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ICELAND: Independence Is a Problem

2 minute read

In the far reaches of the North Atlantic a postwar problem reared its infant head. By a landslide vote of 45-7, Iceland’s Parliament called for full independence as a Republic on June 17, 1944, national Iceland Day.

The vote gave tangible proportions to a fretting issue between the U.S. and Great Britain. Iceland, united with Denmark under the King, was first occupied by British troops in May 1940, then garrisoned by U.S. soldiers in July 1941. A valuable way station on the convoy routes of war, it would also be an important stopover for postwar transatlantic air routes. Under its union agreement with Denmark (made in 1918 and considered inoperative as a result of Denmark’s occupation), Iceland could act for independence any time after Jan. 1, 1944. Against that day the U.S. and Great Britain have been vying for Iceland’s favor in the postwar world.

If Iceland were independent of Denmark, it would come within the sphere of either British or U.S. influence. In Washington, Iceland’s Minister Thor Thors made it plain that his country looks to the U.S. as its first big neighbor. But that alone would not decide the issue; at the peace table little Iceland’s status would be a problem that the U.S. and Great Britain would have to settle.

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