World History 1938-1939


Germany Seizes Austria, Czech Crisis, Munich Agreement, Kristallnacht, Around The World Record, DC-4 Flown, Minumum Wage Set, Boeing Unveils Stratoliner, Madrid Surrenders, Germans Enter Prague, Non-Aggression Treaty, Germany Invades Poland, Pact Steel, The White Paper, Hatch Act Passed, DDT Insecticide, Einstein Writes Roosevelt Letter, Passenger Service, Igor Sikorsky Flies A Helicopter, Germans Test New Plane

1938 Germany Seizes Austria - "Anschluss" -On March 12, 1938, German troops invaded Austria. Hitler was received with great enthusiasm by the Austrian people, and he immediately announced that Austria had become part of the German Reich. The laws of Germany, including its anti-Semitic acts, were swiftly applied in Austria.
1938 The Czech Crisis-The Czech Crisis began in March 1938, when Hitler promised protection for German minorities living outside the Reich. Czechoslovakian Premier Hodza responded that Czechoslovakia would defend itself.

In April, the leader of the Sudeten, Konrad Henlein, put forth a series of demands called the "Carlsbad Program." The demands included full autonomy for the German minority, as well as a complete change in the foreign policy of Czechoslovakia.

Negotiations on providing some form of autonomy for the Sudetens continued through the summer. In September, the negotiations were broken off, and Hitler demanded self-determination for the Sudetenland.

British Prime Minster Chamberlain met with Hitler at Berchtesgaden. Hitler stated his demand for the annexation of the Sudetenland.

Britain and France urged the Czech government to accept, and on September 21st, under the imminent threat of losing French and German support, the Czech government agreed. Hitler, however, made additional demands. Chamberlain met with Hitler at Godesberg, but Hitler was adamant and the world girded for war.
1938 Munich Agreement -In a desperate attempt to avoid war, the leaders of Great Britain and France met with Hitler in Munich at the end of September. During the meeting, they acceded to Hitler's demands to cede the Sudetenland to Germany, as well as to most of his additional demands . In return, Hitler pledged that he had no territorial claims on the rest of Czechoslovakia. War had been temporarily avoided at the cost of losing a major ally in the form of a 400,000-man Czech army.
1938 DC-4 Flown First Time -(6/17/38)On June 7th, Douglas Aircraft unveiled their new plane– the DC-4. This aircraft, powered by four Pratt and Whitney engines, seats 52 passengers.
1938 Minumum Wage Set -(6/25/38) The Fair Labor Standards Act was signed by President Roosevelt on June 25th. The Act called for a minimum wage of 25 cents per hour, rising eventually to 40 cents per hour. It mandated a 44-hour work week, to be reduced eventually to 40 hours.
1938 Hughes Sets New "Around The World" Record -(7/14/38) Howard Hughes set a new around-the-world record; at 3 days, 19 hours and 8 minutes. He left on July 10th in a Lockheed 14N "Super Electra." The aircraft, specially designed for Hughes, had a range of nearly 5,000 miles. Hughes stopped in Paris; Moscow, Omsk, Yakutsk (in the Soviet Union); Fairbanks, Alaska; and Minneapolis.
1938 Kristallnacht in Germany -(11/9/38) In a one-night spree, Nazis burned synagogues, destroyed Jewish shops and killed Jews at random. The night became known as "Kristallnacht," the night of the broken glass. The incident portended a much darker fate for the Jews trapped in Europe.
1938 Boeing Unveils Its Stratoliner -(12/31/38) On December 31st, Boeing Aircraft flight-tested its newest aircraft– "The Stratoliner." The aircraft, the first to have a pressurized cabin, could fly higher than any other passenger aircraft. Its cruising altitude was between 14,000 and 20,000 feet. TWA placed initial orders for the planes, and was the only airline to fly them before the war.


1939 Germans Enter Prague - (3/15/39) In March 1939, the remaining parts of Czechoslovakia were dismembered by the Germans. The excuse used was the firing of the Premier of Slovakia. Prague was occupied and Czechoslovakian independence ended. The occupation of Czechoslovakia dashed the hopes of those who believed Hitler's ambitions were limited to merely uniting Germanic lands.
1939 Madrid Surrenders-(3/28/39) The Spanish Civil War came to an end in March 1939, with the surrender of Madrid and Valencia. The Republicans had fought a long and valiant defense, but the superior armaments and outright intervention of the Germans and Italians (particularly the air forces), overwhelmed the Republicans. Seven hundred thousand lost their lives in battle, thirty thousand were executed or assassinated and fifteen thousand were killed in aerial bombings during the course of the war.
1939 Passenger Service Across Atlantic Ocean -(5/20/39)On May 20th, Pan Am began regularly scheduled air service across the Atlantic. The flight took three days, and included stops at the Azores, Lisbon and Marseilles; terminating in Southampton. The British began weekly service on August 11th. Pan Am soon cut the service to 27 hours, via the North Atlantic, (weather permitting). Pan Am flew the Boeing 314A Flying Boat.
1939 Pact Steel -(5/22/39) Italy and Germany entered into a Pact of Steel. The alliance, which was signed by Hitler and Mussolini, pledged each party to support the other in case of war.
1939 The White Paper -The White Paper of 1939 – otherwise known as the MacDonald White Paper – was named for the then British Colonial Secretary. It stated that, since the Balfour Declaration had called only for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and since there were over 450,000 Jews in Palestine, Britain had met its responsibilities. Therefore, Britain would work towards the establishment of an independent state in Palestine, over a ten-year period. It stated that, over the next five years, it would only admit another 75,000 Jews. As such, any Jews arriving illegally would be deducted from that quota. It also forbade further Jewish purchase of land. The Jews of Palestine and the rest of the Jewish world were outraged at this apparent British betrayal. The White Paper also served to seal the fate of European Jewry, who now had nowhere to flee from Nazi tyranny.
1939 Hatch Act Passed-This act prohibited all but the highest government workers from participating in political campaigns or from soliciting campaign contributions. The act was a major step forward in political reform.
1939 DDT Discovered as Insecticide -The Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Muller discovered the powers of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichlorethane) to act as an insecticide in killing insects.
1939 Einstein Writes Roosevelt Letter -(8/2/39)Albert Einstein, the renowned physicist, wrote President Roosevelt a letter outlining the potential of nuclear energy in weapons.
1939 Soviet-German Non-Aggression Treaty -(8/23/39) In a stunning move, the Nazis and the Soviet Union signed a Non-Aggression Pact. The pact, whose terms were kept secret at the time, called for the dividing up of lands between Germany and the Soviet Union. Germany was to receive Western Poland and Lithuania, while the Soviet Union would get Eastern Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Finland.

The Soviets had previously been negotiating with France and Great Britain on a mutual assistance pact. Stalin, however, had lost faith in the British and French ability to deal with the Germans. The Soviets had demanded the right to send troops into Poland in case of a German attack, something that the Poles refused to permit. Thus, no agreement could be reached on mutual defense. The Non-Aggression Pact decisively changed the European balance of power in favor of the Germans.
1939 Igor Sikorsky Flies A Helicopter -Russian born Igor Sikorsky flew his VS-300 helicopter in Stratford, Connecticut. The VS-300 was not the first helicopter to fly, as German Professor Henrich Focke had also designed one. In addition, many people were working on autogiros (planes that had propellers for forward movement and blades for lift). The VS 300, however, was the first modern helicopter to include a main rotor and a smaller tail rotor. It would span the helicopter industry.
1939 Germans Test New Plane -(8/27/39) On August 27th, the German aircraft firm of Heinkel tested the first jet powered aircraft. The plane, which was named the "Heinkel He 178," proved the feasibility of jet aircraft.
1939 Germany Invades Poland -(9/1/39) The German-Polish Crisis began in March, when the German government demanded that Danzig be turned over to Germany. In addition, the Germans demanded the right to construct an extra-territorial railroad across the corridor. The Poles refused, and the French and British pledged to aid the Poles. After the signing of the Non-Aggression Pact, all attempts at negotiations failed and the Germans and Poles mobilized for war. The British and the French did the same, reasserting that they would come to the defense of Poland.

On September 1st, the Germans attacked, and on September 3rd, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany.