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1937

Jan 1  Anastasio Somoza García becomes President of Nicaragua. He was head of the National Guard during the February 23, 1934 murder of the revolutionary leader, Sandino.

Jan 13  Nationalists in Poland have rioted, beating up Jews. In parliament, Colonel Meidzinski says there would be no problem if Poland had only 50,000 Jews but, he complains, "there are 3,000,000." The question arises where to send the Jews. (Nicholson Baker, Human Smoke, p. 66)

Jan 16  Mussolini has asked a German journalist how Hitler is and then speaks of communism as threatening to destroy Europe. He describes democracies as "propagators of the communist bacillus." He adds that "Democracies are sand, shifting sand... Only Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany can save Europe." (David I Kertzer, The Pope and Mussolini, p 257-58.)

Jan 23  In the Soviet Union, 17 Bolsheviks are among those on trial accused of participating in a plot led by Leon Trotsky to overthrow the Stalin regime and to assassinate its leaders.

Jan 30  Hitler formally withdraws Germany from the Versailles Treaty. This includes Germany no longer making reparation payments. He demands a return of Germany's colonies.

Jan 31  In the Soviet Union, 31 accused of Trotskyism are executed.

Feb 8  In Spain, Franco's troops capture Malaga.

Feb 11  In the US, a sit-down strike ends with General Motors recognizing the United Automobile Workers Union.

Mar 19  Pope Pius XI publishes an encyclical titled Divini Redemptoris, condemning atheistic Communism.

Mar 21  Britain's Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin says, "I know some of you think I should speak more roughly to Hitler than I do, but have you reflected that the reply to a stiff letter might be a bomb on your breakfast tables?"

Apr 1  The city of Aden, in Yemen, on the shore of the Arabian Sea near the mouth of the Red Sea, becomes a British crown colony.

Apr 26  Germany and Italy are allied with Franco and the fascists in Spain. German and Italian airplanes bomb the city of Guernica, killing more than 1,600.

May 6  The German zeplin Hindenburg bursts into flames when landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey.

May 8  In Barcelona, six days of warfare among leftists has occurred, provoked by Stalin despite Popular Front rhetoric about pluralism. What will be called "Barcelona May Days" will be described by the socialist George Orwell in his book Homage to Catalonia. Orwell has been with the POUM, a leftist party closer to Trotsky than to Stalin. Spain's leftist government, beholden to the Soviet Union for support, will ban the POUM. Orwell will have to run for his life and will be opposed to Stalinism, expressed in his two books 1984 and Animal Farm.

May 27  In California, the Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrian traffic.

May 28  In Britain, Neville Chamberlain becomes prime minister.

Jun 3  The Duke of Windsor, Prince Edward, former King Edward VIII, marries Wallis Simpson.

Jul 2  Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan disappear over New Guinea.

Jul 4  At an International Writers Congress in Paris, Ernest Hemmingway says that fascist states "cannot produce good writers." Fascism, he says, "is a lie told by bullies." At this congress, Langston Hughes says, “We are the people who have long known in actual practice the meaning of the word Fascism… Yes, we Negroes in America do not have to be told what Fascism is in action. We know. Its theories of Nordic supremacy and economic suppression have long been realities to us.”

Jul 7  In China, the Battle of Lugou Bridge begins. It's between Japanese occupation forces and the Chinese and begins what will be called the Sino-Japanese War.

Jul 22  The US Senate puts an end to President Roosevelt's proposal to add more justices to the Supreme Court.

Aug 5  Japan's government expresses concern that 182 US airmen are to fly warplanes in China.

Aug 5  Stalin's regime begins periodic campaigns that will be called the Great Purge and will kill more than 724,000 Soviet citizens deemed enemies of the state and the Soviet revolution. This involves what the Hitler regime is not yet doing: shooting people. An on-going search for enemies includes Polish people suspected of belonging to an anti-Soviet conspiracy called the Polish Military Organization. Attachment to Polish culture or to Roman Catholicism have become grounds for suspicion. A method used by the NKVD (Soviet police) against the Polish plot and network of spies will be torture of an individual in front of a group of suspects. When the victim confesses the others will then be asked to confess. (Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands, p 95.)

Aug 12  In China, Chiang Kai-shek's government orders a general offensive against the Japanese.

Aug 14  China's 87th division, with a nascent airforce, attacks Japanese military positions around Shanghai.

Aug 21  Japan's war with China has encouraged China to sign a military pact with the Soviet Union. China's Communist Party senses a new lease on life.

Aug 26  The Japanese are bombing targets in Shanghai. They attack a car carrying Britain's ambassador.

Aug 28  Japan erects a naval blockade against Chinese ships going to and from Chinese ports. Japan says that "peaceful commerce carried on by third powers will be fully respected."

Aug 30  Chinese aircraft mistakingly attack the USS President Hoover. One US crewman is killed and several passengers and crew are injured.

Oct 5  With Japan and Italy in mind, President Roosevelt calls for an international "quarantine of the aggressor nations." American isolationists complain that distinguishing between "peace-loving" and "warlike" nations is not neutrality but taking sides.

Oct 6  The League of Nations condemns Japan's actions in China.

Oct 10  Winston Churchill writes: "It would be a dangerous folly for the British people to underrate the enduring position in world-history which Mussolini will hold, or the amazing qualities of courage, comprehension, self-control and perseverance which he exemplifies." (Nicholson Baker, Human Smoke, p. 73.)

Nov 5  In Spain near León, Franco's forces execute perhaps as many as 35,000.

Nov 6  Italy joins the Anti-Comintern Pact, created by Germany and Japan in 1936.

Nov 9  Japanese troops take Shanghai.

Nov 10  In Brazil, Getúlio Vargas has been speaking of the dangers of Communism. He begins his dictatorship, proclaiming the creation of a New State (Estado Novo).

Nov 17  As a diplomat for the new government of Neville Chamberlain, Lord Halifax visits Herman Goering in Germany. Halifax also visits Hitler, who pledges his support of the British empire. Hitler offers advice on how to deal with those in India seeking independence. Kill Gandhi, he advises, and, if that is not enough, kill the other leaders too. Lord Halifax's friend, Henry Cannon, will report that Halifax "likes all of the Nazi leaders, including Goebbels." Cannon reports that Halifax "thinks the regime absolutely fantastic."

Dec 7  Japanese troops are at Nanjing's outer defenses.

Dec 11  Italy withdraws from the League of Nations.

Dec 12  Japanese aircraft attack the USS Panay, a gunboat that is motoring on the Yangzi River, away from Nanjing. Three are killed and 43 sailors and 5 civilians wounded. The Japanese claim that the US flag was not seen. They agree to pay an indemnity. In the US, public opinion becomes more hostile toward the Japanese.

Dec 12  The New York Times reports:, "When during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War (October 1935 to May 1936), the League accused Benito Mussolini's soldiers of targeting Red Cross medical tents, Mussolini responded that Ethiopians were not fully human, therefore the human rights laws did not apply."

Dec 13  Nanjing falls to the Japanese, with Chinese soldiers fleeing from the city or rushing to change into civilian clothes.

Dec 21  Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first feature-length animated cartoon, becomes a smash hit.

Dec 29  Ireland's Constitution, adopted by plebiscite, goes into effect. It establishes an independent state based on a system of representative democracy. It bans divorce but guarantees certain fundamental rights.

to 1936 | to 1938

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