22 children were taken from their families in Greenland to Denmark to be re-educated as "little Danes" who could later return to foster cultural links. But when 16 of the children were sent back to Greenland, they ended up in an orphanage and many did not see their families again. Only six are now alive.
A report on the case of the children, who were from Greenland's indigenous Inuit population, was published on Tuesday.
In 1951 Danish authorities decided that one way to modernise Greenland would be to create a new type of Greenlander. Teachers and priests were asked to identify children who could be re-educated and given a "better life" in mainland Denmark, and then return as role models for Greenland-Denmark relations.
Many families were reluctant but some gave way, and in May 1951, 22 children were shipped to Denmark. The children had no contact with their families, had language difficulties and were placed in foster homes.
But Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in a statement:
"We cannot change what happened. But we can take responsibility and apologise to those we should have cared for but failed to do."