|Region||Southern Denmark (Syddanmark)|
|Time zone||Central Europe Time (UTC+1)|
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Tønder (German: Tondern) is a Danish town in the Region of Southern Denmark. With a population of 7,572 inhabitants (as of 1 January 2013), it is the main town and the administrative seat of the Tønder Municipality.
Tønder was granted Hanseatic port privileges in 1243, making it Denmark's oldest privileged market town. In 1532 it was hit by severe floods, with the water levels reaching 1.8 metres in St Laurent's church, 5.3 meters above sea level. Tønder's port lost direct access to the sea mainly due to the building of dykes west of town, in the 1550s, at the instigation of Duke Hans the Elder of Schleswig-Holstein-Haderslev (the son of Frederick I of Denmark). The town center is dominated by houses from the late 17th and early 18th century, when the town experienced rapid growth as a result of its lace industry.
Prior to 1864, Tønder was situated in the Duchy of Schleswig, so its history is included in the contentious history of Schleswig-Holstein. In the 1920 Schleswig Plebiscite that incorporated Northern Schleswig into Denmark, 76.5% of Tønder's inhabitants voted to remain part of Germany and 23.5% voted to join Denmark.
During World War I, a base for zeppelin airships was operated out of Tønder by the German Navy. The former site now houses a museum, the Zeppelin and Garrison Museum Tønder. The base was attacked by the British on 19 July 1918, during what is known as the Tondern raid. Seven Sopwith Camels from the aircraft carrier HMS Furious bombed the base and two of the three Airship hangars were hit. The Zeppelins L.54 and L.60 inside one hangar were destroyed and a balloon inside the other was damaged. After this, Tondern was abandoned as an active airship base, and was ordered to be used only as an emergency landing site. A wartime aircraft hangar survives, as do some of the ancillary buildings from the time but only the foundations remain of the large airship hangars.
After the First World War, Tønder was detached from Germany even though 77% of its voters had voted to remain with the German Empire in the Schleswig Plebiscites. In the following years, German political parties had a majority in the city council, and until 1945, the city was officially bilingual. During World War II, Tønder was the point where the German forces crossed the border to occupy Denmark. Later, Tønder came to host a small, German concentration camp (see Tønder concentration camp). Shortly after the re-establishment of the Danish administration, Tønder was the site of a military garrison.
After the end of the German occupation in World War II, the political significance of the German population dwindled considerably. The border situation hindered the development of the city. Nevertheless, some companies settled there. Tourism has also grown in importance. In spite of the improvement in cross-border traffic, the location continued to difficult through the late 20th century. In 1989, a teacher training college opened its doors there. In 2002, the barracks and in the following year, 2003, the hospital was both improved and enhanced to serve again as a private clinic.
Every August, the Tønder Festival offers visitors a wide variety of traditional and modern folk music. The Scouts of Tønder are twinned with Hemyock, in Devon, England, and make exchange trips between the countries every few years.
Media related to Tønder at Wikimedia Commons