Republic of Iceland
Timeline: Hitler is an American---Version 1
Civil flag of Iceland
Greater Arms of Iceland
Civil flag of Greenland
Arms of Greenland
|Motto: Með lögum skal land byggja (Upon law shall a country be built)|
|Official language||Icelandic (Greenlandic is also official in Greenland)|
|State Ideology||Neutrality, Nationalism, Liberalism|
|Territories||Iceland, Greenland, Jan Mayen|
Iceland is a neutral democracy in the North Atlantic. The Republic includes the autonomous territory of Greenland, which has been self-governing since 1960.
Outbreak of war
At the onset of the Second World War, Greenland was a colony of Denmark, while Iceland was an independent Kingdom with King Christian X of Denmark as head of state.
The German Reich invaded and occupied Denmark in a lightning-fast Blitzkrieg campaign in June of 1938. German and British vessels began patrolling the waters around Greenland and Iceland immediately. Both islands realized that they were in a highly strategic position in the transatlantic war that the USA had recently declared against Germany and Britain. They sought to avoid being caught in the crossfire. Iceland staunchly declared its neutrality, while local officials on Greenland took the pragmatic approach and sought aid from the USA.
During these months, the so-called "Phoney War," the two sides jockeyed for position in the North Atlantic, each hoping to invade the other. Britain violated Iceland's neutrality almost as soon as it was declared, invading Reykjavik in July and forcing a concession for an air/sea base from the Althing. For its part, the US wasted no time in beginning a base of its own on Greenland, Thule, and equipping local units to fire at German and British patrols.
At the same time that Britain launched its invasion of the US, it also began heavily bombing the Americans stationed at Thule. The base was undermanned, most resources having been dedicated to defending the homeland, and it quickly was rendered inoperable by the bombs. In December, British troops landed at Godthåb and secured the Danish officials' capitulation, completing the "North Atlantic Corridor" from Britain to Canada so coveted by strategists in London. For the remainder of the North American campaign, the route from Britain to Labrador via the Faeroes, Iceland, and Greenland remained crucial to the British war effort.
The Atlantic War and the beginning of the Republic
During the British occupation, the Althing authorized a referendum on whether to cast off the Danish monarch as head of state, given the apparent end of Denmark as an independent state. The people of Iceland voted to establish the Republic, ending Iceland's brief period as an independent kingdom. Christian X, in exile, at first protested but sent his congratulations when it passed.
After American forces captured Ottowa in July 1942, Greenland and Iceland were once again a major front. Several major naval engagements occurred off their coasts. The US recaptured Thule in late November 1942 and quickly began increasing the base's strength. The base repulsed several British and German counterattacks. In January the American military designated Thule as the takeoff point for the anticipated atomic strike against Britain. A B-29 Superfortress bomber took off from the base on March 6 and dropped its payload on London, drastically changing the nature of the war.
In late March, Britain passed its control over the base in Iceland to Germany, which used it to stage its own nuclear attack against Washington. At the war's end, Iceland remained independent but was de facto occupied by Germany, though it suffered almost daily American attacks. Greenland remained divided: the center of power was the American base at Thule, but Godthåb remained under nominal British control.
Both Iceland and Greenland were major points of contention during the Munich negotions of 1943. Germany felt that it should get both islands, as both were dependencies of European countries it had conquered. The German position was to treat Iceland and Greenland similar to the French colonies in Africa.
The US argued that Iceland had been a separate country and had only been linked to Denmark through the monarch - and Iceland had severed even that connection in 1941. At US insistence, Icelandic diplomats were invited to Munich as representatives of a sovereign nation. Early in the negotiations, Germany agreed to respect Icelandic independence as a concession for keeping its conquests in Europe.
Meanwhile, the US wanted very much to annex Greenland along with so many other islands near North America. But Britain and Germany were much more reluctant to allow the US to take Greenland, since it provided so convenient a striking platform against Europe.
As a compromise, the US agreed to abandon its base and its claims on Greenland if Germany would abandon its bases in Iceland. Iceland was therefore designated a neutral nation. It received Greenland as a colony in return for amending its constitution to include a statement of permanent neutrality.
Icelandic officials wished to acquire more territory in the name of maintaining a large neutral zone; their most sweeping request included all the overseas islands of the former Norway plus the Faeroes and Ellesmere Island in Canada. However, the powers were unwilling to give up territory that they already firmly controlled in the Arctic - neutrality may have been a virtue, but no one was willing to withdraw from secure positions. In the end, Britain held on to the Faeroes, Germany kept Svalbard and Bjørnøya, and the US kept Ellesmere. Iceland was, however, awarded the uninhabited islet of Jan Mayen. The age of ICBMs meant that all of these territories would be of strategic value.
The Cold War was difficult for Iceland, caught between the major superpowers, all of whom constantly sought to violate its neutrality in subtle ways. Iceland has been at the forefront of the Neutrality Movement, a coalition of small states that officially renounced alliances with any of the Superpowers. The Buenos Aires Declaration of 1956 was the seminal document in the movement, which has been joined by many nations around the world. Its aims have greatly influenced the more closely-knit Caribbean League, which adheres to similar principles but has a more noticeably leftist feel.
Greenlanders soon began to seek greater autonomy. Iceland has always advocated self-determination for all peoples, so the Althing granted Greenland home rule in 1960. It remains a part of the Republic and is covered by its constitution, but most decisions for its internal governance are made by the local parliament at Godthåb. Iceland also remains responsible for Greenland's defense and foreign affairs. It continues to maintain the Thule air base.
A very small country in a hostile world, Iceland can scarcely afford to defend itself. Maintaining the old WW2-era bases at Thule, Keflavik, and elsewhere has driven the country into debt. Iceland has been seeking to bolster its economy by passing tax haven laws and by taking advantage of the island's ample geothermal resources in order to cut energy costs.
Geopolitically, Iceland would be a tantalyzing prize for any superpower that could acquire it or bring it into its orbit. So far, the delicate balance of power has made Iceland's neutrality something in all sides' best interest. But occasionally violence has flared up as one side has sought to control the islands. In 1959 The US fought off a Dutch contingent that landed at Iceland's southern coast. The Netherlands are a German satellite. In 1967 Germany was ready to launch missiles at the US after American ships encircled Thule. Iceland's strategy throughout all this has been to stick to its constitutionally-mandated neutrality, a course that failed in the 1940s. It is not known what side Iceland would choose should open world war break out again.
The flag of Iceland dates to 1915. Its colors are those of Norway reversed: Iceland was historically a Norwegian vassal. Following Nordic tradition, Iceland's state flag used by government agencies has a swallowtail shape. The flag of Greenland was adopted in 1963. As Iceland and Greenland were the last "free Nordic nations" not annexed to Germany, there was strong support to adopt a flag with the Nordic cross. The green field represents Greenland, the white cross the Arctic, and the blue inner cross Greenland's relationship with Iceland.
Iceland has used a coat of arms in the form of its flag since 1919, while a polar bear on blue has been used to represent Greenland since the seventeenth century. When home rule was granted to Greenland in 1960, Iceland's arms were changed to reflect Greenland's new status. The bear of greenland was added to the top right corner of Iceland's shield (from the perspective of the shield bearer). The four legendary protectors of Iceland support the shield. Iceland's full achievement may blazoned:
Azure, on a cross argent a cross gules, in dexter chief a polar bear sejant erect argent raising sinister paw; and for supporters: on the dexter a bull sable horned and hooved or; thereabove an eagle argent, armed and beaked or, langued gules; on the sinister a rock giant proper clad argent belted tenné, with a cloak argent lined Or, holding a staff sable; thereabove a dragon sable armed Or, langued gules; all standing upon a lava flow proper.
Within Greenland, that full coat of arms is mostly confined to Icelandic government institutions. More commonly seen is the simple coat of arms of Greenland: Azure, a polar bear sejant erect argent raising sinister paw.
The Icelandic Air Defense Force uses a blue, red, and white roundel designed to be easily distinguished from the emblems of the USAF and the RAF.