Chelmno’s participation in the Hanseatic League started as early as in the 13th century thanks to the city merchants who, taking advantage of the city’s location by the river Vistula, got involved in the sea trading.
They established contacts with Lower Germany and Flemish cities. In the end of the 13th century the trade was dominated mainly by the merchants from the cities of Lower Germany, especially from Lübeck. It was them who decided to join the Hanseatic League in order to protect their businesses. In 1300 Chelmno together with Lübeck and other cities acted against the injustice and infringement that merchants from those cities had to suffer on their way to Flanders. At that time the biggest cities of the Teutonic State belonged to the Hanse: Chelmno, Torun and Elblag.
They formed a separate Prussian group consisting of six so called biggest cities that since 1347 were listed in the following, never changed, order: Chelmno, Torun, Elblag, Gdansk, Krolewiec, and Braniewo. Representatives of the cities organized separate meetings until the 15th century (127 of them, including 11 with Chelmno representatives) where, under the leadership of the Grand Master, they discussed business issues concerning the Teutonic State and the Hanse.
Between 1361 and 1373 Chelmno was a leader of the representatives from the Prussian cities during the Hanse meetings. For 13 years Ertman from Herdecke, the mayor of Chelmno, was the main representative at those meetings. Unfortunately, in the first half of the 15th century the role of the city diminished in favour of Elblag and Gdansk.
In 1980 it was decided that the Hanse tradition should be revived, hence the first meeting of the New Hanse. New organizational regulations were announced in Lübeck in 1981. It was agreed that, in accordance with the centuries-old tradition, Lübeck would be the leader of the organization. The Modern Hanse, also known as the New Hanse, is an international voluntary association of over 200 cities from 16 European countries. The New Hanse concentrates on the cooperation of the cities in terms of culture, welfare and education, just like the Hanseatic League used to do. The project ‘Young Hanse’, uniting high school pupils and university students, functions very actively within the New Hanse.
The organization holds annual meetings in one of the member cities, which is a perfect opportunity to establish new contacts in various fields.
Chelmno has maintained contacts with the New Hanse only since 1997. The city does not participate directly in the Hanseatic conventions but undertakes many actions to stress its membership in this organization.
One of such initiatives was taking part in organization of the European Day of the Hanse, proclaimed by the New Hanse on 21st May 2005. All the Hanseatic cities celebrated that day in different ways. It was celebrated for the second time already and the 25th anniversary of the organization’s creation was a good occasion to remember its history.