History - War at a Glance
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The Phony War

Between the end of the fighting in Poland and the German offensive against France, Belgium, and Holland, there is little actual fighting between the Germans and the Allies. It is a period that becomes known as the Phony War. During these months of military posturing, Hitlerís forces, in preparation for the attack west, launch an invasion against Scandinavia.

On February 16, 1940, the British destroyer Cossack stops the German transport Altmark and removes nearly 300 prisoners. The Germans violate international law by holding the men prisoners in the waters of a neutral country; they further violate the law by denying that the boat carries prisoners. The British violate international law by stopping and boarding a belligerent vessel in neutral waters. The move is popular in England but convinces the Germans to step up their plans to invade Norway and Denmark.

On April 7 the entire German surface fleet sets sail to support the invasion of Norway and Denmark. Then, on April 9, 1940, two German divisions slice into Denmark. Copenhagen is captured in 12 hours.

In Norway there are seaborne landings at Oslo, Trondheim, Narvik, Bergen, Kristainsand, and Egersund. For the first time the Germans use airborne forces. There is a successful landing at the Oslo airport; at Stavanger paratroops succeed in capturing the airfield. This airfield proves to be a tactical plumit enables the Luftwaffe to harry the Royal Navy throughout the remainder of the campaign.

The British land forces and the Norwegian army fight fiercely; there are even some minor Allied victories. But when Germany launches its blitzkrieg against Western Europe in May, the Allied focus shifts south. By early June, the Norwegians surrender and the British evacuate their troops.

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