We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing
grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight
in the hills; we shall never surrender. -- Winston Churchill
Hitier's "phony war" ended with the approach of spring 1940. Now the Führer was ready to mount an offensive in the West. Seeking to circumvent a British blockade across the North Sea, the Germans' first move was a surprise attack on Norway and Denmark, which could provide the Reich with naval and air bases as well as access to the open sea.
On 9 April 1940, an hour before dawn in Copenhagen and Oslo, envoys from the Third Reich roused the foreign ministers of the respective states from sleep and presented them with the Reich's demands: they must accept, without resistance, the "protection of the Reich" or be invaded by troops already poised for attack. As bombers roared over the Danish capital, the king of Denmark and his government capitulated the same day.
The Norwegians resisted, knowing they had little chance of success. Allied forces came to their aid: the war's first land engagement between British and German troops took place at Lillehammer, Norway, on 21 April 1940. But like Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Denmark before it, Norway quickly succumbed to superior force. On 7 June the Norwegian king and his government fled to exile in London, and the Reich was again victorious. In the battle for Norway, even the support of Anglo-French forces failed to halt the Nazi advance.
Publicly Hitler had proclaimed that war in the West would settle none of the problems in the East, which Germany and Russia would solve between them. To his generals, however, as early as September 1939 he expressed his resolve to attack the West. He had no intention of respecting the neutrality of the Low Countries -- Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg. Due to the harsh fall and winter of 1939-40, he postponed the attack date fourteen times. Yet he