Talk:Invasion of Iceland

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Icelandic reactions to the invasion[edit]

Icelandic government[edit]

With regard to the happenings which have taken place early this morning with military occupation of Reykjavík, whereby the neutrality of Iceland was flagrantly violated and its independence infringed, the Icelandic Government must recall the fact that on April the 11th last they formally notified His Majesty's Government in The United Kingdom through their representative in this country of the attitude of the Icelandic Government towards their proposal to offer military protection to Iceland and, in accordance herewith, they protest vigorously against the violation exercised by the British military forces.

It will be expected that compensation for losses and injuries resulting from the infraction of the lawful rights of Iceland as an independent neutral country will be made as a matter of course.


Það er þjóðarskylda okkar að taka þeim viðburðum, sem gerzt hafa og enn kunna að gerast, með fullkominni ró og koma í hvívetna þannig fram, að virðing okkar sem sjálfstæðrar þjóðar sé varðveitt. Við trúum því, að Bretar séu hingað komnir sem vinir, en ekki sem óvinir, og munum haga okkur samkvæmt því. Og við skiljum þær ráðstafanir, sem þeir hafa gert þótt við viðurkennum ekki réttmæti þeirra.

It is our duty as a nation to react to the events which have now occurred with perfect calmness and act in every way so that our dignity as an independent nation is preserved. We believe that the British have come here as friends and not as enemies and we will behave in accordance with this. And we understand the measures they have resorted to though we do not acknowledge their legality.


Vér þekkjum "vernd" Bretaveldis. Vér vitum, hvernig verndað hefur verið í Palestínu, Indlandi og Noregi. ... Vér Íslendingar höfum ekki óskað þessarar verndar. Vér vitum, að brezka auðvaldinu gengur engin ást á smáþjóðunum, lýðræði eða friði til að taka okkur varnarlausa herskildi. Vér vitum, að Ísland er nauðsynlegur áfangi fyrir brezka eftirlitið með siglingaleiðum til Norður-Evrópu ... Vér vitum, að Bretar vilja koma hér upp flugvöllum til að geta framkvæmt þetta eftirlit með því að leiða hungur yfir Evrópu. Það er ástæðan til þess, að þeir hafa nú tekið Ísland.

We are familiar with the "protection" of the British Empire. We know how Palestine, India and Norway have been protected. ... We Icelanders have not wished for this protection. We know that British capitalism is not driven by love for small nations, democracy or peace in occupying our defenceless country. We know that Iceland is a necessary step in the British patrol of seaways to Northern Europe ... We know that the British want to build airports here so that they will be able to perform these patrols and bring hunger over Europe. That is the reason why they have now taken Iceland.

-- 01:11, 19 July 2007 User:Haukurth

Larger strategic considerations[edit]

The article should mention how a German base in Iceland would have threatened North Atlantic convoys, as well as Atlantic air travel along the normal routes of the time (through Gander, Newfoundland) -- and also would have precluded any possiblity of an Arctic Sea connection with the Soviet Union (which was not important in 1940, but would become very important in 1942). United States troops took over from the British six months before Pearl Harbor(!), when the U.S. wasn't even at war, because Franklin D. Roosevelt thought that a German Iceland would not be in the interests of the U.S. (since Iceland is closer to North America than any other part of Europe). AnonMoos (talk) 19:00, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

When I was working on this my plan was to make this article narrowly focused on the invasion itself and to treat other aspects in broader articles; Occupation of Iceland and Iceland in World War II. Unfortunately I ran out of steam before I finished even this one... Of course you are quite right that the US occupation of Iceland was a very interesting step. Haukur (talk) 19:37, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Crime against peace[edit]

Was British invasion of Iceland "Crime against peace". If yes, then why that is not mentioned in article. If no, then why it is not. AlV (talk) 22:37, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

No, IMHO it was not a Crime against peace.
I draw your attention to Article 51, specifically "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security."
In invading Iceland the UK acted in self-defence not just in hindsight but as a response to a threat which was obvious at the time.
Even though Iceland was not a threat to the UK in and of itself, the UK was under attack. Iceland was crucial to the UK's defence against that attack. Therefore invasion of Iceland was an act of self defence.
If Iceland had fallen to Nazi Germany there is a significant possibility that the UK would have also fallen to Nazi Germany. The consequences of the UK falling to Nazi Germany would have been unspeakably horrendous, for the UK, for Iceland, and the rest of the world, including the civilians of the Axis countries

. (talk) 09:14, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Basically Iceland had a choice between being occupied by either Britain or Nazi Germany - which would you prefer? - relatively small disruption to civic life, or jackbooted stormtroopers herding your civilian population off to work as slave labourers in the Reich. Unfortunately, neutrality wasn't an option for Iceland, Norway and Denmark were both 'neutral' and look what happened to them - Invasion of Norway, Invasion of Denmark. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:23, 29 March 2009 (UTC)
Regarding Norway, British violated Norway's neutrality first, see Operation Wilfred and Plan R 4, one of many British war crimes no-one was held responsible for. As for stormtroopers or allied criminals, i look at it try numbers of my people murdered, there is no doubt who was worse. AlV (talk) 19:43, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
Would you rather be robbed or raped? That's a question with a relatively easy answer, but it doesn't change the fact that bother are in fact crimes. -- Palthrow (talk) 20:00, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
What im trying to point out, i have feeling that wikipedia rarely forgets to mention axis crimes and rarely points out ones commited by allies, while all major belligerents were criminals. Invasion of Iceland, Iran, is not in List_of_war_crimes, compare to invasion of Poland, commited by both germans and soviets, it is in German list, while it is omitted from Soviet part in same article. Wikipedia is supposed to be neutral, and not to be follower of Victor's justice. —Preceding unsigned comment added by AlV (talkcontribs) 16:10, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
The Invasion of Iceland on its own isn't a war crime. If the British had massacred civilians then that would probably be indicated as a war crime in that article. The fact that the Icelandic government remained very much in control of the country despite the presence of a large foreign army should not be forgotten. Icelandic policemen could arrest both British and later American troops and did so with impunity during WWII, Icelandic (racist) policies of barring dark skinned people's from Icelandic territory were also strictly enforced, in and out of uniform whatever their rank was and so on. The only war crimes committed within Icelandic territory during WWII were done by the crews of German U-boats, surface vessels and aircraft attacking civilian ships, harbours, farms and towns.- (talk) 01:31, 12 September 2010 (UTC)

For all the self-serving patriotic posturing in favor of one side or the other, the fact remains that Germany invaded and occupied the neutral nations of Denmark and Norway in 1940 to improve its strategic position against England -- and was almost beaten to the punch by English plans to invade Norway in 1940 for the purpose of occupying Narvik.

The fact also remains that England invaded and occupied the neutral nation of Iceland in 1940 to improve its strategic position against Germany -- in other words, for the same reason. The United States subsequently helped perpetuate the English occupation of Iceland prior to its official entry into the war.

An objective student of history recognizes that, like it or not, Germany and England did the same thing (invade a neutal country) for the same reason (to improve its strategic position), and that the Germans felt just as justified about invading and occupying Denmark and Norway as the English (and Americans) did about invading and occupying Iceland.

It is illogical, and nothing more than an exercise in situational ethics and "victors' justice," to say that one invasion was a "crime against peace" and the other was not. Either both were or neither were. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:23, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

Well, which would you have preferred - occupation by the Allies or the Axis. Basically (whether one likes it or not) that was the choice. International law means nothing when one side ignores it. Iceland was too important strategically to be left alone. If it had been necessary to save the lives of thousands of UK Merchant Navy seamen - by then involved in the Battle of the Atlantic - by bombing the crap out of a German-occupied Iceland then despite protests from other countries it would in all likelyhood have been done, THEN you would have had something to moan about.
Anyway, if the Germans had invaded instead of the British then the Royal Navy would almost certainly have blockaded Iceland leading to mass starvation of the inhabitants. So from Iceland's POV they got the lesser of two evils. You could have screamed all you like about 'International Law' but the Nazis would have just stood you against a wall and shot you.
You see, neutrality only works when BOTH SIDES in a conflict agree to let you remain neutral. Belgium, Holland, Norway and Denmark were ALL neutral. But Nazi Germany ignored their neutrality anyway. Germany's leaders weren't very nice people.
... and you'd have just LOVED trying to get THEM to see your point-of-view. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:17, 10 May 2011 (UTC)

Technical Realities of German Invasion[edit]

I added a "citation needed" to this line "Following the German invasion of Denmark and Norway, the British government became increasingly concerned that Germany would soon try to establish a military presence in Iceland."

The German surface navy was always anemic. It, at best could perform raids. Although it was able to reach south Norway, they were pretty much bottled up in terms of heading into the North Atlantic. The Germans would have had to pass the huge Scapa Flow naval base.

The Germans didn't appear to have aircraft capable of making it to Iceland. The JU-52 had a total range of 780 miles if the source I am looking at is correct. The Germans could not have made even a one way suicidal run on Iceland.

Let's say the Germans did risk taking Iceland. Their ships would have been in danger both going to and returning. They would not have been able to resupply troops they had left there. It would not be practical airbase, naval base or even a sub base.

The only practical purpose would be to try to deny it's use to England. The Germans would have to realize that, at best, such a denial would be short lived.

I have to conclude 3 possibilities for this statement.

1. It's not a true statement. 2. The British government stated it, but was badly misinformed. 3. The British government stated it knowing it was a falsehood but used it as cover for their own purposes. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:05, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

I know for a fact that German planes did make a few raids on Iceland after the British occupied the country. So you might want to rethink some of that reasoning of yours. -- JuvenisUrsus (talk) 23:13, 8 July 2012 (UTC)

You are correct that the Germans executed a few bombing raids with fw200 Condors. However that is not the context of citation request. The article claim is that the British feared an Icelandic invasion by Germany. If the article said that Britain invaded Iceland because they feared Germany would bomb it, I wouldn't have an issue. Jtgelt (talk) 16:07, 17 July 2013 (UTC)jtgelt

Actual British Fear of Icelandic Invasion Very Questionable[edit]

I dug up a copy of "The Lion and the White Falcon" by Donald Bittner. This is the primary source for a great deal of the article. This is a scholarly work that is well foot noted. It deserves to be front and center as the back bone of this wiki article. I will tweak the article to tone down the current existing statement "...the British government became increasingly concerned that Germany would soon try to establish a military presence in Iceland."

The first chapter of the book deals with the various British views on Iceland. There were numerous scares that Iceland was drifting into the German camp. These were all dispelled by various government branches. The conclusion was that Iceland was pro-British. The Iceland Nazi party was a laughing stock. There was no fifth column to fear. Finally, the German population on the island was some concern as a destabilizing element or people who could lay the groundwork for future activities (read next paragraph). The overall conclusion was that if Germany had any hope of using Iceland, it needed to do so before the outbreak of general hostilities. The Icelanders were suspicious of German friendship overtures and did not seem to be on the verge of surrendering neutrality. These are all conclusions coming from various British government reports.

In reference to a report to the Joint Planning staff: "long distances precluded an airborne attack and the Royal Navy's command of the sea precluded any German counter attack." The section concludes with this assessment from the author "Thus, although rationally denying any German military capability to attack Iceland, the planners feared that somehow a German supported coup on the island could be successfully executed."

So there only 4 possible conclusions:

1. The Joint Planning Staff (JPS) was oblivious to all the information collected by the rest of the government on the situation. 2. The JPS choose to ignore or reinterpret the information available to them. 3. The JPS had access to some information that the author did not. 4. The JPS fabricated a German invasion for political cover for the British invasion.

Any one of those may be true. However, you can not come to the conclusion of the current statement from this wiki article "...the British government became increasingly concerned that Germany would soon try to establish a military presence in Iceland," is in anyway a fact, at least not from this source and no other source is provided.

Footnote 8, supports the following sentence " Just as importantly, the British were eager to obtain bases in Iceland for themselves to strengthen their Northern Patrol." There is nothing on pages 33-34 that supports the rest of the information in that paragraph. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jtgelt (talkcontribs) 18:45, 17 July 2013 (UTC)