History from the 17th century Print _CMN_EMAIL_ALT
The Grand Crown Hetman Wacław Rzewuski (The portrait from the 18th century).
The development of the city was interrupted in the 17th century. Cossack, Swedish and Muscovite armies entering Chełm during numerous wars brought destruction which plunged the city into crisis. After the downfall of the Polish State Chełm fell under the authority of Austria and subsequently that of Russia. Those were the times full of fighting and martyrdom. The fate of the Uniates fighting to preserve their faith is the symbol of that period. Equally dramatic were the battles fought during the January Insurrection of 1863 which in the environs of Chełm were particularly fierce. In the last stage of their rule the Russians created a separate Chełm Province which directly entered the composition of the Russian Empire.

The Portrait of Wojciech Poletyło - the last Castellan
In 1915 Austrian occupants took the place of the Russian ones. The new order allowed the development of Polish as well as Jewish and Ukrainian social and cultural life. The multicultural character of the city was preserved after Poland regained independence. Throughout the interwar period Chełm was a city in which a lot of Polish, Jewish and Ukrainian organisations were active.

The period of the Second World War brought enormous destruction to the city as well as extermination of the Jewish population which in 1939 constituted almost 50 % of the inhabitants of the city. Additionally, in Chełm there was a giant prisoner-of-war camp (Stalag 319) in which almost 100 thousand Russian, English and Italian soldiers were killed. Highly developed conspiratorial organizations, mainly the Home Army, tried to oppose the occupant's actions. Dramatic events of the Second World War changed the character of the city and led to the destruction of its multinational community. At present Chełm with its 70 thousand strong population is a county capital and one of the largest towns in Lublin Province.
 
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