Mikkelsen Einar



Datsky polar explorer, writer. Member of several expeditions to the Arctic. He was best known as the leader of the expedition of 1909–1912 to Eastern Greenland, the purpose of which was to search for information about the party of the Danish traveler Ludwig Mülius-Eriksen who died in 1907.

He was born in Wester-Brenderslev (Jutland) in the family of an artisan and teacher of labor Axel Mikkelsen.

In 1885 the family moved to Copenhagen, where his father opened a labor school. Up to the age of 13, Einar received a primary education in Copenhagen, but he showed no interest in teaching, his favorite place in the city was a seaport, and at 13, his father allowed him to start a sea school. service on the training ship "Georg Stage". In 1899  he graduated from the nautical school, having by this time five years of experience at sea, particularly in the Far East. Inspired by the studies of his compatriot Gustav Holm and Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen, at the age of sixteen Mikkelsen tried to take part in the expedition of Salomon Andre in a balloon, for which he walked more than 500 kilometers from Stockholm to Gothenburg, but was refused because of his youth.

In 1900 after several attempts to take part in traveling to the polar regions, including the expedition of 1898 on the Fram, Mikkelsen was accepted to the second expedition of Georg Amdrup to Eastern Greenland, during which, together with its leader, from July 22 on September 2, passed on a 5.5 meter rowing boat along the coast about 500 miles.

The following year, as an assistant cartographer, he participated in the expedition and Baldwin - Ziegler to Franz Josef Land (1901-1902).

In 1906 together at the invitation of an American geologist and Ernest a Leffingwell a Mikkelsen   took part in an expedition to the Beaufort Sea. On this expedition during a hiking trip Leffingwell, Mikkelsen and Storker Storkenson   first carried out constant measurements of the depth of the sea, thereby determining the width of the continental shelf.  

In 1908 it became known about the death of Ludwig Mulius-Eriksen in East Greenland, who investigated on the ship "Alabama" northeastern areas of the island. The body of one of the satellites accompanying him, Jorgen Brenloun, managed to find the search party Johann Koch, but the bodies of the polar explorer himself and another party member, the cartographer Niels Heg-Hagen, as well as their diaries, which could shed light on the circumstances of the tragedy, could not be discovered succeeded.

The British media mogul Lord Lord Northcliffe suggested to Mikkelsen to organize their repeated searches, and also to pay all related expenses, however, despite the temptation of prospects, Mikkelsen refused this offer. As a result, he headed a search expedition, which was organized by the Danes themselves - half of the expenses were assumed by the government, the rest were private donations.

June 20, 1909 Mikkelsen, accompanied by seven satellites (lieutenants William Laub and K. Jorgensen, Hans Olsen, George Paulsen, carpenter Karl Unger and mechanical engineer Iver Iversen on the sloop "Alabama" left Copenhagen on 27 August reached the eastern coast of Greenland, and dropped anchor on Shannon Island, 100 miles from the Mülius-Eriksen expedition base from 1906 to 1908. From September 25 to December 16, the first toboggan trip was undertaken, during which Mikkelsen, Iversen and Jørgensen managed to reach Brenlunn’s burial Anything new failed. The next big journey was started by Mikkelsen on March 4, 1910. Accompanied by four people, he headed for the northeastern region of the island, but due to weather conditions and a small number of dogs, progress was slow, on April 10 he sent Laub, Olsen and Paulsen back, and with Iversen and two sleds of fifteen dogs, he continued on his way, but only on 12 May did they reach the head of the Danish fjord, one of the first places of work for the Muli-Eriksen party.

On May 22 they found the first of the Gurievs Mühlius-Eriksen, inside of which was a note dated September 12, 1907, and from which it appeared that the party returned to the base not through the interior of the island, as expected, but along the coast to the east. Soon, Mikkelsen discovered Eriksen’s summer camp and a note dated August 8 stating that they had discovered the land connecting the Navy Cliff and that the Peary Strait does not exist.

Back at the beginning of the journey, Mikkelsen intended to pass the Peary Strait to the Smith Strait, but after the discovery of Mülius-Eriksen, this became impossible and meaningless, so on May 28 two travelers turned back to the base, to which there was at least 550 miles (or about 800 km in a straight line). By this time, they had forty-five days food with them for themselves and twelve days for the seven remaining dogs. The return trip was very difficult. The progress was prevented by deep, soft and wet snow, in some places open water, Mikkelsen himself suffered from scurvy. By July 8, when they got to the Malemuk fjord (approx. 500 km from Shannon Island), they had only three dogs left. Partially it was possible to replenish stocks of food and fuel from the depot laid down by the expedition of 1906-1908, including the last in Lambert Land (approx. 250 km from Dzhemani-land), but all the rest were empty. In one of them, 130 kilometers from Denmarkshavn, they left all the unnecessary things, including sleeping bags, and light, taking only weapons, diaries, film, stove and some fuel and food on September 9 went to the base Mühlius Eriksen, which barely alive only reached ten days later, and where they found food and shelter. Over the 270 days of travel, they have covered a total of 1,400 miles.

Four weeks later, having regained their strength, Mikkelsen and Iversen went south, and on 5 November they reached Shannon Island, where they found out that nobody was waiting for them there - Alabama wrecks were scattered along the shore, and her crew was absent (after a while they found out that "Alabama" sank, having received a hole during the spring break, and its crew was evacuated by a Norwegian fishing vessel). However, a hut was built from the wreckage of the ship on the shore, and enough food and fuel was removed from it to survive the winter. After wintering, the following summer the travelers waited for the rescue ship, but to no avail. November 20, they moved to the island of Bass Rock , thirty kilometers south of Shannon, where in 1901 a hut was built for the Baldwin-Ziegler expedition of 1901-1902 and a food warehouse was organized. There they found out that on July 23 the Norwegian ship “Laura” came for them, as well as the details of the crew’s rescue. Only on July 19 of the following 1912, Mikkelsen and Iversen were rescued by the Norwegian steamer “Sjøblimsten”. By this time, they had not seen people for 28 months.

The bodies of Mühlius-Eriksen and Heg-Hagen were never found.

After returning to civilization, Mikkelsen met a very warm welcome in Europe, which he traveled with numerous performances, particularly in Great Britain, where he found the full support of the Royal Geographical Society. At home in Denmark, his views on the Mülius-Eriksen expedition were taken critically, contrary to expectations, he did not receive the gold medal of the Danish Royal Geographical Society and was not even invited to the opening ceremony of the memorial to theDanmarks Expedition, although he had found and retained, in spite of everything, the most important information about the fate of its dead participants and the discoveries made by them. The government of Denmark, in the end, paid him only a premium of 1,000 Danish kroner (~ $ 150).

After returning from the expedition Mikkelsen for some time worked in a Danish East Asian company, later as an employee of the insurance company Baltica Merchant Insurance Company. During this time, he has published several books and articles, including "John Dale" and "History of Alaska", proved himself as a writer.

After a series of devastating storms of 1921, which caused significant damage to Western Europe, Mikkelsen was convinced that cyclones were moving east from Greenland, and that the organization of radio communications in the east of the island equipped with radio communications would prevent natural disasters like this in advance. In Denmark, his proposal was met with considerable skepticism, but at the same time in Europe it received a response.

In the early 1920s, against the background of Norway’s increasing territorial claims to the eastern part of Greenland, Mikkelsen managed to convince the Danish government of the need to colonize the eastern parts of the island as soon as possible. In 1924, he led the first wave of immigrants who founded the colony of Illokkortormiut at the mouth of the Bay of Skorsby, and in the following year transported their families there. Mikkelsen considered this undertaking to be his most important contribution to the development of East Greenland, although he made many influential enemies, in particular, for sharply criticizing the island’s administration.


Illokkortormiut, in the foreground a bust of E. Mikkelsen


After the occupation of part of the east coast of the island by Norway in 1931, the ideas of Mikkelsen finally found complete understanding in their homeland. In 1932 he led a research expedition to Greenland (the third of those who worked at the time on the eastern side of the island (Rasmussen and Lauge Koch). In the same year, Mikkelsen became the representative of the Danish delegation in an international court in The Hague, where a territorial dispute between countries was examined, and his testimony and the arguments cited played a significant role in the final decision of the court in favor of Denmark.


Bust E. Mikkelsen in Copenhagen


The following year, he received the post of inspector of Eastern Greenland, where he worked until his retirement in 1950, but even after his official retirement for 20 years, the urgent problems of this region remained for Mikkelsen the main topic of life. For sincere participation in their fate and upholding their interests, residents of the eastern coast of the island called him “Miki” and considered him their benefactor.

During the 1950s, Einar Mikkelsen worked at the Arctic Institute of North America , and in 1954 he became one of the founders of the Danish Institute of the Arctic. He has written over a dozen books on the subject of polar research, three of which were translated into Russian (“In the Ice of Greenland” (1914), “Following the Traces of the Victims of the Ice Desert” (1914) and “Neighbors of the North Pole” (1930)).

He died in Copenhagen, buried in the cemetery Ordrup.

Islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

The ridge and its highest point (68° 53′00″N   28° 37′00″W) in Eastern Greenland on the Land of King Christian IX.

Cape in East Greenland.

Einar Mikkelsen Glacier.

Bay in Alaska.


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