Chojnice (Kashubian/Pomeranian: Chònice) is a town in northern Poland with 39 670 inhabitants (2004), near famous Tuchola Forest, Lake Charzykowskie and many other water reservoirs. It is the capital of the Chojnice County.
Chojnice was founded around 1205 (although the date is considered to be estimate) in Gdańsk Pomerania (Pomeralia), a duchy ruled at the time by the Samborides, who had originally been appointed governors of the province by Bolesław III Wrymouth of Poland. Gdańsk Pomerania had been part of Poland since the 10th century, with few episodes of autonomy, yet under Swietopelk II, who came into power in 1217, it gained independence in 1227. The duchy extended roughly from the river Vistula in the east, to the rivers Łeba or Grabowa in the west, and from the rivers Noteć and Brda in the south-west and south, to the Baltic Sea in the north. By 1282 the duchy had returned to Poland.
The town's name is Polish in origin and comes from the name of the river Chojnica (today named Jarcewska Struga) that was located near the town. The name first appears in written documents in 1275.
State of the Teutonic Order (1309–1466)
In 1309 the Teutonic Knights took over the town, and Chojnice became part of the State of the Teutonic Order. Under Winrich von Kniprode the defense capabilities and inner structures of the town were improved considerably. Around the middle of the 14th century the stone church of St. John was built. At the same time the Augustinians from Stargard Szczeciński in Pomerania settled here; they opened their monastery in 1365. In the same century textile production flourished in the town. Between 1417-1436 Konitz became an important centre for textile production.
During the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War, in 1410, the town was briefly occupied by Polish troops. On 18 September 1454 the Polish army of King Kazimierz Jagiellończyk lost the Battle of Chojnice. Short before the end of the Thirteen Years' War the troops of the Teutonic Order, led by Kaspar von Nostiz, surrendered the town in 1466 to the Polish army, after a three-month siege.
Kingdom of Poland (1466-1772)
After the 2nd Treaty of Thorn Chojnice became part of Poland in 1466. In the same year the city council accepted the Protestant reformation officially, and Protestants took over the parish church. The Roman Catholic priest Jan Siński died in the following turmoil. In 1620 the first Jesuits came into the town and began the Counter Reformation. In the year 1627 a fire destroyed parts of the town. During the Second Northern War (against Sweden, 1655–1660) the Battle of Chojnice (1656) was fought. The town suffered heavily from the siege, plundering and fire, especially in 1657. A large fire destroyed the town again 1742. The town recovered soon.
Prussia (1772-1871) and German Empire (1871-1920)
After the first partition of Poland the town became part of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1772. In 1864 a telegraph connection to Stettin began operation. In 1868 the town was connected to the railway network. This improved industrial development quite considerably. In 1870 a gas power plant was installed. The town was connected in 1873 by the railway to Dirschau (Tczew) and in 1877 by railway to Stettin. In 1886 a new hospital was built in the town. A new railway line to Nakel (Nakło) was opened in 1894. In the year of 1900 the town obtained both a water supply system and an electricity power plant. In 1902 a railway line to Berent (Kościerzyna) was opened. During the time span 1900–1902 the Konitz ritual murder case & antisemitic pogrom took place. In 1909 a used water system was installed in the town. In 1912 the Gazeta Chojnicka, the first Polish language newspaper, appeared in the town.
After the regulations of the Treaty of Versailles had become effective in 1920, Chojnice together with 62% of the area of West Prussia was integrated into the Second Polish Republic, and Polish troops entered the town. In 1932 a regional museum was opened in Chojnice. Chojnice was a town in Polish Pomerania which had experienced the heaviest Germanization out of areas of the Prussian partition of Poland. As symbolic gesture of regained freedom, one of Chojnice citizens Barbara Stammowa broke shackles on the balcony of city town hall-in revenge Nazis murdered her in 1939 when the town was re-occupied by Germany
Third Reich (1939-1945) (Reichsgau Westpreußen)
In 1939 three Poles were executed in the city forest, followed by executions of around 500 more in October and November. Hans Kruger - a Nazi activist - became a judge in Chojnice, and during his rule executions of the Polish population followed.
Chojnice since 1945
In February 1945 the Red Army captured the town. During the fighting about 800 soldiers died, and the town centre was heavily damaged. After the end of World War II Polish authorities began the reconstruction of the city.
In 2002 a new, modern hospital was opened on the north-west outskirts of the town.