1952 (MCMLII) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar).
- January 8 - West Germany has 8 million refugees inside its borders.
- January 24 - Sudden heavy snowfall in Algeria.
- January 24 - Vincent Massey sworn in as first Canada-born Governor-General of Canada.
- February 2 - A tropical storm forms just north of Cuba moving northeast. The storm makes landfall in southern Florida the next day. It is the earliest reported landfall from a tropical storm, and the earliest formation of a tropical storm on record in the Atlantic basin.
- February 6 - Elizabeth II becomes Queen upon the death of her father George VI.
- February 6 - In the United States, a mechanical heart is used for the first time in a human patient.
- February 14 to February 25 - Winter Olympics in Oslo
- February 15 - Funeral of King George VI takes place at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
- February 16 - Roman Catholic Diocese of Baker formed in Eastern Oregon.
- February 20 - Emmett L. Ashford becomes the first African-American umpire in organized baseball by being authorized to be a substitute umpire in the Southwestern International League.
- February 21 - Winston Churchill scraps UK compulsory national Identity Cards
- February 26 - United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill announces that his nation has an atomic bomb.
- May 7-12 - Marcel Bardiauc sails through Kap Horn
- March 10 - General Fulgencio Batista takes power in Cuba - again
- March 15 to 16 - 73 inches (1,870mm) of rain falls in Cilaos, Réunion, the most rainfall ever in one day
- March 20 - The United States Senate ratifies a peace treaty with Japan.
- March 21 - The last two executions in the Netherlands take place.
- March 21 - Dr Kwame Nkrumah elected the Prime Minister of the Gold Coast
- March 27 - Failed assassination attempt against Konrad Adenauer
- April 4 - In Hague tribunal, Israel demands reparations worth 3 billion dollars from Germany.
- April 18 - Bolivia National Revolution: universal vote enables indigenous and women to vote, nationalisation of mines and agrarian reform.
- April 18 - West Germany and Japan form diplomatic relations.
- April 23 - Nuclear test in Nevada desert.
- April 28 - The Treaty of San Francisco goes into effect, formally ending the occupation of Japan.
- April 28 - Treaty of Taipei (Treaty of Peace between Japan and the Republic of China).
- April 29 - Japan regains official independence. This ends the period of Occupied Japan and marks the birth of Modern Japan.
- April 29 - Two Soviet fighters fire on French passenger plane over Germany
- April 29 - Australia, New Zealand, United States security treaty comes into force.
- April 30 - To deter tourists, sight-seers, and neo-Nazis, the Bavarian government blew up the ruins of the Berghof on the anniversary of Hitler's death. (See Geoff Walden's Third Reich in Ruins: Hitler's Berghof.)
- May 1 - East Germany threatens to form its own army.
- May 2 - First passenger jet flight route between London and Johannesburg
- May 3 - U.S. lieutenant colonels Joseph O. Fletcher and William P. Benedict land a plane at the geographic North Pole.
- May 6 - Farouk of Egypt had himself announced as a descendant of prophet Muhammad.
- May 13 - Pandit Nehru forms his first government
- May 15 - Diplomatic relations established between the governments of Israel and Japan at the level of Legations.
- June 1 - Catholic church bans books of André Gide.
- June 5 - Remains of a Viking ship found near Boston, Massachusetts.
- June 14 - The keel is laid for the U.S. nuclear submarine USS Nautilus.
- June 15 - The Diary of Anne Frank published.
- June 21 - U.S. launches the first nuclear submarine USS Nautilus.
- June 29 - Finnish Armi Kuusela wins the title of Miss Universe.
- June 30 - Marshall Aid ends.
- July 13 - East Germany announces formation of its people's army.
- July 19 to August 3 - The Summer Olympic Games are held in Helsinki.
- July 23 - General Mohammed Naguib leads The Free Officers (formed by Gamal Abdel Nasser - the real power behind the coup) in the overthrow of King Farouk of Egypt.
- July 25 - Puerto Rico becomes a self-governing commonwealth of the United States.
- July 26 - Military coup in Egypt ousts King Farouk.
- August 10 - Establishment of the European Coal and Steel community.
- August 11 - Jordanian army forces king Talal to resign due to mental illness - his successor is his son Hussein of Jordan.
- August 13 - Japan joins IMF.
- August 14 - West Germany joins IMF.
- August 14 - West Germany joins World Bank.
- August 16 - Lynmouth in North Devon England is devastated by floods, death toll of 34.
- August 26 - British passenger jet flies twice over Atlantic Ocean in the same day.
- August 27 - Reparation negotiations between West Germany and Israel end in Luxembourg - Germany will pay 3 billion Deutsche Marks.
- August 29 - Premiere of John Cage's 4' 33" in Woodstock, New York.
- August 30 - Last Finnish war reparations to Soviet Union.
- September 2 - Dr. C. Walton Lillehei and Dr. F. John Lewis perform first open-heart surgery at the University of Minnesota.
- September 4 - September 9 - Thick smog in London, England causes 4,000 fatalities.
- September 18 - Soviet Union vetoes Japan's application for membership in the United Nations.
- October 8 - Negotiations of ceasefire in Korea are postponed.
- October 8 - Three-train crash in Harrow railway station in England - 110 dead.
- October 14 - United Nations begins work in the new United Nations building in New York City
- October 19 - Alain Bombard begins to sail from Canary Islands to Barbados in 65 days; he reaches them December 23
- October 20 - Martial law in Kenya due to Mau Mau uprising.
- November 1 - Nuclear testing: Operation Ivy - The United States successfully detonates the first hydrogen bomb, codenamed "Mike" ["m" for megaton], at Eniwetok island in the Bikini atoll located in the Pacific Ocean.
- November 4 - 8.25 Richter scale earthquake in Kamchatka
- November 4 - U.S. presidential election, 1952: Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower defeats Democrat Adlai Stevenson (correctly predicted by UNIVAC computer).
- November 18 - Jomo Kenyatta is arrested in Kenya for alleged connection to Mau Mau uprising
- November 20 - Fireball crashes in a backyard in Havelock North, New Zealand
- November 20 - First official passenger flight over the North Pole from Los Angeles to Copenhagen
- November 21 - Show trial in Czechoslovakia sentences 11 ex-communist officials to death - all of them Jews.
- November 25 - Agatha Christie's murder-mystery play The Mousetrap opens at the Ambassadors Theatre in London; as of 2004, it continues, next door at the St. Martin's Theatre, and remains the longest continuously running production of a play in history.
- November 29 - Korean War: Newly-elected U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower fulfills a political campaign promise by traveling to Korea to find out what can be done to end the conflict.
- December 1 - The New York Daily News carries a front page story announcing that Christine Jorgensen, a transsexual woman in Denmark became the recipient of the first successful sexual reassignment operation.
- December 4 - Great Smog of 1952: A "killer fog" descends on London ("Smog" for "smoke" and "fog" becomes a word).
- December 14 - First successful surgical separation of Siamese twins in Mount Sinai Hospital, Ohio.
- December 25 - Shooting incident in West Berlin - one West German soldier is killed
- December 26 - Joseph Ivor Linton, first Israeli Minister Plenipotentiary in Japan, presents his credentials to the Japanese Emperor.
- 3300 die of polio in U.S.; 57,000 children are paralyzed
- National Security Agency founded
- Winston Churchill scraps UK compulsory national Identity Cards
- Cold War over Germany's frontiers intensify
- Sister Theresa becomes Mother Theresa and begins her charity work in Calcutta
- Charles Chaplin expelled from U.S.
- Cheez Whiz introduced
- Traffic lights in New York City
- Wernher von Braun talks about a manned flight to Mars.
- Nordic Council agrees free transport of people, goods and services throughout the Nordic Countries.
- January 11 - Ben Crenshaw, American golfer
- January 11 - Lee Ritenour, jazz guitarist and composer
- January 20 - Paul Stanley, American musician (KISS}
- January 29 - Tommy Ramone, Hungarian-born drummer (The Ramones)
- February 1 - Rick James, American musician
- February 3 - Dermot Morgan, Irish actor and comedian (d. 1998)
- February 22 - William Frist, heart surgeon and U.S. Senator
- March 1 - Steven Barnes, American author
- March 2 - Laraine Newman, American comedian
- March 11 - Douglas Adams, English author (d. 2001)
- March 13 - Wolfgang Rihm, German composer
- March 22 - Bob Costas, American sports announcer
- March 23 - Kim Stanley Robinson, American author
- March 25 - Jung Chang, Chinese-born author and historian
- March 25 - Antanas Mockus, Colombian mathematician and politician
- March 29 - Teofilo Stevenson, Cuban boxer
- March 30 - Peter Knights, Australian footballer and coach
- April 4 - Rosemarie Ackermann, German athlete
- April 12 - Ralph Wiley, American sports journalist (d. 2004)
- April 22 - Marilyn Chambers, American actress
- April 25 - Ketil Bjørnstad, Norwegian pianist
- May 2 - Campbell McComas, Australian impersonator and broadcaster
- May 3 - Allan Wells, Scottish athlete
- May 3 - Leonid Khachiyan, Russian-born mathematician
- May 11 - Renaud Séchan, French composer
- May 11 - Mike Lupica, American sports journalist
- May 14 - David Byrne, Scottish-born singer, songwriter, and guitarist (Talking Heads)
- May 14 - Robert Zemeckis, American director
- May 18 - George Strait, American musician
- May 19 - Bert van Marwijk, Dutch football manager
- May 20 - Roger Milla, Cameroonian footballer
- May 21 - Mr. T, American actor
- June 7 - Liam Neeson, Irish actor
- June 16 - Georgios Papandreou, Greek politician
- June 20 - John Goodman, American actor
- June 20 - Vikram Seth, Indian novelist
- June 24 - Stephen Pusey, British-born artist
- June 28 - Pietro Mennea, Italian athlete
- July 9 - John Tesh, American composer, musician, and television host
- July 31 - João Barreiros, Portuguese author
- August 1 - Zoran Đinđić, Prime Minister of Serbia (d. 2003)
- August 3 - Osvaldo Ardiles, Argentine footballer
- August 8 - Jostein Gaarder, Norwegian author
- August 9 - Vicki Morgan, American model (d. 1983)
- August 10 - Daniel Hugh Kelly, American actor
- August 13 - Herb Ritts, American photographer
- August 14 - Carl Lumbly, American actor
- August 16 - Reginald VelJohnson, American actor
- August 19 - Jonathan Frakes, American actor
- August 21 - Joe Strummer, British musician (The Clash) (d. 2002)
- August 24 - Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jamaican-born musician
- September 18 - Dee Dee Ramone, American bassist (The Ramones) (d. 2002)
- September 22 - Bob Goodlatte, U.S. Congressman from Virginia
- September 25 - Christopher Reeve, American actor and activist (d. 2004)
- September 29 - Max Sandlin, American politician
- October 5 - Duncan Regehr, Canadian actor
- October 7 - Vladimir Putin, Russian president
- October 9 - Sharon Osbourne, wife and manager of Ozzy Osbourne
- October 16 - Ron Taylor, American actor (died 2002)
- October 26 - Andrew Motion, English poet
- November 5 - Bill Walton, American basketball player and commentator
- November 8 - Jan Raas, Dutch professional cyclist
- November 15 - Daniel Barenboim, Israeli pianist and conductor
- November 16 - Shigeru Miyamoto, Japanese game designer
- November 17 - Ties Kruize, Dutch field hockey player
- November 25 - Imran Khan, Pakistani cricketer
- November 28 - S. Epatha Merkerson, American actress
- December 6 - Rick Charlesworth, Australian cricketer, politician, hockey player and coach
- December 9 - Michael Dorn, American actor
- December 14 - Vicki Michelle, English actress
- December 16 - Joel Garner, West Indian cricketer
- December 28 - Arun Jaitley, Indian politician
- December 30 - June Anderson, American soprano
- January 18 - Curly Howard, American actor and comedian (b. 1903)
- February 6 - King George VI of the United Kingdom (b. 1895)
- February 19 - Knut Hamsun, Norwegian author, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1859)
- February 22 - Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg, first President of Finland (b. 1863)
- March 7 - Paramahansa Yogananda, Indian guru (b. 1893)
- March 22 - Uncle Dave Macon, American musician (b. 1870)
- March 31 - Wallace H. White, Jr., U.S. Senator from Maine (b. 1877)
- April 21 - Sir Stafford Cripps, British Chancellor of the Exchequer (b. 1889)
- April 23 - Julius Freed, American inventor and banker (b. 1887)
- May 6 - Maria Montessori, Italian educator (cerebral hemorrhage) (b. 1870)
- May 21 - John Garfield, American actor (b. 1913)
- June 17 - Krystyna Skarbek, Polish-born Britsh agent in World War II (b. 1915)
- July 26 - Eva Peron, Argentine wife of Juan Peron (b. 1919)
- September 29 - George Santayana, Spanish-born writer (b. 1863)
- September 30 - Viscount Waldorf Astor, American-born businessman and politician (b. 1879)
- October 28 - Billy Hughes, seventh Prime Minister of Australia (b. 1862)
- November 9 - Chaim Weizmann, first President of Israel (b. 1874)
- November 18 - Paul Eluard, French poet (b. 1895)
- December 12 - Bedřich Hrozný, Czech orientalist and linguist (b. 1879)
- December 28 - Fletcher Henderson, American musician (b. 1897)
- Physics - Felix Bloch, Edward Mills Purcell
- Chemistry - Archer John Porter Martin, Richard Laurence Millington Synge
- Medicine - Selman Abraham Waksman
- Literature - François Mauriac
- Peace - Albert Schweitzer
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