The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Australia is opened.
Leopold III becomes King of Belgium.
|King of the Belgians|
|Reign||17 February 1934 – 16 July 1951|
|Regent||Prince Charles (1944–1950) |
Prince Baudouin (1950–1951)
|Born||3 November 1901|
|Died||25 September 1983 (aged 81)|
Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Brussels, Belgium
(m. 1926; died 1935)
|House||Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (until 1920)|
Belgium (from 1920)
|Father||Albert I of Belgium|
|Mother||Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria|
Leopold III (3 November 1901 – 25 September 1983) was King of the Belgians from 1934 until 1951. On the outbreak of World War II, Leopold tried to maintain Belgian neutrality, but after the German invasion in May 1940, he surrendered his country, earning him much hostility, both at home and abroad.
His act was declared unconstitutional by Prime Minister Hubert Pierlot and his cabinet, who presently moved to London to form a government-in-exile, while Leopold and his family were placed under house arrest. In 1944, they were moved to Germany and then Austria, before being liberated by the Americans, but banned for some years from returning to Belgium, where his brother Prince Charles had been declared regent. Leopold's eventual return to his homeland in 1950 nearly caused a civil war, and under pressure from the government, he abdicated in favour of his son, Prince Baudouin, in July 1951.
Leopold's first wife, Astrid of Sweden, was killed in a road accident while on a driving holiday in Switzerland in August 1935, being much mourned by the public. His second morganatic marriage, to Lilian Baels in captivity in 1941, was not valid under Belgian law, and she was never permitted the title of queen.
Early life and family
Prince Leopold was born in Brussels, the first child of Prince Albert, Duke of Brabant, heir to the Belgian throne, and his consort, Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria. In 1909 his father became King of the Belgians, as Albert I, and Prince Leopold became Duke of Brabant.
In August 1914, when Belgium was invaded by Germany, King Albert allowed Leopold, then aged twelve, to enlist in the Belgian Army as a private and fight in defence of the kingdom. However, in 1915, with Belgium almost entirely occupied by the Germans, Leopold was sent to join Eton College, while his father fought on in France.
After the war, in 1919, the Duke of Brabant visited the Old Mission and Saint Anthony Seminary in Santa Barbara, California.
- Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium, born at the Royal Palace of Brussels on 11 October 1927, Grand Duchess consort of Luxembourg. She was married on 9 April 1953 to Prince Jean, later Grand Duke of Luxembourg. She died at Fischbach Castle on 10 January 2005.
- Prince Baudouin of Belgium, Duke of Brabant, Count of Hainaut, who became the fifth King of the Belgians as Baudouin, born at Stuyvenberg on the outskirts of Brussels on 7 September 1930, and died at Motril in Andalusia, Spain, on 31 July 1993.
- Prince Albert of Belgium, Prince of Liège, who became the sixth King of the Belgians as Albert II, born at Stuyvenberg on 6 June 1934. He abdicated in July 2013.
On 29 August 1935, while the king and queen were driving along the winding, narrow roads near their villa at Küssnacht am Rigi, Schwyz, Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Lucerne, Leopold lost control of the car which plunged into the lake, killing Queen Astrid.
Leopold married Lilian Baels on 11 September 1941 in a secret, religious ceremony, with no validity under Belgian law. They originally intended to wait until the end of the war for the civil marriage, but as the new Princess of Réthy was soon expecting their first child, the ceremony took place on 6 December 1941. They had three children in total:
- Prince Alexandre of Belgium, born in Brussels on 18 July 1942. In 1991, he married Léa Wolman, a marriage revealed only seven years later. He died on 29 November 2009.
- Princess Marie-Christine of Belgium, previously Mrs. Drucker and later Mrs. Gourgues, born in Brussels on 6 February 1951. Her first marriage, to Paul Drucker in 1981, lasted 40 days (and formally divorced in 1985); she subsequently married Jean-Paul Gourges in 1989.
- Princess Marie-Esméralda of Belgium, later Lady Moncada, born in Brussels on 30 September 1956, a journalist, her professional name is Esmeralda de Réthy. She married pharmacologist Salvador Moncada in 1998. They have a son and a daughter.
World War II
When World War II broke out in September 1939, the French and British governments immediately sought to persuade Belgium to join them. Leopold and his government refused, maintaining Belgium's neutrality. Belgium considered itself well-prepared against a possible invasion by Axis forces, for during the 1930s the Belgian government had made extensive preparations to deter and repel an invasion of the country by Germany such as the one that had occurred in 1914.
On 10 May 1940, the Wehrmacht invaded Belgium. On the first day of the offensive, the principal Belgian strong point of Fort Eben-Emael was overwhelmed by a daring paratroop operation and the defensive perimeter thus penetrated before any French or British troops could arrive. After a short running battle that eventually involved the armies of all four belligerents, Belgium was overwhelmed by the numerically superior and better-prepared Germans.
Nevertheless, the Belgian perseverance prevented the British Expeditionary Force from being outflanked and cut off from the coast, enabling the evacuation from Dunkirk. Alan Brooke who commanded II Corps of the BEF thought that the 10th Belgian Division was in the wrong place and wanted to deploy north of Brussels to avoid "double-banking". He was advised by Roger Keyes to see the King, and on 12 May was "making progress in getting matters put right" in discussion with the king in English, but was interrupted (twice) by the King's advisor who spoke to the King in French (in which Brooke was fluent). The advisor was insistent that the Belgian division could not be moved and the BEF should be stopped further south and clear of Brussels; Brooke said he was not putting the whole case to the king; he found that arguing with the advisor was a sheer waste of time as he cared little about the BEF and most of his suggestions were "fantastic". The King's advisor Van Overstraeten was not the Chief of Staff, as Brooke had assumed, but the king's aide-de-camp, with the rank of Major-General, and would not give up the Louvain front. The French liaison officer, General Champon, told Brooke that Van Overstraeten had ascendancy over the King and had taken control, so it was useless to see the Chief of Staff. Later (15 May) Brooke found that the BEF was likely to "have both flanks turned" with French defeats, and started withdrawal on 16 May.
After his military surrender, Leopold (unlike Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands in a similar predicament) remained in Brussels to surrender to the victorious invaders, while his entire civil government fled to Paris and later to London.
Surrender and constitutional crisis
On 24 May 1940, Leopold, having assumed command of the Belgian Army, met with his ministers for the final time. The ministers urged the King to leave the country with the government. Prime Minister Hubert Pierlot reminded him that capitulation was a decision for the Belgian government, not the King. The king indicated that he had decided to remain in Belgium with his troops, whatever the outcome. The ministers took this to mean that he would establish a new government under the direction of Hitler, potentially a treasonous act. Leopold thought that he might be seen as a deserter if he were to leave the country: "Whatever happens, I have to share the same fate as my troops." Leopold had long had a difficult and contentious relationship with his ministers, acting independently of government influence whenever possible, and seeking to circumvent and even limit the ministers' powers, while expanding his own.
French, British, and Belgian troops were encircled by German forces at the Battle of Dunkirk. Leopold notified King George VI by telegram on 25 May 1940 that Belgian forces were being crushed, saying "assistance which we give to the Allies will come to an end if our army is surrounded". Two days later (27 May 1940), Leopold surrendered the Belgian forces to the Germans.
Prime Minister Pierlot spoke on French radio, saying that the King's decision to surrender went against the Belgian Constitution. The decision, he said, was not only a military decision but also a political decision, and the king had acted without his ministers' advice, and therefore contrary to the Constitution. Pierlot and his Government believed this created an impossibilité de régner:
Should the king find himself unable to reign, the ministers, having observed this inability, immediately summon the Chambers. Regency and guardianship are to be provided by the united Chambers.
It was impossible, however, to summon the Belgian Chamber of Representatives or Belgian Senate at this time, or to appoint a regent. After the liberation of Belgium in September 1944, the government asked Leopold's brother, Prince Charles, to serve as regent.
After Leopold's surrender, the British press denounced him as "Traitor King" and "King Rat"; the Daily Mirror published a picture of Leopold with the headline "The Face That Every Woman Now Despises". A group of Belgian refugees in Paris placed a message at King Albert's statue denouncing his son as "your unworthy successor". French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud accused Leopold of treason. Flemish historians Valaers and Van Goethem wrote that Leopold III had become "The scapegoat of Reynaud", because Reynaud was likely already aware that the Battle of France was lost.
Leopold's surrender was also decried by Winston Churchill. In the House of Commons on 4 June 1940 he said:
At the last moment when Belgium was already invaded, King Leopold called upon us to come to his aid, and even at the last moment we came. He and his brave, efficient army, nearly half a million strong, guarded our left flank and thus kept open our only line of retreat to the sea. Suddenly, without prior consultation, with the least possible notice, without the advice of his ministers and upon his own personal act, he sent a plenipotentiary to the German Command, surrendered his army and exposed our whole flank and means of retreat.
In 1949, Churchill's comments about the events of May 1940 were published in Le Soir (12 February 1949). Leopold's former secretary sent a letter to Churchill saying that Churchill was wrong. Churchill sent a copy of this letter to the King's brother, Prince Charles, via his secretary André de Staercke. In his own letter Churchill wrote,
With regards to King Leopold, the words which I used at the time in the House of Commons are upon record and after careful consideration I do not see any reason to change them (...) it seemed to me and many others that the king should have been guided by the advice of his ministers and should not have favoured a course which identified the capitulation of the Belgian Army with the submission of the Belgian State to Herr Hitler and consequently taking them out of the war. Happily this evil was averted, and in the end, all came right. I need scarcely say that nothing I said at the time could be interpreted as a reflection upon the personal courage or honour of King Leopold.
De Staercke replied that Churchill was right: "The Prince, Monsieur Spaak [Belgian Foreign Minister Paul-Henri Spaak] and I read your text, which states the precise truth and seems perfect to us."
Belgian historian Francis Balace wrote that capitulation was inevitable because the Belgian Army was not able to fight any longer against the German army. Even Churchill admitted that their position was perilous. In a telegram to Field Marshal Lord Gort on 27 May, only one day before the Belgian capitulation, he wrote, "We are asking them to sacrifice themselves for us."
After the fall of France
Upon Leopold's surrender, the government ministers left for exile, mostly in France. When France fell at the end of June 1940, several ministers sought to return to Belgium. They made an overture to Leopold but were rebuffed:
Pierlot and his government saw that Western Europe had been conquered by the Germans completely and tried to make amends to their king. Would it be possible for them to return to Belgium and form a new government? Leopold showed his stubborn nature; he was insulted by his ministers... His reply was short: "The situation of the king is unaltered; he does not engage in politics and does not receive politicians.
Because of the great popularity of the king, and the unpopularity of the civil government from the middle of 1940, the government crisis persisted. The Royal Articles state:
This refusal [of the king to reconcile with the ministers] left the ministers with no other option than to move to London, where they could continue their work representing the independent Belgium. From the time of their arrival in London, they were confident about an Allied victory and soon were treated with respect by the Allies.... Pierlot and Spaak helped to build Leopold's reputation as a heroic prisoner of war and even said that the Belgians should support their king. But they had no idea what Leopold was doing in the Royal Castle of Laeken. He refused to reply to their messages and stayed cool toward them. What was he doing in the castle? Was he collaborating, did he oppose the Germans, or had he decided to just shut his mouth and wait to see how things would go?
On 2 August 1940, several ministers conferred in Le Perthus in France near the Spanish border. Prime Minister Pierlot and Foreign Minister Spaak were persuaded to go to London, but they were able to start out for London only at the end of August and could travel only via neutral Spain and Portugal. When they reached Spain, they were arrested and detained by the regime of Francisco Franco; they finally arrived in London on 22 October.
Meeting with Hitler
Leopold rejected cooperation with the government of Nazi Germany and refused to administer Belgium in accordance with its dictates; thus, the Germans implemented a military government. Leopold attempted to assert his authority as monarch and head of the Belgian government, although he was a prisoner of the Germans. Despite his defiance of the Germans, the Belgian government-in-exile in London maintained that the King did not represent the Belgian government and was unable to reign. The Germans held him at first under house arrest at the Royal Castle of Laeken. Having since June 1940 desired a meeting with Adolf Hitler in respect of the situation of Belgian prisoners of war, Leopold III finally met with him on 19 November 1940. Leopold wanted to persuade Hitler to release Belgian POWs, and issue a public statement about Belgium's future independence. Hitler refused to speak about the independence of Belgium or issue a statement about it. In refusing to publish a statement, Hitler preserved the King from being seen as cooperating with Germany, and thus engaged in treasonous acts, which would likely have obliged him to abdicate upon the liberation of Belgium. "The [German] Chancellor saved the king two times."
On 11 September 1941, while a prisoner of the Germans, Leopold secretly married Lilian Baels in a religious ceremony that had no validity under Belgian law, which required a religious marriage to be preceded by a legal or civil marriage. On 6 December, they were married under civil law. The reason for the out-of-order marriages was never officially made public.
Jozef-Ernest Cardinal van Roey, Archbishop of Mechelen, wrote an open letter to parish priests throughout the country announcing Leopold's second marriage on 7 December. The letter from the Cardinal revealed that the king's new wife would be known as Princesse de Réthy, not Queen Lilian, and that any children they had would have no claim to the throne. Leopold's new marriage damaged his reputation further in the eyes of many of his subjects.
The Political Testament
The ministers made several efforts during the war to work out a suitable agreement with Leopold III. They sent Pierlot's son-in-law as an emissary to Leopold in January 1944, carrying a letter offering reconciliation from the Belgian government-in-exile. The letter never reached its destination, however, as the son-in-law was killed by the Germans en route. The ministers did not know what happened either to the message or the messenger and assumed that Leopold was ignoring them.
Leopold wrote his Political Testament in January 1944, shortly after this failed attempt at reconciliation. The testament was to be published in case he was not in Belgium when Allied forces arrived. The testament, which had an imperious and negative tone, considered the potential Allied movement into Belgium an "occupation", not a "liberation". It gave no credit to the active Belgian resistance. The Belgian government-in-exile in London did not like Leopold's demand that the government ministers involved in the 1940 crisis be dismissed. The Allies did not like Leopold's repudiation of the treaties concluded by the Belgian government-in-exile in London. The United States was particularly concerned about the economic treaty it had reached with the government-in-exile that enabled it to obtain Congolese uranium for America's secret atom bomb program, which had been developed for use against Germany (although, as it turned out, Germany surrendered before the first bomb was ready).
The Belgian government did not publish the Political Testament and tried to ignore it, partly for fear of increased support for the Belgian Communist party. When Pierlot and Spaak learned of its contents in September 1944, they were astonished and felt deceived by the king. According to André de Staercke, they were dismayed "in the face of so much blindness and unawareness".
Churchill's reaction to the Testament was simply, "It stinks." In a sentence inspired by a quote of Talleyrand about the Bourbons after the restoration of the French monarchy in 1815, Churchill declared, "He is like the Bourbons, he has learned nothing and forgotten nothing."
Exile and abdication
Deportation and exile
In 1944, Heinrich Himmler ordered Leopold deported to Germany. Princess Lilian followed with the family in another car the following day under an SS armed guard. The Nazis held the family in a fort at Hirschstein in Saxony from June 1944 to March 1945, and then at Strobl, Austria.
The British and American governments worried about the return of the king. Charles W. Sawyer, US Ambassador to Belgium, warned his government that an immediate return by the king to Belgium would "precipitate serious difficulties". "There are deep differences even in the royal family and the situation holds dynamite for Belgium and perhaps for Europe". "The Foreign Office feared that an increasing minority in French-speaking Wallonia would demand either autonomy or annexation to France. Winant, the American Ambassador to the Court of Saint James's, reported a Foreign Office official's concern regarding irredentist propaganda in Wallonia." and that "the French Ambassador in Brussels... is believed to have connived in the spreading of this propaganda".
Leopold and his companions were liberated by members of the United States 106th Cavalry Group in early May 1945. Because of the controversy about his conduct during the war, Leopold III and his wife and children were unable to return to Belgium and spent the next six years in exile at Pregny-Chambésy near Geneva, Switzerland. A regency under his brother Prince Charles had been established by the Belgian legislature in 1944.
Resistance to Leopold's return
Van den Dungen, the rector of the Free University of Brussels, wrote to Leopold on 25 June 1945 about concerns for serious disorder in Wallonia, "The question is not if the accusations against you are right or not [but that...] you are no longer a symbol of Belgian unity."
Gillon, the President of the Belgian Senate, told the king that there was a threat of serious disorder: "If there are only ten or twenty people killed, the situation would become terrible for the king."
The president of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, Frans Van Cauwelaert, was concerned that there would be a general strike in Wallonia and revolt in Liège. He wrote, "The country is not able to put down the disorders because of the insufficient forces of the police and a lack of weapons."
In 1946, a commission of inquiry exonerated Leopold of treason. Nonetheless, controversy concerning his loyalty continued, and in 1950, a referendum was held about his future. Fifty-seven per cent of the voters favoured his return. The divide between Leopoldists and anti-Leopoldists ran along the lines of socialists and Walloons who were mostly opposed (42% favourable votes in Wallonia) and Christian Democrats and Flemish who were more in favour of the King (70% favourable votes in Flanders).
General strike of 1950
On his return to Belgium in 1950, Leopold was met with one of the most violent general strikes in the history of Belgium. Three protesters were killed when the gendarmerie opened automatic fire upon the protesters. The country stood on the brink of civil war, and Belgian banners were replaced by Walloon flags in Liège and other municipalities of Wallonia. To avoid tearing the country apart, and to preserve the monarchy, Leopold decided on 1 August 1950 to withdraw in favour of his 20-year-old son Baudouin. His abdication took effect on 16 July 1951. In this postponed abdication the king was, in effect, forced by the government of Jean Duvieusart to offer to abdicate in favour of his son.
Leopold and his wife continued to advise King Baudouin until the latter's marriage in 1960. Some Belgian historians, such as Vincent Delcorps, speak of there having been a "diarchy" during this period.
In retirement, he followed his passion as an amateur social anthropologist and entomologist and travelled the world, collecting zoological specimens. Two species of reptiles are named after him, Gehyra leopoldi and Polemon leopoldi.
Leopold died in 1983 in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert (Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe) following emergency heart surgery. He was interred next to Queen Astrid in the royal vault at the Church of Our Lady of Laeken. Leopold's second wife, the Princess de Réthy, was later interred with them.
Notable royal descendants
Titles, styles and honours
- 3 November 1901 – 23 December 1909: His Royal Highness Prince Leopold of Belgium, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony
- 23 December 1909 – 1921: His Royal Highness The Duke of Brabant, Prince of Belgium, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Duke of Saxony
- 1921 – 17 February 1934: His Royal Highness The Duke of Brabant, Prince of Belgium
- 17 February 1934 – 16 July 1951: His Majesty The King of the Belgians
- 16 July 1951 – 25 September 1983: His Majesty King Leopold III of Belgium
- Grand Master of the Order of Leopold
- Grand Master of the Order of the African Star
- War Cross (1914-1918)
- Volunteer Combatant's Medal 1914–1918
- Commemorative Medal of the 1914–1918 War
- Victory Medal (1914-1918)
- Centenary of National Independence Commemorative Medal
- Brazil: Grand Cross of the Southern Cross
- Chile: Collar of the Order of Merit
- China: Grand Cordon of the Order of Brilliant Jade
- Czechoslovakia: Collar of the White Lion, 1935
- Denmark: Knight of the Elephant, 27 October 1919
- Egyptian Royal Family: Collar of the Order of Muhammad Ali
- Greek Royal Family: Grand Cross of the Redeemer
- Guatemala: Collar of the Order of the Quetzal
- Hungary: Grand Cross of the Order of Merit, with Holy Crown
- Iranian Imperial Family: Grand Cordon of the Order of Pahlavi
- Italian Royal Family:
- Sovereign Military Order of Malta: Bailiff Grand Cross of Justice, Special Class
- Japan: Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum
- Luxembourg: Knight of the Gold Lion of Nassau
- Monaco: Grand Cross of St. Charles
- Nepal: Knight of Ojaswi Rajanya
- Netherlands: Grand Cross of the Netherlands Lion
- Norway: Grand Cross of St. Olav, with Collar
- Peru: Grand Cross of the Sun of Peru, in Diamonds, 1922
- Romanian Royal Family: Grand Cross of the Order of Carol I, with Collar
- Spain: Knight of the Golden Fleece, 4 May 1921
- Thailand: Knight of the Order of the Royal House of Chakri, 16 February 1931
- United Kingdom:
- Vatican City:
|Ancestors of Leopold III of Belgium|
- Dutch: Leopold Filips Karel Albert Meinrad Hubertus Maria Miguel; French: Léopold Philippe Charles Albert Meinrad Hubert Marie Michel; German: Leopold Philipp Karl Albrecht Meinrad Hubert Maria Michael
- Evelyn Graham, Albert, King of the Belgians
- Roger Keyes, Outrageous Fortune: The Tragedy of Leopold III of the Belgians
- Alan Brooke, Field Marshal Lord (2001). War Diaries 1939–1945. Phoenix Press. pp. 60, 61. ISBN 1-84212-526-5.
- Fraser, David (1982). Alanbrooke. New York: Atheneum. pp. 152, 153. ISBN 0-689-11267-X.
- ""Belgian Royal Question" - the Abdication Crisis of King Leopold III of the Belgians". www.theroyalarticles.com.
- The Miracle of Dunkirk, Walter Lord, New York 1982, p. 101, ISBN 0-670-28630-3.
- Art. 93. The Constitution of Belgium, Coordinated text of 14 February 1994 (last updated 8 May 2007)."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 June 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Atkin, Ronald (1990). Pillar of Fire: Dunkirk 1940. Edinburgh: Birlinn Limited. pp. 140–141. ISBN 1-84158-078-3.
- In Dutch De zondebok van Reynaud, from Velaers and Van Goethem, Leopold III, Lannoo, Tielt, 1994 ISBN 90-209-2387-0, p. 264.
- Jean Stengers, Léopold III et le gouvernement, Duculot, Gembloux, 1980, p. 28. OCLC 7795577. The text is quoted in French in this book but the original text is quoted here.
- Churchill's letter to de Saercke, quoted in English in André de Staercke, Tout cela a passé comme une ombre, Mémoires sur la Régence et la Question royale, Preface of Jean Stengers, Racine, Bruxelles, 2003, p. 279, ISBN 2-87386-316-1.
- French Le Prince, Monsieur Spaak et moi-même avons lu (...) votre texte [qui] exprime l'exacte vérité, nous semble parfait. André de Staercke, Tout cela a passé comme une ombre, Mémoires sur la Régence et la Question royale, Ibidem, p. 280.
- Francis Balace, Fors l'honneur. Ombres et clartés sur la capitulation belge in Jours de guerre, n° 4, Bruxelles 1991, pp. 5–50, ISBN 2-87193-137-2.
- Balace, opus citatus, p. 21.
- Jean Stengers, Léopold III et le gouvernement, opus citatus, pp. 199–128.
- Jean Stengers, opus citatus, p. 161.
- In French: ils étaient dominés par la consternation devant tant d'aveuglement et d'inconscience André de Staercke, Tout cela a passé comme une ombre, Mémoires sur la Régence et la Question royale, opus citatus, p. 75.
- Jean Stengers, Léopold III et le gouvernement, opus citatus, p. 176.
- Jean Stengers, ibidem.
- United States Department of State Records (USDSR), National Archives, 855.001 Leopold, Sawyer to Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius, 29 March 1945.
- "Jonathan E. Helmreich, Dean of Instruction (Allegheny College), United States Policy and the Belgian Royal Question (March – October, 1945)".
- USDSR Ibidem, Winant to Stettinius, 26 May 1945. J. E. Hemelreich adds "There is no further mention in the file of any alleged French activities".
- Dutch: Het is niet de vraag of de aantijgingen die tegen U werden ingebracht terecht zijn [maar dat...] U niet langer een symbool is voor de Belgisch eenheid. Velaers en Van Goethem Leopold III, Lannooo, Tielt, 1994, ISBN 90-209-2387-0, p. 955.
- Dutch: Al vielen er maar tien of twintig doden, de situatie van de koning zou vlug vreselijk worden. Velaers en Van Goethem (1994), p. 968.
- Dutch: Het land zou de ontlusten niet kunnen bedwingen wegens een ontoereikende politie macht een een tekort aan wapens. Velaers and Van Goethem (1994), p. 969.
- Philippe Destatte, L'Identité wallonne, Institut Destrée, Charleroi, 1997, p. 235, ISBN 2-87035-000-7.
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- War Controversy (in Dutch)
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Leopold III of Belgium
Cadet branch of the House of WettinBorn: 3 November 1901 Died: 25 September 1983
| King of the Belgians
Title last held byLeopold
| Duke of Brabant
“Bloody Thursday”: Police open fire on striking longshoremen in San Francisco.
|1934 West Coast waterfront strike|
|Date||May 9, 1934 – July 31, 1934|
|Methods||Strikes, protest, demonstrations|
|Parties to the civil conflict|
|Casualties and losses|
The 1934 West Coast Waterfront Strike (also known as the 1934 West Coast Longshoremen's Strike, as well as a number of variations on these names) lasted eighty-three days, and began on May 9, 1934 when longshoremen in every US West Coast port walked out. The strike peaked with the death of two workers on "Bloody Thursday" and the San Francisco General Strike which stopped all work in the major port city for four days and led ultimately to the settlement of the West Coast Longshoremen's Strike.
The result of the strike was the unionization of all of the West Coast ports of the United States. The San Francisco General Strike of 1934, along with the Toledo Auto-Lite Strike of 1934 led by the American Workers Party and the Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934 led by the Communist League of America, were catalysts for the rise of industrial unionism in the 1930s, much of which was organized through the Congress of Industrial Organizations.
Longshoremen on the West Coast ports had either been unorganized or represented by company unions since the years immediately after World War I, when the shipping companies and stevedoring firms had imposed the open shop after a series of failed strikes. Longshoremen in San Francisco, then the major port on the coast, were required to go through a hiring hall operated by a company union, known as the "blue book" system for the color of the membership book.
The Industrial Workers of the World had attempted to organize longshoremen, sailors and fishermen in the 1920s through their Marine Transport Workers Union. Their largest strike, the 1923 San Pedro Maritime Strike, bottled up shipping in that harbor, but was crushed by a combination of injunctions, mass arrests and vigilantism by the American Legion. While the IWW was a spent force after that strike, syndicalist thinking remained popular on the docks. Longshoremen and sailors on the West Coast also had contacts with an Australian syndicalist movement that called itself the "One Big Union" formed after the defeat of a general strike there in 1917.
The Communist Party had also been active in the area in the late 1920s, seeking to organize all categories of maritime workers into a single union, the Marine Workers Industrial Union (MWIU), as part of the drive during the Third Period to create revolutionary unions. The MWIU never made much headway on the West Coast, but it did attract a number of former IWW members and foreign-born militants. Harry Bridges, an Australian-born sailor who became a longshoreman after coming to the United States, was repeatedly accused[further explanation needed] for his acknowledged Communist party membership.
Militants published a newspaper, The Waterfront Worker, which focused on longshoremen's most pressing demands: more men on each gang, lighter loads and an independent union. While a number of the individuals in this group were Communist Party members, the group as a whole was independent of the party: although it criticized the International Seamen's Union (ISU) as weak and the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA), which had its base on the East Coast, as corrupt, it did not embrace the MWIU, but called instead for creation of small knots of activists at each port to serve as the first step in a slow, careful movement to unionize the industry.
Events soon made the MWIU wholly irrelevant. Just as the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act had led to a spontaneous significant rise in union membership among coal miners in 1933, thousands of longshoremen now joined the fledgling ILA locals that reappeared on the West Coast. The MWIU faded away as party activists followed the mass of West Coast longshoremen into the ILA.
These newly emboldened workers first went after the "blue book" union, refusing to pay dues to it and tearing up their membership books. The militants who had published "The Waterfront Worker", now known as the "Albion Hall group" after their usual meeting place, continued organizing dock committees that soon began launching slowdowns and other types of job actions in order to win better working conditions. While the official leadership of the ILA remained in the hands of conservatives sent to the West Coast by President Joseph Ryan of the ILA, the Albion Hall group started in March, 1934 to press demands for a coastwide contract, a union-run hiring hall and an industry wide waterfront federation. When the conservative ILA leadership negotiated a weak "gentlemen's agreement" with the employers that had been brokered by the mediation board created by the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bridges led the membership in rejecting it.
The sticking point in the strike was recognition: the union demanded a closed shop, a coastwide contract and a union hiring hall. The employers offered to arbitrate the dispute, but insisted that the union agree to an open shop as a condition of any agreement to arbitrate. The longshoremen rejected the proposal to arbitrate.
The Big Strike
The strike began on May 9, 1934, as longshoremen in every West Coast port walked out; sailors joined them several days later. The employers recruited strikebreakers, housing them on moored ships or in walled compounds and bringing them to and from work under police protection. Strikers attacked the stockade housing strikebreakers in San Pedro on May 15; police fired into the strikers, killing one and injuring many.[specify] The killing of Dick Parker created resentment up and down the coast. Daily similar smaller clashes broke out in San Francisco and Oakland, California, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington. Strikers also succeeded in slowing down or stopping the movement of goods by rail out of the ports.
The Roosevelt administration tried again to broker a deal to end the strike, but the membership twice rejected the agreements their leadership brought to them and continued the strike. The employers then decided to make a show of force to reopen the port in San Francisco. On Tuesday, July 3, fights broke out along the Embarcadero in San Francisco between police and strikers while a handful of trucks driven by young businessmen made it through the picket line.
Some Teamsters supported the strikers by refusing to handle "hot cargo" – goods which had been unloaded by strikebreakers – although the Teamsters' leadership was not as supportive. By the end of May, Dave Beck, president of the Seattle Teamsters, and Mike Casey, president of those in San Francisco, thought the maritime strike had lasted too long. They encouraged the strikers to take what they could get from the employers and threatened to use Teamsters as strikebreakers if the ILA did not return to work.
Shipping companies, government officials, some union leaders and the press began to raise fears that the strike was the result of communist agitation. This "red scare" also helped ignite a controversy about the New Deal Public Works of Art Project murals that were at the time being completed in San Francisco's Coit Tower (on Telegraph Hill, close to the location of the strike in San Francisco), leading to the postponing of the tower's July 7 opening, and later to the removal of communist symbols from two of the American Social Realism style murals.
|May 15, 1934||San Pedro, CA||2||When 500 strikers attacked and tried to set fire to a ship housing strikebreakers in San Pedro, police unsuccessfully tried to stop them with tear gas, then shot into the crowd, killing strikers Dick Parker and John Knudsen.|
|June 30, 1934||Seattle, WA||1||Upon hearing that replacement crews were about to take two oil tankers out of the port, union members went to the dock. When the longshoremen tried to get past the dock's gates, they were ambushed by guards. Worker Shelvy Daffron was shot in the back and later died.|
|July 5, 1934||San Francisco, CA||2||When striking longshoremen surrounded a San Francisco police car and tried to tip it over, the police shot into the air, and then fired into the crowd, killing Nick Bordoise (originally named Nick Counderakis) and Howard Sperry.|
|August 20, 1934||Portland, OR||1||James Connor, a 22-year-old college student and newlywed working as a replacement worker on his vacation, was shot and killed in an altercation with striking longshoremen. This was one of a string of violent incidents, including visiting Senator Robert F. Wagner coming under fire. A second replacement worker named R.A. Griffin was also wounded in the head.|
After a quiet Fourth of July, the employers' organization, the Industrial Association, tried to open the port of San Francisco even further on Thursday, July 5. As spectators watched from Rincon Hill, the police shot tear gas canisters into the crowd, then followed with a charge by mounted police. Picketers threw the canisters and rocks back at the police, who charged again, sending the picketers into retreat. Each side then refortified and took stock.
The events took a violent turn that afternoon, as hostilities resumed outside of the ILA strike kitchen. Eyewitness accounts differ on the exact events that transpired next. According to some witnesses, a group of strikers first surrounded a police car and attempted to tip it over, prompting the police to fire shotguns in the air, and then revolvers at the crowd. Other eyewitness accounts claim that police officers started shooting in the direction of the strikers, provoking strikers to defend themselves. Policemen fired a shotgun into the crowd, striking three men in intersection of Steuart and Mission streets. One of the men, Howard Sperry, a striking longshoreman, later died of his wounds. Another man, Charles Olsen, was also shot but later recovered from his wounds. A third man, Nick Bordoise – a Greek by birth (originally named Nick Counderakis) who was an out of work member of the cook's union volunteering at the ILA strike kitchen – was shot but managed to make his way around the corner onto Spear Street, where he was found several hours later. Like Sperry, he died at the hospital.
Strikers immediately cordoned off the area where the two picketers had been shot, laying flowers and wreaths around it. Police arrived to remove the flowers and drive off the picketers minutes later. Once the police left, the strikers returned, replaced the flowers and stood guard over the spot. Though Sperry and Bordoise had been shot several blocks apart, this spot became synonymous with the memory of the two slain men and "Bloody Thursday".
As strikers carried wounded picketers into the ILA union hall police fired on the hall and lobbed tear gas canisters at nearby hotels. At this point someone reportedly called the union hall to ask "Are you willing to arbitrate now?".
Under orders from California Governor Frank Merriam, the California National Guard moved in that evening to patrol the waterfront. Similarly, federal soldiers of the United States Army stationed at the Presidio were placed on alert. The picketers pulled back, unwilling to take on armed soldiers in an uneven fight, and trucks and trains began moving without interference. Bridges asked the San Francisco Labor Council to meet that Saturday, July 7, to authorize a general strike. The Alameda County Central Labor Council in Oakland considered the same action. Teamsters in both San Francisco and Oakland voted to strike, over the objections of their leaders, on Sunday, July 8.
Funerals and general strike
The following day, several thousand strikers, families and sympathizers took part in a funeral procession down Market Street, stretching more than a mile and a half, for Nicholas Bordoise and Howard Sperry, the two persons killed on "Bloody Thursday". The police were wholly absent from the scene. The march made an enormous impact on San Franciscans, making a general strike, which had formerly been "the visionary dream of a small group of the most radical workers, became ... a practical and realizable objective." After dozens of Bay Area unions voted for a general strike over the next few days, the San Francisco Labor Council voted on July 14 to call a general strike. The Teamsters had already been out for two days by that point.
San Francisco Mayor Angelo Rossi declared a state of emergency. Some federal officials, particularly Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, were more skeptical. Roosevelt later recalled that some persons were urging him to steer the USS Houston, which was carrying him to Hawaii, "into San Francisco Bay, all flags flying and guns double-shotted, and end the strike." Roosevelt rejected the suggestion.
The general strike began on the 16th, involving some 150,000 workers. On the 17th the police arrested more than 300 "radicals, subversives, and communists" while systematically smashing furniture and equipment of organizations related to the strike; the same day, General Hugh S. Johnson as head of the National Recovery Administration spoke at UC Berkeley to denounce the general strike as "a menace to the government".
The strike lasted four days. Non-union truck drivers joined the first day; the movie theaters and night clubs closed down. While food deliveries continued with the permission of the strike committee, many small businesses closed, posting signs in support of the strikers. Reports that unions in Portland and Seattle would also begin general strikes picked up currency.
End of the strike
The calling of a general strike had an unexpected result: it gave the General Strike Committee, whose makeup was far less militant than the longshoremen's strike committee, effective control over the maritime strike itself. When the Labor Council voted to terminate the general strike it also recommended that the unions accept arbitration of all disputed issues. When the National Longshore Board put the employer's proposal to arbitrate to a vote of striking longshoremen, it passed in every port except Everett, Washington.
That, however, left the striking seamen in the lurch: the employers had refused to arbitrate with the ISU unless it first won elections on the fleets on strike. While Bridges, who had preached solidarity among all maritime workers and scorned arbitration, apologized to the seamen for the longshoremen's vote, the President of the ISU urged them to hold out and to burn their "fink books", the membership records of the company union to which they had been forced to pay dues.
On July 17, 1934, the California National Guard blocked both ends of Jackson Street from Drumm to Front with machine gun mounted trucks to assist vigilante raids, protected by SFPD, on the headquarters of the Marine Workers' Industrial Union and the ILA soup kitchen at 84 Embarcadero. Moving on, the Workers' Ex-Servicemen's League's headquarters on Howard between Third and Fourth was raided, leading to 150 arrests and the complete destruction of the facilities. The employer's group, the Industrial Association, had agents riding with the police. Further raids were carried out at the Workers' Open Forum at 1223 Fillmore street and the Western Worker building opposite City Hall that contained a bookstore and the main offices of the Communist Party, which was thoroughly destroyed. Attacks were also perpetrated on the 121 Haight Street Workers' School and the Mission Workers' Neighborhood House at 741 Valencia Street. A police spokesperson suggested that "maybe the Communists staged the raids themselves for publicity".
General Hugh S. Johnson, then head of the National Recovery Administration, gave a speech urging responsible labor leaders to "run these subversive influences out from its ranks like rats". A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union was kidnapped and beaten, while vigilantes seized thirteen radicals in San Jose and turned them over to the sheriff of an adjoining county, who transported them to another county. In Hayward in Alameda County someone erected a scaffold in front of the city hall with a noose and a sign stating "Reds beware". In Piedmont, an upscale community surrounded by Oakland on all sides, the chief of police prepared for a reported attack by strikers on the homes of wealthy ship-owners.
While some of the most powerful people in San Francisco considered the strike's denouement to be a victory for the employers, many longshoremen and seamen did not. Spontaneous strikes over grievances and workplace conditions broke out as strikers returned to their jobs, with longshoremen and teamsters supporting their demands. Employers conceded many of these battles, giving workers even more confidence in demanding that employers lighten unbearably heavy loads. Longshoremen also began dictating other terms, fining members who worked more than the ceiling of 120 hours per month, filing charges against a gang boss for "slandering colored brothers" and forcing employers to fire strikebreakers. Other unions went further: the Marine Firemen proposed to punish any member who bought a Hearst newspaper.
The arbitration award issued on October 12, 1934, cemented the ILA's power. While the award put the operation of the hall in the hands of a committee of union and employer representatives, the union was given the power to select the dispatcher. Since longshoremen were prepared to walk out if an employer did not hire a worker dispatched from the hall, the ILA soon controlled hiring on the docks. The employers complained that the union wanted to "sovietize" the waterfront. Workers complained that the employers were exploiting them for cheap labor and forcing them to work in unsafe conditions without reasonable safety measures.
The union soon utilized the "quickie strike" tactic to force many concessions from employers such as safer working conditions and better pay. Similarly, even though an arbitrator held that the 1935 Agreement prohibited sympathy strikes, the union's members nonetheless refused to cross other unions' picket lines. Longshoremen also refused to handle "hot cargo" destined for non-union warehouses that the union was attempting to organize. The ISU acquired similar authority over hiring, despite the philosophical objection of the union's own officers to hiring halls. The ISU used this power to drive strikebreakers out of the industry.
The rift between the seamen's and longshoremen's unions deepened and became more complex in the succeeding years, as Bridges continually fought with the Sailors' Union of the Pacific over labor and political issues. The West Coast district of the ILA broke off from the International in 1937 to form the International Longshoremen's Union, later renamed the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union after the union's "march inland" to organize warehouse workers, then renamed the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in recognition of the number of women members.
The arbitration award also gave longshoremen a raise to ninety-five cents ($18.16 in 2019 dollars) an hour for straight time work, just shy of the dollar an hour it demanded during the strike. It was also awarded a contract that applied up and down the West Coast. The strike also prompted union organizer Carmen Lucia to organize the Department Store Workers Union and the Retail Clerks Association in San Francisco.
The ILWU continues to recognize "Bloody Thursday" by shutting down all West Coast ports every July 5 and honoring Nick Bordoise, Howard Sperry and all of the other workers killed by police during the strike. The ILWU has frequently stopped work for political protests against, among other things, Italy's invasion of Ethiopia, fascist intervention in Spain's civil war, South Africa's system of apartheid and the Iraq War.
Sam Kagel, the last surviving member of the original union steering committee, died on May 21, 2007 at the age of 98.
- Everett massacre
- Harry Bridges
- History of the west coast of North America
- Murder of workers in labor disputes in the United States
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- Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. pp. 61–62. ISBN 9780252061448.
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- "Harry Bridges: Life and Legacy".
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- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. pp. 41–42. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Starr, Kevin (1997). Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. Oxford University Press. pp. 90–91. ISBN 9780195118025.
- Starr, Kevin (1997). Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. Oxford University Press. p. 91. ISBN 9780195118025.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 50. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Munk, Michael. "West coast waterfront strike of 1934". Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
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- Longshoreman's Strike of 1934 – ILWU
- Depression-Era Murals of the Bay Area. Arcadia Publishing. 2014. ISBN 9781467131445.
As the strike raged along the waterfront at the base of Telegraph Hill, many claimed that the labor unrest was influenced by members of the Communist Party. Simultaneously, the PWAP took notice of blatant communist references in the Coit Tower murals painted by Victor Arnautoff, John Langley Howard, Clifford Wight, and Bernhard Zakheim.
- Kamiya, Gary (July 8, 2017). "How Coit Tower's murals became a target for anticommunist forces". www.sfchronicle.com. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
- Selvin, David F. (1996). A Terrible Anger: The 1934 Waterfront and General Strikes in San Francisco. Wayne State University Press. p. 236. ISBN 0814326102. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
- "Police Fire Into Ranks of Strikers". Hammond (Ind) Times. May 15, 1934. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 110. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 111. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 112. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Glass, Fred (June 28, 2016). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. pp. 239–40. ISBN 9780520288409.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 113. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Starr, Kevin (1997). Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. Oxford University Press. pp. 107–8. ISBN 9780195118025.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 119. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Starr, Kevin (1997). Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. Oxford University Press. p. 108. ISBN 9780195118025.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 122. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 123. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Glass, Fred (June 28, 2016). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. p. 240. ISBN 9780520288409.
- words of Paul Eliel, Waterfront and General Strikes pg. 128, quoted in Bruce, Nelson (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. p. 303. ISBN 9780252061448. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. pp. 138, 141. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 133. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Milton, David (1982). Politics of US Labor. NYU Press. p. 50. ISBN 9780853455707.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 142. ISBN 9780717805044.
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- Carlsson, Chris. "The General Strike of 1934". Found SF. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
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- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. pp. 156–157. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 176. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Glass, Fred (June 28, 2016). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. p. 244. ISBN 9780520288409.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 160. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 161. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 162. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Selvin, David F. (1996). A Terrible Anger: The 1934 Waterfront and General Strikes in San Francisco. Wayne State University Press. p. 200. ISBN 0814326102.
- Glass, Fred (June 28, 2016). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. p. 243. ISBN 9780520288409.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 167. ISBN 9780717805044.
- Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 166. ISBN 9780717805044.
- An Exercise in Hysteria: San Francisco's Red Raids of 1934 – David F. Selvin – The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Aug., 1989), pp. 361–374
- Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. pp. 156–157. ISBN 9780252061448.
- Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. pp. 158. ISBN 9780252061448.
- Glass, Fred (June 28, 2016). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. pp. 244–45. ISBN 9780520288409.
- Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. pp. 160. ISBN 9780252061448.
- Glass, Fred (June 28, 2016). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. p. 245. ISBN 9780520288409.
- Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. pp. 162–163. ISBN 9780252061448.
- Kimeldorf, Howard (November 4, 1988). Reds or Rackets?: The Making of Radical and Conservative Unions on the Waterfront. University of California Press. p. 112. ISBN 9780520912779.
- Kimeldorf, Howard (November 4, 1988). Reds or Rackets?: The Making of Radical and Conservative Unions on the Waterfront. University of California Press. p. 114. ISBN 9780520912779.
- Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. pp. 164–166. ISBN 9780252061448.
- "$0.95 in 1934 → 2019 | Inflation Calculator". www.in2013dollars.com. Retrieved July 5, 2019.
- O'Farrell, Brigid (1996). Rocking the Boat: Union Women's Voices, 1915–1975. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. pp. 40. ISBN 9780813522692 – via Internet Archive.
- Glass, Fred (June 28, 2016). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. p. 246. ISBN 9780520288409.
- Nolte, Carl (May 27, 2007). "Sam Kagel -- arbitrator in major labor disputes (obit)". SF Gate. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
- The Big Strike, by Mike Quin, ISBN 0-7178-0504-2
- A Terrible Anger: The 1934 Waterfront and General Strikes in San Francisco, by David F. Selvin. Wayne State University Press (July 1996). ISBN 0-8143-2610-2.
- Dock Strike: History of the 1934 Waterfront Strike in Portland, Oregon, by Roger Buchanan
- Reds or Rackets, The Making of Radical and Conservative Unions on the Waterfront, by Howard Kimeldorf, ISBN 0-520-07886-1
- Harry Bridges, The Rise and Fall of Radical Labor in the U.S., by Charles Larrowe, ISBN 0-88208-001-6
- Workers on the Waterfront, Seamen, Longshoremen and Unionism in the 1930s, by Bruce Nelson, ISBN 0-252-06144-6
- Agitate, Educate, Organize: Portland, 1934, by William Bigelow & Norman Diamond, Oregon Historical Quarterly, Spring 1988
- "1934 West Coast waterfront strike". The Oregon Encyclopedia.
- 1934: The Great Strike, a multimedia section of the Waterfront Workers History Project, including film and photographs of the strike, a day-by-day account of the strike and digitized copies of newspaper articles and worker newsletters.
- Anne Rand Library, International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Archived January 14, 2016, at the Wayback Machine contains digitized materials related to the history of the ILWU, including 1934 strike bulletins.
- San Francisco General Strike of 1934 photographic collections, via Calisphere, California Digital Library
- Finding aids (no online content) for the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union Local 1 Records. 1933–1988. 4.58 cubic ft. (5 boxes). At the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections.
Donald Duck makes his debut in The Wise Little Hen.
The Wise Little Hen is a Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies cartoon, based on the fairy tale The Little Red Hen. The cartoon marked the debut of Donald Duck, dancing to the Sailor’s Hornpipe. Donald and his friend Peter Pig try to avoid work by faking stomach aches until Mrs. Hen teaches them the value of labor. This cartoon was released on June 9, 1934. It was animated by Art Babbitt, Dick Huemer, Clyde Geronimi, Louie Schmitt, and Frenchy de Tremaudan and directed by Wilfred Jackson. It was also adapted as a Sunday comic strip by Ted Osborne and Al Taliaferro.
The Wise Little Hen of the title is looking for someone to help her plant her corn. Peter Pig and Donald Duck both feign belly aches to get out of the chore since they would rather play than work. So, with help from her chicks, she plants it herself. Harvest time comes; again, Peter and Donald claim belly aches, but the hen sees through this when boards of their clubhouse fall off showing their little act when they shake hands with each other for evading responsibility. Upon wising up to their ruse, she and her chicks wink at each other upon knowing what to do with Peter and Donald later. She cooks up a tantalizing assortment of corn dishes, and heads over to Peter and Donald to help her eat them, but before she can open her mouth, they already fake their belly aches. Once she asks, they are miraculously “cured” but all she gives them is castor oil, to teach them a lesson. As the hen and her chicks eat the corn themselves, Peter and Donald, with nothing but an appetite, repent with all their might by kicking each other in the rump.
Leopold III becomes King of Belgium.
orn Leopold Philippe Charles Albert Meinrad Hubertus Marie Miguel in Brussels, Leopold III was crowned King of Belgium on 23 Feb 1934. The WW1 veteran of the 12th Belgian Regiment very briefly attempted to resist the invading German troops in May 1940 before he surrendered. The Belgian people, who thought their King had given up too quickly, accused him of treason, but Leopold III tried proved the accusers wrong by refusing to obey Nazi policies. London, however, never recognized his right to rule.
During the winter of 1944 to 1945, he and the royal family were placed under arrest on Heinrich Himmler’s orders and they were not freed until May 1945 when the American troops reached the last location of their captivity, Strobl, Austria. He spent the next six years in exile in Switzerland due to the accusations of him being a German collaborator. In 1950, a referendum showed a slight majority of Belgians favoring his return, but upon his return he realized the nation was deeply divided over his rule. On the verge of a civil war within Belgium, Leopold III abdicated on 16 Jul 1951 and passed the crown to his son Baudouin.
The first Soap Box Derby was organized by Myron E. “Scottie” Scott, a news photographer for the Dayton Daily News in 1933 and was held on Hilltop Avenue in Oakwood, Ohio (suburban Dayton). Nineteen boys and nineteen race cars showed up.
Sensing the enormous interest, Scott secured sponsors for a larger effort. When the event was expanded, it was moved to Burkhardt Avenue near Smithville Road in Dayton, Ohio. On Saturday, August 19, 1933, 362 kids, aged 6-16, showed up with homemade cars built of wooden crates, sheet tin, wagon and baby-buggy wheels to race in soap box vehicles they built themselves.
The 1934 event took on national stature when champions from 34 other cities came to Dayton to compete. Put up at the Van Cleve Hotel, they were the toast of the town for three days. There were parties, a banquet and theater outings. Wild Bill Cummings, the Indy 500 winner, took part in the celebration, as did Jimmy Mattern, the round-the-world flyer. Renowned NBC radio man, Graham McNamee, broadcast the race live and Mayor Charles J. Brennan made a flying trip down the Burkhardt Hill course.
After the Dayton Championship, there was an Ohio Championship, then the All American Soap Box Derby and, finally, a Blue Flame Championship for kids 16 to 18 with advanced cars. Prizes included everything from college scholarships to a three-day trip to the World’s Fair in Chicago, a small, powered Custer Car with a 1/2 horsepower engine, box cameras, radios and Babe Ruth bats and balls.
The Dayton winner was 13- year-old Jack Collopy, whose salvage yard creation included baby-buggy wheels, gags-pipe axles greased with lard and a clothesline steering system. The national winner was Robert Turner of Muncie, Ind., who made his car from the wood of a saloon bar.
A year later, the race moved to Akron, Scott got a public relations job with Chevrolet and later named the Corvette.
Donald Duck makes his cinematic debut in The Wise Little Hen.
The Wise Little Hen is a Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies cartoon, based on the fairy tale The Little Red Hen. This cartoon marked the debut of Donald Duck, dancing to the Sailor’s Hornpipe. Donald and his friend Peter Pig try to avoid work by faking stomach aches until Mrs. Hen teaches them the value of labor. This cartoon was released on June 9, 1934. It was animated by Art Babbitt, Dick Huemer, Clyde Geronimi, Louie Schmitt, and Frenchy de Tremaudan with assistance from a group of junior animators headed by Ben Sharpsteen and directed by Wilfred Jackson. It was also adapted as a Sunday comic strip by Ted Osborne and Al Taliaferro.
The Wise Little Hen of the title is looking for someone to help her plant her corn. Peter Pig and Donald Duck both feign belly aches to get out of the chore since they would rather play than work. So, with help from her chicks, she plants it herself. Harvest time comes; again, Peter and Donald claim belly aches, but the hen sees through this when boards of their clubhouse fall off showing their little act when they shake hands with each other for getting out of doing work. She cooks up a variety of corn dishes, and heads over to Peter and Donald to help her eat them, but before she can open her mouth, they already fake their belly aches. Once she asks, they are miraculously “cured” but all she gives them is castor oil, to teach them a lesson. As the hen and her chicks eat the corn themselves, Peter and Donald, with nothing but an appetite, repent with all their might by kicking each other on the rear.
Alcatraz Island, in the San Francisco Bay, becomes a United States federal prison.
The federal prison on Alcatraz Island in the chilly waters of California’s San Francisco Bay housed some of America’s most difficult and dangerous felons during its years of operation from 1934 to 1963. Among those who served time at the maximum-security facility were the notorious gangster Al “Scarface” Capone (1899-1947) and murderer Robert “Birdman of Alcatraz” Stroud (1890-1963). No inmate ever successfully escaped The Rock, as the prison was nicknamed, although more than a dozen known attempts were made over the years. After the prison was shut down due to high operating costs, the island was occupied for almost two years, starting in 1969, by a group of Native-American activists. Today, historic Alcatraz Island, which was also the site of a U.S. military prison from the late 1850s to 1933, is a popular tourist destination.
One of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson, takes his last drink.
On December 11, 1934, William Griffith Wilson took his last drink of alcohol. He didn’t know it at the moment, nor did he know he was about to start a new chapter in his life, and the lives of thousands of Americans.In the aftermath of his last bout of drinking, Wilson once again entered a detoxification program. He was hoping this time he could end the 13-year struggle with alcohol that had destroyed his career and his health.
Six years passed. Two thousand Americans had joined the program and many had recovered sobriety and sanity in their lives. But the program was still relatively unknown, and had never promoted itself to the public. Then, in March, the Post published “Alcoholics Anonymous” by Jack Alexander and introduced this unusual program to the rest of America. But of all the remarkable aspects of the program, the most important was its success. Over the years, thousands of Americans were able to reclaim their lives, their families, and their careers through the program.
The Soap Box is a youth soapbox car racing program which has been running in United States since 1934. Each July, the World Championship finals are held at Derby Downs in Akron, Ohio. Cars competing in this event are are unpowered and it relies completely upon the gravity to move.
The All-American Soap Box derby began the Rally World Championship in 1993. The Rally derby is a grand prix style of race in which each district sends back a number of champions based on number of racers and races in each district. Today there are broader categories that extend the age range to younger racers and permit adults to assist in construction. This is especially helpful for younger children who cannot use power tools, as well as to provide an outlet for adults.