France 1929-1939
Foreign Policy

WW II : Drole de Guerre (Phoney War), 1939-1940

Following the German invasion of Poland (Sept. 1st), France declared war on Germany on September 3rd; Britain followed suit. The Anglo-French strategy was to rely on it's defence, the MAGINOT LINE, a chain of fortifications along the German-French border. France's army was regarded the strongest, best-equipped in the world. In addition, British troops were deployed in France; a repetition of World War I (Trench Warfare) was expected.

Yet the Germans did not attack and along the entire German-French border there was a strange tranquility. The situation of a war without shooting has been dubbed DROLE DE GUERRE (a mockery of a war) or PHONEY WAR, in German SITZKRIEG (sitting war).
In France, Prime Minister EDOUARD DALADIER watched in agony how Poland was occupied in less than a month, on September 17th Soviet forces invading France's ally from the east. In November 1940, the Soviets invaded Finland; the WINTER WAR was intensely discussed in France's newspapers and it had been seriously considered that France and Britain should form an expeditionary force to come to Finland's aid. On March 12th Finland and the USSR signed a peace treaty; French military assistance had not materialized. Yet in France, Daladier came under intense criticism for not having come to the Finn's aid; he resigned on March 20th, succeeded by PAUL REYNAUD.

DOCUMENTS French Propaganda Posters, from Earth Station #1
REFERENCE Roger Price, A Concise History of France, Cambridge Concise Histories, 1993, pp.246-247

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on March 30th 2007

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