January 9 – Sakuradamon Incident: Korean nationalist Lee Bong-chang fails in his effort to assassinate Emperor Hirohito of Japan. The Kuomintang's official newspaper runs an editorial expressing regret that the attempt failed, which is used by the Japanese as a pretext to attack Shanghai later in the month.
A general World Disarmament Conference begins in Geneva. The principal issue at the conference is the demand made by Germany for Gleichberechtigung ("equality of status" i.e. abolishing Part V of the Treaty of Versailles, which had disarmed Germany) and the French demand for sécurité ("security" i.e. maintaining Part V).
February 15 – Clara, Lu & Em, generally regarded as the first daytime network soap opera, debuts in its morning time slot over the Blue Network of NBC Radio in the United States, having originally been a late evening program.
May 6 – The politically powerful General Kurt von Schleicher meets secretly with Adolf Hitler. Schleicher tells Hitler that he is scheming to bring down the Brüning government in Germany and asks for Nazi support of the new "presidential government" Schleicher is planning to form. Schleicher and Hitler negotiate a "gentlemen's agreement" where in exchange for lifting the ban on the SA and SS and having the Reichstag dissolved for early elections this summer, the Nazis will support Schleicher's new chancellor.
Violent scenes in the Reichstag building as Hermann Göring and other Nazi MRDs attack the Defense Minister General Wilhelm Groener for his lack of belief in a supposed Social Democratic putsch. After the debate, General Schleicher tells Groener that he has lost the confidence of the Army and must resign at once.
May 30 – German chancellor Heinrich Brüning is dismissed by President von Hindenburg. President Hindenburg asks Franz von Papen to form a new government, known as the "Government of the President's Friends", which is openly dedicated to the destruction of democracy and the Weimar Republic. The downfall of Brüning is largely the work of Schleicher, who been scheming against him since the beginning of May. Schleicher takes the position of Defense Minister in his friend Papen's government.
July 20 – The Preußenschlag in Germany. The Papen government sends out the Reichswehr under General Gerd von Rundstedt to depose the elected SPD government in Prussia under Otto Braun. The coup gives Papen control of Prussia, the most powerful Land in Germany, and is a major blow to German democracy.
July 28 – U.S. President Herbert Hoover orders the U.S. Army to evict by force the Bonus Army of World War I veterans gathered in Washington, D.C. Troops disperse the last of the Bonus Army the next day.
August 5 – Hitler meets with Schleicher and reneges on the "gentlemen's agreement", demanding that he be appointed Chancellor. Schleicher agrees to support Hitler as Chancellor provided that he can remain minister of defense. Schleicher sets up a meeting between Hindenburg and Hitler on for August 13 to discuss Hitler's possible appointment as chancellor.
The Papen government in Germany, which likes to take a tough "law and order" stance, passes via Article 48 a law prescribing the death penalty for a variety of offenses and with the court system simplified so that the courts can hand down as many death sentences as possible.
Potempa Murder of 1932: In the German town of Potempa, five Nazi "Brownshirts" break into the house of Konrad Pietrzuch, a Communist miner, and proceed to castrate and beat him to death in front of his mother. The case attracts much media attention in Germany and results in convictions and death sentences. However, the Nazis celebrated the murderers, and they were released from jail in 1933 after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.
August 11 – To celebrate Constitution Day in Germany, Chancellor Franz von Papen and his interior minister Baron Wilhelm von Gayl present proposed amendments to the Weimar constitution for a "New State" to deal with the problems besetting Germany.
August 13 – Hitler meets President von Hindenburg and asks to be appointed as Chancellor. Hindenburg refuses under the grounds that Hitler is not qualified to be Chancellor and asks him instead to serve as Vice-Chancellor in Papen's government. Hitler announces his "all or nothing" strategy in which he will oppose any government not headed by himself and will accept no office other than Chancellor.
August 20 – The Ottawa conference ends with the adoption of Imperial Preference tariff, turning the British Empire into one economic zone with a series of tariffs meant to exclude non-empire states from competing within the markets of Britain; the Dominions; and the rest of the empire.
August 22 – The five SA men involved in the torture and murder of Konrad Pietrzuch are quickly convicted and sentenced to death under the new law introduced by the Papen government. The Potempa case becomes a cause célèbre in Germany with the Nazis demonstrating for amnesty for the "Potempa five" under the grounds they were justified in killing the Communist Pietrzuch. Hitler sends a telegram congratulating the "Potempa five". Many Germans argue that the "Potempa five" are patriotic heroes who should not be executed while others maintain the death sentences are appropriate given the brutality of the torture and murder.
September 2 – Despite the court's sentence of death against the "Potempa five", Chancellor von Papen in his capacity as Reich Commissioner of Prussia refuses to have the "Potempa five" executed under the grounds that they were not aware of the emergency law at the time they committed the murder, but in reality because he is still hoping for Nazi support for his government.
September 22 – Soviet famine of 1932–33 begins; millions starve to death as a result of forced collectivization and as part of the government's effort to break rural resistance to its policies. The Soviet regimes denies the famine and allows the deaths.
September 27 – Ryutin Affair at its height in the Soviet Union. The Politburo meets and condemns the so-called "Ryutin Platform" and agrees to expel those associated with it from the Communist Party, but refuses Stalin's request to execute those associated with the Platform.
The Cipher Bureau breaks the German Enigma cipher and overcomes the ever-growing structural and operating complexities of the evolving Enigma with plugboard, the main German cipher device during World War II.
November 3 – Strike by transport workers in Berlin. The Nazis and the Communists both co-operate in support of the strike. The Nazi-Communist co-operation damages the Nazis at the upcoming election with many right-wing voters switching back to the German National People's Party.
December 3 – Hindenburg names Kurt von Schleicher as German chancellor after he ousts Papen. Papen is deeply angry about how his former friend Schleicher has brought him down and decides that he will do anything to get back into power.
December 4 – Chancellor Schleicher meets with Gregor Strasser and offers to appoint him Vice-Chancellor and Reich Commissioner for Prussia out of the hope that if faced with a split in the NSDAP, Hitler will support his government.
December 5 – At a secret meeting of the Nazi leaders, Strasser urges Hitler to drop his "all or nothing" strategy and accept Schleicher's offer to have the Nazis serve in his cabinet. Hitler gives a dramatic speech saying that Schleicher's offer is not acceptable and he will stick to his "all or nothing" strategy whatever the consequences might be and wins the Nazi leadership over to his viewpoint.
December 8 – Gregor Strasser resigns as the chief of the NSDAP's organizational department in protest against Hitler's "all or nothing" strategy.
Internal passports are introduced in the Soviet Union.
December 28 – The Cologne banker Kurt von Schröder-who is a close friend of Papen and a NSDAP member-meets with Adolf Hitler to tell him that Papen wants to set up a meeting to discuss how they can work together. Papen wants Nazi support to return to the Chancellorship while Hitler wants Papen to convince Hindenburg to appoint him Chancellor. Hitler agrees to meet Papen on January 3, 1933.
Unemployment in the United States – ca. 33% – 14 million. A similar level of unemployment affects Germany. Many people in depressed countries do not receive unemployment benefit due to governments not being able to afford benefit payments.