The Phoney War: teaching WWII

Primary History article

Matthew Sossick, last updated: 11th November 2019

Breadth and depth in teaching and learning about WWII

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The term ‘phoney war’ refers to the period at the beginning of WWII between September 1939 and April 1940 when there was little fighting. It was brought to an abrupt end by the German invasion of Norway in April 1940. The term is thought to have been coined by an American Senator called Borah. Winston Churchill referred to this period as the twilight war whilst the Germans called it the armchair war or ‘Sitzkrieg’ in parody of this period of inactivity.

Why and how should such a period seemingly characterised by a dearth of activity be taught in primary schools? There are several answers to this...

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