- February 11 - Jane Hyatt Yolen, science fiction author.
- June 6 - Louis Andriessen, Dutch composer
- July 26 - John Howard, Australian Prime Minister
- October 14 - Ralph Lauren, American fashion designer
- March 28 - Dictator Francisco Franco conquers Madrid, ending the Spanish Civil War
- August 23 - Hitler and Stalin divides eastern Europe between themselves. Finland, the Baltic states and eastern Poland to USSR. Western Poland to Germany (Ribbentrop-Molotov pact)
- August 27 - A Heinkel 178, the first jet-powered aircraft, flies for the first time.
- September 1 - Nazi Germany invades Poland, thus beginning World War II in Europe.
- September 3 - France and the United Kingdom declare war on Germany.
- September 10 - Canada declares war on Germany.
- September 17 - Soviet Union invades Poland and then occupies eastern Polish territories.
- November 30 - Soviet Union attacks Finland, starting the Winter War.