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Given their strategic locations regarding Britain and Russia, the Nordic countries in World War II were the targets of German conquest or control, along with the nearby islands, while the British tried to stop them. Finland fought to wars against the Soviet Union (and one against Germany), while Denmark and Norway were invaded and occupied by Germany. Iceland and the other islands were under British or American occupation (as was Greenland). Only Sweden remained neutral.

Military operations

The main military and naval operations were against Norway, and against Allied convoys headed to the Soviet Union.




  • History of Iceland



Other islands

Orkney Islands

The Orkney Islands remained under tight British control. The Royal Navy's main base was at Scapa Flow.[1]

Shetland Islands

The Shetland islands remained under tight British control. It became the base of operations of a Norwegian naval unit nicknamed the "Shetland bus." It used Norwegian fishing vessels with Norwegian crews to conduct espionage and sabotage operations on the coast of Norway.[2]

Faroe Islands

After Denmark was invaded, the British Navy made a pre-emptive (but friendly) invasion and occupation of the Faroes to prevent a German invasion.[3]

See also


  1. James Miller, The North Atlantic Front: Orkney, Shetland, Faroe and Iceland at War (2004)
  2. James Miller, The North Atlantic Front: Orkney, Shetland, Faroe and Iceland at War (2004)
  3. James Miller, The North Atlantic Front: Orkney, Shetland, Faroe and Iceland at War (2004)

During the German occupation of Denmark, King Christian X became a powerful symbol of national sovereignty; there was no government in exile

Further reading

  • Andenæs, Johs, O. Riste, and M. Skodvin, eds. Norway and the Second World War (Oslo: Johan Grundt, 1966)

Tanum Forlag, 1966.

  • Dear, Ian. The Oxford Companion to World War II (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995)
  • Derry, T.K. The Campaign in Norway (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1952), official British history
  • Edwards, Robert. The Winter War: Russia’s Invasion of Finland, 1939-1940 (New York: Pegasus Books, 2008); published in UK as White Death: Russia's War on Finland 1939–40
  • Ekman, Stig, Klas Åmark and John Toler, eds. Sweden’s Relations with Nazism, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust: A Survey of Research (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 2003)
  • Ekman, Stig and Nils Edling, eds. War Experience, Self Image and National Identity: The Second World War as Myth and History. (Sӧdertälje: The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, 1997.)
  • Elting, John R. Battles for Scandinavia (Time-Life Books 1981)
  • Engle, Eloise; Paananen, Lauri The Winter War: The Russo-Finnish Conflict, 1939–40 (1973)
  • Haarr, Geirr. The Gathering Storm: Naval War in Northern Europe, September 1939 to April 1940 (2013)
  • Haarr, Geirr. German Invasion of Norway: April 1940 (vol 1 2012); The Battle for Norway, April–June 1940 (vol 2 2010)
  • Mann, Chris. British Policy and Strategy Towards Norway, 1941-45 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)
  • Miller, James. The North Atlantic Front: Orkney, Shetland, Faroe and Iceland at War (2004)
  • Nissen, Henrik S., ed. Scandinavia during the Second World War (Universitetsforlaget, 1983)
  • Petrow, Richard. The Bitter Years; The Invasion and Occupation of Denmark and Norway, April 1940-May 1945 (1974)
  • Riste, Olav et al. Norway and the Second World War (1996)
  • Vehvilainen, Olli. "Scandinavian Campaigns." in A Companion to World War II (2012) ed. by Thomas W. Zeiler and Daniel M. DuBois : vol 1 pp 208–21.
  • Vehvilainen, Olli. Finland In The Second World War: Between Germany and Russia (2002) excerpt and text search


  • Phillips, Jason C. "The Forgotten Footnote of the Second World War: An Examination of the Historiography of Scandinavia during World War II." (2013). online
  • Stenius, H., Österberg, M. and Östling, J., eds. Nordic Narratives of the Second World War: National Historiographies Revisited (Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2011).

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