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Iceland Mag

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Watch: What did the “bleak outpost” of Reykjavík look like in WWII?

By Staff

  • Old times A busy corner in Reykjavík during the World War II. Screenshot from the Periscope Film LLC archive video, see below. 

On May 10 1940 British troops arrived in Reykjavík, occupying Iceland to ensure the Third Reich, which had only a month earlier occupied Denmark, would not attempt to establish bases in the Iceland. A year later the British troops were replaced with American forces. By the summer of 1942 there were as many as 55.000 American and British soldiers in Iceland, the overwhelming majority in Reykjavík and the immediate vicinity. The population of Reykjavík was only 38,000 in 1940

The occupation forces quickly transformed Iceland and Reykjavík, bringing with them new cultural influences, movie houses, new consumer goods – as well as military drills and fortifications.

A US Marine Corps Newsreel from WWII captures some of this remarkable atmosphere, filmed in downtown Reykjavík and at an unidentified air-defence fort on the outskirts of Reykjavík.

See if you can spot any of the sites in the video!

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