The Road to War - 1937

The year begins with another persecution in Soviet Union, this time 31 suspects of a Trotskyst plot against Stalin are executed.

20 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt is sworn in for a second term as President of the United States.

Málaga falls to the nationalists side and the battle of Jarama takes place in the outskirts of Madrid. Though intense, the outcome will be a stalemate with heavy casualties on both sides. The League of Nations votes the ban of foreign fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

The Basque town of Guernica is attacked by military planes in an unprecedented bombing of civilians. Immediate reports state that a German participation (Condor Legion) took place helping the nationalist side.
It was the first ever continuous terror bombing over civilian populations, a strategy that would be thoroughly used by both sides in the Second World War.

France lives a severe general strike as the political struggle between left and right radicalizes as result of the support/no support of the Spanish factions in the Civil War.

In the United States the Zeppelin Hindenburg, a symbol of the German superiority, bursts into flames when arriving to New Jersey. It’s the end of the Age of the Zeppelin. On the same month, the Golden Gate Bridge is open.

On the 28th, Neville Chamberlain takes office as Prime-Minister, after having a not so quiet stay as Chancellor of the Exchequer. His office will endure through the difficult last years of peace and the first tumultuous year of the War.

Otherwise, the French coalition government of Léon Blum falls, opening a new crisis. One of the reasons for the ill preparation of France will be the constant change of Government and the lack of a strategic course of action.

The Marco Polo Bridge incident takes place and the invasion of China by the Japanese begins. For many this is the beginning of Second World War in the Far East. The incident would lead to full confrontation that would end only in 1945.

Joseph Stalin begins the largest purge before the war. In a year, more than 724.000 are killed with the excuse of carrying out “anti-soviet” activities. But most will be eliminated for a hole set of reasons such as ethnicity.

The first edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is published.

Although defeated in the battle of Pingxingguan, the Japanese advance in Nanking in the following months. The atrocities committed by both sides and especially over civilian populations are numerous.

5 - F.D. Roosevelt makes the Quarantine Speech, an attempt to call the attention of the American public away from the Isolationist position, extremely popular at the time.

Hitler guarantees Belgium’s borders as long as this country opposes any military action against Germany.

In Spain, the whole northern coast of Spain comes under control of Franco’s forces.

Italy joins the Anti-Comintern Pact and withdraws from League of Nations in the following month.

Hitler holds secret meetings in order to establish plans for “acquiring space for the German People – Lebensraum”.

Japan conquers Shangai from the Chinese. In the midst of the confusion, the USS Panay gunboat is sunk by Japanese forces in an incident that will start deteriorate the relations between both countries

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from Walt Disney premieres.

The Battle of Najing ends after 3 months with over 300.000 casualties, most of them civilians. Beijing is occupied by the Japanese.

The Russian industry ends the year producing 4 times more capacity than it did in 1928.


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