March 1933

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March 4, 1933: U.S. President Roosevelt inaugurated for first of four terms

The following events occurred in March 1933:

March 1, 1933 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The fictional defense attorney Perry Mason was introduced, along with his secretary Della Street, and detective Paul Drake, in Erle Stanley Gardner's novel, The Case of the Velvet Claws, published by William Morrow and Company.[1]
  • The Governor of Kentucky declared March 1 to March 4 as "days of Thanksgiving" and legal holidays on which banks could remain closed, and Louisiana and Alabama followed suit, bringing to nine the number of American states that had declared a bank holiday. Banks remained closed in Maryland, Michigan, and Tennessee, while Arkansas, Indiana, and Pennsylvania restricted withdrawals,[2] although the closures were voluntary.[3]
  • Born: Alan Ameche, American NFL player, in Kenosha, Wisconsin (d. 1988).
  • Died: Uładzimir Žyłka, 32, Belarusian poet, at a concentration camp near Kirov.

March 2, 1933 (Thursday)[edit]

March 3, 1933 (Friday)[edit]

  • At 2:32 a.m. local time, a powerful undersea earthquake rocked the Japanese island of Honshu. Shortly afterward, a tsunami almost 100 feet (30 m) high[11] roared ashore, killing more than 3,000 people and destroying 9,000 homes and 8,000 boats.[12] At an 8.9 magnitude, the quake was the largest ever recorded, rivaled only by a January 31, 1906 quake off the coast of Colombia and Ecuador.[13]
  • Ernst Thälmann, former Presidential candidate in the 1932 German elections and leader of the German Communist Party, was arrested at his Berlin apartment.[14] Notwithstanding his re-election to Parliament two days later, Thälmann would spend the rest of his life imprisoned, and would be executed at the Buchenwald concentration camp on August 18, 1944.[15]
  • Japanese troops, invading China, captured the city of Chengde, capital of the Jehol Province.[16]
  • The impeachment trial of federal judge Harold Louderback began in the U.S. Senate. Louderback was later acquitted of all charges.[17]
  • On the eve of President Roosevelt's inauguration, more states closed their banks as Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin, joined in declaring bank holidays, bringing to 25 the number of states under restriction.[3][18]

March 4, 1933 (Saturday)[edit]

March 5, 1933 (Sunday)[edit]

March 6, 1933 (Monday)[edit]

  • President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 2039, declaring a nationwide "bank holiday", temporarily closing every bank in the United States and freezing all financial transactions. The 'holiday' ended on March 13 for the 12 federal reserve banks, and by March 15 for all banks, which then had to apply for a license.[3] Two thousand banks did not reopen after the holiday. On the same day, President Roosevelt placed an embargo on the export of gold and suspended the payment of gold to satisfy government obligations.[26] Finally, he declared a state of national emergency. Along with three other presidential proclamations of an emergency (on December 15, 1950; March 23, 1970; and August 15, 1971), the 1933 proclamation would not be rescinded until the enactment of the "National Emergencies Act", which would become effective on September 14, 1978, forty-five and a half years after FDR's decree.[27]
  • General Nikolaos Plastiras, opposed to Panagis Tsaldaris' taking office as Prime Minister of Greece, led a military coup and set up a dictatorship. Plastiras resigned the next day and was arrested, being replaced by General Alexandros Othonaios.[28]
  • Born: Ted Abernathy, American baseball relief pitcher for seven major league teams between 1955 and 1972; in Stanley, North Carolina (d. 2004).
  • Died: Anton Cermak, 59, Mayor of Chicago, 19 days after being shot during an assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt. Cermak's physician, Dr. Karl A. Meyer, said later that Cermak's primary cause of death was ulcerative colitis: "The mayor would have recovered from the bullet wound had it not been for the complication of colitis. The autopsy disclosed the wound had healed... the other complications were not directly due to the bullet wound."[29]

March 7, 1933 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss suspended parliamentary procedure and began to rule as a dictator.[30]
  • Born: Jackie Blanchflower, Northern Irish footballer for Manchester United F.C., most notable for the callous treatment received from the club due to his injuries in a 1958 plane crash that killed eight members of the team (d. 1998).

March 8, 1933 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The newly appointed U.S. enforcement director for Prohibition announced that federal agents would no longer raid places where liquor was served, concentrating instead on manufacturers and transporters, and leaving it up to the individual states to handle a "speakeasy".[31]
  • The Committees of Unwealthy Peasants, who had led the enforcement of collective farming in the USSR, were abolished. Having overseen the confiscation of grain from local farmers for government use, the committee members were left to starve along with their fellow villagers.[32]

March 9, 1933 (Thursday)[edit]

March 10, 1933 (Friday)[edit]

March 11, 1933 (Saturday)[edit]

March 12, 1933 (Sunday)[edit]

FDR on radio
  • At 10:00 at night Washington time, President Roosevelt gave the first of his "fireside chats" to the American public in a nationwide radio broadcast, to explain why he had declared a bank holiday.[38] The term "fireside chat" was coined by CBS to describe Roosevelt's second address on May 7. In all, Roosevelt delivered 28 live fireside chats, the last on June 12, 1944.[39]
  • Six British electrical engineers of Metropolitan-Vickers were arrested in the Soviet Union and charged with espionage and sabotage of electrical stations. Despite protests from the British government, the prisoners were put on trial, with five being convicted on April 19. Two (MacDonald and Thornton) were kept in prison and the other four were expelled. In April, Britain and the USSR ceased trading.[40]
  • Born: Barbara Feldon, American TV actress best known as "Agent 99" on Get Smart; in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.

March 13, 1933 (Monday)[edit]

March 14, 1933 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • The American bank holiday came to an end for all banks. At the beginning of the year, there were 17,796 banks, 447 of which had failed by the start of the five-day "holiday". The nation's 5,430 unlicensed banks were limited to allowing five percent of deposits.[44]
  • Tornadoes swept through the city of Nashville, and then to points eastward in Tennessee, killing 61 people, with 15 in Nashville and another six in Kingsport.[45]
  • Born:
  • Died
    • Balto, 13, American sled dog famous for saving thousands of people from an epidemic of diphtheria in 1925. He would have a bronze statue built in Central Park in 1926, the year after the relay. Balto is there for the opening ceremony of his statue. He would be the subject of a 1995 feature film of the same name.
    • Lt. Col. Gustavo Jiménez, 47, Peruvian military officer who served briefly as President, and was then defeated in the 1932 election. Jiménez committed suicide after unsuccessfully attempting to lead a revolt.[46]
    • Anny Ahlers, 36, German film actress, after falling from a building while sleepwalking.

March 15, 1933 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose from 53.84 to 62.10 points. The day's gain of 15.34%, achieved during the depths of the Great Depression, remains to date as the largest 1-day percentage gain for the index.[47]
  • Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss kept members of the Austrian Parliament from reconvening, starting the Austrofascist dictatorship.[23]
  • The Soviet Union halted further seizure of grain from farmers in the Ukrainian SSR, and ordered some stocks returned from army reserves to the villages.[48]
  • Actor Cary Grant sustained a facial injury, and Fredric March and Jack Oakie escaped unscathed, after a bomb being used in the filming of the American war drama, The Eagle and the Hawk, exploded prematurely on the set.[49]
  • Clarence Cannon and Milton A. Romjue, both Democrats and U.S. Representatives from Missouri, engaged in a fist fight in the House Office Building. Minnesota Congressman Ernest Lundeen separated the two, shoving Cannon into an elevator and then taking Romjue to a first-aid station.[50]
  • New German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels gave his first press conference, instructing journalists on their responsibilities. He painted the ideal media as a press "so finely tuned that it is, as it were, like a piano in the hands of the government on which the government can play".[51]
  • Born: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice since 1993; in Brooklyn.

March 16, 1933 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Philippine Governor-General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and his wife leave the Philippines after one year; succeeded by Vice-Governor John H. Holiday.[52]
  • In Manchukuo, the puppet state set up in Japanese-occupied China, 50 people were killed and 70 injured when a passenger train derailed. Although few were hurt in the derailment, there was insufficient time to warn that the tracks were blocked, and a freight train crashed into the rear of the passenger train.[53]

March 17, 1933 (Friday)[edit]

  • Lyman Duff was sworn in as the new Chief Justice of Canada, having served on the Canadian Supreme Court since 1906. He remained on the bench until 1944.[10]
  • U.S. Senator Huey Long of Louisiana purchased air time on NBC radio to deliver his own nationwide address, describing his plan for redistribution of wealth.[54]
  • Adolf Hitler named Hjalmar Schacht as his chief economic adviser. Historian William Shirer would later write: "No single man in all of Germany would be more helpful to Hitler in building up the economic strength of the Third Reich and in furthering its rearmament."[55]
  • Hitler named Baldur von Schirach, age 25, as leader of the Hitler Youth.[56]
  • Born:

March 18, 1933 (Saturday)[edit]

March 19, 1933 (Sunday)[edit]

March 20, 1933 (Monday)[edit]

  • Died Giuseppe Zangara, 32, who killed Chicago Mayor Anton J. Cermak while attempting to assassinate President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt. Zangara went to the electric chair at the Florida State Prison in Raiford, Florida. His last words reportedly were "Goodbye to the world. Go ahead, push the button."[60]

March 21, 1933 (Tuesday)[edit]

March 22, 1933 (Wednesday)[edit]

March 23, 1933 (Thursday)[edit]

In the last open session of the German Parliament, Social Democratic Party leader Otto Wels spoke against Adolf Hitler's request for formal approval of dictatorial powers.[66] Wels would be fortunate enough to be able to leave the country, and would die in Paris on September 16, 1939.

  • By a 441-94 vote, Germany's Reichstag passed the Enabling Act (Ermächtigungsgesetz), entitled "Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Nation", which gave Chancellor Hitler the power to enact new laws by decree, without need of legislative approval. The majority was obtained by the exclusion of 81 Communist party members, the reluctance of the Centrist Party to oppose the legislation, and the posting of Stormtroopers to observe the debate.[67]
  • Jewish protesters in New York City marched to the Mayor's office to protest persecution of German Jews and to call for a boycott of German goods.[68]

March 24, 1933 (Friday)[edit]

  • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE), the first high-strength industrial plastic, was created by British chemists Reginald Gibson and Eric Fawcett at the Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) plant in Winnington. After mixing ethylene and benzaldehyde, heating the combination under high pressure to 170 °C, Gibson and Fawcett created a waxy solid polymer. It wasn't until 1935 that Michael Perrin replicated the experiment.[69]
  • In an interview with the Universal Press Service, Adolf Hitler's press secretary issued a statement on behalf of the Chancellor. Hitler described reports of maltreatment of Jews and Catholics to be "dirty lies" and said that "there has been no discrimination whatsoever between Jews or non-Jews or Christians, or any other creed or race."[70]
  • In Berlin, the nationalist Jewish civil rights movement Central Union of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith described reports of persecution of Jews as "pure inventions", while the "Patriotic Society of National German Jews" stated that the reports were "foreign attempts to blackmail Germany".[71]
  • Ādolfs Bļodnieks became Prime Minister of Latvia, serving for one year.

March 25, 1933 (Saturday)[edit]

March 26, 1933 (Sunday)[edit]

  • In a telegram from U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull to leaders of American Jewish organizations, the State Department announced that its investigation of conditions in Germany had determined that "whereas there was for a short time considerable physical mistreatment of Jews, this phase may be considered virtually terminated."[72]
  • Born: Vine Deloria, Jr., American Sioux Indian author and activist, at Martin, South Dakota (d. 2005).
  • Died: Eddie Lang, American jazz musician, 31, of complications from a tonsillectomy.

March 27, 1933 (Monday)[edit]

  • Japan announced it would leave the League of Nations (due to a cancellation period of exactly two years, the egression would become effective March 27, 1935)[73]
  • The Nazi Party ordered a one-day nationwide boycott of Jewish merchants, to begin on April 1 and to be enforced by the presence of SS troops outside Jewish-owned stores.[74][75]

March 28, 1933 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • All 15 people on board were killed in the crash of an Armstrong Whitworth Argosy. The crew of three and the 12 passengers died shortly after the plane took off from Brussels, bound for Cologne. The crash would later be determined to have been caused by a fire that a passenger had started after the plane was airborne.[76]
  • Joseph Goebbels, a film fan as well as the new German Minister of Propaganda, addressed filmmakers and union representatives at the Kaiserhof Hotel in Berlin, describing his requirements that new films reflect the Nazi state's ideals without compromising the artist's vision.[77]
  • Died:
    • Friedrich Zander, 45, Latvian-born Soviet rocketry pioneer
    • Ida Siddons, 76, American entertainer and comedian, known in the 1890s as the "Queen of Burlesque".[78]

March 29, 1933 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The "Law Concerning the Sentence and Execution of the Death Penalty" was issued in Germany to permit the death penalty by hanging for certain offences committed on or after January 30, when Adolf Hitler had become chancellor. This followed the "Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State", better known as the Reichstag Fire Decree, which President Hindenburg had issued on Hitler's advice on February 28. The offences attracting the death penalty under the new law included arson of public buildings; it was dubbed the "Lex van der Lubbe" because it permitted the execution of Marinus van der Lubbe for the burning of the Reichstag building in February, even though arson had not been a capital offence at the time. It would also be used to justify the executions of any persons who had been arrested for treason in the first two months of Nazi rule.[79]
  • Soviet famine of 1932–33: Welsh journalist Gareth Jones makes the first report in the West of the Holodomor famine-genocide in Ukraine.
  • Born: Clifford Fyle, Sierra Leonean author, in Freetown (d. 2006).

March 30, 1933 (Thursday)[edit]

  • Tornadoes in the southeastern United States killed 68 people.[80]
  • The Trans-Jordan assembly voted 13-3 to repeal a ban against sales of land to foreigners, opening the way for Jewish colonization of Palestine.[81]
  • Raid against Berlin lawyers in the courts, at noon.[82]
  • Born: Jon Hassler, American author, in Minneapolis (d. 2008).

March 31, 1933 (Friday)[edit]

  • Uruguay's civilian elected President, Gabriel Terra, established himself as the nation's dictator, ruling until his overthrow in 1938.[83]
  • The German government announced that the anti-Jewish boycott, set to take place on 1 April, would last only one day and then be "held in abeyance until Wednesday".[84]
  • The "Preliminary Law for the Co-ordination of the States and the Reich" went into effect, giving the national government control over the state governments. Under orders of Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick, the state legislatures and cabinets were "reconstituted" with Nazi Party members, and new governors were appointed from Berlin.[85]
  • The Justice Minister in the German state of Prussia directed that all Jewish judges, prosecutors and legal officers were to resign, and that Jewish lawyers should be limited in their number of cases. Dr. Hans Frank, the Justice Minister of Bavaria, "retired" all Jewish judges and lawyers on the same day.[86]
  • The Civilian Conservation Corps was established in the United States with the mission to relieve rampant unemployment.[87]


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  41. ^ "Theater Fire in Mexico Takes Toll of 41 Lives", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 15, 1933, p. 2
  42. ^ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 13, 1933, p. 2
  43. ^ "Erickson Takes Walsh's Position", Spokane Daily Chronicle, March 14, 1933, p. 2
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  45. ^ "23 in Four States Killed, 200 Wounded by Tornado", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 15, 1933, p. 1 "Tornado Toll Mounts to 43", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 16, 1933, p. 1
  46. ^ "Leader in Peruvian Revolt Kills Himself", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 15, 1933, p. 2
  47. ^ "Stocks Gain Three Billion", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 16, 1933, p. 1
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  49. ^ "Movie Actor Hurt As Bomb Explodes", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 16, 1933, p. 1
  50. ^ "Congressmen In Fist Fight After Session", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 17, 1933, p. 3
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  84. ^ "GERMANS LIMIT BOYCOTT TO ONE DAY AS 'WARNING'", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 1, 1933, p. 1
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