Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Text of the U.S.-Danish Agreement on Greenland, 9 April 1941

In April 1941, the United States announced that it would construct air and naval bases on Greenland, a huge island far out in the Atlantic, which was under Danish sovereignty. Germany had occupied Denmark in spring 1940, so the United States reached this agreement with the government in exile. The Roosevelt administration feared that, unless it took this measure and effectively assumed responsibility for Greenland's defense, the territory might easily fall under German control.

Whereas:

ONE. After the invasion and occupation of Denmark on April 9, 1940 by foreign military forces, the United Greenland Councils at their meeting at Godhavn on May 3, 1940 adopted in the name of the people of Greenland a resolution reiterating their oath of allegiance to King Christian X of Denmark and expressing the hope that, for as long as Greenland remains cut off from the mother country, the Government of the United States of America will continue to hold in mind the exposed position of the Danish flag in Greenland, of the native Greenland and Danish population, and of established public order; and

TWO. The Governments of all of the American Republics have agreed that the status of regions in the Western Hemisphere belonging to European powers is a subject of deep concern to the American Nations, and that the course of military events in Europe and the changes resulting from them may create the grave danger that European territorial possessions in America may be converted into strategic centers of aggression against nations of the American Continent; and

THREE. Defense of Greenland against attack by a non-American power is essential to the preservation of the peace and security of the American Continent and is a subject of vital concern to the United States of America and also to the Kingdom of Denmark; and

FOUR. Although the sovereignty of Denmark over Greenland is fully recognized, the present circumstances for the time being prevent the Government in Denmark from exercising its powers in respect of Greenland.

Therefore,

The undersigned, to wit: CORDELL HULL, Secretary of State of the United States of America, acting on behalf of the Government of the United States of America, and HENRIK DE KAUFFMANN, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of His Majesty the King of Denmark at Washington, acting on behalf of His Majesty the King of Denmark in His capacity as sovereign of Greenland, whose authorities in Greenland have concurred herein, have agreed as follows:

ARTICLE I

The Government of the United States of America reiterates its recognition of and respect for the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark over Greenland. Recognizing that as a result of the present European war there is danger that Greenland may be converted into a point of aggression against nations of the American Continent, the Government of the United States of America, having in mind its obligations under the Act of Habana signed on July 30, 1940, accepts the responsibility of assisting Greenland in the maintenance of its present status.

ARTICLE II

It is agreed that the Government of the United States of America shall have the right to construct, maintain and operate such landing fields, seaplane facilities and radio and meteorological installations as may be necessary for the accomplishment of the purposes set forth in Article I.

ARTICLE III

The grants of the rights specified in Article II shall also include the right to improve and deepen harbors and anchorages and the approaches thereto, to install aids to navigation by air and by water, and to construct roads, communication services, fortifications, repair and storage facilities, and housing for personnel, and generally, the right to do any and all things necessary to insure the efficient operation, maintenance and protection of such defense facilities as may be established.

ARTICLE IV

The landing fields, seaplane, harbor and other defense facilities that may be constructed and operated by the Government of the United States of America under Articles II and III will be made available to the airplanes and vessels of all the American Nations for purposes connected with the common defense of the Western Hemisphere.

ARTICLE V

It is agreed that the Government of the United States of America shall have the right to lease for such period of time as this Agreement may be in force such areas of land and water as may be necessary for the construction, operation and protection of the defense facilities specified in Articles II and III. In locating the aforesaid defense areas, the fullest consideration consistent with military necessity shall be given to the welfare, health and economic needs of the native population of Greenland. It is agreed, however, that since the paramount objective sought is the early attainment of an adequate defense establishment in Greenland, the utilization of any area deemed by the Government of the United States of America to be needed for this purpose shall not be delayed pending the reaching of an agreement upon the precise terms of a formal lease. A description of such areas, by metes and bounds, and a statement of the purpose for which they are needed shall in each case be communicated to the Danish authorities in Greenland as soon as practicable, and the negotiation of a formal lease shall be undertaken within a reasonable period of time thereafter.

ARTICLE VI

The Kingdom of Denmark retains sovereignty over the defense areas mentioned in the preceding articles. So long as this Agreement shall remain in force, the Government of the United States of America shall have exclusive jurisdiction over any such defense area in Greenland and over military and civilian personnel of the United States and their families, as well as over all other persons within such areas except Danish citizens and native Greenlanders, it being understood, however, that the Government of the United States may turn over to the Danish authorities in Greenland for trial and punishment any person committing an offense within a defense area, if the Government of the United States shall decide not to exercise jurisdiction in such case. The Danish authorities in Greenland will take adequate measures to insure the prosecution and punishment in case of conviction of all Danish citizens, native Greenlanders, and other persons who may be turned over to them by the authorities of the United States, for offenses committed within the said defense areas.

ARTICLE VII

It is agreed that the Government of the United States of America shall have the right to establish and maintain postal facilities and commissary stores to be used solely by military and civilian personnel of the United States, and their families, maintained in Greenland in connection with the Greenland defense establishment. If requested by the Danish authorities in Greenland, arrangements will be made to enable persons other than those mentioned to purchase necessary supplies at such commissary stores as may be established.

ARTICLE VIII

All materials, supplies and equipment for the construction, use and operation of the defense establishment and for the personal needs of military and civilian personnel of the United States, and their families, shall be permitted entry into Greenland free of customs duties, excise taxes, or other charges, and the said personnel and their families, shall also be exempt from all forms of taxation, assessments or other levies by the Danish authorities in Greenland.

ARTICLE IX

The Government of the United States of America will respect all legitimate interests in Greenland as well as all the laws, regulations and customs pertaining to the native population and the internal administration of Greenland. In exercising the rights derived from this Agreement the Government of the United States will give sympathetic consideration to all representations made by the Danish authorities in Greenland with respect to the welfare of the inhabitants of Greenland.

ARTICLE X

This Agreement shall remain in force until it is agreed that the present dangers to the peace and security of the American Continent have passed. At that time the modification or termination of the Agreement will be the subject of consultation between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Denmark. After due consultation has taken place, each party shall have the right to give the other party notice of its intention to terminate the Agreement, and it is hereby agreed, that at the expiration of twelve months after such notice shall have been received by either party from the other this Agreement shall cease to be in force.


Further Reading
U.S. Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931–1941 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943), 312–314. .
 

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