Szczepan (SLD-UP), Stanibuła Ryszard (PSL), Stefaniuk Franciszek
(PSL), Żmijan Stanisław (PO) and Matuszczak Zbigniew (SLD).
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Poland
Twin towns – Sister cities
Chełm is twinned with:
Knoxville, Tennessee, US
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Chełm - Wirtualny
Sztetl". www.sztetl.org.pl (in Polish). Retrieved 2 February
^ a b Halina Lerski, Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966-1945 (ABC
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^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013
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^ "Communal History - Chelm". Encyclopedia Judaica 1972, Keter
Publishing House Jerusalem Ltd. Chelmer Organization of Israel.
Retrieved 14 July 2013.
^ "The Jews of
Chełm & Escape from Borek Forest". Holocaust
Education & Archive Research Team.
www.HolocaustResearchProject.org 2008. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
^ Bakalczuk-Felin, Meilech and Moshe M. Shavit. "Preface". The History
of the Jews in Chelm. JewishGen, Inc. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
^ Berkenstat Freund, Gloria and Ben-Tzion Bruker, Lazar Kahan, Y.
Herc, Yitzhak Groskop, J. Grinszpan. "The Slaughter of the Jews in
Chelm". Destruction of Chelm. 2013 by JewishGen, Inc. Retrieved 14
^ Meltzer, Rae and Dr. Philip Frydman. "The Beginning and the History
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JewishGen, Inc. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
^ Berkenstat Freund, Gloria, Irene Szajewicz and Gitl Libhober.
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JewishGen, Inc. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
^ Aktion Reinhard Camps. Sobibor Labour Camps. 15 June 2006. ARC
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Regionalne. Dziennik Wschodni. Archive.is. Retrieved 10 August
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дії ОУН і УПА на антипольському фроиі.
Chapter 5, pp. 264–266, in the Ukrainian language. From:
Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent
Army. Institute of Ukrainian History, Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
^ Grzegorz Motyka, Zapomnijcie o Giedroyciu: Polacy, Ukraińcy, IPN
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Retrieved 14 July 2013.
^ Marples, David R. (2007). Heroes and villains: creating national
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Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie. p. 228. ISBN 8308045766.
Sprawa dotyczyła wsi wymordowanych przez UPA.
^ Jasiak, Marek. "Overcoming Ukrainian Resistance", in Ther, Philipp;
Siljak, Ana (2001). Redrawing nations: ethnic cleansing in
East-Central Europe, 1944–1948. Oxford: Rowman & Littfield.
^ "The Myth of
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^ Rogovin, Or. 'Chelm as Shtetl.' Prooftexts. 29.2 (2009): 242-72.
^ Krakowski, Stefan, and Aryeh-Leib Kalish. 'Chelm.' Encyclopaedia
Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 4.
Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 588-589. Gale Virtual
Reference Library. Web. 5 March 2013.
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Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 14. Detroit: Macmillan
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^ Harshav, Benjamin. The Meaning of
United States of America:
University of California Press, 1990. 112. Print.)
^ Rosemary Horowitz. Memorial Books of Eastern European Jewry: Essays
on the History and Meanings of Yizker Volumes. McFarland. 2011. pp.
^ Link in Polish Archived 27 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine. with
^ "City Directory". Sister Cities International. Retrieved 25 March
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chełm.
Chełm official English-language home page
(in Polish) eChełm.pl
Coordinates: 51°08′N 23°29′E / 51.133°N 23.483°E /
Essay on the history of Chełm
Chełm in photography
Organization for Chelmers in Israel
Remember Jewish Chełm
"Here Their Stories Will Be Told..." The Valley of the Communities at
Yad Vashem, Chełm, at
Yad Vashem website.
Volodymyr Kubijovyč, Kholm in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, 2013
Gmina Rejowiec Fabryczny
Seat (not part of the county)