Invasion of Denmark and Norway

World War II in the Arctic

the Arctic 1940.041

Invasion of Denmark and Norway

Arctic disputes, Winter War, Weather War, World War II, Cold War, Climate Change (10 April 1940)

Historical Map of the Arctic & the Far North

Germany had agreed to a partition of Eastern Europe with the Soviet Union, giving the Soviets leeway to attack Finland in late 1939. While the Allies were contemplating how to respond to this, Germany launched a lightning invasion of Denmark and Norway. The Allies, who had been preparing to intervene in Norway themselves, were caught by surprise.

Main Events

Declaration of Panama

The United States and the other neutral nations of North and South America signed the Declaration of Panama, setting up the Pan-American Security Zone. The signatories agreed not to tolerate belligerent acts within the zone, which extended from the US-Canada border to encompass the Americas to the south up to 1,000 nautical miles from the shore. The act mostly benefited the Allies as it restricted German U-boat activity in much of the western Atlantic.

Winter War

The Soviet Union invaded Finland with some 450,000 men, without declaring war and in violation of three non-aggression pacts. Despite numerical superiority, the Soviets suffered repeated setbacks until reinforcements allowed them to break through in January 1940. At the Moscow Peace Treaty, the Finns agreed to cede significant territory along the border of the two states, including the Karelian Isthmus.

Invasion of Denmark

At 04:15 Germany forces crossed the border into Denmark, while the Kriegsmarine landed troops at Lillebælt. Five minutes later, the 2,430 ton minelayer Hansestadt Danzig entered Copenhagen harbor with a small escort, landing a battalion of German Infantry at 05:18. While other amphibious and airborne landings took place across the country, the battalion quickly captured the Danish Army HQ and royal palace, prompting the Danish government to capitulate at 06:00 in exchange for retaining political independence in domestic matters.

Norwegian Campaign

As part of Operation Weserübung - the invasion of Denmark and Norway - German forces landed along the coast of the Kingdom of Norway, capturing towns including Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Narvik on the first day. The operation was complicated by the arrival of the British in the north and continued Norwegian resistance in the interior, but by 1 June the Allies agreed the situation was hopeless. The Norwegian government evacuated on 7 June, with last resistance ending on 10 June.

Icelandic self-rule

Following the German occupation of Denmark, the Icelandic Parliament declared Danish King Christian X unable to perform his constitutional duties and assigned them to the government of Iceland. Iceland opened a legation in New York city and declared itself neutral.

US warning on Greenland

Following the German occupation of Denmark, the United States affirmed that the Danish colony of Greenland was part of the Americas and thus subject to the Monroe Doctrine. In doing so, it rejected both the extension of German rule to the island and the possibility of British or Canadian intervention there.

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