Iceland in Wartime (Museums In Strange Places S01 E20)

Walk into the War and Peace Museum, a small building sitting on a fjord north of Reykjavík, Iceland, and you’re instantly transported into another era. Covering every wall are carefully arranged artifacts, photographs, and documents from the WWII years in Iceland. This is Guðjón Sigmundsson’s personal collection, and it’s full of surprises and uncovered secrets.

Songs used in this episode are SS Montclare and Ballfiðringur by Tómas R. Einarsson. In this episode I reference episode 13 of Museums in Strange Places, “A Flyby of the Icelandic Aviation Museum.”

This episode is sponsored by Locatify. Locatify is an Icelandic software company specializing in mobile apps that use location technologies for Immersive audio guides, treasure hunt games, Augmented Reality and indoor GPS.

How to Listen to Museums in Strange Places

Welcome to Museums in Strange Places. I’m your host, Hannah Hethmon, and this is a podcast for people who love museums, stories, culture, and exploring the world.

In this season of the podcast, I’m visiting the museums of Iceland to discover what stories they hold and how they reflect and shape Iceland’s unique cultural identity.

The podcast is hosted by me, Hannah Hethmon, an American Fulbright Fellow living in Reykjavík. You can find and follow me on Twitter and Instagram @hannah_rfh (I love to hear from listeners FYI).

The Museums in Strange Places podcast is available on your favorite podcast listening platforms (Did I miss one you like? Let me know!):

Learn More About Iceland in WWII

U.S. government video about troops station in Iceland during WWII:

 

Articles

Photos of Iceland during WWII

P-38F Lightings refuel in Iceland on their way to Britain, mid-1942. Note PBY Catalina.

Winston Churchill visiting US Marines on Iceland, 16 Aug 1941; note Ensign Franklin Roosevelt, Jr. and Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Smith also present

USS Kearny at Reykjavík, Iceland, 19 Oct 1941, two days after she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-568. USS Monssen is alongside. Note the torpedo hole in Kearny’s starboard side amidships

Three PBY-5A Catalinas of Patrol Squadron VP-73 approaching Reykjavík, Iceland, 23 Mar 1942.

Photos of the War and Peace Museum

Guðjón, owner of the collection

The stage in the main hall looks like the set of a theater production!

The stage in the main hall looks like the set of a theater production!

Soviet weaponry

Postcards sent by American soldiers stationed in Iceland in WWII

Exterior of the War and Peace Museum

A large group gathered in the main hall of the War and Peace Museum, which also serves as a retreat and meeting center for companies and other groups.

Photo from the War and Peace Museum: “A monument by the Russian artist and sculptor, Vladimir Alexandrovich Surovtsev, was unveiled on November 1st, 2017.
The title of the monument is „Hope for Peace“ and it is a gift from Vladimir Alexandrovich Surovtsev to the War and Peace Museum at Hlaðir, in commemoration of the sacrifices made by the sailors who participated in the allies‘ supply transports from Hvalfjörður to Russia during World War II.
The President of Iceland, Mr. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, unveiled the monument at the War and Peace Museum along with Mr. Igor Orlov, the state governor of Arkhangelsk in Russia. A big part of the convoys between Iceland and Northwest Russia sailed between Arkhangelsk and Hvalfjörður.
50 years have passed since the deadliest battles occurred for the ships that traveled from Hvalfjörður to Russia. The convoys were a true multinational project. We Icelanders supplied the facilities at Hvalfjörður at the time, without them the Arctic convoys would not have been possible. It is therefore appropriate that Hvalfjörður will now become a place of reconciliation where people gather to commemorate.”

Photo from the War and Peace Museum: “A monument by the Russian artist and sculptor, Vladimir Alexandrovich Surovtsev, was unveiled on November 1st, 2017.
The title of the monument is „Hope for Peace“ and it is a gift from Vladimir Alexandrovich Surovtsev to the War and Peace Museum at Hlaðir, in commemoration of the sacrifices made by the sailors who participated in the allies‘ supply transports from Hvalfjörður to Russia during World War II.
The President of Iceland, Mr. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, unveiled the monument at the War and Peace Museum along with Mr. Igor Orlov, the state governor of Arkhangelsk in Russia. A big part of the convoys between Iceland and Northwest Russia sailed between Arkhangelsk and Hvalfjörður.
50 years have passed since the deadliest battles occurred for the ships that traveled from Hvalfjörður to Russia. The convoys were a true multinational project. We Icelanders supplied the facilities at Hvalfjörður at the time, without them the Arctic convoys would not have been possible. It is therefore appropriate that Hvalfjörður will now become a place of reconciliation where people gather to commemorate.”

4 Comments

  1. Alison

    I loved this podcast! When he said his mother was pissed, I wasn’t sure if he meant annoyed or drunk! 😛 But it would be awesome if he could record some of their stories and have them as oral history pieces in the museum.

    • Haha you are right! I didn’t realize, but he totally could have meant either one! But I think “pissed” is a British English terms so probably it’s angry 😉 Glad you liked the episode!

  2. Andy Bradshaw

    Thank you Hannah for this site. I visited the museum in July and my Icelandic friend and I helped Guðjón move items to his museum. I was the Iceland Marine Corps Security Force Company First Sergeant 1998-2000. A fantastic place to visit!

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