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On the face of it Operation Fork (Britain's invasion of Iceland in 1940) wasn't so terribly different from Germany's territorial landgrabs in 1939 and 1940.

Britain and her allies will have portrayed it as an essential and benign act, temporary in nature and aimed at defending a "friend" from a mutual foe. But a less generous interpretation might be to equate it with Germany's occupation of Denmark or the Netherlands.

Operation Fork goes almost entirely unmentioned in English language histories of the second world war, perhaps because it doesn't fit with the popular notion of 1940s Britain - standing alone against German aggression.

Did Nazi Germany's propagandists use Operation Fork in the propaganda war with Britain? How was it perceived in neutral countries?

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As a simple non-researched answer (I will attempt to research this a little and post it below! Until then, comment response), I would stand to argue/bet that the reason for this oversight is simply that Britain was on the winning side of the war. There is an old saying that history is written by the victors, sadly this is the case more often than not! –  GPierce Oct 13 '11 at 1:16
As an American, I have never heard of this. –  Travis Christian Oct 13 '11 at 22:42
To equate the invasions, one would have to overlook such trifle details as the fact that one of the goals the Germans wanted to achieve by invading Denmark was to murder its Jewish population. –  quant_dev Oct 27 '11 at 16:47

4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

I have looked through the German Propaganda Archive and haven't found any references to the British occupation of Iceland in 1940.

So I would hesitantly guess that if the occupation was used by German propagandists, it was not used widely.

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This would likely be different if the Icelanders would actually fight the invaders. Alas, they didn't, so there was little in the way of "Heroic partisans strike again in Iceland; five Brits killed, countless wounded!" to write about. But that's more of an alternative history topic. –  Martin Sojka Nov 10 '11 at 9:13

Historians have ignored the invasion of Iceland as it played an insignificant role in the war and was a temporary tactical decision: Not a land-grab. Iceland was content to allow British occupation with the stated condition that Britain would withdraw their troops at the end of the war and not interfere with Icelandic government.

Britain ended up withdrawing its troops before the war ended and American troops assumed control of Iceland under the U.S.-Icelandic defence agreement (July 1941). In 1951 Iceland and the USA signed another agreement at the urging if NATO; the Icelandic Defense Force agreement, which made the US responsible for Iceland's defense. The US maintained a military base in Iceland until 2006 and is still responsible for Iceland's defense.

See the Wikipedia article for more details.

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I like your answer and you got my +1, but it could probably do without the caps for emphasis. Italics perhaps? –  RedBlueThing Oct 13 '11 at 3:52
For your consideration ;) theoatmeal.com/pl/minor_differences/capslock –  RedBlueThing Oct 13 '11 at 3:53
+1 as well. Historiography plays a huge role in this question. But I'd also suggest using the code for italics (* word, no spaces *) as opposed to caps as it comes across.... oddly. Such is the internet! (C'est la Internet?) –  GPierce Oct 13 '11 at 4:31
Your post says Iceland was "content" but the wikipedia link states the Icelandic govt issued a protest. –  Tea Drinker Oct 13 '11 at 13:22
@hawbsl True, there were diplomatic protests. However, Britain was able to diffuse the protest through publicly stating its intentions of non-interference and withdrawal at the conclusion of the war. –  JoeHobbit Oct 13 '11 at 21:35

Also, Denmark had sovereignity over Iceland, and Denmark's status was questioned. They didn't resist the German invasion, so for some time the Brits didn't know whether to treat Denmark as an invaded Ally or as an enemy. If Denmark was an enemy, the occupation of Iceland was quite legal.

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If they were an ally, it would have been perfectly legal too, assuming they had the Government-in-exile's permission. –  T.E.D. Apr 25 '12 at 13:39

Germany had preparations to take Iceland itself by air in exactly the same way they took Crete. The proposal required one way flights by an armada of Ju-53/3m aircraft. It is possible that knowledge of German intentions sparked the Allied annexation of Iceland.

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