February 1933

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February 17, 1933: "News-Week" Magazine introduced
February 27–28, 1933: The Reichstag is set on fire, national emergency declared by Hitler
February 15, 1933: President-elect Roosevelt avoids assassination...
...Mayor Cermak of Chicago killed

The following events occurred in February 1933:

February 1, 1933 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • In his first speech as Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler addressed the Reichstag and was broadcast nationwide on the radio. He declared that "Within four years, the German farmer must be raised from destitution. Within four years, unemployment must be completely overcome." By 1936, full employment would be achieved, at the expense of suppressing all political opposition.[1]
  • Tiburcio Carías Andino took office as President of Honduras.[2]
  • Born: Reynolds Price, American author, in Macon, North Carolina (d. 2011)

February 2, 1933 (Thursday)[edit]

  • A ceasefire agreement was signed in Nicaragua between rebel leader Augusto Sandino and President Juan Bautista Sacasa. The withdrawal of American troops the month before prompted the government to negotiate with the Sandinistas, who were granted amnesty, a tract of land in the Coco River valley, and the right to keep 100 armed men, in return for the demobilization of the other 1,800 rebels and the surrender of weapons.[3]
  • Christine and Lea Papin, sisters who worked as servants for the Lancelin family at Le Mans in France, murdered their employer's wife and daughter. Their 1933 trial captured the nation's attention. Christine died in an asylum and Lea was released in 1941.[4]
  • After a trial broadcast that had taken place on January 30, The Lone Ranger series began regular radio episodes, delivered 3 days a week until September 3, 1954.[5]
  • Born: Tony Jay, British-American stage and voice actor, in London (d. 2006)

February 3, 1933 (Friday)[edit]

  • In a secret speech with Germany's senior Army and Navy commanders, Adolf Hitler outlined his plans to begin conscription, to rearm Germany in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, and, eventually, to invade Eastern Europe to increase Germany's territory.[6]
  • Seven members of a family in Tomahawk, Kentucky, strangled Mrs. Lucinda Mills, age 72, in what was described as a cult sacrifice ritual.[7]
  • The musical comedy film Hallelujah, I'm a Bum starring Al Jolson and Madge Evans was released.
  • Born:

February 4, 1933 (Saturday)[edit]

  • With the approval of Germany's President Hindenburg, Adolf Hitler decreed the "Ordinance for the Protection of the German People", which allowed the police to ban any publications which were a threat to public order. Violators could be arrested and detained without a warrant for as long as three months.[8]
  • Without consulting his minister, Japan's Emperor Hirohito approved Prince Kan'in's request to deploy troops in the Jehol province of China, on the condition that the armies were not to "advance beyond the great wall."[9]

February 5, 1933 (Sunday)[edit]

  • After their pay had been cut by 15%, sailors on the Netherlands ship De Zeven Provinciën seized control of it in a mutiny that took place while most of the officers had gone ashore to an officers club at Olehleh in Sumatra. After Captain Henk Eikenboom returned to the port to find that the ship had hijacked, he pursued in the ship Aldebaran. The next day, the mutineers announced that they would sail the ship to Surabaya and turn it over to the commander before arrival, adding "We do not intend force...We only want to protest against the unjust cutting of wages and the imprisonment of those who have already protested.".[10] The Dutch Navy intercepted the ship on February 10 and sent the mutineers an ultimatum, giving them ten minutes to hoist a white flag of surrender. When the leaders refused, an airstrike was ordered and a bomb was dropped on the ship, killing 22 people on the deck. The ship then surrendered unconditionally.[11]
  • Died: James Herman Banning, 32, African-American pilot, as a passenger in a plane crash in San Diego.

February 6, 1933 (Monday)[edit]

February 7, 1933 (Tuesday)[edit]

February 8, 1933 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The prototype of the Boeing 247, a twin-engine, all-aluminum airplane designed to be the first modern airliner, made its initial flight, piloted by Les Tower and copilot Louis Goldsmith.[21]
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt was formally declared the President-elect of the United States, and John Nance Garner the Vice-President elect, as the electoral college results were announced by Vice-President Charles Curtis at a joint session of Congress. As expected, the vote was 472 to 59 in favor of Roosevelt and Garner over President Hoover and Vice-President Curtis.[22]
  • Adolf Hitler announced to his cabinet that he would pursue the goal of complete rearmament of the German people within five years, with every publicly sponsored employment program to be judged by whether it contributed to the Wehrmacht.[23]
  • The coldest recorded temperature in Texas was logged at Seminole at -23 °F.[24]
  • Born: Elly Ameling, Dutch soprano, in Rotterdam

February 9, 1933 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Record cold temperatures were set in the states of Montana (-66 °F at Yellowstone National Park's Riverside Ranger Station),[25] Oregon (-54 °F at Ukiah),[26] and Wyoming (-63 °F at Moran).[27] The Montana reading was the lowest recorded temperature in United States history to that time.[28] The record for the 48 U.S. states would remain unbroken until January 20, 1954 in Montana (-70 °F), and, after the admission of Alaska, on January 23, 1971 (-80 °F).[29]
  • The "Oxford Pledge" was approved by a 275-153 vote of the England's foremost debating society at the University of Oxford, a resolution stating "this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country." Coinciding with the ascendance of Adolf Hitler to the leadership of Germany, the pacifist resolution attracted worldwide publicity and outraged many Britons. Winston Churchill described the resolution as "an abject, squalid, shameless avowal".[30] As one observer would later note, "Most of those who took part in this debate certainly fought for King and Country seven years later", after war began in 1939.[31]

February 10, 1933 (Friday)[edit]

  • The New York City-based Postal Telegraph Company introduced the first singing telegram.[32]
  • A gas storage tank at the German town of Neunkirchen, Saarland, exploded, killing 62 people and hospitalizing 160.[33]
  • Primo Carnera knocked out Ernie Schaaf in the 13th round of a heavyweight boxing bout at New York's Madison Square Garden. Schaaf suffered an intracranial hemorrhage, developed a blood clot on his brain, and died during surgery four days later at age 24.[34]
  • Ronald Reagan, age 22, began his first full-time job in radio, for station WOC in Davenport, Iowa. Four months later, Reagan was hired as a full-time sports announcer for WHO, a clear-channel station in Des Moines, where he became a local celebrity, and in 1937, his job took him to California where he became a movie star with Warner Brothers, followed by his entry into politics in 1966, and his election as President of the United States in 1980.[35]

February 11, 1933 (Saturday)[edit]

  • What is now the Death Valley National Park was created by proclamation of outgoing U.S. President Herbert Hoover, who set aside the desert in southern California and a U.S. national monument. President Bill Clinton would sign legislation in 1994 making Death Valley the largest national park in the continental United States.[36]

February 12, 1933 (Sunday)[edit]

February 13, 1933 (Monday)[edit]

  • The "Warsaw Convention", formally the "Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to the International Carriage by Air", went into effect after receiving the necessary ratifications. The agreement had been signed in the Polish capital on October 12, 1929. It would govern passenger rights in international air travel for 70 years, before being replaced by the Montreal Convention in 2003.[38]
  • Outgoing U.S. President Herbert Hoover delivered his last major speech, sometimes referred to as his "farewell address",[39] to the Republican Club of New York, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.[40]
  • Born:

February 14, 1933 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • With the impending failure of two of Detroit's largest banks, Michigan Governor William Comstock ordered all banks in the state to be closed for eight days, in what some economic historians argue to have caused a "domino effect"[41] that caused other bank closures, while other historians theorize that the Michigan crisis was only one of many that would have occurred anyway.[42] Although Nevada and Louisiana had previously declared temporary bank holidays, Michigan was the first large industrial state to have a bank closure, and other state governors ordered their own holidays. By March 3, banks in most of the 48 states had restricted withdrawals or closed entirely.[43]
  • In France, astronomer Ernest Esclangon inaugurated the first telephone service for callers to learn the correct time, referred to as the "horloge parlante" ("talking clock"). Callers to the Paris Observatory received a recorded message telling them what the time would be at the sound of a tone.[44]
  • Born: Madhubala (Mumtaz Jahan Begum Dehlavi), Indian film actress, in New Delhi (d. 1969).

February 15, 1933 (Wednesday)[edit]

Assassin Giuseppe Zangara
  • In Miami, Florida, Giuseppe Zangara attempted to assassinate President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, but instead fatally wounded Chicago Mayor Anton J. Cermak, and wounded other people. Shortly after 11:00 pm, Roosevelt had completed a speech at Bayfront Park and was being driven to his train in an open convertible. Zangara pushed his way through the crowd, stood on a folding chair to get a better view and was within 25 feet of Roosevelt when he began firing with a .32 caliber revolver. The chair was wobbly, and at least one bystander, Mrs. Lillian Cross, reportedly grabbed his arm, followed by another bystander, James Galloway, before Zangara was wrestled to the ground. Wounded in addition to Mayor Cermak were two women, a man, and Mr. Roosevelt's bodyguard, policeman William Sinnott. Cermak, who would die on March 6, was reported to have told Roosevelt, "I am glad it was me instead of you."[45] Zangara pleaded guilty to Cermak's murder and was put to death in the electric chair on March 20.[46]
  • Died: Pat Sullivan, 46, Australian-born animator best known for Felix the Cat cartoons.

February 16, 1933 (Thursday)[edit]

  • The U.S. Senate approved, by a 63-23 vote, an altered version of the proposed repeal of the 18th Amendment and its prohibition against the manufacture, sale and transport of alcohol. The original draft of the amendment had been written by U.S. Senator John J. Blaine of Wisconsin. Senate Majority Leader Joseph T. Robinson removed provisions that would have allowed states to ban the sale of alcohol and beer by bars, taverns and saloons. The amendment, approved by the House four days later, was the first, and thus far the only, amendment to the United States Constitution to be submitted to state conventions, rather than state legislatures, for ratification.[47]
  • Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia signed a mutual defense treaty to formalize the Little Entente alliance.[48]
  • Surya Sen, who fought against the British for an independent Bengali state, was captured in the Patiala district village of Gairala, after police were tipped off by an informant. Surya Sen would be hanged on January 12, 1934 in Chittagong.[49]
  • Born: William Maud Bryant, American winner of the Medal of Honor; in Cochran, Georgia (killed 1969).
  • Died: Archie Jackson, 23, Australian cricketer.

February 17, 1933 (Friday)[edit]

February 18, 1933 (Saturday)[edit]

  • With two weeks left in his term, President Herbert Hoover sent a ten-page, handwritten letter to President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt, misspelling the latter's name by addressing it to "President Elect Roosvelt".[56]
  • Born:
    • Yoko Ono, Japanese-born singer and artist, who would marry John Lennon in 1969.
    • Sir Bobby Robson, manager of English national football soccer team 1982-90 (d. 2009).
  • Died: James J. Corbett, 66, American boxer and world heavyweight champion from 1892 to 1897.

February 19, 1933 (Sunday)[edit]

February 20, 1933 (Monday)[edit]

February 21, 1933 (Tuesday)[edit]

February 22, 1933 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • Adolf Hitler authorized the formation of the first Nazi concentration camps (Konzentrationslager), where opponents of the regime would be kept in "protective custody" (Schutzhaft) until they could reform.[60]
  • Hermann Göring appointed 55,000 members of the Nazi Party's stormtroopers as auxiliary policemen, elevating former thugs to official status.[61]
  • Augusto Sandino's rebel army laid down its weapons at San Rafael del Norte, Jinotega. Although there were 1,800 rebels who demobilized, they turned in only 355 guns (including 16 automatic rifles and two machine guns) and 3,000 rounds of ammunition.[62]
  • Frances Perkins was asked by President-elect Roosevelt to serve as his Secretary of Labor, becoming the first woman to ever serve in the Cabinet of the United States.[63]
  • Young Corbett III (real name Raffaele Capabianca Giordano) won the world welterweight boxing championship over Jackie Fields (real name Jacob Finkelstein) in a bout in San Francisco. The Italian native lost the world title three months later.[64]
  • Born: Katharine, Duchess of Kent, first member of British royal family to convert from the Church of England to the Roman Catholic Church; in Hovingham Hall.
  • Died: Michael Malloy, 59, American homeless man who survived at least six attempts on his life, was killed on the tenth attempt. [65] [66] [67]

February 23, 1933 (Thursday)[edit]

  • From its stronghold in occupided Manchuria, Japan invaded China's Jehol Province with 30,000 troops and 1,000 from Manchukuo.[68]
  • The Soviet Union banned foreign journalists from traveling anywhere outside Moscow.[69]
  • W2XAB, Columbia Broadcasting System's only operating television station, was taken off the air as CBS cut more than $50,000 from its budget during the Great Depression. Programming would resume six years later to coincide with the opening of the 1939 New York World's Fair.[70]
  • The Nazi regime issued a decree banning homosexuality and pornography throughout Germany.[71]
  • Born: Lee Calhoun, African-American Olympic track star; gold medalist in 110 meter hurdles, 1956 and 1960; in Laurel, Mississippi (d. 1989).

February 24, 1933 (Friday)[edit]

February 25, 1933 (Saturday)[edit]

February 26, 1933 (Sunday)[edit]

February 27, 1933 (Monday)[edit]

  • Reichstag fire: Six days before the March 5 national parliamentary elections, the Reichstag building in Berlin, was set afire and was heavily damaged. The fire was discovered at 9:15 pm, and the first responders found more than 60 small fires set throughout the building, with the largest in the chamber where the legislators met. Marinus Van der Lubbe, a 25-year-old Dutchman with a Communist background, was arrested at the scene and made a confession after being questioned by his Nazi captors. A former bodyguard for Sturmabteilung (SA) founder Ernst Röhm, alleged later that the Berlin SA leader, Karl Ernst, had led a group of his troopers into the building through a connecting passage, brought in incendiaries, and then waited for Van der Lubbe to arrive.[78] "The whole truth about the Reichstag fire will probably never be known. Nearly all those who knew it are now dead, most of them slain by Hitler in the months that followed," historian William Shirer would write in 1960. Van der Lubbe was executed on January 10, 1934. The fire would be the pretext for the emergency orders the next day granting Hitler the power to rule by decree.[79]
  • Born: Raymond Berry, American football star (1955–67), and Hall of Fame member; in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • Died: Walter Hiers, 39, American silent film actor.

February 28, 1933 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Reichstag Fire Decree: Hours after the Reichstag building had been set afire, Chancellor Adolf Hitler and his Cabinet of Ministers drew up an emergency decree for President Paul von Hindenburg to sign under Article 48 of the German constitution. "Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State" took effect immediately upon the President's signature "as a defensive measure against Communist acts of violence endangering the state". Besides suspending guarantees of "personal liberty", "free expression of opinion", "freedom of the press", "the right of assembly" and "the right of association", the decree invoked the death penalty for a wider variety of crimes, including "serious disturbance of the peace" by an armed individual. Hitler's Stormtroopers across Germany conducted mass arrests, including taking members of Parliament into custody.[80]
  • The University of Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs, 46-27, in Atlanta to win the first SEC Men's Basketball Tournament,[81] Kentucky, with an overall record of 21-3, would later be named, retroactively, as the national college champion for 1932-33 by the Helms Athletic Foundation.[82]


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  10. ^ "Mutineers Seize Warship, Commander Starts Pursuit", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 6, 1933, p. 1
  11. ^ "Commander of Dutch Fleet Writes Graphic Account of Mutiny's End", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 11, 1933, p. 1
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  27. ^ Rick Petreycik, Wyoming (Marshall Cavendish, 2007) p. 9
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  29. ^ "Record Lowest Temperatures by State"
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  32. ^ "The Singing Telegram at 50", New York Times, February 10, 1983 (Another Times article from October 29, 1996, gives the date as July 28, 1933).
  33. ^ "Saar Blast Death Toll 62; 160 in Hospitals", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 13, 1933, p. 1
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