Henrik Kauffmann

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Henrik Kauffmann
Danish Ambassador to the United States
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Personal details
Henrik Louis Hans von Kauffmann

(1888-08-26)26 August 1888
Died 5 June 1963(1963-06-05) (aged 74)
Henrik Kauffmann explaining the agreement with the US over Greenland

Henrik Kauffmann (26 August 1888 – 5 June 1963) was the Danish ambassador to the United States during World War II. On 9 April 1941, the anniversary of the German occupation of Denmark, he signed on his own initiative "in the Name of the King" (Danish: I Kongens Navn) an "Agreement relating to the Defense of Greenland" authorizing the United States to defend the Danish colonies on Greenland from German aggression. The treaty was signed by the United States Secretary of State Cordell Hull and approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 7 June 1941.

Kauffmann's treaty was approved by the local officials on Greenland but declared void by the Danish government in Copenhagen. Kauffmann ignored this protest citing that Denmark was occupied by a hostile power, consequently, he considered the government to be unable to protect Danish interests.[1] The government responded by charging Kauffmann with high treason and stripping him of his rank. Kauffmann ignored both actions. Kauffmann's line was supported by the Danish consuls general in the United States, as well as by the Danish ambassador to Iran. These diplomats were dismissed as well. Kauffmann replied by urging Danish diplomats around the world not to follow instructions from Copenhagen.

Kauffmann was nicknamed "the King of Greenland" for his independent political moves in the Greenland affair.

He was married to Charlotte MacDougall, the daughter of United States Navy Rear Admiral William D. MacDougall.[2]


Revoking the sentence against Kauffmann was one of the first tasks done by the Danish Parliament following the Liberation of Denmark in May 1945. Kauffmann joined the Cabinet of National Unity and served as Minister without Portfolio from 12 May to 7 November 1945.

Kauffmann's treaty was adapted in the early 1950s and remains the legal basis for the U.S. Thule Air Base in Greenland.


In June 1963, Kauffmann, suffering from prostate cancer, was killed by his wife in a "mercy killing". His wife, Charlotte, then took her own life.[3][4]


Lidegaard, Bo (1996). I Kongens Navn. Henrik Kauffmann i dansk diplomati 1919–1958 (in Danish). Copenhagen: Samleren. ISBN 87-568-1377-5.


  1. ^ Henrik Kauffmann (April 13, 1941). "FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES DIPLOMATIC PAPERS, 1941, EUROPE, VOLUME II, The Danish Minister (Kauffmann) to the Secretary of State". Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, United States Department of State. Retrieved August 26, 2016. Under the circumstances, there was, to me, no doubt but that I must, in the interests of Denmark and Greenland, take this unusual step. The Government in Denmark will not, as long as Denmark is occupied, be able to obtain full information as to the background and necessity for this action. I, therefore, request that judgment of my decision be withheld until Denmark again is free, and the Danish Government and public can come to know the situation that made the step necessary. I earnestly beg His Majesty the King and the Danish Government to be assured that I have acted in the way which I felt to be right, after careful consideration and according to my best belief and the dictates of my conscience, fulfilling my allegiance to His Majesty the King.
  2. ^ https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/944707/
  3. ^ Meg Hixon (February 2014). "Sears and MacDougall family collection : Biography". Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan. University of Michigan. Retrieved August 26, 2016. Charlotte MacDougall Kauffmann killed her husband, then suffering from prostate cancer, and herself in Copenhagen in June 1963.
  4. ^ "Wife Cuts Danish Hero's Throat, Then Kills Self". The Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. 1963-06-05. Retrieved 2016-08-26. Police reported today the American wife of Denmark's former ambassador to the United States, Henrik Kauffman, slit her husband's throat and then took her own life with the same bread knife. They described the murder as a "mercy killing."

External links

  • Agreement between U.S. Secretary of State and Danish Minister on the status of Greenland April 10, 1941
  • History of the Thule Air Base

This article is based on the corresponding article on the Danish Wikipedia da:Henrik Kauffmann accessed on 27 February 2006.

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