1939 was the year of the Rabbit (Earth) in the Chinese zodiac.
- Gerardo Machado of Cuba dies.
- Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, invades Poland. World War II officially begins.
- Siam changes its name to Thailand
- The MS Saint Louis sails to several nations seeking assylum for Jewish refugees.
- US president Franklin D Roosevelt declares Thanksgiving to be on the 3rd Thursday of November. Controversy ensues.