1936 1937 1938 - 1939 - 1940 1941 1942
| Decades: |
1900s 1910s 1920s - 1930s - 1940s 1950s 1960s
| Centuries: |
19th century - 20th century - 21st century
- January 2 - End of term for Frank Finley Merriam, 28th Governor of California. He is succeeded by Culbert Levy Olson.
- January 24 - Earthquake kills 30.000 in Chile – about 50.000 sq mi razed
- January 26 - Falangists take Barcelona
- January 26 - Spanish Civil War: Troops loyal to Francisco Franco and aided by Italy take Barcelona.
- February 2 - Hungary joins Antikomintern Pact
- February 10 - Falangists take Catalonia
- February 27 - United Kingdom and France recognize Franco's government
- February 27 - Borley Rectory burns
- February 27 - Sit-down strikes are outlawed by the Supreme Court of the United States.
- March 2 - Pius XII becomes Pope
- March 3 - In Bombay, Mohandas Gandhi begins to fast in protest of the autocratic rule in India.
- March 15 - German troops occupy the remaining part of Bohemia and Moravia; Czechoslovakia ceases to exist; beginning hostilities leading to WWII
- March 16 - Marriage of Princess Fawzia of Egypt to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran
- March 22 - Germany takes Memel from Lithuania
- March 28 - Dictator Francisco Franco conquers Madrid, ending the Spanish Civil War
- March 28 - The last message from an adventurer Richard Halliburton - he disappears later
- April 4 - Faisal II becomes King of Iraq.
- April 7 - Italy invades Albania - King Zog flees
- April 11 - Hungary leaves the League of Nations
- May 7 - Spain leaves the League of Nations
- May 22 - Germany and Italy sign the Pact of Steel.
- June 4 - Holocaust: The SS St. Louis, a ship carrying a cargo of 963 Jewish refugees, is denied permission to land in Florida after already having been turned away from Cuba. Forced to return to Europe, most of its passengers later die in Nazi concentration camps.
- June 17 - Last public execution by guillotine in France - murderer Eugen Weidmann
- July 4 - The concentration camp Neuengamme becomes autonomous.
- July 6 - Holocaust: The last remaining Jewish enterprises in Germany are closed.
- August 23 - Hitler and Stalin divide eastern Europe between themselves. Finland, the Baltic states and eastern Poland to the USSR. Western Poland to Germany (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact)
- August 27 - A Heinkel 178, the first jet-powered aircraft, flies for the last time.
- August 30 - Poland begins mobilization
- September 1 - World War II: Polish September Campaign - Nazi Germany attacks Poland, beginning the war
- September 3 - World War II: France, Australia and the United Kingdom declare war on Germany.
- September 5 - World War II: The United States declares its neutrality in the war.
- September 6 - World War II: South Africa declares war on Germany.
- September 10 - Canada declares war on Germany.
- September 17 - Soviet Union invades Poland and then occupies eastern Polish territories.
- September 27 - Warsaw surrenders to Germany; Modlin surrenders day later; last Polish large operational unit surrenders near Kock eight days later.
- October 8 - World War II: Germany annexes Western Poland.
- October 11 - Manhattan Project: US President Franklin D. Roosevelt is presented with a letter signed by Albert Einstein urging the United States to rapidly develop the atomic bomb.
- October 15 - The New York Municipal Airport (later renamed La Guardia Airport) is dedicated.
- November 4 - World War II: US President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders the United States Customs Service to implement the Neutrality Act of 1939, allowing cash-and-carry purchases of weapons by belligerents.
- November 6 - The Hedda Hopper Show debuts with Hollywood gossip Hedda Hopper as host (the show ran until 1951 and made Hopper a powerful figure in the Hollywood elite).
- November 8 - Venlo Incident: Two British agents of SIS are captured by the Germans.
- November 8 - In Munich, Adolf Hitler narrowly escapes an assassination attempt while celebrating the 16th anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch.
- November 15 - In Washington, DC, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt lays the cornerstone of the Jefferson Memorial.
- November 30 - Winter War begins: Soviet forces invade Finland and reach the Mannerheim Line, starting the war.
- December 2 - La Guardia Airport opens for business in New York City.
- December 14 The USSR was expelled from League of Nations because of attacking Finland
- December 25 - A Christmas Carol was read before a radio audience for the first time.
- December 27 - Earthquake in Eastern Anatolia, Turkey, destroys the town of Erzingan - about 100.000 dead
- December 26 - Mining strike in Boringae, Belgium
- Batman created by Bob Kane.
- Nuclear fission discovered independently by Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn
- Kirlian photography invented by Semyon Kirlian
- Siam changes its name to Thailand
- A logging crew sets off a second forest fire in the Tillamook Burn, which destroys 190,000 acres (769 km²)
Year in topic
- 1939 in film
- 1939 in literature
- 1939 in music
- 1939 in sports
- July 4 - Lou Gehrig, recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, tells a crowd at Yankee Stadium that he considered himself "The luckiest man on the face of the earth" as he announces his retirement from Major League Baseball.
- 1939 in television
- April - television demonstrations are held at the World's Fair in New York and the Golden Gate International Exhibition in San Francisco
- April 30 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, appearing at the World's Fair, becomes the first U.S. president to give a speech that is broadcast on television
- May 17 - The first baseball game (Princeton-Columbia) is broadcast on television, from Baker Field in New York. Bill Stern was the announcer
- June 1 - The first heavyweight boxing match is televised, Max Baer vs Lou Nova, form Yankee Stadium.
- August 26 - The first Major League Baseball game is telecast, a double-header between the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, in Brooklyn.
- September 1 - As World War II began, BBC television abruptly stopped its broadcasting in the middle of a Mickey Mouse cartoon (The BBC would resume its broadcasting at that same point after the war in 1945)
- The DuMont company begins producing consumer television sets
- September 30 - The first televised college football game, Fordham vs Waynesburg, at Randall's Island, New York.
- October 22 - The first NFL game is televised. The Brooklyn Dodgers vs Philadelphia Eagles at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.
- January 3 - Bobby Hull, hockey player
- January 10 - Sal Mineo, actor (d. 1976)
- January 10 - Bill Toomey, track and field athlete
- January 11 - Ann Heggtveit, world and 1960 Winter Olympics ski champion
- January 17 - Maury Povich, talk show host
- January 18 - James Gritz, Green Beret, United States Populist Party Presidential candidate.
- January 19 - Phil Everly, musician and singer
- January 21 - Wolfman Jack, disk jockey, actor (d. 1995)
- January 22 - Ray Stevens, country music musician
- January 29 - Germaine Greer, writer, feminist
- February 6 - Mike Farrell, actor
- February 10 - Roberta Flack, singer
- February 11 - Jane Hyatt Yolen, science fiction author.
- February 12 - Ray Manzarek, keyboardist
- February 23 - Peter Fonda, actor
- February 28 - Erika Pluhar, actress and singer
- February 28 - Tommy Tune, dancer, choreographer, actor
- March 1 - Warren Davis, The Monotones
- March 13 - Neil Sedaka, singer
- March 19 - Joe Kapp, American football star
- March 20 - Brian Mulroney, eighteenth Prime Minister of Canada
- March 26 - James Caan, actor
- March 27 - Cale Yarborough, NASCAR racer
- March 31 - Zviad Gamsakhurdia, scientist and writer, first President of the Republic of Georgia (d. 1993)
- March 31 - Volker Schl�ndorff, film director
- April 2 - Marvin Gaye, singer (d. 1984)
- April 4 - Hugh Masakela, musician
- April 7 - Francis Ford Coppola, American film director
- April 7 - Sir David Frost, broadcaster, television host
- May 7 - Ruud Lubbers, politician and Prime Minister of the Netherlands
- May 7 - Jimmy Ruffin, singer
- May 9 - Ralph Boston, athlete
- May 13 - Harvey Keitel, actor
- May 18 - Hark Bohm, film director
- May 19 - Livio Berruti, Italian athlete
- May 19 - Dick Scobee, astronaut (d. 1986)
- May 23 - Reinhard Hauff, film director
- May 25 - Ian McKellen, actor
- May 29 - Al Unser, race car driver
- May 30 - Michael J. Pollard, actor
- June 6 - Louis Andriessen, Dutch composer
- June 9 - Dick Vitale, basketball broadcaster
- June 11 - Jackie Stewart, Formula One racing driver
- July 14 - George E. Slusser, American scholar, professor & writer
- July 26 - John Howard, twenty-fifth Prime Minister of Australia
- July 26 - Bob Lilly, NFL football player
- August 5 - Princess Irene of the Netherlands
- August 22 - Carl Yastrzemski, Baseball Hall of Famer
- August 29 - Joel Schumacher, film producer, director
- August 30 - John Peel, Radio 1 DJ
- September 6- Brigid Berlin actor and artist
- September 16 - Breyten Breytenbach, South African poet, writer and painter
- September 23 - Janusz Gajos, Polish actor
- September 30 - Len Cariou, Tony Award winning stage actor/singer
- October 7 - John Hopcroft, American theoretical computer scientist
- October 14 - Ralph Lauren, American fashion designer
- October 24 - F. Murray Abraham, actor
- October 31 - Ron Rifkin, actor
- November 21 - Mulayam Singh Yadav, politician, India
- November 23 - Bill Bissett, Canadian anti-conventional poet
- December 18 - Michael Moorcock, English science fiction author
- Robert T. Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party
- January 24 - Maximilian Bircher-Benner, Swiss physician and Muesli inventor
- January 28 - William Butler Yeats, writer
- February 10 - Pope Pius XI
- February 11 - Franz Schmidt, Austrian composer
- February 12 - [[S. P. L. S�rensen]], Danish chemist
- March 19 - Lloyd L. Gaines, American civil rights activist
- April 7 - Joseph Lyons, tenth Prime Minister of Australia
- June 4 - Tommy Ladnier, jazz musician (b. 1900)
- June 17 - Eugen Weidmann, last public guillotine execution in France
- June 19 - Grace Abbott, social worker, activist (b. 1878)
- August 2 - Harvey Spencer Lewis, F.R.C., Rosicrucian mysticist and Imperator of AMORC
- September 18 - Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (a.k.a. “Witkacy”), Polish writer and painter (b. 1885)
- October 7 - Harvey Cushing, American neurosurgeon (b. 1869)
- November 12 - Norman Bethune, Canadian humanitarian
- November 28 - James Naismith, inventor of basketball
- December 3 - Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, fourth daughter of Queen Victoria
- December 22 - Ma Rainey, blues singer (b. 1886)
- December 23 - Anthony Fokker, aircraft manufacturer
- Physics - Ernest Orlando Lawrence
- Chemistry - Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt, Leopold Ruzicka
- Medicine - Gerhard Domagk
- Literature - Frans Eemil Sillanp��
- Peace - not awarded
Heads of state in 1939af:1939
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