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1938 in other calendars
Gregorian calendar 1938
Ab urbe condita 2691
Armenian calendar 1387
Assyrian calendar 6688
Bahá'í calendar 94 – 95
Bengali calendar 1345
Berber calendar 2888
British Regnal year Geo. 6 – 3 Geo. 6
Buddhist calendar 2482
Burmese calendar 1300
Byzantine calendar 7446 – 7447
Chinese calendar 丁丑年十一月三十日
— to —
Coptic calendar 1654 – 1655
Ethiopian calendar 1930 – 1931
Hebrew calendar 5698 – 5699
Hindu calendars
 - Bikram Samwat 1994 – 1995
 - Shaka Samvat 1860 – 1861
 - Kali Yuga 5039 – 5040
Holocene calendar 11938
Iranian calendar 1316 – 1317
Islamic calendar 1356 – 1357
Japanese calendar Shōwa 13
Korean calendar 4271
Minguo calendar ROC 27
Thai solar calendar 2481
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Year 1938 (MCMXXXVIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar.



January 20: King Farouk
January 27: Niagara Bridge collapses in ice.



  • March – Italian mathematician Ettore Majorana disappears.
  • March 3
    • The Santa Ana River in California spills over its banks during a rainy winter, killing 58 people in Orange County and causing trouble as far inland as Palm Springs[1].
    • Oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia.
    • Sir Nevile Henderson, British Ambassador to Germany, presents a proposal to Hitler for an international consortium to rule much of Africa (in which Germany would be assigned a leading role) in exchange for a German promise never to resort to war to change her frontiers; Hitler rejects the British offer.
  • March 12Anschluss: German troops occupy Austria; annexation is declared the following day.
  • March 14 – French Premier Léon Blum reassures the Czechoslovak government that France will honor its treaty obligations to aid Czechoslovakia in event of German invasion.
  • March 15 – Soviet Union announces officially that Nikholai Bukharin has been executed.
  • March 17 – Poland presents an ultimatum to Lithuania, to establish normal diplomatic relations that were severed over the Vilnius Region.
  • March 18
    • Mexico nationalizes all foreign-owned oil properties within its borders.
    • General Werner von Fritsch is acquitted of charges of homosexuality at his court-martial.


  • April 10
    • Édouard Daladier becomes prime minister of France. He appoints as Foreign Minister a leading advocate of the policy of appeasement, Georges Bonnet, effectively negating Blum's reassurances of March 14.
    • In a result that astonished even Hitler, the Austrian electorate in a national referendum approved Anschluss by an overwhelming 99.73%.
  • April 16 – London and Rome sign an agreement that sees Britain recognise Italian control of Ethiopia in return for an Italian pledge to withdraw all its troops from Spain at the conclusion of the civil war there.
  • April 18 – First appearance of Superman. The date Action Comics #1 was published (June Cover) according to court documents released during the legal battle over the rights to Superman. DC Comics recognizes May 3rd, 1938 as the publishing date.
  • April 24Konstantin Päts becomes president of Estonia.
  • April 25Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins: The U.S. Supreme Court overturns a century of federal common law.
  • April 28 – The towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott in Massachusetts are disincorporated to make way for the Quabbin Reservoir.


  • May 5
    • The Vatican recognizes Franco's government in Spain.
    • General Ludwig Beck, Chief of the German Army's General Staff, submits a memorandum to Hitler opposing Fall Grün (Case Green), the plan for a war with Czechoslovakia, under the grounds that Germany is ill-prepared for the world war likely to result from such an attack.
  • May 9Kaarel Eenpalu becomes prime minister of Estonia.
  • May 12 – U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull rejects Russia's offer of a joint defence pact to counter rise of Nazi Germany.
  • May 14Chile withdraws from the League of Nations.
  • May 17Information Please debuts on NBC Radio.
  • May 20Czechoslovakia orders a partial mobilization of its armed forces along the German border.
  • May 21 – Matsuo Toi kills 30 people in a village in Okayama, Japan, in the Tsuyama massacre, the world's worst spree killing by an individual until 1982.
  • May 23 – Temporarily frustrated by the Czechoslovak mobilization and international diplomatic unity in the face of German demands over the Sudetenland, Hitler orders the Foreign Office to assure the Czechoslovaks that he has no demands on their territory. The world at large mistakenly believes the crisis is averted.
  • May 25
    • Spanish Civil War: Alicante, Spain is bombed, resulting in 313 deaths.
    • The Soviet ambassador to the United States A.A. Troyanovsky declared that Moscow was ready to defend Czechoslovakia. This offer was ignored by Britain and the U.S.A.
  • May 28 – In a conference at the Reichs Chancellery, Hitler declares his decision to destroy Czechoslovakia by military force, and orders the immediate mobilization of 96 Wehrmacht divisions.
  • May 30 – Poland who had its eyes on the Teschen region of Czechoslovakia was reassured by Rumania that it would block any attempt by the Soviet Union to come to the aid of the Czechs in the event of a Polish invasion.



  • July – The Mauthausen concentration camp is built in Austria.
  • July 3
  • July 5 – The Non-Intervention Committee reaches an agreement to withdraw all foreign volunteers from the Spanish Civil War. The agreement is respected by most Republican foreign volunteers, notably by those from England and the United States, but is ignored by the governments of Germany and Italy.
  • July 6 – The Evian Conference on Refugees is convened in France. No country in Europe is prepared to accept Jews fleeing persecution and the United States will only take 27,370. The prospect for European Jewry looks bleak.
  • July 14Howard Hughes sets a new record by completing a 91 hour airplane flight around the world.
  • July 18 – Wrong Way Corrigan takes off from New York, ostensibly heading for California. He lands in Ireland instead.
  • July 22 – Britain rejected a proposal from its ambassador in Berlin, Nevile Henderson, for a four power summit on Czechoslovakia consisting of Britain, France, Germany and the U.S.S.R. London would under no circumstances accept the U.S.S.R. as a diplomatic partner.
  • July 24 – First ascent of the Eiger north face.
  • July 28 – A revolt against the Ioannis Metaxas dictatorship is put down in Chania, Greece.
  • July 30 – The first ever issue of The Beano is published.


  • August – In the face of overwhelming Japanese military pressure, Chiang Kai-shek withdraws his government to Chungking.
  • August 4 – Lord Runciman arrives in Prague to act as Neville Chamberlain's special envoy in the continuing Sudetenland disturbances.
  • August 6 – The Looney Tunes animated short Porky & Daffy is released.
  • August 10 – At a secret summit with his leading generals, Hitler attacks General Beck's arguments against Fall Grün, winning the majority of his senior officers over to his point of view.
  • August 18
    • The Thousand Islands Bridge, connecting the United States with Canada, is dedicated by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
    • Colonel General Ludwig Beck, convinced that Hitler's decision to attack Czechoslovakia will lead to a general European war, resigns his position as Chief of the Army General Staff in protest.
    • Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin arrives in London looking for British support for an anti-Nazi putsch, using the looming crisis over the Sudetenland as a pretext. His private mission is dismissed by Neville Chamberlain as unimportant (Chamberlain refers to von Kleist as a "Jacobite"), but he finds a sympathetic if powerless audience in Winston Churchill.
  • August 22 – Civil Aeronautics Authority (independent agency).
  • August 23 – Hitler, hosting a dinner on board the ocean liner Patria in Kiel Bay, tells the Regent of Hungary, Admiral Horthy, that action against Czechoslovakia is imminent and that "he who wants to sit at the table must at least help in the kitchen", a reference to Horthy's designs on Carpathian Ruthenia.
  • August 27 General Beck leaves office as Chief of the General Staff; he is replaced by General Franz Halder.
  • August 28 – Lord Runciman's mission to mitigate the Sudetenland crisis begins to break down. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain recalls the British Ambassador Nevile Henderson from Berlin, to instruct Henderson to set up a personal meeting between Chamberlain and Hitler.
  • August 31Winston Churchill, still believing France and Britain mean to honor their promises to defend Czechoslovakia against Nazi aggression, suggests in a personal note to Neville Chamberlain that His Majesty's Government may want to set up a broad international alliance including the United States (specifically mentioning U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as possibly receptive to the idea) and the Soviet Union.


  • September – The European crisis over German demands for annexation of the Sudeten borderland of Czechoslovakia heats up.
  • September 2 – Soviet Ambassador to Britain Ivan Maisky calls on Winston Churchill, to tell him that Soviet Foreign Commissar Maxim Litvinov has expressed to the French chargé d'affaires in Moscow that the Soviet Union is willing to fight over the territorial integrity of Czechoslovakia.
  • September 4 – During the ceremony marking the unveiling of a plaque at Pointe de Grave, France celebrating Franco-American friendship, American Ambassador William Bullitt in a speech states, "France and the United States were united in war and peace", leading to much speculation in the press that if war did break out over Czechoslovakia, then the United States would join the war on the Allied side.
  • September 5Czechoslovakian President Edvard Beneš invites mid-level representatives of the Sudeten Germans to the Hradcany palace, to tell them he will accept whatever demands they care to make, provided the Sudetenland remains part of the Republic of Czechoslovakia.
  • September 6 – What eventually proves to be the last of the "Nuremberg Rallies" begins. It draws worldwide attention because it is widely assumed Hitler, in his closing remarks, will signal whether there will be peace with or war over Czechoslovakia.
  • September 7The Times publishes a lead article which calls on Czechoslovakia to cede the Sudetenland to Germany.
  • September 9 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt disallows the popular interpretation of Bullitt's speech at a press conference at the White House. Roosevelt states it is "100% wrong" the U.S. would join a "stop-Hitler bloc" under any circumstances, and makes it quite clear that in the event of German aggression against Czechoslovakia, the U.S. would remain neutral.
  • September 10Hermann Göring, in a speech at Nuremberg, calls the Czechs a "miserable pygmy race" who are "harassing the human race." That same evening, Edvard Beneš, President of Czechoslovakia, makes a broadcast in which he appeals for calm.
  • September 12 – Hitler makes his much-anticipated closing address at Nuremberg, in which he vehemently attacks the Czech people and President Beneš. American news commentator Hans von Kaltenborn begins his famous marathon of broadcast bulletins over the CBS Radio Network with a summation of Hitler's address.
  • September 13 – The followers of Konrad Henlein begin an armed revolt against the Czechoslovak government in Sudetenland. Martial law is declared and after much bloodshed on both sides order is temporarily restored. Neville Chamberlain personally sends a telegram to Hitler urgently requesting that they both meet.
  • September 15Neville Chamberlain arrives in Berchtesgaden to begin negotiations with Hitler over the Sudetenland.
  • September 17Neville Chamberlain returns temporarily to London to confer with his cabinet. The Russian army masses along the Ukrainian frontier. Rumania agrees to allow Russian soldiers free passage across her territory to defend Czechoslovakia.
  • September 18 – During a meeting between Neville Chamberlain and the recently elected Premier of France, Édouard Daladier, and Daladier's Foreign Minister, Georges Bonnet, it becomes apparent neither the English nor the French governments are prepared to go to war over the Sudetenland. The Soviet Union declares it will come to the defence of Czechoslovakia only if France honours her commitment to defend Czech independence.
  • September 21
    • In the early hours of the day, representatives of the French and British governments call on Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš to tell him France and Britain will not fight Hitler if he decides to annex the Sudetenland by force. Late in the afternoon the Czechoslovak government capitulates to the French and British demands.
    • Winston Churchill warns of grave consequences to European security if Czechoslovakia is partitioned. The same day, Soviet Foreign Commissar Maxim Litvinov makes a similar statement in the League of Nations.
    • The New England Hurricane of 1938 strikes Long Island and southern New England, killing over 300 along the Rhode Island shoreline and 600 altogether.
    • Following the capitulation of the Czech government to Germany's demands both Poland and Hungary demand slices of Czech territory where their nationals reside.
  • September 22
    • Unable to survive the previous day's capitulation to the demands of the English and French governments, Czechoslovak premier Milan Hodža resigns. General Jan Syrovy takes his place.
    • Neville Chamberlain arrives in the city of Godesberg for another round of talks with Hitler over the Sudetenland crisis. Hitler raises his demands to include occupation of all German Sudeten territories by October 1. That night after a telephone conference, Chamberlain reverses himself and advises the Czechoslovaks to mobilize.
    • Olsen and Johnson's musical comedy revue Hellzapoppin' begins its 3-year run on Broadway.
  • September 23
    • The Czechoslovak army mobilizes.
    • As the Polish army masses along the Czech border the Soviet Union warns Poland if it crosses the Czech frontier Russia will regard the 1932 non-aggression pact between the two countries void.
  • September 24
    • Sir Eric Phipps, British Ambassador to France, reports to London, "all that is best in France is against war, almost at any price", being opposed only by a "small, but noisy and corrupt, war group". Phipp's report creates major doubts about the ability and/or willingness of France to go to war.
    • At 1:30 AM, Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain conclude their talks on the Sudetenland. Chamberlain agrees to take Hitler's demands, codified in the Godesberg Memorandum, personally to the Czech Government. The Czech Government rejects the demands, as does Chamberlain's own cabinet. The French Government also initially rejects the terms and orders a partial mobilizaton of the French army.
  • September 26 – In a vitriolic speech at Berlin's Sportpalast, Hitler defies the world and implies war with Czechoslovakia will begin at any time.
  • September 28 – As his self-imposed October 1 deadline for occupation of the Sudetenland approaches, Adolf Hitler invites Italian Duce Benito Mussolini, French Premier Edourd Deladier, and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to one last conference in Munich. The Czechs themselves are not invited.
  • September 29
    • Colonel Graham Christie, assistant British military attaché in Berlin, is informed by Carl Friedrich Goerdeler that the mobilization of the Royal Navy has badly damaged the popularity of the Nazi regime, as the German public realizes that Fall Grün is likely to cause a world war.
    • Munich Agreement: German, Italian, British and French leaders agree to German demands regarding annexation of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovak government is largely excluded from the negotiations and is not a signatory to the agreement.
    • The Republic of Hatay is declared in Syria
  • September 30 – Neville Chamberlain returns to Britain from meeting with Adolf Hitler and declares "Peace for our time".




Date unknown

  • In West Java, Daeng Soetigna tunes the traditional angklung to play the diatonic scale.
  • Adolf Hitler is Time magazine's "Man of the Year", as the most influential person of the year.
  • The Walther P38 pistol is introduced in Germany.
  • The first cartoon to feature a prototypical Bugs Bunny, Porky's Hare Hunt, is released.
  • The Schomburgk's Deer becomes extinct by this date.
  • Herbert E. Ives and G. R. Stilwell execute the Ives-Stilwell experiment, showing that ions radiate at frequencies affected by their motion.[5]
  • Family plots produce 22% of all Soviet agricultural produce on only 4% of all cultivated land.
  • Women are limited by law to a maximum of 10% of the better-paying jobs in industry and government in Italy.








Date unknown




Nobel Prizes

Nobel medal dsc06171.png


  1. ^ "Daily Pilot - Serving Newport Beach & Costa Mesa, California". Archived from the original on 2009-05-20. http://dailypilot.com/articles/2009/05/17/topstory/dpt-alookback051709.txt. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  2. ^ Nazi Germany and the Jews: 1938 – “The Fateful Year” on the Yad Vashem website
  3. ^ Nazi Germany and the Jews: 1938 – “The Fateful Year” on the Yad Vashem website
  4. ^ It Came From Within... 71 Years Since Kristallnacht - Online exhibition from Yad Vashem, including survivor testimonies, archival footage, photos, and stories
  5. ^ Ives, Herbert E.; Stilwell, G. R. (1938). "An Experimental Study of the Rate of a Moving Atomic Clock". Journal of the Optical Society of America 28 (7): 215–19. Bibcode 1938JOSA...28..215I. doi:10.1364/JOSA.28.000215. http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=josa-28-7-215. Retrieved 2011-09-23. 

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