Ad*Access Timeline: 1936-1940

International Affairs

  • 1936. Germany invades the Rhineland, which it had lost to France in WWI.
  • 1936. Italy annexes Ethiopia.
  • 1936. The Spanish Civil War is fought. Many Americans volunteer, including novelist Ernest Hemingway.
  • 1938. President Roosevelt sends private memoranda to Britain, France, Germany and Czechoslovakia recommending arbitration of the Sudetenland crisis. This set the stage for the Munich Pact (Sept. 29). Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister, declares "peace in our time" after Hitler agrees to sign the non-aggression pact.
  • August 23, 1939. Nazi - Soviet Non-aggression Pact signed, including the SecretAdditional Protocol regarding the division of Poland between Germany and the USSR.
  • September 1, 1939. Germany invades Poland.
  • September 3, 1939. Great Britain and France declare war on Germany. The U.S. and Belgium declare neutrality, as World War II begins in Europe.
  • May 10, 1940. Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of Britain after the resignation of Neville Chamberlain.
  • September 27, 1940. Germany, Japan and Italy sign the Axis, or Tripartite, Pact.
  • 1940. Germany occupies Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and France. The Battle of Britain begins.

U.S. Politics & Government

  • 1936. Part of Roosevelt's New Deal policies, the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), is deemed unconstitutional by theSupreme Court.
  • 1938. Wheeler-Lea amendments to the Federal Trade Commission Act granted the FCC added power to curb false advertising.
  • May 26, 1938. The House Committee to Investigate un-American Activities (HUAC) is created.
  • November 5, 1940. FDR is elected to an unprecedented third term.

Companies, Inventions, Discoveries & Technology

  • 1936. The perfusion pump, the first artificial heart, is invented by scientists at Rockefeller University in New York.
  • 1936. The National Guard prepares to assault strikers at the General Motors (GM) plant in Flint, Michigan. At the last minute Walter Knudsen, head of GM, agrees to recognize the United Auto Workers union.
  • May 6, 1937. First coast to coast radio broadcast is a report of the Hindenburg disaster. The Hindenburg, a transatlantic lighter-than-air floating passenger ship, crashed and exploded upon landing in New Jersey.
  • 1940. Rh factor in human blood is discovered.
  • June 28, 1939. The first regular transatlantic passenger air service begins when Pan American Airways (PanAm) flies 22 passengers from Long Island to Lisbon, Portugal. The trip lasts 23 hours, 52 minutes.
  • October 25, 1939. Nylon stockings are first sold in the United States.
  • 1940. Radios are in 30 million American homes.

Humanities and The Arts, Entertainment & Sports

  • 1936. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is published.
  • 1937. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is published.
  • December 21, 1937. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first animated feature film, is released by Disney.
  • October 30, 1938. Orson Welles broadcasts an adaption of the H.G. Welles' book War of the Worlds. Hysteria ensues across the country, especially in New York and New Jersey, as many listeners mistake the dramatic play for actual news coverage of an alien invasion of the United States.
  • 1939. Gone with the Wind is released as a movie.
  • 1940. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway is published.


  • 1936. Boulder Dam, later renamed Hoover Dam, is completed, creating the largest reservoir in the world.
  • 1938. Three Russian women set a world record with their non-stop 6,000 km flight from Moscow to the southeastern tip of Siberia.
  • 1939. Konrad Zuse of Berlin creates a prototype mechanical binary programmable calculator.

1941-1945  >
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