- January 26 - Spanish Civil War: Troops loyal to Francisco Franco, and aided by Italy, take Barcelona.
- February 2 - Hungary joins Anti-Comintern Pact
- February 27 - United Kingdom and France recognize Franco's government
- March 13 - Hitler advises Jozef Tiso to declare Slovakia's independence in order to prevent its partition by Hungary and Poland.
- March 14 - Slovak provincial assembly proclaims independence - priest Jozef Tiso becomes the president of independent Slovak government
- March 15 - German troops occupy the remaining part of Bohemia and Moravia; Czechoslovakia ceases to exist; beginning hostilities leading to WWII. The Ruthenian region of Czechoslavakia declares independences as Carpatho-Ukraine
- March 16 - Hungary invades Carpatho-Ukraine; final resistance ends on March 18.
- March 22 - Germany takes Memel from Lithuania
- March 23 - Slovak-Hungarian War begins.
- March 28 - Dictator Francisco Franco conquers Madrid.
- March - End of the Great Arab Revolt in the British mandate of Palestine (started 1936)
- April 1 - Spanish Civil War comes to an end when the last of the Republican forces surrendered.
- April 4 - Slovak-Hungarian War ends with Slovakia ceding eastern territories to Hungary.
- April 7 - Italy invades Albania - King Zog flees
- April 11 - Hungary leaves the League of Nations
- June 4 - Holocaust: The SS St. Louis, a ship carrying a cargo of 907 Jewish refugees, is denied permission to land in Florida after already having been turned away from Cuba. Forced to return to Europe, most of its passengers later die in Nazi concentration camps.
- June 24 - Government of Siam changes its name to Thailand, which means 'Free Land'.
- July 4 - The concentration camp Neuengamme becomes autonomous.
- July 5 - USS South Dakota (BB-57) is laid down at Camden, New Jersey.
- July 6 - Holocaust: The last remaining Jewish enterprises in Germany are closed.
- August 2 - Albert Einstein writes President Franklin Roosevelt about developing the Atomic Bomb using Uranium. This led to the creation of the Manhattan Project.
- August 23 - Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact: Hitler and Stalin agree to divide Europe between themselves (Finland, Estonia, Latvia and eastern Poland to the USSR; Lithuania and western Poland to Germany).
- August 25 - An IRA bomb explodes in the center of Coventry, England killing five people.
- August 26 - The Kriegsmarine orders all German flagged merchant ships to head to German ports immediately in anticipation of the Invasion of Poland.
- August 27 - A Heinkel 178, the first jet-powered aircraft, flies for the first time.
- August 30 - Poland begins mobilization
- September 1 - WWII: Nazi Germany invades Poland, beginning the Second World War in Europe.
- September 2 - Following the invasion of Poland, Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) is annexed to Nazi Germany.
- September 3 - WWII: France, Australia and the United Kingdom declare war on Germany.
- September 4 - WWII: Nepal declares war on Germany.
- September 5 - WWII: The United States declares its neutrality in the war.
- September 6 - WWII: South Africa declares war on Germany.
- September 10 - Canada declares war on Germany.
- September 16 - Cease Fire ending undeclared Border War between The Soviet Union (and Mongolian allies) and Japan.
- September 17 - Soviet Union invades Poland and then occupies eastern Polish territories.
- September 27 - Warsaw surrenders to Germany; Modlin surrenders day later; last Polish large operational unit surrenders near Kock eight days later.
- October 8 - WWII: Germany annexes Western Poland.
- October 11 - Manhattan Project: US President Franklin D. Roosevelt is presented with a letter signed by Albert Einstein urging the United States to rapidly develop the atomic bomb.
- October 14 - German U-Boat U-47 sinks British battleship HMS Royal Oak.
- November 4 - WWII: US President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders the United States Customs Service to implement the Neutrality Act of 1939, allowing cash-and-carry purchases of weapons to non-belligerent nations.
- November 6 - WWII: Sonderaktion Krakau, the codename for a German action against scientists from the University of Kraków and other Kraków universities at the beginning of World War II.
- November 8 - Venlo Incident: Two British agents of SIS are captured by the Germans.
- November 8 - In Munich, Adolf Hitler narrowly escapes an assassination attempt while celebrating the 16th anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch.
- November 30 - Winter War begins: Soviet forces attack Finland and reach the Mannerheim Line, starting the war.
- December 13 - WWII - Battle of the River Plate: German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee trapped by cruisers HMS Ajax, HMNZS Achilles, and HMS Exeter after a running battle off the coast of Uruguay. Admiral Graf Spee is scuttled by its crew off Montevideo harbor on December 17.
- December 14 - League of Nations expels the USSR because of attacking Finland
- Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)
- Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945)
- The Great Depression (1929-The Late 1930s, early 1940s)
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