Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Northern European Affairs (Cumming)

Participants: Mr. A. C. Brun, Counselor, Danish Legation
Mr. Hugh S. Cumming, Jr., Chief, Division of Northern European Affairs
Mr. William C. Trimble, Assistant Chief, Division of Northern European Affairs.

Mr. Brun called on me this afternoon by appointment made at his request. He said that Minister de Kauffmann, who is now in Quebec [Page 581] at the Food and Agriculture Organization Conference,55 had asked him to communicate the following to me:

After my conversation with Mr. de Kauffmann on October 22, during which he had asked me whether the United States intended to seek post-war bases in Greenland, he had informed his Government of the possibility that it might receive a request for such bases. According to Mr. Brun, the Danish Foreign Office has now telegraphed that it was “horrified” at the prospect of receiving a request from the United States for bases in Greenland. In the first place, the Danes had hoped that with the end of the war, steps would be taken to terminate the Defense Agreement of 1941 and to withdraw our troops, thereby restoring full Danish sovereignty over Greenland. Of more importance, however, was the fact that any démarche made by us at this time relative to post-war bases in Greenland would immediately be followed by Soviet demand for bases on Bornholm. In view of these circumstances, if a request were received from us at this time, it would have to be rejected. Mr. Brun said something to the effect that, of course, if the Security Council should decide that bases had to be established in Greenland that would be another matter. He went on to say that the Danes had raised no question about the termination of the existing Greenland Defense Agreement under which our troops continued to be in Greenland and that at some time the Danes hoped themselves to take over the operation and defense of air bases in Greenland.

I told Mr. Brun that I had not told Mr. de Kauffmann that the United States intended to seek post-war bases in Greenland, but had very carefully chosen my words that Mr. de Kauffmann would not be surprised if his Government did at some time receive from the United States a proposal to negotiate on the future of the bases which we now had in Greenland.

I said that while taking note of the statement of the Danish Government’s attitude towards post-war United States bases in Greenland which he had just made to me, I felt that I could say that the question of “whether” the United States required bases in Greenland for its own defensive purposes, it would take the situation in Denmark into account in determining “when” to seek such bases.

Hugh S. Cumming, Jr.
  1. The first session of the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations was held at Quebec, October 16–November 1, 1945. See bracketed note regarding this Conference, vol. ii, p. 1117.