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Title: The North Atlantic Triangle and the genesis and legacy of the American occupation of Greenland during the Second World War
Author: Berry, Dawn Alexandrea
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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On April 9, 1940, Germany invaded Denmark. Instantly, the fate and status of Greenland, a Danish colony, was thrust into limbo. During the war, Greenland’s vital mineral resources and location made it significant for the warring parties on both sides of the Atlantic. However, conflicting international corporate and political interests made any act to defend the island on the part of the Allies, or the officially neutral Americans, problematic. Within a year of the Danish occupation, the American government had signed an agreement for the defense of Greenland, extending the protection of both the Monroe Doctrine and the American military to the island. This action was an important step in the formal expansion of American influence in the Western Hemisphere that occurred during the Second World War. This thesis argues that global economic, political, and technological changes led to Greenland’s increased geopolitical significance and set the stage for a shift in the balance of power within the North Atlantic Triangle. It demonstrates how decisions relating to the security of the island came to be made and how conflicting interests within and between governments affected the genesis of the occupation. It explores how Winston Churchill’s decision to mine the North Sea led to the American occupation of Greenland and examines the ways in which the effects of Churchill’s actions raised concerns in Canada about the possibility of a British defeat, which in turn led Mackenzie King, the Canadian Prime Minister, to align his foreign policy closer to that of the United States’ President Roosevelt. This thesis also asserts that Roosevelt successfully used the potential foreign occupation of Greenland to demonstrate to the American public the dangers of foreign conflicts to the United States and to further his hemispheric security objectives both domestically and abroad. These events had a profound and lasting impact on the relationships within the North Atlantic Triangle and on political identity in Greenland, and signalled an important shift in the foreign policy of the United States toward greater American involvement in world affairs.
Supervisor: MacMillan, Margaret Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; History of North America ; History of War ; History of science ; International,imperial and global history ; Greenland ; United States ; Canada ; United Kingdom ; Denmark ; Germany ; Roosevelt ; Churchill ; Mackenzie King ; Kauffmann ; Hitler ; Arctic ; cryolite ; Second World War ; Monroe doctrine ; hemispheric security ; nationalism ; empire ; resources ; technology ; meteorology ; aluminium ; aviation