Cathedral on Góra Che?mska
|o Mayor||Jakub Banaszek (PJG)|
|o City||35.28 km2 (13.62 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||153 m (502 ft)|
|Lowest elevation||80 m (260 ft)|
|o Density||1,812/km2 (4,690/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC+2 (CEST)|
22-100 to 22-118
|Area code(s)||+48 082|
Che?m (Polish: [x?wm] ; German: Kulm; Ukrainian: ?, romanized: Cholm; Yiddish: ?, romanized: Khelm) is a city in eastern Poland with 63,949 inhabitants (2015). It is located to the south-east of Lublin, north of Zamo and south of Bia?a Podlaska, some 25 kilometres (16 miles) from the border with Ukraine. Che?m used to be the capital of the Che?m 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 in the Old Town. Che?m is a multiple (former) bishopric. Its name comes from the Proto-Slavic or Celtic word "cholm", a hill, in reference to the Wysoka Górka fortified settlement. Che?m was once a vibrant multicultural and religious centre populated by Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Jews. The population was homogenized after World War II.
The first traces of settlement in the area of modern Che?m date back to at the least 9th century. The following century, a 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 Proto-Slavic noun denoting a flat hill. The town's centre is located on a hill called góra che?mska. 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 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 1031.
In 1235, Danylo Romanovych of Halych granted the town a city charter and moved the capital of his domain in 1241-1272 after destruction of 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 Che?m and Belz (see Duchy of Belz). In 1366, king Casimir III the Great of Poland took control of the region after his victory in the Galicia-Volhynia Wars. On 4 January 1392, the town was relocated and granted rights under Magdeburg Law, with vast internal autonomy and the town saw an influx of Polish and other Catholic settlers.
A Latin Rite Catholic diocese of Che?m was created in 1359, but its seat was moved to Krasnystaw after 1480. Renamed as Diocese of Che?m-Lublin in 1790, it was suppressed in 1805, but since 2005 Che?m 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 Che?m-Be?z, retaining its Byzantine Rite, but in 1867 it became part of the imperial Russian Orthodox Church, and is now the Archdiocese of Lublin and Che?m of the Polish Orthodox Church.
The town was the capital of a historical region of the Land of Che?m, administratively a part of the Ruthenian Voivodeship with the capital in Lviv (Lwów). The city prospered in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was then that The Golem of Che?m 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 Swedish Deluge and the Khmelnytsky uprising. It attracted a number of new settlers from all parts of Poland, including people of Catholic, Orthodox, and Jewish faiths. In 1794, the Che?m Voivodeship was established. Che?m was one of the first towns to join the Ko?ciuszko's Uprising later that year. In the Battle of Che?m of 8 June 1794, the forces of Gen. Józef Zaj?czek 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.
During the 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 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 Poland regaining independence, the town became part of Lublin Voivodeship (1919-1939) in the Second Polish Republic.
On 27 September 1939 the invading Soviet Red Army occupied Che?m, but withdrew two weeks later in accordance with the German-Soviet Frontier Treaty. As early as 7-9 October 1939 the renamed city of Kulm was occupied by Germans forces. On Friday, 1 December 1939, at 8 o'clock, the local defenseless Jews were driven at dawn to the market-square ("Okr?glak" or "Rynek") surrounded by the fell German SS formations and local indigenous officials. They were forced on a death march to Hrubieszów.
Until 1940, the German Reich established 16 forced labor camps in the new Lublin district and in 1942, during Operation Reinhard, the highly secretive Beec 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 towns of Che?m (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 Che?m Chalk Tunnels.
Following the 1941 Operation Barbarossa the Germans established a POW camp in Che?m, 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 unveiled in Che?m in May 2009 in the presence of foreign diplomats.
From 1942 through to 1945, Che?m 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 there.
By the end of World War II, only a remnant of Che?m's Jewish population of c. 18,000 survived. They managed to emigrate to Israel, North America, Central America, South America, or South Africa. Che?m 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 Che?m and Their History (published in English translation in 1973), and the great Yiddish poet Ovsey Driz who wrote stories in verse. Notable adaptations of the Che?m 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 Che?m as scholars who are knowledgeable but lacking sense. The Che?m stories emulate the interpretive process of 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 Che?m 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 Che?m folklore.
After Poland's independence, the Polish census of 1921 found a population of 23,221, with 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% (18,000) of the city's inhabitants.
Most influential Members of Parliament (Sejm) elected from the Bia?a Podlaska/Che?m/Zamo 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), Stanibu?a Ryszard (PSL), Stefaniuk Franciszek (PSL), ?mijan Stanis?aw (PO) and Matuszczak Zbigniew (SLD).
Che?m is twinned with:
Sprawa dotyczy?a wsi wymordowanych przez UPA.
Media related to Che?m at Wikimedia Commons