Ignoring the well-meaning, peace-keeping actions of the British and French, Hitler continued his attack on Poland, proceeding deeper into the country after the success of his initial attack. The ultimatum delivered by the Allies on September 1st demanded that he withdraw, but when Hitler blatantly ignored the request, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and France declared war on Germany on September 3rd. Within a few days, Canada, South Africa, and Nepal also joined the War on the side of the Allies.
Even with a declaration of war, both the UK and France were still unwilling to do everything they could to stop Hitler’s army, as the memory of World War I was still fresh in their minds. Despite treaty obligations, neither Britain nor France moved quickly enough to aid Poland. Their inaction, combined with the Soviet support for Hitler’s regime, resulted in Poland’s defeat in October 1939. In the timeline for WWII, the period between the autumn of 1939 and the spring of 1940 was known as the “Phoney War”, because little actual fighting occurred between the Axis and the Allies. Aside from seizing German ships and establishing a blockade, Britain and France acted with chiefly defensive strategies. Germany took advantage of that time, regrouping after conquering Poland and fortifying themselves for more powerful future offensives.
After aiding the Germans, the Soviets moved through Eastern Europe on their own agenda, seeking to conquer and acquire Baltic states. Their battles – including a confrontation with Finland – led to the penning of the Moscow Peace Treaty, which was signed on March 12, 1940. This granted the Soviets the ownership of some Finnish land, but also put an end to their attempts to annex Finland.
In April 1940, the Germans and the Allies fought against each other in their first major battle. The Norwegian Campaign, launched independently by both sides, sought to gain control of valuable Swedish resources including iron ore. After two months of battle Germany was victorious in claiming the land, though a significant percentage of their military, naval, and air resources had either been destroyed or needed to remain in Norway in order to maintain German control. Another faction of the German military invaded France and the Low Countries in May, and again quickly secured a victorious position. Managing to divide and conquer the Allied forces, (soldiers in the North were evacuated by the Allied Operation Dynamo), France signed an armistice with Germany on June 22, 1940.
A German puppet government was established to keep control of the area, and Paris – along with two-thirds of France – was conquered and occupied by the Axis. With only the UK left as opposition, Hitler and his generals developed Operation Sealion, a complex plan to gain control of Britain.
For more, please visit my site: Timeline For World War 2