The Spies Who Came Back to the Cold: An Icelandic Saga of WW2 Spies, Deception, Intrigue and Diplomacy is the name of the latest book by Bernard O’Connor.
The book tells the little-known story of the Icelanders studying in Denmark who were sent home by the Nazis, after having invaded and occupied Denmark, to spy on the Allies, who had occupied Iceland.
“The book is based largely on interrogation reports in the National Archives in London of the Icelanders who, studying or working in Denmark, were recruited and trained by the German intelligence services to return to Iceland as secret agents,” Bernard tells Iceland Review. “They were well-paid, provided with good food, accommodation and transport and were promised a post-war job in Germany.”
“Most claimed that they only accepted the work to be able to return home, but there were certainly some with Nazi sympathies amongst them. The majority handed themselves into the British or American authorities within hours or days of arrival, but some managed to evade capture for a week,” he adds.
What happened next is the most interesting part: “Sent to London for interrogation by MI5, rather than be executed as enemy spies, they revealed their life stories and provided details of their training, their instructors and how they were infiltrated. Three of the spies were successfully ‘turned,’ persuaded to work as double agents. Codenamed COBWEB, SPIDER and BEETLE, they transmitted British-inspired messages to deceive the Germans about the Arctic convoys and a fake Allied invasion of Norway.”
Bernard O’Connor is already a successful author and historian, but decided to self-publish this latest book. He says he would like to find an Icelandic or Danish publisher who would be willing to print a history book in English, but that he at first thought it unlikely. He decided, therefore, to go it alone.