The children taken from home for a social experiment

Ellen Otzen - BBC World Service

In the 1950s, the Danish government began removing Inuit children in the Danish colony of Greenland from their families and sending them to Denmark in an attempt to re-educate them as “Little Danes” and “modernize” Greenland. This article describes the experiences of those children, one in particular - Helene Thiesen - who is now in her 70s. The children were brought to Denmark, then held in quarantine for a period of a few months, and finally placed into foster families in Denmark. The following year, most of the children were sent back to Greenland, though some were adopted by their Danish foster families and remained in Denmark. Those that returned to Greenland, however, were not able to reunite with their families and were, instead, placed into a children’s home where they were only allowed to speak Danish. Thiesen discusses the impact that this experience has had on her and the bitterness she continues to feel at being separated from her mother and unknowingly becoming a part of this “experiment.”