Saturday Evening Post Time Capsule: March 1932

The Saturday Evening Post’s coverage in March of 1932 included stories on the rise of nationalism in Europe, fiction by Fitzgerald and Faulkner, and humor by Will Rogers. But the news that captured everyone’s attention was the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby.

People line up outside a bank during the Great Depression

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In March 1932, the Great Depression gripped the nation, bank robberies were rampant, and people were hungry for escapist entertainment. The Saturday Evening Post was there to report it all.

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  1. I am intrigue by the comment of Inge Roome that at some later time “it was substantiated that [Bruno Hauptmann] was not the actual kidnapper, or the murderer”. I would like to hear more about this. Who substantiated it? How? When? This is the first time ever heard of this. Perhaps the SEP historian can weigh-in?

  2. Bruno Hauptman was the man arrested and subsequently executed for the Lindburgh kidnapping. His widow persisted in pursuing his innocence until her death. By the time she died, it was substantiated that her husband was not the actual kidnapper, or the murderer, but authorities could not prove that he wasn’t somehow involved, possibly even set-up. The public outcry for execution was fueled by the fact that Hauptman was a German immigrant, and many of the Americans at that time still had tremendous animosity toward the Germans following World War 1. As a child of German immigrant parents in the 30’s, I personally experienced unwarranted discrimination during my adolescence, even though I was born a citizen of the USA!

  3. I’d long heard 1932 was the lowest point of the Depression, and after this video it doesn’t seem like things could get much worse. 4.000 banks shutting down is mind blowing. 17 bank robberies in 1920 to 965 (by ’32) just in Dallas is equally outrageous.

    Not surprised a number of automakers went under. Gorgeous cars at that. I love the “classic” Post font in the ROCKNE 6 ad by the way. Such a classy way to feature your auto’s name in a head turning, eye candy print ad otherwise.

    The feature touched on the beginnings of Hitler’s frightening rise to power. If the unemployment and economy were as bad there as here, it’s not surprising what happened; with each year of the ’30s building up to World War II by 1939.

    I’m glad the public had the entertainment they did. 1932 was still ‘pre-code’ for films (until ’34) where they got away with a lot of violence, sexual innuendo (Mae West) and other risque naughtiness we don’t otherwise associate with well over 80 years ago.

    In school we were taught the Lindbergh baby kidnapping was an unsolved mystery; that the boy was never found. I never gave it much thought and didn’t hear much about it otherwise, over the years. Thanks for clearing that up. Before writing this tonight I spoke with a few people my age and older that didn’t know his remains were found and the killer was eventually caught. Very tragic case, and am glad it was resolved. With the other crime of the century in 1963, there will never be any resolution; only possibilities and riddles as it was designed to be.


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