Courtesy Reuters

Iceland and Greenland: an American Problem

THE German occupation of Denmark on April 9 peremptorily raised the question as to the future of Greenland and Iceland. In the long run, of course, the fate of these two islands depends on the outcome of the present war; their present status, however, is a matter of immediate concern to several governments including that of the United States. American consular representatives, for instance, have been sent both to Reykjavik and to Godthaab. The million dollar credit opened for Iceland by the Export-Import Bank in March 1940 has been confirmed. Both the American Red Cross and a privately organized committee are actively preparing to aid Greenland in the emergency. As for Great Britain, on May 9 she placed Iceland under British protection for the duration of the war. British troops are now stationed in Iceland to prevent a surprise landing there by German air or naval forces.

Greenland, last of Denmark's colonies, has been administered by a benevolent bureaucracy whose enlightened social and educational policies have been highly beneficial to the natives. Only in Greenland have the Eskimos grown in numbers; everywhere else under white rule their race has declined. Since Greenland is a colony, Denmark is legally free to transfer her sovereignty over it to Germany; or the German Government, acting as a self-appointed defender of a vassal Danish state, might seek to exercise the latter's rights there.

Iceland is in a very different position. The Law of Union of November 30, 1918, which was adopted by the Danish Rigsdag and the Icelandic Alting, placed the relations of the two countries on a new basis. Strictly speaking, this law was neither a statute nor a treaty, but a tertium quid. It recognized Iceland as a sovereign state and established a personal union between the two nations. It also provided a limited measure of real union in that the conduct of Iceland's foreign relations was left in the hands of Denmark until such time as Iceland should itself take over this function. However, any subsequent agreements

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