1969 1970 1971 - 1972 - 1973 1974 1975
1940s 1950s 1960s - 1970s - 1980s 1990s 2000s
Events of 1972
- January 4 - Kurt Waldheim becomes Secretary General of the United Nations.
- January 5 - U.S. President Richard Nixon orders the development of a space shuttle program.
- January 7 - An Iberian Airlines passenger plane crashes into a 250-meter peak on the island of Ibiza; 104 are killed.
- January 9 - Howard Hughes speaks by telephone to denounce Clifford Irving's supposed biography of him.
- January 9 - The RMS Queen Elizabeth is destroyed by fire in Hong Kong harbor.
- January 11 - East Pakistan wins independence as Bangladesh.
- January 13 - Prime Minister of Ghana Kofi Abrefa Busia is overthrown in a military coup.
- January 14 - King Frederick IX of Denmark dies; he's succeeded by his daughter Queen Margaret II of Denmark.
- January 24 - Japanese soldier Shoichi Yokoi is discovered in Guam; he had spent 28 years in the jungle.
- January 25 - Shirley Chisholm, the first Black Congresswoman, announces her candidacy for President of the United States.
- January 26 - Yugoslavian air stewardress Vesna Vulovic is the only survivor when her plane crashes in Czechoslovakia. She survives after falling 10,160 meters in the tail section of the aircraft.
- January 30 - Bloody Sunday: The British Army kills 13 unarmed nationalist civil rights marchers in Derry, Northern Ireland.
- January 30 - Pakistan withdraws from the Commonwealth of Nations.
- January 31 - King Birendra succeeds his father as King of Nepal.
- February 1 - The first scientific hand-held calculator (HP-35) is introduced (price $395).
- February 2 - Anti-British riots take place throughout Ireland. The British Embassy in Dublin is burned to the ground, as are several British-owned businesses.
- February 3–13 - The 1972 Winter Olympics are held in Sapporo, Japan.
- February 4 - Mariner 9 sends pictures from Mars.
- February 5 - U.S. airlines begin mandatory inspection of passengers and baggage.
- February 9 - The British government declares a state of emergency over a miners' strike.
- February 15 - President of Ecuador José María Velasco Ibarra is deposed for the fourth time.
- February 18 - The California Supreme Court voids the state's death penalty, commuting all death sentences to life in prison.
- February 21 - The Soviet unmanned spaceship Luna 20 lands on the Moon.
- February 21–28 - U.S. President Richard M. Nixon makes an unprecedented 8-day visit to the People's Republic of China and meets with Mao Zedong.
- February 22 - Aldershot bombing: An Official IRA bomb kills 7 in Aldershot, England.
- February 23 - Angela Davis is released from jail.
- February 23 - A Lufthansa plane is hijacked and taken to Aden. Passengers are released after a ransom of 16 million German marks is agreed.
- February 24 - North Vietnamese negotiators walk out of the Paris Peace Talks to protest U.S. air raids.
- February 26 - A coal sludge spill kills 125 people in Buffalo Creek, West Virginia.
- February 26 - Luna 20 comes back to Earth with a cargo of moon rocks.
- March 2 - The Pioneer 10 spacecraft is launched from Cape Kennedy, to be the first man-made satellite to leave the solar system.
- March 2 - Jean-Bedel Bokassa becomes President of the Central African Republic.
- March 3 - Sculpted figures of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson are completed at Stone Mountain, Georgia.
- March 4 - Libya and the Soviet Union sign a cooperation treaty.
- March 13 - The United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China elevate diplomatic exchanges to the ambassadorial level after 22 years.
- March 13 - Clifford Irving admits to a New York court that he had fabricated Howard Hughes' "autobiography".
- March 19 - India and Bangladesh sign a friendship treaty.
- March 22 - The 92nd U.S. Congress votes to send the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the states for ratification.
- March 24 - The British government announces the prorogation of the Parliament of Northern Ireland and the introduction of 'Direct Rule' of Northern Ireland, after the Unionist government refuses to cede security powers.
- March 26 - An avalanche on Mount Fuji kills 19 climbers.
- March 30 - Vietnam War: The Easter Offensive begins after North Vietnamese forces cross into the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) of South Vietnam.
- April 10 - The U.S. and the Soviet Union join some 70 nations in signing the Biological Weapons Convention, an agreement to ban biological warfare.
- April 10 - A 7.0 Richter scale earthquake kills 5,000 people in the Iranian province of Fars.
- April 16 - Apollo 16 (John Young, Ken Mattingly, Charlie Duke) is launched. During the mission, the astronauts achieve a lunar rover speed record of 18 km/h.
- April 16 - Vietnam War - Nguyen Hue Offensive: Prompted by the North Vietnamese offensive, the United States resumes bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong.
- April 22 - Sylvia Cook and John Fairfax finish rowing across the Pacific.
- May 2 - Fire in a silver mine in Idaho kills 91.
- May 5 - An Alitalia DC-8 crashes west of Palermo, Sicily; 115 die.
- May 7 - General elections are held in Italy.
- May 8 - U.S. President Richard Nixon orders the mining of Haiphong Harbor in Vietnam.
- May 13 - Fire in a nightclub atop the Sennichi department store in Osaka, Japan, kills 115.
- May 15 - Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama is shot by Arthur Herman Bremer at a Laurel, Maryland political rally.
- May 19 - Three out of 6 bombs explode in the Springer Press building in Hamburg, Germany, injuring 17; the Red Army Faction claims responsibility.
- May 21 - In Rome, Laszlo Toth attacks Michelangelo's "Pietà" statue with a sledgehammer, shouting that he is Jesus Christ.
- May 22 - Ceylon becomes the republic of Sri Lanka under prime minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, when its new constitution is ratified.
- May 23 - The Tamil United Front (now known as Tamil United Liberation Front, a pro-Tamil organization, is founded.
- May 24 - A Red Army Faction bomb explodes in the Campbell Barracks of the U.S. Army Supreme European Command in Heidelberg, West Germany; Three U.S. soldiers are killed.
- May 26 - Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev sign the SALT I treaty in Moscow, as well as the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and other agreements.
- May 26 - The Watergate first break-in, the "Ameritas dinner", fails.
- May 26 - Wernher von Braun retires from NASA, frustrated by the agency's unwillingness to pursue a manned trans-orbital space program.
- May 26 - Willandra National Park is established in Australia.
- May 27 - A second Watergate break-in attempt fails.
- May 30 - The Angry Brigade goes on trial in the United Kingdom.
- May 30 - Three Japanese Red Army members kill 24 and injure 100 in Lod Airport, Israel.
- June - Iraq nationalizes the Iraq Petroleum Company.
- June 2 - Andreas Baader, Jan-Carl Raspe, Holger Meins and some other members of Red Army Faction are arrested in Frankfurt am Main after a shootout.
- June 4 - Angela Davis is found not guilty of murder.
- June 8 - Seven men and 3 women hijack a plane from West Germany to Czechoslovakia.
- June 9 - The Black Hills flood kills 238 in South Dakota.
- June 14–23 - Hurricane Agnes kills 117 on the U.S. East Coast.
- June 15 - Ulrike Meinhof and Gerhard Müller of the Red Army Faction are arrested in a teacher's apartment in Langenhagen, West Germany.
- June 15–18 - The first U.S. Libertarian Party National Convention is held in Denver, Colorado.
- June 16 - 108 die as two passenger trains hit the debris of a collapsed railway tunnel near Soissons, France.
- June 17 - Watergate scandal: Five White House operatives are arrested for burglarizing the offices of the Democratic National Committee.
- June 17 - The United States returns Okinawa, occupied and governed since the WW-II Battle of Okinawa, back to Japan.
- June 17 - Chilean president Salvador Allende forms a new government.
- June 18 - Staines air disaster: 118 die when a Trident 1 jet airliner crashes 2 minutes after take off from London Heathrow Airport.
- June 23 - Watergate Scandal: U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and White House chief of staff H. R. Haldeman are taped talking about using the C.I.A. to obstruct the F.B.I.'s investigation into the Watergate break-ins.
- June 28 - U.S. President Richard Nixon announces that no new draftees will be sent to Vietnam.
- June 29 - Furman v. Georgia: The Supreme Court of the United States rules that the death penalty is unconstitutional.
- July - U.S. actress Jane Fonda tours North Vietnam, during which she is photographed sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun.
- July 1 - The Canadian ketch Vega, flying the Greenpeace III banner, collides with the French naval minesweeper La Paimpolaise while in international waters, to protest French nuclear weapon tests in the South Pacific.
- July 1 - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms becomes independent from the IRS.
- July 2 - Following Pakistan's surrender to India in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, both nations sign the historic Simla Agreement, agreeing to settle their disputes bilaterally.
- July 4 - The first Rainbow Gathering is held in Colorado.
- July 8 - The U.S. sells grain to the Soviet Union for $750 million.
- July 10–14 - The Democratic National Convention meets in Miami Beach. Senator George McGovern, who backs the immediate and complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam, is nominated for President. He names fellow Senator Thomas Eagleton as his running mate.
- July 18 - Anwar Sadat expels 20,000 Soviet advisors from Egypt.
- July 21 - Bloody Friday: 22 bombs planted by the Provisional IRA explode in Belfast, Northern Ireland; 9 people are killed and 130 seriously injured.
- July 21 - A collision between two trains near Sevilla, Spain kills 76 people.
- July 23 - The United States launches Landsat 1, the first Earth-resources satellite.
- July 25 - U.S. health officials admit that Blacks were used as guinea pigs in the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.
- July 29 - A national dock strike begins in Britain.
- July 31 - Operation Motorman: British troops move into the no-go areas of Belfast and Derry, Northern Ireland, ending Free Derry.
- August 1 - U.S. Senator Thomas Eagleton, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, withdraws from the race after revealing he was once treated for mental illness.
- August 4 - Arthur Bremer is jailed for 63 years for shooting George Wallace.
- August 4 - Dictator Idi Amin declares that Uganda will expel 50,000 Asians with British passports to Britain within 3 months.
- August 4 - A huge solar flare (one of the largest ever recorded) knocks out cable lines in U.S. It begins with the appearance of sunspots on August 2; an August 4 flare kicks off high levels of activity until August 10.
- August 10 - A brilliant, daytime meteor skips off the Earth's atmosphere due to an Apollo asteroid streaking over the western US into Canada.
- August 12 - The last U.S. ground troops are withdrawn from Vietnam.
- August 14 - An East German Ilyushin airliner crashes near East Berlin; all 156 onboard perish.
- August 16 - The Royal Moroccan Air Force mistakenly fires upon, but fails to bring down, Hassan II of Morocco's plane while he is traveling back to Rabat.
- August 21 - The Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida renominates U.S. President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew for a second term.
- August 22 - Jane Fonda makes an antiwar broadcast from a hotel room in Hanoi.
- August 26 – September 11 - The 1972 Summer Olympics are held in Munich, West Germany.
- September 1 - Bobby Fischer defeats Boris Spassky in a chess match at Reykjavík, Iceland, becoming the first American chess champion (see Match of the Century).
- September 5–6 - Munich Massacre: Eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich die after 8 members of the Arab terrorist group Black September invade the Olympic Village; 5 guerillas and 1 policeman are also killed in a failed hostage rescue.
- September 14 - West Germany and Poland renew diplomatic relations.
- September 17 - Uganda announces that there are Tanzanian troops in its territory.
- September 18 - São Paulo Metro is inaugurated in Brazil.
- September 19 - A parcel bomb sent to the Israeli Embassy in London kills 1 diplomat.
- September 21 - Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos issues Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire country under martial law.
- September 24 - An F-86 fighter aircraft leaving an air show at Sacramento Executive Airport fails to become airborne and crashes into a Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor, killing 12 children and 11 adults.
- September 25 - Norwegian EC referendum, 1972: Norway rejects membership in the European Economic Community.
- September 27 - The Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People's Republic of China is signed in Beijing.
- September 29 - Sino-Japanese relations: Japan normalizes diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China after breaking official ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan).
- October 1 - The first publication reporting the production of a recombinant DNA molecule, marks the birth of modern molecular biology methodology.
- October 2 - Denmark joins the European Community; the Faroe Islands stay out.
- October 6 - A train crash in Saltillo, Mexico kills 208 people.
- October 8 - R. Sargent Shriver is chosen to replace Thomas Eagleton as the U.S. vice-presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.
- October 12 - En route to the Gulf of Tonkin, a racial brawl involving more than 100 sailors breaks out aboard the United States Navy aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk; nearly 50 sailors are injured.
- October 13 - Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571: A Fairchild FH-227D passenger aircraft transporting a rugby union team crashes at about 14,000' in the Andes mountain range, near the Argentina/Chile border. Sixteen of the survivors are found alive December 20 but they have had to resort to cannibalism to survive.
- October 16 - A plane carrying U.S. Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana and 3 other men vanishes in Alaska. The wreckage has never been found, despite a massive search at the time.
- October 16 - Rioting Maze Prison inmates cause a fire that destroys most of the camp.
- October 17 - Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom visits Yugoslavia.
- October 25 - The first female FBI agents are hired.
- October 26 - Following a visit to South Vietnam, U.S. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger suggests that "peace is at hand."
- October 28 - The Airbus A300 flies for the first time.
- October 29 - The Black September group hijacks a Lufthansa Boeing 727 over Turkey, demanding the release of 3 comrades still held for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games.
- October 30 - U.S. President Richard Nixon approves legislation to increase Social Security spending by US$5.3 billion.
- October 30 - A commuter train collision in Chicago kills 45, injures hundreds.
- November 5 - A group of American Indians occupies the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
- November 7 - U.S. presidential election, 1972: Republican incumbent Richard Nixon defeats Democratic Senator George McGovern in a landslide (the election had the lowest voter turnout since 1948, with only 55 percent of the electorate voting).
- November 11 - Vietnam War - Vietnamization: The United States Army turns over the massive Long Binh military base to South Vietnam.
- November 14 - The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 1,000 (1,003.16) for the first time.
- November 16 - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization adopts the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage .
- November 19 - Seán Mac Stíofáin, a leader of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, is arrested in Dublin after giving an interview to RTÉ.
- November 22 - Vietnam War: The United States loses its first B-52 Stratofortress of the war.
- November 28 - The last executions in Paris, France. Roger Bontems and Claude Buffet - the Clairvaux Mutineers - were guillotined at La Sante Prison by chief executioner Andre Obrecht (already suffering from Parkinson's Disease). Bontems had been found innocent of murder by the court, but as Buffet's accomplice was condemned to death anyway. President Georges Pompidou, in private an abolitionist, upheld both death sentences in deference to French public opinion.
- November 29 - Atari kicks off the first generation of video games with the release of their seminal arcade version of Pong, the first game to achieve commercial success.
- November 30 - Vietnam War: White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler tells the press that there will be no more public announcements concerning United States troop withdrawals from Vietnam due to the fact that troop levels are now down to 27,000.
- November 30 - Cod War: British Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home says that Royal Navy ships will be stationed to protect British trawlers off Iceland.
- December 2 - Edward Gough Whitlam becomes the first Labor Party Prime Minister of Australia for 23 years. He is famously sworn in on election night, and his first action using executive power is to withdraw all Australian personnel from the Vietnam War.
- December 7 - Apollo 17 (Gene Cernan, Ronald Evans, Harrison Schmitt), the last manned Moon mission to date, is launched.
- December 7 - The Provisional Irish Republican Army kidnaps Jean McConville in Belfast.
- December 7 - Imelda Marcos is stabbed and seriously wounded by an assailant; her bodyguards shoot him.
- December 8 - United Airlines Boeing 737 from Washington National to Chicago Midway crashes short of the runway, killing 43 of 61 onboard and 2 on the ground.
- December 8 - International Human Rights Day is proclaimed by the United Nations.
- December 11 - Apollo 17 lands on the Moon.
- December 14 - Apollo program: Eugene Cernan is the last person to walk on the moon, after he and Harrison Schmitt complete the third and final Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) of Apollo 17. This is the last manned mission to the moon of the 20th Century.
- December 16 - The Constitution of Bangladesh comes into effect.
- December 16 - The Portuguese army kills 400 Africans in Tete, Mozambique.
- December 19 - Apollo program: Apollo 17 returns to Earth, concluding the program of lunar exploration.
- December 21 - East Germany and West Germany recognize each other.
- December 21 - ZANLA troopers attack Altera Farm in north-east Rhodesia.
- December 22 - Australia establishes diplomatic relations with China and West Germany.
- December 22 - A peace delegation that includes singer-activist Joan Baez and human rights attorney Telford Taylor visit Hanoi to deliver Christmas mail to American prisoners of war (they will be caught in the Christmas bombing of North Vietnam).
- December 23 - A 6.25 Richter scale earthquake in Nicaragua kills 5,000-12,000 people in the capital, Managua; President Somoza is later accused of pocketing millions of dollars worth of foreign aid intended for relief.
- December 25 - The Christmas bombing of North Vietnam causes widespread criticism of the U.S. and President Richard Nixon.
- December 26 - Former United States President Harry S. Truman dies in Kansas City, Missouri.
- December 28 - The bones of Martin Bormann are identified in Berlin.
- December 29 - Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 crashes into the Everglades in Florida, killing 101 of 163 onboard.
- February 6 - Emil Maurice, early NSDAP member and Hitler’s chauffeur (b. 1897)
- February 20 - Walter Winchell, Jewish gossip columnist and radio commentator (b. 1897)
- May 2 - J. Edgar Hoover, American director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (b. 1895)
- June 12 - Saul Alinsky, leftist community organizer and political idol to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (b. 1909)
- August 20 - Nichifor Crainic, Romanian writer and philosopher (b. 1889)
- October 1 - Louis Leakey, British archaeologist (b. 1903)
- November 1 - Ezra Pound, American poet (b. 1885)
- November 14 - Martin Dies, Jr., American politician (b. 1900)
- Observation of Meteoroid Impacts by Space-Based Sensors astrosociety.org, 1998, 'Apollo asteroid about ten meters in diameter'
- Full Text - Proclamation 1081
- Crash at Farrell's. Retrieved on 2008-03-16.