What Happened in 1939

Significant Events

  • Jan 30 Adolf Hitler threatens Jews during his speech to the German Reichstag (Parliament)
  • Mar 3 Mahatma Gandhi begins a fast in Mumbai (Bombay) to protest against autocratic rule in India
  • Mar 17 Battle of Nanchang between the Kuomintang and the Japanese breaks out (Sino-Japanese War 1937-1945)
  • Mar 28 Spanish Civil War ends, Madrid falls to Francisco Franco
  • May 7 Germany and Italy announce an alliance known as the Rome-Berlin Axis
  • May 22 Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini sign "Pact of Steel" in Berlin, Germany
  • Sep 1 World War II starts when Germany invades Poland by attacking the Free City of Danzig
  • Sep 3 World War II: Britain declares war on Germany after invasion of Poland. France follows 6 hours later quickly joined by Australia, New Zealand, South Africa & Canada
  • Sep 14 World’s 1st practical helicopter, the VS-300 designed by Igor Sikorsky takes (tethered) flight in Stratford, Connecticut
  • Sep 28 German-Soviet Frontier Treaty is signed by Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov; redraws German and Soviet spheres of influence in central Europe and transfers most of Lithuania to the USSR
More Historical Events

1939 in Film & TV

  • Mar 24 "Wuthering Heights" based on the novel by Emily Brontë, directed by William Wyler and starring Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier, premieres in Los Angeles
  • May 17 1st televised baseball game is broadcast on NBC, with Princeton defeating Columbia 2-1
  • Aug 8 7th Venice Film Festival opens with a United States boycott due to Benito Mussolini's Fascist Italian regime
  • Aug 15 "The Wizard of Oz", American musical fantasy film directed by Victor Fleming and King Vidor, premieres at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, starring Judy Garland (Dorothy), Ray Bolger (Scarecrow), Jack Haley (Tin Man), Bert Lahr (Cowardly Lion), Frank Morgan (Wizard), Billie Burke (Glinda), and Margaret Hamilton (Wicked Witch)
  • Oct 17 "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur, is released

1939 in Music

  • Mar 25 Billboard Magazine introduces hillbilly (country) music chart

1939 in Sport

  • May 17 1st televised baseball game is broadcast on NBC, with Princeton defeating Columbia 2-1
  • Jul 4 Lou Gehrig is first MLB player to have his number (4) retired on his "Appreciation Day" at Yankee Stadium, makes iconic "luckiest man" speech
  • Dec 30 Bradman scores 267 South Australia v Vic, world record 34th double cricket century

Did You Know?

Lina Medina becomes the world's youngest confirmed mother in medical history at the age of five

On May 14, 1939


World Leaders in 1939

Famous People in 1939

Would You Believe?

Last public guillotining in France. Eugen Weidmann, a convicted murderer, is guillotined in Versailles outside the prison Saint-Pierre

On June 17, 1939

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