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Diplomat August Koern 120

Estonian diplomat August Koern, who maintained Estonia’s diplomatic representation in Denmark for 50 years starting in 1939, was born 120 years ago today, on April 27, 1900. 

Koern was born and raised in Uus-Võidu, a farming community in south Estonia near the city of Viljandi. He received his secondary education in Tallinn and started to study architecture in Riga. In December 1918 he came home to participate in the Estonian War of Independence and volunteered for the Scouts Battalion that was being formed in Viljandi. (The Scouts Battalion exists today as an elite professional military unit based at Tapa, where Danish troops are presently stationed.)

After the war, he continued his military career and graduated in law from the University of Tartu. In 1927 he joined the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with postings to the embassies in Berlin and Warsaw. At the Ministry, he was head of the Consular Division and Chief of Protocol. In 1939, he came to Copenhagen as Chargé d’Affaires. After the Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1940, Koern with his family was able to stay in Denmark and lived here for the rest of his life. He continued consular work and was active in several exile Estonian organizations in Denmark. At the same time, he worked for the Royal Danish Library from 1949 to 1971.

He was also the Foreign Minister of the Estonian Government in Exile from 1964 to 1982.

August Koern died in Copenhagen on January 11, 1989. His ashes were scattered into the Baltic Sea.