Gustav Frederik Holm

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Gustav Frederik Holm, 1883

Gustav Frederik Holm (born August 6, 1849 in Copenhagen ; † March 13, 1940 ) was a Danish naval officer and explorer . He made important contributions to Greenland's geography and ethnography . In 1884 he was the first European to reach the East Greenland Inuit settlement of Tasiilaq ( Ammassalik in Danish ). His important ethnographic collection is now in the Greenland National Museum (Kalaallit Nunaata Katersugaasivia) in Nuuk .

The women's boat expedition

The term “women's boat expedition” for this voyage of discovery is derived from the essential role played by the Greenland umiaks , mostly rowed by women, in exploring the fjords of the east coast.

Holm became particularly important through his discoveries in East Greenland . Together with Vilhelm Garde , the botanist Peter Eberlin (1862-1900), the geologist Hans Knutsen (1857-1936) and some Greenlanders led by Johannes Hansen (1837-1911) and supported by his nephew Johan Petersen (1867-1960) he researched in the years 1883 to 1885, traveling from Nuuk via Qaqortoq , the east coast of Greenland to the Arctic Circle , where Cape Gustav Holm is named after him . He took possession of the land for the Kingdom of Denmark and named it after the then Danish King Christian IX. Kong Christian IX Land. The most important achievement of this expedition, however, was the establishment of contact with the Inuit in the area of ​​the former municipality of Ammassalik, who had been living in absolute isolation until then . A total of around 400 people lived there in eleven scattered settlements at that time, until the settlement of Tasiilaq (Ammassalik) was founded in 1894 . The impact of Holm's "discovery" of the East Greenlanders is controversial: on the one hand, the Europeans brought diseases, alcoholism and social upheaval with them; of natural disasters and famines decreased sharply at that time. Gustav Holm brought back around 500 valuable artefacts from his exploration , which can be seen today in the Greenland National Museum (Kalaallit Nunaata Katersugaasivia) in Nuuk. Another important finding was the proof that Ammassalik was not the Eystribyggð (eastern settlement) of the Grænlendingar, which was sometimes suspected there until then .

Naval career

Gustav Holm (back row, third from left) in Qaqortoq in 1894

After his voyages of discovery, Gustav Holm held several high offices in the Danish Navy. In 1899 he was promoted to frigate captain, after which he was director of the Hydrographic Society until 1909 .


Gustav Holm was the son of the naval officer Peter Christian Holm (1807–1864) and his wife Louise Margaret Holm, b. Hetsch (1824-1876). He married Anne Mathea Heiberg (1845–1934) on November 16, 1886. His daughter Naja Marie Heiberg Holm (1887–1918) was married to the polar explorer Ejnar Mikkelsen .



  • G. Holm: Meddelelser om Greenland , ii, vi, ix, x, xvi . Copenhagen 1879.
  • G. Holm, V. Garde: Den danske Konebaads expedition til Grønlands Østkyst 1883–1885 . Copenhagen 1887.
  • G. Holm: Om de geografiske Farhold i dansk Ostgrønland . Copenhagen 1889.


  • Heinz Barüske: Greenland: Culture and Landscape at the Arctic Circle . DuMont, Cologne 1990, ISBN 3-7701-1544-9 .
  • Verena Traeger: Gustav Holm . In: Mark Nuttall (Ed.): Encyclopedia of the Arctic . tape 2 . Routledge, New York and London 2005, ISBN 1-57958-438-1 , pp. 870–871 ( limited preview in Google Book search).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Heike Braukmüller: Greenland - yesterday and today. Greenland's path of decolonization . Weener, Ems 1990, ISBN 3-88761-043-1 , p. 201 .