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How the Neutral Countries in World War II Weren’t So Neutral

Two days after Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany, and World War II erupted. Dozens of countries, still recovering from the horrors of World War I, tried to remain neutral to avoid invasion and more bloodshed.

But a declaration of neutrality did little to insulate countries from the conflict if they were geographically desirable. “The fact that the coast of Norway straddled the North Sea made it an area of critical importance to both Great Britain and Germany,” says Dr. David Woolner, Marist college professor and author of The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and Peace. “It was this fact that led to the German invasion of Denmark and Norway in April 1940, and to the British decision to intervene in the neutral Danish territory of Iceland shortly thereafter.”

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