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Children Taken from Greenland to Experiment Claim Compensation After 70 Years |  Abroad

Children Taken from Greenland to Experiment Claim Compensation After 70 Years | Abroad

DenmarkSix indigenous Greenlanders, who were brought to Denmark as children for a failed social experiment, are claiming about €33,543 from the Danish state. In 1951, 22 children from Greenland were taken from their homes and raised in Denmark. Denmark set up this experiment to bridge the cultural gap with its then colony, Greenland. When the children, now in their 70s, returned home, they were placed in an orphanage.




Danish teachers and priests were asked to identify children who could be re-educated and have a “better life” in mainland Denmark. Later they would return to Greenland to maintain the relationship with Copenhagen as an elite. Kids will be transformed into perfect Danes. Greenland is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, but depends on Copenhagen for currency, foreign relations and defense management.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen © via Reuters

Apology

Many families were hesitant, but some gave up. In May 1951 the ship left with 22 children on board. However, no contact with the family was allowed. Even after returning to Greenland, the children were not reunited with their parents, but had to go to an orphanage. So far, the Danish authorities have not publicly responded to the compensation claim. Okay Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen formally apologized a year ago. “We cannot change what happened,” the Danish prime minister said in a statement at the time. But we can take our responsibility and apologize to those we should have taken care of. We failed at that.”

Helen Thiessen told her story for the BBC in 2015.

Helen Thiessen told her story for the BBC in 2015. © BBC

“Do not be sad”

One of the children involved in the experiment, Helen Thiessen, told the BBC in 2015. Then she declared that an apology meant everything. Thiessen, who is only seven years old, said her mother promised her that Denmark was “like heaven. You don’t have to be sad.” Thiessen said she spoke to some of the other children occasionally and that they had “a sense of loss and a lack of self-confidence.” The six surviving children are now claiming $37,800, or about 33,543 euros, from the Danish state.


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