Reichstag burns down

February 28. Germans awoke to the sinister news that the Reichstag, the parliament building, had been burned down.

Adolf Hitler, the newly appointed Chancellor, blamed a communist who was found nearby by police. But many believed that the fire was started deliberately by the Nazis to justify a crackdown on their political enemies.

Sure enough, Hitler forced the ageing President Hindenburg to grant him the powers of a dictator. All legal guarantees of personal liberty were wiped out by official decree. Socialists and communist were rounded up. Opposition newspaper were suppressed and German radio was taken over as a Nazi machine controlled by Hitler's propaganda boss, Dr Goebbels.

Meanwhile, the Nazi campaign of terror against the Jews worsened. Jewish shops were shut down, Jewish teachers and professors dismissed. The first Jews were already being sent to concentration camps.

Trade union officials were dismissed and even the Boy Scout movement was dissolved and replaced with the Hitler Youth.

Marlene DietrichMay 21. Glamorous German actress, Marlene Dietrich, set up a fashion trend which was immediately followed by thousands of women - wearing men's clothes. The fashion fad, in which grey flannel trousers were particularly popular, was nicknamed "Dietrichery" by commentators. The star was almost mobbed by an excited crowd when she arrived in Paris in a man's brown suit. The city actually had a law against women walking the streets in men's attire.

February 15. American president-elect, Franklin D Roosevelt, narrowly escaped an assassin's bullet after giving a speech in Miami. Roosevelt was sitting in his car near a bandstand at Bay Front Park when five shots rang out, wounding Anton Cermak, the Mayor of Chicago. Guiseppe Zingara, the would-be killer from New Jersey, was knocked to the ground by a police officer and arrested. He later got 80 years in jail.

Police quoted the gunman as saying later: "I'd kill every president." A newspaper cutting about the assassination of President McKinley in 1901 was found on the man. Mr Roosevelt had just finished giving a speech from his car when the first shot rang out, followed by four more, Mayor Cermak took a bullet in his chest.

December 5. America was urged to practice "moderation" as the nation toasted its farewells to prohibition after 14 dry years. Prohibition was evaded on a large scale and "bootlegging" fell under the control of major criminals leading to gang warfare, especially in Chicago. The move to repeal the no drinking law was put before Congress three weeks after President Roosevelt's inauguration. The new president called on the nation to practice moderation and not return to the "repugnant conditions" that resulted in the prohibition law in 1920.


In brief

January 4. Hospital out-patients departments should be improved to cut queues and overcrowding, according to a study in London.

February 4. Unemployment demonstrators gathered in London's Hyde Park. The 50,000 strong gathering was protesting about the lack of work.

March 3. The latest in special-effects techonology came into play as the famous film about a giant gorilla, King Kong, was premiered in New York.

  April 6. The Wolverhampton branch of The National British Women's Total Abstinence Union was told at a town hall meeting that poverty was driving the country's young people to drink.

April 8. In Shropshire a hen set up a record in the Egg Laying Trials by laying 164 eggs in 168 days.

May 6. Willenhall boxer Tommy Rogers raised British boxing prestige in Paris by trouncing US boxing hero Eugene Huat.

May 11. Walsall authorities decided to spend £55,000 clearing slums in the Ryecroft area.

June 12. Wolverhampton Council considered a plan to earmark 178 acres of land at Barnhurst Farm for a municipal aerodrome.

August 17. Because he failed to salute Hitler an American surgeon was attacked in Berlin.

September 25. The famous Turin Shroud was shown to a crowd of 25,000 people.

October 12. Plans to turn the island of Alcatraz , in San Franscisco Bay, into a prison were unveiled in Washington.