Answer Before the Germans launched an attack that lead to full-scale war, the period before this was a time of the countries held talks and accused one another and tried to negotiate peace. This brief time before the storm was known as the "sitzkrieg" or "phoney war".
This was known as the "Sitzkreig" (German sitting war) or "Phony War". There were no major military engagements in Western Europe. The Germans had concentrated the majority of their forces on Poland, and in the Norwegian theater. Both Allied and German forces were reluctant to begin an actual war, preferring to marshal forces and materiel. This delay worked to the advantage of the Germans, who in May of 1940 turned the brunt of their forces loose on France and the Low Countries, overwhelming the French and British defenders and forcing their evacuation or capture. (This was the Blitzkreig, the opposite of the Sitzkreig.)
The Phony War or Sitzkreig was the name adopted by the Germans. And the policy of appeasement was another part of the holdout. It bought time for Hitler as he planned his European invasions. It also gave the Britons time to build up their forces and planes.
The story of the Sitzkreig or rather the Phony war is strange. The Brits and French had delcared war on Germany yet they did nothing to help Poland who had their country invaded, even after the Brits and French said they would help them. It was a long period of inactivity until the period of September 1, 1939 to the beginning of May 1940 ended. The Germans chose to go into France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Denmark and I think Luxembourg. This escalated the war from that point on. See link below I included for your interest.
Well Hitler took a lot of gambles in WW2, but I believe the biggest one he took was to choice to invade the Soviet Union. A lot of Hitler's advisers warned him of a war on two fronts they knew that in the end Nazi Germany could not and would not succeed. Had Germany not invaded the Soviet Union, Germany could have concentrated all of it's resources on the Western Allies. They had always defeated France in the Phony War (Sitzkreig), all they need to theoretically was defeat Great Britain
It was a defeat. The British Army had gone to France to assist the French in fighting the Germans, to keep the Germans from overrunning France, just as they had helped the French in WWI. But in 1940, when Germany ended the "sitzkreig" and attacked France, this time, France was completely defeated in six weeks. The British were forced to try to evacuate their army, and they escaped at Dunkirk. Exactly why the Germans allowed this to happen is not entirely clear. The Germans themselves were surprised at the rapidity with which they defeated the French and British, and a bit disorganized. Its said that Herman Goering, head of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) promised Hitler that his air force could destroy the surrounded British. The Luftwaffe was the most Nazi of the German service branches, owing its very existence to Hitler. A German Air Force had been forbidden under the Versailles Treaty, but Hitler started one anyway in 1935. So Hitler allowed the Air Force to try to finish off the British, but they failed. Perhaps Hitler also hoped that now that the British had been defeated on the continent, they would be willing to make some sort of arrangement for peace with Germany, so he went easy on them. But the British wickedly refused to make peace with Germany, infuriating Hitler, and for a year after Dunkirk only Britain was at war with Germany. Some 300,000 British troops escaped from France at Dunkirk, and about 30,000 French troops as well. But they got away without their tanks, trucks or artillery. They were, in essence, not really an army until these things could be replaced, merely a large crowd armed with light infantry weapons. If the Germans had managed to invade Britain it would have been difficult to defend without their heavy arms and equipment.
Very badly. The British did not win a battle for more than two years. Upon declaring war they sent an army to France, which did nothing, this period being called the "Phony War" or the "Sitzkreig". The next year the Germans attacked and overran France in six weeks, forcing the British to evacuate their army from the European mainland at Dunkirk. Its still a mystery as to why the Germans allowed these 330,000 troops to escape complete capture as POWs. One theory is that Hitler wanted to make peace with the British, now that they were so obviously beaten, and did not want to be too hard on them. Another is that Hitler listened to Goering, head of the German Luftwaffe (Air Force), who claimed his planes alone could destroy the British remnants. At any rate the Germans were disorganized following their unexpectedly easy triumph in France, and the British Army escaped, but without its tanks, artillery pieces and trucks. Upon return to England what was left - basically men with rifles - took up positions in the southeast of England to try to meet the invasion Hitler now scrambled to hurriedly mount. In the air battles which followed, known as the Battle of Britain, the British did succeed in convincing Hitler that an invasion was impractical, because Georing's Luftwaffe could not gain complete air supremacy. The British were given a large assist by the German error in switching from bombing the British Royal Air Force to bombing cities. When Japan entered the war, the very next day two of the largest British ships, the Prince of Wales and the Repulse, were sunk off the coast of Vietnam by Japanese planes. The ships were sailing without escorting ships or air cover from British planes. The Japanese wrested Malaysia and Burma from the British, capturing over 80,000 men in Singapore, who hardly fired a shot. In Africa the British were unable to deal with the Italians, who were soon reinforced by Rommel and his Afrika Korps. The British were forced back toward Egypt, losing over 30,000 men captured in Tobruk. Finally the British, under a new commander, Montgomery, were able to turn on the Afrika Korps, after Monty had carefully accumulated a three-to-one advantage in men and material. The Afrika Korps had overextended itself by hundreds of miles, and the British 8th Army was at last able to win the first clear-cut British victory at El Alamein, and begin pushing the Axis forces back. Eventually all Axis forces in Africa were captured six months later. These were mostly Italian troops, the Germans never committing more than about eight divisions to Africa.