Greenland Protectorate

World War II in the Arctic

the Arctic 1941.0409

Greenland Protectorate

Arctic disputes, Winter War, Weather War, World War II, Cold War, Climate Change (9 April 1941)

Historical Map of the Arctic & the Far North

Concerned about the possibility of a British/Canadian invasion of Greenland, the United States and the Greenlandic government quickly established diplomatic relations after the fall of Denmark. However when, in June 1940, the Germans conquered France, the US began moving to support the British war effort. The strategic importance of Greenland grew with this trans-Atlantic partnership and in 1941 the island agreed to US military protection.

Main Events

Second Armistice at Compiègne

Adolf Hitler and top military officials of Nazi Germany signed an armistice with representatives of the French Third Republic at 18:36 near Compiègne, France - the exact location of the 1918 armistice ending World War I. This new armistice ended French involvement in World War II on the side of the Allies and established a German zone of occupation in northern and western France, leaving the remainder ("Vichy France") to be governed by the French.

Destroyers for Bases Agreement

The United States and the United Kingdom signed the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, agreeing to the immediate transfer of fifty mothballed Caldwell, Clemson, and Wickes-class US Navy destroyers from the US Navy to the Royal Navy. In exchange, the British gave the US land rights for air and naval bases in the British possessions of Newfoundland, the Bahamas, Jamaica, British Guiana, and the Leeward and Windward Islands. The US also gained air and naval base rights in the Great Sound and Castle Harbour, Bermuda, and the south and eastern coasts of Newfoundland.

Tripartite Pact

Joachim von Ribbentrop of Nazi Germany, Galeazzo Ciano of the Kingdom of Italy, and Saburō Kurusu of the Empire of Japan signed the Tripartite Pact in Berlin, capital of Germany. The 10 year Pact recognized the right of Germany and Italy to establish a new order in Europe while Japan did so in Greater East Asia; it also compelled the contracting Powers to come to the aid of any one of them that was attacked by a Power not presently involved in either World War II in Europe or the Sino-Japanese War.

Landing attempt on Jan Mayen

Germany attempted to land a weather team on Jan Mayen island but were thwarted when the naval trawler carrying them crashed on rocks while trying to evade a British destroyer alerted to their presence.

Lend-Lease

An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States (known as the Lend-Lease Bill) was passed by the US Senate, allowing the US to provide the United Kingdom with food, oil, and materiel either as a gift or with minimal payment. The Bill was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt on 11 March. In April, it was extended to include China, and, in October, the Soviet Union.

Greenland Protectorate

On the anniversary of the German occupation of Denmark, the Danish envoy to Washington D.C., Henrik de Kauffmann, against the instructions of his government, signed an executive agreement with US Secretary of State Cordell Hull, allowing the US to base forces in Greenland. This action effectively made Greenland a de facto US protectorate and earned Kauffmann the nickname "King of Greenland".

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