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History of Greenland during World War II
Part of World War II
Date 9 April 1940 – 5 May 1945
Location Greenland
Result Allied Victory
Belligerents
DenmarkDenmark
United StatesUnited States
GermanyGermany
Commanders
Ib Poulsen Lieutenant Ritter
Strength
15 men 19 men
Casualties and losses
1? N/A

The History of Greenland during World War II reflected the fate of the Danish motherland. After the Invasion of Denmark in 1940, its colony Greenland was left on its own. Britain and Canada had plans to occupy the island, but the United States, even though still neutral, disagreed. The Governors of Greenland, Eske Brun and Aksel Svane, via the 1925 law concerning the ruling of Greenland, declared Greenland a self-ruling territory, believing this to be in the best interests of the colony as Denmark was occupied by the Germans, and in consideration of the Monroe Doctrine.

Germany had occupied Denmark in 1940 and although the Danish government was still in power it was heavily influenced by the German occupation force. After failed attempts by the new Greenland government to secure support from the United Kingdom, they turned to the USA. On 9 April 1941 the Danish ambassador Henrik Kauffmann, against the instructions of his government, signed an agreement with the US government, allowing the presence of American troops and making Greenland a de facto US protectorate. The cryolite mine in Ivittuut was an asset and made it possible for Greenland to manage fairly well during the war. The United States supplied the island and sent patrol boats to survey the east coast of Greenland although this was limited by the ice and bad weather. Eske Brun, reluctant to ask America for large scale help, set about creating a "Greenland Army" known as the North-East Greenland Sledge Patrol, See The Sledge Patrol by David Howarth, consisting of fifteen men. Their task was to patrol the coast line to discover a possible German landing. The sledge patrol was at the same time an effort to show the Allies the willingness of the Danes to fight against the Axis. And did have a role in the aftermath concerning which side Denmark could be considered a part of.

Several times the Germans tried to establish clandestine weather stations on the eastern coast of the island as this would provide them with invaluable meteorological information both to assist their U-boat campaign and to predict the weather situation in the European theatre. A few skirmishes took place between the Sledge Patrol and the Germans during the war, resulting in a final German withdrawal from Greenland. In the spring of 1943 and the summer and autumn of 1944 base construction was reported; all these attempts were thwarted by American military action. At the very first discovery in 1943 a German officer was taken prisoner by the Sledge Patrol and taken to the Americans after a long journey over the ice.

The Allies used weather data gathered from Greenland to plan the Invasion of Normandy in 1944.

See also

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History of Greenland during World War II
Part of World War II
Date 9 April 1940 – 5 May 1945
Location Greenland
Result Allied Victory
Belligerents
Denmark
United States
File:Flag of Nazi Germany (1933-1945).svgGermany
Commanders and leaders
Ib Poulsen Lieutenant Ritter
Strength
15 men 19 men
Casualties and losses
1[1] N/A

The History of Greenland during World War II reflected the fate of the Danish motherland. After the Invasion of Denmark in 1940, its colony Greenland was left on its own. Britain and Canada had plans to occupy the island, but the United States, even though still neutral, disagreed. The Governors of Greenland, Eske Brun and Aksel Svane, via the 1925 law concerning the ruling of Greenland, declared Greenland a self-ruling territory, believing this to be in the best interests of the colony as Denmark was occupied by the Germans, and in consideration of the Monroe Doctrine.

Germany had occupied Denmark in 1940 and although the Danish government was still in power it was heavily influenced by the German occupation force. After failed attempts by the new Greenland government to secure support from the United Kingdom, they turned to the USA. On 9 April 1941 the Danish ambassador Henrik Kauffmann, against the instructions of his government, signed an agreement with the US government, allowing the presence of American troops and making Greenland a de facto US protectorate. The cryolite mine in Ivittuut was an asset and made it possible for Greenland to manage fairly well during the war. The United States supplied the island and sent patrol boats to survey the east coast of Greenland although this was limited by the ice and bad weather. Eske Brun, reluctant to ask America for large scale help, set about creating a "Greenland Army" known as the North-East Greenland Sledge Patrol, consisting of fifteen men. Their task was to patrol the coast line to discover a possible German landing. The sledge patrol was at the same time an effort to show the Allies the willingness of the Danes to fight against the Axis.

Several times the Germans tried to establish clandestine weather stations on the eastern coast of the island as this would provide them with invaluable meteorological information both to assist their U-boat campaign and to predict the weather situation in the European theatre. A few skirmishes took place between the Sledge Patrol and the Germans during the war, resulting in a final German withdrawal from Greenland. In the spring of 1943 and the summer and autumn of 1944 base construction was reported; all these attempts were thwarted by American military action. At the very first discovery in 1943 a German officer was taken prisoner by the Sledge Patrol and taken to the Americans after a long journey over the ice.

The Allies used weather data gathered from Greenland to plan the Invasion of Normandy in 1944.

See also

References


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