Greenlanders Displaced by the Cold War: Relocation and Compensation
Article in "Historical Justice in International Perspective"
The DIIS researchers Svend Aage Christensen and Kristian Søby Kristensen have contributed an article on the forced relocation in 1953 of the residents of Uummannaq, Greenland, a small settlement of Inughuit hunters near the recently constructed Thule Air Base. During the 1950s, the base was a very important staging point for nuclear bombers in the U.S. Air Force’s new polar strategy.
In 1953, American officials decided the Thule Air Base needed to be expanded. Antiaircraft artillery, they found, had to be moved further from the main base. With the expansion of the base came the relocation of Uummannaq’s residents, which was to be one of the most controversial aspects of the American military presence in Greenland.
Since the mid-1980s, the Uummannaq relocation has been the subject of intense political controversy, official investigations, different compensation schemes, lawsuits, and governmental negotiations. The issue has been on and off the domestic political agenda and has sometimes put a strain on relations between Copenhagen and the Greenland Home Rule Government.
The article is part of a volume published by the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., with Cambridge University Press, New York.