Nazi holdouts and the invasion of Iceland

Discussion in 'History & Past Politicians' started by Greenleft, Nov 17, 2018.

  1. Greenleft

    Greenleft Well-Known Member

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    I found these facts about World War 2 interesting. My source is Wikipedia, so feel free to correct me or add to the little I contribute here.

    So the post war Japanese holdouts are well known, but few know about the German holdouts. There are at least 2 but if you count the Flensburg government that would make it 3. Victory in Europe day is May 8th for most of the Allied forces and May 9th for the Soviet Union. But the successor Nazi government led by Karl Donitz was captured on May 23rd 1945.

    However there were 2 German holdouts: A garrison on the Dutch island of Schiermonnikoog surrendered on June 11th 1945. Apparently the Canadian forces responsible for the area did not think it necessary to use force and instead had a negotiated surrender. The second holdout was a garrison in the far north Norwegian islands of Svalbard who surrendered on September 4th 1945. The story there was geographically it was so remote, that information of the war came there late and the Germans could not actually contact or physically get to the mainland.

    The second interesting fact is the invasion of Iceland. Iceland was a neutral country the way Switzerland and Sweden were. But geographically their location was vital for fighting the German navy in the Atlantic. So the British invaded and overthrew the neutral government in 1940. There was only one casualty: a British solider committed suicide on the way to Iceland. There was no fighting on the island. Only standoffs with local police.

    While the actions of the allied forces cannot be compared to Nazi Germany, it's interesting that the "good guys" violated a country's sovereignty.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
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  2. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    The British also violated Denmark's sovereignty during the Napoleonic wars.
    There was a rumor the French were planning to expropriate the Danish fleet of merchant ships to put them to military use, so the British preemptively struck first and seized the ships.
     
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  3. Greenleft

    Greenleft Well-Known Member

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  4. Lindis

    Lindis Well-Known Member

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    Interesting facts!
     
  5. Anonymous.Professor

    Anonymous.Professor Newly Registered

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    However the British also very soon left the country and USA replaced them even before it entered WW2 so as a neutral country at least kind of in agreement with Iceland so that the British were able to use their forces elsewhere.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2021
  6. Monash

    Monash Well-Known Member

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    Couple of interesting points.

    The British actually came very close to invading and occupying Norway and parts of Sweden - drawing up plans to do so. Firstly this was to deny Germany access to Norway's ports and fiords which both sides recognized would play a vital roll in any future battle of the Atlantic. At the same time those ports would have provided excellent bases from which Allied aircraft and ships could blockage and/or attack targets in the Baltic.

    Secondly it would have denied Germany access to vital iron Swedish iron ore deposits. These were located in the far north of the country and vast majority of the ore was exported via rail from the Swedish mines to the Norwegian port of city of Narvic form where it was loaded onto ships and sent south along the coast to the main customer - Germany. In the end it Britain decided wasn't 'attacking' a neutral country wasn't worth the diplomatic fallout given Norway had already agreed to a deal letting its merchant fleet carry British cargoes.

    In the end of course after the Altmark Incident Germany pounced first and Britain's response was two little two late. (No guessing who the Norwegian's would have preferred to have as 'occupiers'. In fact it was the occupation of Norway by Germans that forced Britain's hands with Iceland. They feared Germany would do so if they didn't and that would have been a disaster for the allies.

    So far as hold outs' go? Two others to add to the list that were quite interesting were 'fortress' ports on the French coast. After D-Day as the German army retreated a number of garrisons in channel ports were ordered to dig in and and not surrender since this would both deny the allies use of those ports and tie up resources as the allies tried to take them. Most were captured or had surrendered before the war ended. But three, Dunkirk, Lorient and Saint Nazaire totaling some 65,000 men manged to hold out and didn't surrender until being ordered to by the German High Command following signing of the surrender document on 7 May 1945. So they sat there dug in like ticks while the allies drove past right on into Germany.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2021
  7. Greenleft

    Greenleft Well-Known Member

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    Very fascinating. Thanks.

    To the text in bold: I do wonder what the priorities of the Flensburg Government led by Karl Donitz were after May 7th up until May 23rd. So did the German soldiers immediately lay down their arms as the tanks and jeeps of the allies arrived town by town? Was Karl Donitz just sitting there waiting for soldiers to kick in the door and point guns at him?
     
  8. Monash

    Monash Well-Known Member

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    As a 'government' (in name only)? I haven't read any details on that topic but my supposition? As a government there were no priorities beyond getting the surrender orders out and acknowledged by as many military units as they could, directing all civilian authorities they could still contact to co-operate with the occupation and burning all records they didn't want in allied hands. That and broadcasting messages to all German civilians by any means available that they should acquiesce to Allied occupation.
     
  9. dagosa

    dagosa Well-Known Member

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    Pretty poor take on ww2. The Nazi regime was using the resources of the so called neutral country. Of course they had to be invaded.
    No one should be giving the nazis a safe haven based upon no’s called neutrality.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  10. Greenleft

    Greenleft Well-Known Member

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    I won't argue with you on that, but by that logic, Spain should have been invaded as they had a neutral fascist in charge there.

    Sweden on the other hand had a nice balancing act by sometimes appeasing the Nazis and sometimes appeasing the Allies.
     
  11. dagosa

    dagosa Well-Known Member

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    We’re talking about a country whose commerce with Germany increased significantly during ww2. It was a vacation area for Nazi big wigs and a strategic access to northern shipping and ultimately invasion lanes. The English offered to take the Germans out of Iceland by they refused thinking Germany would not do a full invasion. Really ? Their record of broken promises as the war dragged on as they needed and tried taking resources from everyone including Russia. Safe havens and resources are war time reasons to invade a country that was occupied by a country engaging in the systematic extinction of races.
    The only reason Iceland wasn’t exterminated was the white Aryan dependents in that area. Nope, it could easily be a a German enclave. It was a pretty bloodless takeover and their sovereignty was returned at the conclusion of the war. Really, if Germany had won, it would not have been the same. Everyone knows that.

    Spain ? They were not an immediate threat to allied forces.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  12. dagosa

    dagosa Well-Known Member

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    Btw, Iceland geographically was as important for England and the Americas as Midway was in the Pacific for the war with Japan. As far as invading sovereignty of neutral nations, if Canada had tried to be neutral, we would have occupied them as well. Other then the weather, the geographic location puts an invasion of the Americas by a regime that if they had conquered Europe, could have threatened the America’s easily. All one has to do is travel the shorelines of New England and observe the wrecks of shipping vessels just off shore by uboats from Germany to realize how close the war with Germany had gotten. Nope, Iceland wasn’t just long time strategically important for England, it was for us as well.

    Now imagine that if Germany had atomic devises ( which we were concerned about) and the capability to use them through submarine carried espionage to our shores from fleets that used the North Sea as a jumping off point. No one would be safe.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  13. dagosa

    dagosa Well-Known Member

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    As well they should. In war time, there are no such things as boundaries. They are just imaginary lines. What does matter, is geography and war time strategy.
     
  14. Monash

    Monash Well-Known Member

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    Easy to say, harder to do. Germany had been buying large amounts of Swedish iron ore for a couple of decades prior to the outbreak of the war. To the extent it mattered prior to the onset of WW2 Sweden was also trading with Great Britain, France and the US as well. The trade in iron ore only became an issue after the war started. And as I noted when it did commence Norway signed an agreement to let Great Britain use its (considerable) merchant fleet for much needed cargo capacity while still allowing the iron ore trade to continue through its territory. So both sides were getting something out the neutral Scandinavian powers. And if Sweden had tried to stop exporting ore to Germany? Well they faced the same prospect of occupation as did the rest of Western Europe.

    Event the US didn't invade obsequiously neutral counties just to prevent routine 'co-operation' by those nations with Axis powers once they became involved in the war.

    The only real problem with the benefit of hindsight. Britain should have, in this instance struck first. It would have saved Norway the pain of German of 4 years of German occupation but only at the cost of it suffering 4 years of ongoing attacks as 'enemy' occupied territory. Like most things in war there were no easy/good outcomes.
     
  15. dagosa

    dagosa Well-Known Member

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    The allies worked in concert. . It isn’t like they used much force. It was a removal of German occupation. What happens after the war…..Germany would not leave if they had won. The allies did.

    We know what would have happened if Scandinavia. did not cooperate with German. Germany would have done like it did to other countries that refused, would bomb and destroy facilities. No comparison in war time and the allies with Germany.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  16. dagosa

    dagosa Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. We still weren’t sure of German capabilities and engaged them with that in mind. Their systemic racism is a huge factor in their demise. Not only did it encourage sabotage by nearly everyone they dealt with, but it drove some of the best brain power towards the West.

    As early as 1933.. racism was a doomed failure during ww2.
    “Jewish émigrés who fled Nazi Germany revolutionized U.S. science and technology, Stanford economist says
    U.S. patents increased by 31 percent in fields common among Jewish scientists who fled Nazi Germany for America, according to Stanford economist Petra Moser. Their innovative influence rippled outward for generations, as the émigrés attracted new researchers who then trained other up-and-comers.”
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
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  17. Greenleft

    Greenleft Well-Known Member

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    I've read your remarks and honestly there is nothing objectionable except that there is a clarification needed. And that clarification is: Are you just stating the obvious realities that make certain actions necessary for national survival and the protection against an existential threat? If so, nothing wrong or untrue there.

    OR... Are you going to make legal and moral arguments. Because those are non existent and unnecessary. I would not suggest for example to invoke God, or the nuances of laws and international treaties or assertions as to the the nature of said neutral governments. It's not like Iceland had a fascist and anti-Semitic government themselves and was actively cheering on the Nazis in their implementation of the Holocaust (or in this case the early stages of it prior to Wannsee) with their economic dealings.

    Again, don't misunderstand me: stating the facts that point to what is necessary for survival is OK. What is not OK is pointing to any legal document or any moral code that a neutral country supposedly violated.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2021
  18. dagosa

    dagosa Well-Known Member

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    I’m making a military strategy argument during a war started by crazy tyrant who was literally ethnic cleansing every country he invaded. The war of the Atlantic made these areas extremely important militarily for the survival of Europe with only England left. These areas had as much strategic value to the war in the Atlantic as Midway did for the war in the Pacific.

    Every country we occupied during ww2;is still a free and sovereign nation. The survival of our countries then as it is now, is dependent upon other free gov allies. Yes, we did and should have occupied every allied or non allied country in ww2 that was strategic value.

    Seriously, we literally supplied the energy needs of the war including food and manufacturing supplies to all of our allies including Russia. Letting Germany gain any advantage while watching out merchant ships be sunk in that area because we cared about temporary sovereignty is militarily narrow minded IMO. We were saving American lives and shortening the war by occupying these strategic areas.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2021
  19. Greenleft

    Greenleft Well-Known Member

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    You stated the military strategy which I agree with. Stating that even an occupied country is in practice free might be true, but there is no need to invoke it for moral comparisons. All that's necessary to say is: if we don't invade, we all die.
     
  20. dagosa

    dagosa Well-Known Member

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    The morality for me lies in one simple fact. As an ex military man, it would be reprehensible not to occupy strategic areas regardless of where they were, to save American servicemen lives. The merchant seamen in the war of the Atlantic had the highest casualty rate of ANY SERViCE while supplying the energy and material needs of the entire allied effort. Not occupying areas would be criminally Negligent.
     

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