World History 1936

About the history of the world in 1936, Gone With the Wind published, Civil War breaks out in Spain.



Mar. 7 In violation of the Treaty of Versailles, 4,000 German cavalry and infantrymen occupied the demilitarized Rhineland. France and Great Britain protested but did nothing.

June 30 Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind was published. One of the most popular novels in U.S. publishing history owed its existence to a broken ankle. Until 1926, Margaret Mitchell was content as a reporter and feature writer for the Atlanta Journal. That year she broke her ankle, and when it refused to heal properly, she abandoned the newsroom for the comforts of her Atlanta home and the duties of a housewife. Crippling arthritis further restricted her movement, so she spent months reading everything the library had to offer and finally, at her husband's suggestion, began to write a novel about what she knew best-the folkways and mores of her native Atlanta, set against the backdrop of the Civil War and Reconstruction. For 10 years, whenever her arthritic hands could be coaxed to the typewriter, Mitchell fleshed out the characters soon to be known all over the world. By 1929 all but three chapters were completed, but Mitchell was so displeased with the result that only reluctantly did she let a Macmillan representative have a peek at the unfinished manuscript. He liked what he saw. The working title, Tomorrow Is Another Day, was scrapped for a line in an Ernest Dowson poem, and Gone with the Wind was born. The book was an instant success. A Book-of-the-Month Club selection, GWTW went through 500,000 copies in the first three months, passed the million mark by Christmas, and averaged 3,700 sales a day during its first year. Translated into 27 languages in 37 countries, it was especially popular in Germany. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937. Mitchell sold the film rights to MGM for a scant $50,000, and from its premiere in Atlanta, GWTW turned out to be the biggest box-office success in the studio's history. (See also "Inside Stories of the 10 Greatest Films," Chap. 16.)

July 17 Civil war broke out in Spain, bringing to an end that country's five-year experiment in democracy. The forces at work in Spain were the mirror image of conventional revolts and resulted in confusing language: The Loyalists were a coalition government of assorted liberals who were trying to preserve the current form of government, which was then undertaking sweeping political and social reforms. The rebels, on the other hand, included the military, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, and the aristocracy, who wanted to restore the old pre-1931 Spain complete with feudalism, mass illiteracy, and blind obedience to the dictates of the Church. About 96% of the military rallied under the banner of insurgent Gen. Francisco Franco, then governor of the Canary Islands. With Italian planes and Moroccan troops, he stormed Spain in what was expected to be an easy conquest of a government bereft of armed forces. But the Loyalists stiffened their resistance as thousands of civilians flocked to the ramparts overnight. Republican Loyalists held onto the capital, eastern Spain, and most of the southern coast, despite Franco's merciless siege of Madrid and atrocities elsewhere. Hitler and Mussolini both pumped arms and ammunition into the Franco effort. By 1937, 9,000 German technicians and 65,000 Italian troops were on Spanish soil. Nevertheless, the Western countries refused to equip the Loyalists. Only the Soviet Union sent over a few weapons, but even these came too late to make any difference. Still, Spanish Republicans did manage to recruit some 20,000 adventurers, idealists, and anti-Fascists from all over the world and did score some battle victories, most notably against Italian forces near Guadalajara in 1937. Finally in March, 1939, under intense shelling which leveled a third of Madrid, Loyalists surrendered their last bastion, and Spain settled uneasily into the arms of dictator Franco.

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