Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 35th Visit to Georgia
March 30 - April 9, 1939
When Congress convened in January 1939, it was the most hostile legislature Roosevelt had faced as President. Aligned against him were the Republicans, as well as many Democrats who had not supported the New Deal and as a result had faced Roosevelt-led opposition in the November elections. Big business proponents like Walter George and Al Smith were now openly defiant of any further Roosevelt proposals. Roosevelt himself was reluctant to compromise his ideals, though he did agree to cut taxes and balance the budget. Still, he believed that the federal government should continue to lead the way in the economic recovery.
But international affairs soon overshadowed domestic ones. In March, Hitler occupied Czechoslovakia in brazen defiance of the previous year’s Munich agreements designed (or so the European democracies hoped) to assure peace. Soon afterwards Italy invaded and occupied Albania. Hitler next turned his sights toward Poland. Britain and France, finally recognizing the futility of appeasement, pledged military intervention in case Germany attacked Poland.
It was soon after these events that Roosevelt took his spring visit to Warm Springs. While he certainly kept a close eye on world affairs, he was also proud to be on hand for the dedication of several new buildings on the grounds of the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. Writing to his wife:
“… Had successful dedication of medical and educational buildings. Lovely weather… .” Source: Elliott Roosevelt (ed.), F.D.R.: His Personal Letters 1928-1945, (Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1950), p. 875.
The new buildings being dedicated added tremendously to the Foundation. Included were a Medical Building – a three-story orthopedic surgical facility, a school and occupational therapy building, a chapel and theater designed for wheelchairs, and two new dormitories.
May 22, 1939 - The “Axis” formed when Germany and Italy formally joined in alliance.
August 23, 1939 - In a surprising development Germany and the Soviet Union signed a nonaggression pact.
September 1, 1939 - Germany invaded Poland. Two days later Britain and France formally declared war on Germany. World War II had begun.
September 27, 1939 - Warsaw, Poland’s capital, fell to the German blitzkrieg – lightning war – a modernized attack composed of tanks, airplanes, and fast moving ground troops which overwhelmed Poland’s antiquated forces.