The Svalbard Archipelago

American Military and Political Geographies of Spitsbergen and Other Norwegian Polar Territories, 1941–1950


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About the Book

Norway’s Spitsbergen Archipelago, known as Svalbard to the Norwegians, is of increasing interest to Arctic scholars and geographers, as well as to military historians and analysts of strategy. It was the farthest northern battleground between German and Allied forces in World War II; it became a political arena for Soviet and U.S. competition during the Cold War; it is now a field of conflict for fishing rights and cultural resource protection; and it serves as a laboratory for the study of global warming. This unique island group occupies a fascinating place in European, Russian, and American affairs.
Here, for the first time, is the complete report compiled by U.S. Intelligence at the beginning of World War II evaluating the islands both geographically and militarily, as well as a report on the archipelago produced by the CIA in 1950. This comprehensive report—never superseded in the years since—has been edited and introduced by P.J. Capelotti. It provides in great detail the American perspective on these islands and their strategic, economic, and geologic value. Maps and illustrations are included, some from the original report, some new. A glossary covers Arctic terms.

About the Author(s)

P.J. Capelotti is assistant professor of archaeology and American studies at Penn State University’s Abington College in Abington, Pennsylvania. His research centers on the history of Arctic exploration and on the archaeology of human expansion into space.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by P.J. Capelotti
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 192
Bibliographic Info: 63 photos, maps, glossary, bibliography, appendices, index
Copyright Date: 2000
pISBN: 978-0-7864-0759-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-6237-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations      ix

List of Maps Appearing in the Original Report      xi

Introduction      1

The U.S. Military Intelligence Special Study of Svalbard and Other Norwegian Possessions, 1942      9

Part I: Spitsbergen and Bear Island (Svalbard)      11

Part II: Jan Mayen Island      67

Part III: Norwegian Antarctic Possessions      73

Illustrations and Maps      75

Appendix I: Summary of Geographic Conditions by Islands      115

*Appendix II: Ports and Harbors      123

Appendix III: The Spitsbergen Operation, August-September, 1941      127

Appendix IV: Adventures in Spitsbergen, 1942      150

Appendix V: Radio Stations Located in the Outlying Possessions of Norway      155

*Appendix II in the original report consisted of a collection of weather charts. Because the large size and poor quality of these charts prevents their reproduction here, the original Appendix II has been dropped, and the remaining appendices have been renumbered.

Spitsbergen: A Report Prepared by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Published 26 June 1950      157

Glossary of Geographical Terms      173

Bibliography      175

Index      177

Book Reviews & Awards

“very interesting…Capelotti provides an extended and well researched introduction”—Inhaltsseite; “numerous photos…exacting information”—Stone & Stone Second World War Books; “unique…important”—History; “black-and-white photographs are commended”—Cambridge University Press Journal Polar Record.