Deep North Episode 66: Skeletons in the Closet

björn sveinsson

Saturday, May 18, 1946 was a pleasant spring morning in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen. The war, with all its horror, had ended a year previously and western Europe was gradually moving toward a civil society based on human rights, justice, and democracy while simultaneously rebuilding and ridding itself of the last vestiges of Nazi occupation. At Vestre Fængsel prison, a 36-year-old Icelandic detainee sat alone in his cell, reading an English novel his younger brother had brought for him. When he had been taken into custody, he had been certain that the arrest order was built on an unfortunate misunderstanding and that he would surely be released once the post-war situation had calmed. A long, boring, and lonely year later he was still awaiting trial, having been indicted on a number of onerous charges. His hope was flagging and none of this boded well for his future.

Many might know the story of how Iceland was affected by the Second World War, but the story of many Icelandic ex-Nazis remains untold. We take a look at the life of Björn Sv. Björnsson – an Icelander and member of the Waffen SS.

Correction: In the discussion after the article, Björn Sv. Björnsson is mistakenly referred to as Sveinn Björn Sveinsson.

Read the story here.