World History 1937

About the history of the world in 1937, first jet engine produced, nylon is patented, the Hindenburg is destroyed.

TWO CENTURIES OF WORLD HISTORY: 1778-1978

1937

* Frank Whittle, on leave of absence from the Royal Air Force, developed the first jet engine. The noise, described by Whittle as "a rising shriek like an air raid siren," so disturbed other workers at the British Thompson-Houston Company in Rugby, where the experiments were conducted, that Whittle was forced to set up shop in an abandoned foundry nearby. Even here police at first suspected the racket inside was caused by a band of Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorists putting together some huge bomb. Still Whittle persisted and perfected his invention at about the same time that a 25-year-old German engineer named Wernher Von Braun independently devised his jet rockets for Germany.

Feb. 16 A patent was issued for nylon, first developed by a Du Pont chemical research team under Dr. Wallace Carothers.

May 6 The German zeppelin Hindenburg burst into flames at Lakehurst, N.J., killing 35 of the 97 passengers and crew on board and one of the ground crew. Both the U.S. and Germany ruled out sabotage, although no concrete cause for the ignition of the thousands of cubic feet of hydrogen was ever found. Berlin tried to convert the remainder of its dirigible fleet to helium, which is less explosive, but the U.S., the world's only source, limited its export and finally closed the valves to Germany altogether when Hitler rolled over Austria. The Hindenburg holocaust, replayed on film and in news photos all over the world, doomed the rigid airship business. Germany put on a few more zeppelin shows, but the last paying passengers were those booked on the Hindenburg.

May 30 Memorial Day Massacre: Chicago police attacked striking Republic Steel workers and their families, killing 10 and wounding hundreds.

July 7 The 1st Japanese Division, stationed in North China, demanded entry to the city of Wanping, ostensibly to search out a missing Japanese soldier. Chinese officials refused. So the Japanese army shelled the city into submission and thereby launched an undeclared war which would end only with the fall of Tokyo eight years later. Hoping to pull North China into Japan's orbit and to purge the region of Communist and Western influence, imperial strategists dispatched reinforcements from Manchuria into the trouble spot and succeeded in occupying city after city. Nanking fell on Dec. 12, and the city was subjected to atrocities which did not fully come to light until the war crimes trials following V-J Day. Some 12,000 civilians were burned alive or bayoneted in batches, and countless women were sexually assaulted in what came to be known as the "rape of Nanking." Peking, Shanghai, Tsinan, Canton, and Wuhan similarly fell to Japan. Although Japanese penetration continued, Chinese resistance stiffened with the united front forged by Communist and Nationalist forces. The uneasy alliance produced highly motivated guerrillas, who drew Japan into a long war of attrition which by 1940 had lured 1.5 million Japanese troops onto the mainland and was draining $4 million a day from the imperial treasury.

Dec. 12 Japanese bombers sank the U.S. gunboat Panay and three Standard Oil tankers on the Yangtze River, China, killing three people and wounding several others. U.S. outrage brought a Japanese apology, punishment for those involved, and an indemnity of over $2 million.

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