Movies and the Marginalized
If the departure of Babe Ruth from their team might have demoralized Yankee fans, far more fearsome changes were afoot. In Europe, totalitarianism was solidifying its hold. Adolf Hitler had secured his grip on the Nazi Party with the "Night of the Long Knives" on 30 June, a series of police raids that resulted in the execution of chief rival Ernst Roehm and many of his supporters. The death of President Hindenburg on 2 August allowed Hitler to claim the title of Reich chancellor and Fuhrer and to abolish the presidency after a plebiscite in which more than 90 percent of voters approved of the move. In the Soviet Union Josef Stalin also eliminated dissent, bringing to an end a period of relative liberalism in the Politburo when he began his Great Purge in December.
At home, Americans witnessed another devastating year of drought and dust in the plains. Great dust storms spread from the Dust Bowl area, eventually covering more than 75 percent of the country and significantly affecting twenty-seven states. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow continued to rob banks and kill policemen and John Dillinger broke out of jail using a wooden gun, although all three were dead by year's end. In more positive developments, FDR's ongoing New Deal initiatives targeted the country's financial infrastructure. He took the nation off the gold standard, forbade the export of silver, and established the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) contracted its first rural power customer, the town of Tupelo, Mississippi. And farmers impacted by the dust storms were protected by the Frazier-Lemke Farm Bankruptcy Act, which restricted the ability of banks to dispossess farmers in times of distress.
Comic strip icons continued to be a dependable product of lean times. "Li'l Abner," "Terry and the Pirates," and "Flash Gordon" made their