Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh

Charles Augustus Lindbergh, the only child of Swedish immigrant Charles August Lindbergh and Evangeline Lodge Lindbergh, was born in Detroit on 4th February, 1902. His father was a supporter of the Republican Party and in 1907 was elected to the House of Representatives.

His parents separated when he was a child and his mother became a chemistry teacher at Cass Technical High School. Lindbergh's education involved him studying in over twelve schools. This included schools in Michigan, California Washington and Minnesota.

Charles August Lindbergh was a strong opponent of America's entry into the First World War. Lindbergh argued that war had been declared for financial reasons and in 1917 he brought articles of impeachment against members of the Federal Reserve Board including Paul Warburg and William P. G. Harding. Lindbergh charged that the Federal Reserve Board members were involved "in a conspiracy to violate the Constitution and laws of the United States."

Lindbergh graduated from Little Falls High School in 1918. Lindbergh worked on the farm owned by his father's family before entering the University of Wisconsin. He did not stay long and left his studies to work for the Nebraska Aircraft Company. In 1923 Lindbergh joined the United States Air Service and by 1925 was a second lieutenant in the Reserves. The following year he began work as an airmail pilot between St Louis and Chicago.

Raymond Orteig, the owner of the Lafayette Hotel, announced that he was willing to pay $25,000 to the first person to fly nonstop between New York City and Paris, a distance of nearly 3,600 miles (5,800 km). Several well-known flying aces from the First World War tried to win the Orteig Prize. This included René Fonck who crashed on takeoff on 21st September, 1926, in a three-engine Sikorsky S-35. Charles Nungesser departed from France on 8th May, 1927, but he was never seen nor heard from again.

Lindbergh decided he would have an attempt on the prize. He obtained a $15,000 loan from the State National Bank of St. Louis and along with a $2,000 of his own savings and commissioned a custom built monoplane named Spirit of St Louis from the Ryan Aircraft Company of San Diego. Lindbergh left Curtiss Field on the morning of 20th May 1927 and took 33 hours for the 3,600 mile journey between the United States and France.

When Lindbergh arrived back in the United States President Calvin Coolidge awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross. Over 4 million people lined the parade route in New York and the mayor, Jimmy Walker, pined the city's Medal of Valor upon him. Over the next few months Lindbergh helped promote aviation through the Guggenheim Foundation Fund. This involved visiting 92 cities and making 147 speeches.

Lindbergh married Anne Morrow, the daughter of Dwight Morrow on 27th May, 1929, and eventually had six children. On 1st March 1932, Lindbergh's baby son was kidnapped from his home in Hopewell, New Jersey. He was later found dead and Bruno Hauptmann, a German-born carpenter, was executed for the crime on 3rd April, 1936. Lindbergh and his wife were devastated by this event and decided to move to Europe in December 1935 in order to "seek a safe, secluded residence away from the tremendous public hysteria".

In 1936 Major Truman Smith, the American military attaché in Berlin, had a meeting with Air Minister, Hermann Goering, and his chief assistant, State Secretary Erhard Milch, and asked them if they would allow Charles Lindbergh to visit a number of air installations in Germany. They agreed and invited Lindbergh to visit Nazi Germany. Lindbergh wrote to his mother about the proposed trip: "Comparatively little is known about the present status of Aviation in Germany, so I am looking forward, with great interest, to going there. Even under the difficulties she has encountered since the war, Germany has taken a leading part in a number of aviation developments, including metal construction, low-wing designs, dirigibles, and Diesel engines. If it had not been for the war she would probably have produced a great deal more. On the other hand, if it had not been for the war it is doubtful whether aviation would be as far advanced as it is today."

According to A. Scott Berg, the author of Lindbergh (1998): "Charles followed a rigid military schedule, a succession of inspections. Accompanied by an assistant air attaché, Theodore Koenig, Lindbergh visited the Tempelhof civil airport, where he was permitted to pilot a Junkers (JU) 52, the Luftwaffe's standard bombardment plane, and the Hindenburg, a large four-motored experimental passenger plane. He spent a day with the Richthofen Geschwader (Wing), the elite fighter group of the Luftwaffe. One day he visited two Heinkel factories and saw their latest dive-bomber, medium bomber, fighter, and observation planes-all, Lindbergh found, of superb design. He spent another day at the Junker works at Dessau, where he saw their new JU 210 engine, a liquid-cooled engine far more advanced than he or Koenig had expected, and a JU 86, a low-wing, all-metal medium bomber already in mass production. Lindbergh spent another day at the German air research institute of Adlershof, where the scientists spoke freely of their work until he steered the conversation to the subject of rockets."

Lindbergh argued that "Europe, and the entire world, is fortunate that a Nazi Germany lies, at present, between Communistic Russia and a demoralized France. With the extremes of government which now exist, it is more desirable than ever to keep any one of them from sweeping over Europe. But if the choice must be made it can not be Communism." Lindbergh believed that the Germans were "especially anxious to maintain a friendly relationship with England" and that they had no "intention of attacking France for many years to come, if at all," and they seemed "to have a sincere desire for friendly relations with the United States, but of course that is much less vital to them."

Anne Lindbergh was also impressed with what Adolf Hitler had achieved. She wrote to her mother on 5th August, 1936, "I am beginning to feel, Hitler is a very great man, like an inspired religious leader - and as such rather fanatical - but not scheming, not selfish, not greedy for power, but a mystic, a visionary who really wants the best for his country and on the whole has rather a broad view." She argued that "strictly puritanical view at home that dictatorships are of necessity wrong, evil, unstable and no good can come of them - combined with our funny-paper view of Hitler as a clown - combined with the very strong (naturally) Jewish propaganda in the Jewish owned papers."

Unity Mitford
Truman Smith and Charles Lindbergh in Nazi Germany

On 20th August, 1936, Lindbergh wrote a letter of thanks to General Hermann Goering: "It is always a pleasure to see good workmanship combined with vision in design and great technical ability. I have never been more impressed than I was with the aviation organizations I saw in Germany. I believe that the experimental laboratories which are being constricted will undoubtedly contribute very greatly to the progress of aviation throughout the world."

Major Truman Smith thanked Lindbergh for visiting Nazi Germany: "I don't believe anybody else in the world could have succeeded in doing what you did, pleasing everybody, both the German public and the American public." After the visit, Truman Smith observed, "Captain Koenig found himself in a privileged position in the attaché corps. In the ensuing twelve months, he visited more factories and airfields than any other foreign attaché, with the possible exception of the Swedes and the Italians."

When he arrived back in the United States he told his friends that he was impressed with what Hitler had achieved in the three years he had been in power. He told Harry Davison: "He is undoubtedly a great man, and I believe has done much for the German people. He is a fanatic in many ways, and anyone can see that there is a certain amount of fanaticism in Germany today. It is less than I expected, but it is there. On the other hand, Hitler has accomplished results (good in addition to bad), which could hardly have been accomplished without some fanaticism." To another friend he wrote: "While I still have many reservations, I have come away with a feeling of great admiration for the German people. The condition of the country, and the appearance of the average person whom I saw, leaves with me the impression that Hitler must have far more character and vision than I thought existed in the German leader who has been painted in so many different ways by the accounts in America and England." He told Harry Guggenheim: "There is no need for me to tell you that I am not in accord with the Jewish situation in Germany" but the "undercurrent of feeling" was "that the German Jews had been on the side of the Communists."

In October 1937 Lindbergh made a second visit. Lindbergh and Truman Smith became the first Americans to visit the Focke-Wulf factory in Bremen, where the "Germans demonstrated a model of a flying machine (a helicopter) that landed and took off vertically and was able to hover without any apparent movement; it could also fly backward or forward with good maneuverability in turning." Lindbergh later recalled: I have never seen a more successful demonstration of an experimental machine."

Unity Mitford
Truman Smith and Charles Lindbergh inspecting aircraft in 1937.

Ernst Udet of the Luftwaffe was authorized to show Lindbergh the Rechlin-Lärz Airfield air testing station in Pomerania. Truman Smith wrote: ""This was one of the most secret establishments in Germany, and so far as was then known, foreign attaches were barred." Lindbergh became the first American to examine in detail the Messerschmitt (ME) 109, the Luftwaffe's leading single-engine fighter, as well as the Dornier (DO) 17, its latest light bomber-reconnaissance airplane. He was also told about the development of the Messerschmitt 110, a twin-engined fighter with 1200 h.p. Daimler-Benz engines.

As a result of this visit Truman Smith wrote a report, "General Estimate (of Germany's Air Power) of November 1, 1937." The four-page survey included the following passage: "Germany is once more a world power in the air. Her air force and her air industry have emerged from the kindergarten stage. Full manhood will still not be reached for three years." He said that Germany had already outdistanced France in its technical development and had all but closed the gap on Great Britain. "A highly competent observer (Charles Lindbergh) estimated that if the present progress curves of (America and Germany) should continue as they have in the past two years, Germany should obtain technical parity with the USA by 1941 or 1942." Despite his report, Congress cut rather than increased War Department requests for appropriations for the Army Air Corps.

On 20th February, 1938, Adolf Hitler spoke to the Reichstag of the ten million Germans living just beyond his borders, suggesting his vision of an Anschluss. Three weeks later, the German Army marched into Austria. Lindbergh was already dreading the possibility that America and Germany might end up crossing swords. "If we fight, our countries will only lose their best men... We can gain nothing.... It must not happen."

The Lindberghs visited London and spent time with Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West at their home at Sissinghurst. Nicholson wrote in his diary: "Lindbergh is most pessimistic... should just give way and then make an alliance with Germany." He added that Lindbergh seemed to believe "in the Nazi theology, all tied up with his hatred of degeneracy and his hatred of democracy as represented by the free Press and the American public." Lindbergh had tea with David Lloyd George, who told him that war seemed inevitable and that the Nazi system was as bad as the Russian system. This upset Lindbergh as having visited both countries recently, he could not understand how Lloyd George did not "recognize any difference to England between an alliance with European Germany and Asiatic Russia. He apparently does not worry about the effect of Asia on European civilization."

The Lindberghs also stayed with Nancy Astor and her husband, Waldorf Astor at their home Cliveden, a large estate in Buckinghamshire on the River Thames. It was later claimed that they "shocked the life out of everyone by describing Germany's strength". On 5th October, 1938, Claud Cockburn reported in The Week, that Lindbergh had told a meeting of the Cliveden Set that the "German air force could take on and defeat, single handed, the British, French, Soviet and Czechoslovak air fleets" and that he "knew all about the Russian air force because, when in Moscow recently, he had been offered the post of head of the Soviet civil aviation administration". Prvada reprinted the article and denounced Lindbergh as a liar.

In November, 1938, Major Truman Smith arranged for Lindbergh to visit Nazi Germany again. Great controversy was caused when Lindbergh received a medal from Hermann Goering. Lindbergh later claimed that he had no idea it was going to happen: "Goring was the last to arrive. I was standing at the back of the room when lie came through the door, wearing a blue Luftwaffe uniform of new design. He seemed less stout than when I last saw him. Heads turned and conversation dropped as Ambassador Wilson advanced to meet his guest of honor. I noticed that Goring carried a red box and some papers in one hand. When he came to me he handed me the box and papers and spoke several sentences in German. I knew no German but I soon learned that he had presented me with the Order of the German Eagle, one of the highest decorations of the government by order of der Fuhrer", he said."

Lindbergh was roundly condemned for accepting the medal. The Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, asserted that anyone who accepts a decoration from Germany also "forfeits his right to be an American". The New Yorker on 26th November, 1938, commented: "With confused emotions we say goodbye to Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, who wants to go and live in Berlin, presumably occupying a house that once belonged to Jews."

At the request of Joseph Kennedy, American ambassador in London, Lindbergh committed to paper the next day some of his comments regarding military aviation in Europe, so that they could be transmitted to both the White House and Whitehall. Kennedy promptly wired the bulk of the letter to Secretary of State Cordell Hull - including Lindbergh's estimates of German production and his conviction that "Germany now has the means of destroying London, Paris, and Prague if she wishes to do so. England and France together have not enough modern war planes for effective defence or counter-attack." Lindbergh added, "I am convinced that it is wiser to permit Germany's eastward expansion than to throw England and France, unprepared, into a war at this time."

Unknown to Lindbergh, General Hermann Goering did not share this view of the situation. On that very day Goering received a secret report from his own General Helmuth Felmy, who informed him that none of their bombers or fighters could "operate meaningfully" over England. "Given our present means," the report stated, "we can hope at best for a nuisance effect.... A war of annihilation against Britain appears to be out of the question."

Lindbergh argued strongly that "a westward expansion by Hitler might still be prevented through a combination of diplomacy, strategic convenience, and the use of defensive power." Lindbergh's worst fear was that "the potentially gigantic power of America, guided by uninformed and impractical idealism, might crusade into Europe to destroy Hitler without realizing that Hitler's destruction would lay Europe open to the rape, loot, and barbarism of Soviet Russia's forces, causing possibly the fatal wounding of Western civilization." He added "it seemed to me essential to France and England, and even to America, that Germany be maintained as a bulwark against the Soviet Union."

In September 1940, Lindbergh helped Burton K. Wheeler and Norman Thomas to form the America First Committee (AFC). I t soon became the most powerful isolationist group in the United States. The AFC had four main principles: (1) The United States must build an impregnable defense for America; (2) No foreign power, nor group of powers, can successfully attack a prepared America; (3) American democracy can be preserved only by keeping out of the European War; (4) "Aid short of war" weakens national defense at home and threatens to involve America in war abroad.

When Winston Churchill became prime minister in May 1940, he realised that it would be vitally important to enlist the United States as Britain's ally. Churchill appointed William Stephenson as the head of the British Security Coordination (BSC). As William Boyd has pointed out: "The phrase is bland, almost defiantly ordinary, depicting perhaps some sub-committee of a minor department in a lowly Whitehall ministry. In fact BSC, as it was generally known, represented one of the largest covert operations in British spying history... With the US alongside Britain, Hitler would be defeated - eventually. Without the US (Russia was neutral at the time), the future looked unbearably bleak... polls in the US still showed that 80% of Americans were against joining the war in Europe. Anglophobia was widespread and the US Congress was violently opposed to any form of intervention."

Stephenson was particularly concerned with the growth of the America First Committee. Stephenson later recalled that Lindbergh soon emerged as the leader of the isolationist movement and this was a particular problem as he was considered to be a national hero. In the summer of 1940 Charles Lindbergh made several critical speeches of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After one particularly objectionable speech, he told Henry Morgenthau, "If I should die tomorrow, I want you to know this. I am absolutely convinced that Lindbergh is a Nazi." He wrote to Henry Stimson and claimed that: "When I read Lindbergh's speech, I felt that it could not have been better put if it had been written by Goebbels himself. What a pity that this youngster has completely abandoned his belief in our form of government and has accepted Nazi methods because apparently they are efficient."

Roosevelt was worried about the impact that Lindbergh was having on American public opinion. He decided to recruit J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, in his campaign against Lindbergh. Roosevelt's attorney general, Robert Jackson commented, "The two men liked and understood each other." Roosevelt asked J. Edgar Hoover to investigate Charles Lindbergh, one of the leaders of the American First Committee. He willingly did so for he had been upset by Lindbergh's critical comments about the failures of the FBI investigation into the kidnapping and murder of his infant son. He also provided detailed reports on other isolationists such as Burton K. Wheeler, Gerald Nye and Hamilton Fish.

Roosevelt wrote to Hoover thanking him for this information. "I have intended writing you for some time to thank you for the many interesting and valuable reports that you have made to me regarding the fast moving situations of the last few months." Hoover replied on 14th June, 1940: "The letter is one of the most inspiring messages which I have ever been privileged to receive; and, indeed, I look upon it as rather a symbol of the principles for which our Nation stands. When the President of our country, bearing the weight of untold burdens, takes the time to express himself to one of his Bureau heads, there is implanted in the hearts of the recipients a renewed strength and vigor to carry on their tasks."

On 13th February, 1941, the President approved the establishment of "a small special intelligence and fact finding unit" that would be led by the journalist, John Franklin Carter. Carter later admitted: "The overall condition was attached to the operation by President Roosevelt that it should be entirely secret and would be promptly disavowed in the event of publicity... That year's military appropriations act included an Emergency Fund for the President, from which FDR transferred $10,000 to the State Department... to finance Carter, ostensibly by buying from him surveys on conditions in various countries, with Germany leading the list."

Adolf Berle was placed in charge of distributing the funds. On 20th February, Berle recorded: ""Jay Franklin (J.F. Carter) came in to see me today. He stated as a result of his conversation with the President and with you, and preparatory to the work he had been asked to do, he had spent some seven hundred dollars, and that he would be broke by the end of this week.... He wanted an advance of some kind against the compensation which he would eventually receive for his work. Accordingly I lent him seven hundred dollars.... I am not, of course, familiar with what the President has asked him to do, nor do I wish to be."

On 21st April, 1941, Rex Stout made a speech in New York City where he attacked the activities of Lindbergh: "I wish I could look you in the eye, Colonel Lindbergh, when I tell you that you simply don't know what it's all about.... A desperate war is being fought, and the winners of the war will win the oceans. No matter what we do, we shall be either one of the winners, or one of the losers; no shivering neutral will get a bite of anything but crow when the shooting stops. It would therefore seem to be plain imbecility not to go in with Britain and win.... Every fascist and pro-Nazi publication in America, without exception, applauds and approves of him.... Dozens of times in the past year he has been enthusiastically quoted in the newspapers of Germany and Italy and Japan."

Stout then went onto defend himself against the attacks he had received from America First Committee: "The America First Committee is calling people like me, who are convinced that we should go in with Britain now and win, a gang of warmongers.... If a 1941 warmonger is a man who advocates that we should immediately send warships and the men we have trained to sail them and shoot their guns, and airplanes and the boys we have trained to fly them and drop their bombs, send them to meet our acknowledged deadly enemy where he is, and attack him and defeat him, then count me in."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was furious with Lindbergh after a speech he made on 23rd April, 1941, which included the following passage: "It is not only our right but it is our obligation as American citizens to look at this war objectively and to weigh our chances for success if we should enter it. I have attempted to do this, especially from the standpoint of aviation; and I have been forced to the conclusion that we cannot win this war for England, regardless of how much assistance we extend. I ask you to look at the map of Europe today and see if you can suggest any way in which we could win this war if we entered it. Suppose we had a large army in America, trained and equipped. Where would we send it to fight? The campaigns of the war. show only too clearly how difficult it is to force a landing, or to maintain an army, on a hostile coast."

On 11th September, 1941, Lindbergh made a controversial speech in Des Moines: "The three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration. Behind these groups, but of lesser importance, are a number of capitalists, Anglophiles and intellectuals who believe that their future, and the future of mankind, depends upon the domination of the British Empire... These war agitators comprise only a small minority of our people; but they control a tremendous influence... It is not difficult to understand why Jewish people desire the overthrow of Nazi Germany... But no person of honesty and vision can look on their pro-war policy here today without seeing the dangers involved in such a policy, both for us and for them. Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way, for they will be among the first to feel its consequences." Henry Ford showed his commitment to the America First Committee, by employing as a member of his executive staff.

Lindbergh speech resulted in some critics describing him as anti-Semitic. He recorded in his diary on 18th September that John T. Flynn, one of the leaders of the America First Committee paid him a visit: "John Flynn came at 11:00; and we talked the situation over for an hour. Flynn says he does not question the truth of what I said at Des Moines, but feels it was inadvisable to mention the Jewish problem. It is difficult for me to understand Flynn's attitude. He feels as strongly as I do that the Jews are among the major influences pushing this country toward war. He has said so frequently, and he says so now. He is perfectly willing to talk about it among a small group of people in private. But apparently he would rather see us get into the war than mention in public what the Jews are doing, no matter how tolerantly and moderately it is done."

According to Joseph E. Persico, the author of Roosevelt's Secret War (2001): "Within days, he delivered a fifty-page report for placement in the President's night time reading file. Thus armed, FDR was able to fire back when a reporter at a press conference asked him why Colonel Lindbergh had not been called to active duty. That was simple. Lindbergh, the President explained, was the equivalent of the arch-Civil War Copperhead Clement L. Vallandigham. The thrust drew blood. Lindbergh wrote FDR three days later resigning his commission as a colonel in the Army Air Corps Reserve. In Roosevelt's mind, his assignment to Carter had not been prompted by personal animus. Lindbergh, in FDR's eyes, was an enemy of his country, as dangerous as any fifth columnist, and had to be exposed."

President Roosevelt told Henry Morgenthau, "If I should die tomorrow, I want you to know this. I am absolutely convinced that Lindbergh is a Nazi." He wrote to Henry Stimson and claimed that: "When I read Lindbergh's speech, I felt that it could not have been better put if it had been written by Goebbels himself. What a pity that this youngster has completely abandoned his belief in our form of government and has accepted Nazi methods because apparently they are efficient." Roosevelt asked J. Edgar Hoover to keep a watch on him. He willingly did so for he had been upset by Lindbergh's critical comments about the failures of the FBI investigation into the kidnapping and murder of his infant son.

In 1941 Henry Ford showed his commitment to the America First Committee, by employing as a member of his executive staff. This caused great controversy when on 17th December, 1941, ten days after Pearl Harbour, Lindbergh made a speech where he argued: "There is only one danger in the world-that is the yellow danger. China and Japan are really bound together against the white race. There could only have been one efficient weapon against this alliance.... Germany.... the ideal setup would have been to have had Germany take over Poland and Russia, in collaboration with the British, as a bloc against the yellow people and Bolshevism. But instead, the British and the fools in Washington had to interfere. The British envied the Germans and wanted to rule the world forever. Britain is the real cause of all the trouble in the world today."

By the spring of 1941, the British Security Coordination estimated that there were 700 chapters and nearly a million members of isolationist groups. Leading isolationists were monitored, targeted and harassed. This was often done by the Fight for Freedom, a group funded by the BSC and led by Allen Dulles. For example, when Lindbergh, made speeches, thousands of handbills were handed out attacking him as an appeaser and Nazi lover.

The AFC influenced public opinion through publications and speeches and eventually had 450 local chapters and over 800,000 members. The AFC was dissolved four days after the Japanese Air Force attacked Pearl Harbor on 7th December, 1941. Hamilton Stuyvesan Fish later recalled: "Franklin Roosevelt took us into a war without telling the people anything about it. He served an ultimatum which we knew nothing about. We were forced into the war. It was the biggest cover-up ever perpetrated in the United States of America."

On 17th December, 1941, ten days after Pearl Harbor, Lindbergh made a speech where he argued: "There is only one danger in the world-that is the yellow danger. China and Japan are really bound together against the white race. There could only have been one efficient weapon against this alliance.... Germany.... the ideal setup would have been to have had Germany take over Poland and Russia, in collaboration with the British, as a bloc against the yellow people and Bolshevism. But instead, the British and the fools in Washington had to interfere. The British envied the Germans and wanted to rule the world forever. Britain is the real cause of all the trouble in the world today."

Lindbergh sought to be recommissioned in the USAAF, but the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, under instructions from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, declined the request. Instead he joined United Aircraft and in 1944 he became the company's technical representative in the Pacific Theater of Operations. In his six months in the Pacific in 1944, Lindbergh took part in fighter bomber raids on Japanese positions, flying about 50 combat missions against the Japanese Air Force.

Lindbergh won the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Spirit of St. Louis (1953). In 1954 Lindbergh was appointed a Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserves.

Charles Augustus Lindbergh died at Maui, Hawaii, on 26th August, 1974.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Charles A. Lindbergh, interview, New York Times (23rd May, 1927)

I struck clouds and decided to try to get over them. For a while I succeeded, at a height of 10,000 feet. I flew at this height until early morning. The engine was working beautifully and I was not sleepy at all. I felt just as if I was driving a motorcar over a smooth road, only it was easier.

Then it began to get light and the clouds got higher. I went under some and over others. There was sleet in all of those clouds and the sleet began to cling to the plane. That worried me a great deal and I debated whether I should keep on or go back. I decided I must not think any more about going back. I realized that it was henceforth only a question of getting there. It was too far to turn back.

The engine was working perfectly and that cheered me. I was going along a hundred miles an hour and I knew that if the motor kept on turning I would get there. After that I thought only about navigating, and then I thought that I wasn't so badly off after all.

It was true that the flight was thirty-four hours long, and that at almost any moment in it a forced landing might be what you might call "rather interesting," but I remembered that the flying boys I knew back home spent some hours almost every week in bad flying when a forced landing would have been just as bad for them as a forced landing would have been for me. Those boys don't get credit for it, that's all, and without doubt in a few years many people will be taking just as many chances as I took.

The only real danger I had was at night. In the daytime I knew where I was going, but in the evening and at night it was largely a matter of guesswork. However, my instruments were so good that I never could get more than 200 miles off my course, and that was easy to correct, and I had enough extra gasoline to take care of a number of such deviations. All in all, the trip over the Atlantic, especially the latter half, was much better than I expected.

Laymen have made a great deal of the fact that I sailed without a navigator and without the ordinary stock of navigation instruments, but my real director was my earth inductor compass. I also had a magnetic compass, but it was the inductor compass which guided me so faithfully that I hit the Irish coast only three miles from the theoretic point that I might have hit it if I had had a navigator. I replaced a navigator's weight by the inductor compass. The compass behaved so admirably that I am ashamed to hear anyone talk about my luck. Maybe I am lucky, but all the same I knew at every moment where I was going.

The inductor compass is based on the principle of the relation between the earth's magnetic field and the magnetic field generated in the airplane. When the course has been set so that the needle registered zero on this compass, any deviation, from any cause, would cause the needle to swing away from zero in the direction of the error. By flying the plane with the needle at an equal distance on the other side of zero and for about the same time the error had been committed, the plane would be back on her course again. This inductor compass was so accurate that I really needed no other guide.

Fairly early in the afternoon I saw a fleet of fishing boats. On some of them I could see no one, but on one of them I saw some men and flew down, almost touching the craft and yelled at them, asking if I was on the right road to Ireland. They just stared. Maybe they didn't hear me. Maybe I didn't hear them. Or maybe they thought I was just a crazy fool.

An hour later I saw land. I have forgotten just what time it was. It must have been shortly before 4 o'clock. It was rocky land and all my study told me it was Ireland. And it was Ireland! I slowed down and flew low enough to study the land and be sure of where I was; and, believe me, it was a beautiful sight. It was the most wonderful looking piece of natural scenery I have ever beheld.

(2) Charles Lindbergh, Autobiography of Values (1976)

In the early part of June 1936, I received a letter from the American Military Attaché in Berlin, Major Truman Smith, asking me to fly to Germany to help him evaluate developments he had been watching in the Luftwaffe. Major Smith also transmitted an invitation from General Hermann Goring. As I learned later, the U.S. State Department approved this mission. I accepted. I had for many years looked forward to visiting Germany; doing so, I could better evaluate the trends under way in Europe. As a Reserve officer, I wanted to assist the War Department in any way I could...

I gained the impression that Germany was looking eastward, militarily, yet it was obvious that bombing planes would not find the Maginot Line a formidable obstacle should they wish to cross it. The Germans knew that France was deficient in both defensive and retaliatory air power.

Goring invited us to his Berlin home for lunch. There we sat with German and American officers and their wives at a richly decorated table in a room lined with mirrors and carved madonnas "borrowed" from German museums. After the meal was over, Goring, white-uniformed, bemedaled, and gold-braided, escorted me to a side table, where he opened a photograph album. "Here are our first seventy," he said, turning the pages. Each page contained a picture of a military airfield. From the inspection trips I had made through German factories, I knew warplanes were being built to fill those fields.

Obviously Germany was preparing for war on a major scale with the most modern equipment. The Nazi government also obviously wanted to impress America with its rapidly growing strength. Before leaving Berlin I assisted Major Smith in preparing a special report for the War Department in Washington. Germany was forging ahead of the United States in aeronautical research and production facilities, we declared. The performance of their fighting and light-bombing types of aircraft was especially notable.

I knew theoretically what modern bombs could do to cities. At the same time, experiences in war games had convinced me that claims for the effectiveness of both ground and air defense were tremendously exaggerated. In Nazi Germany, for the first time, war became real to me. The officers I met were not preparing for a game. Their discussions gave me a sense of blood and bullets, and I realized how destructive my profession of aviation might become.

The organized vitality of Germany was what most impressed me: the unceasing activity of the people, and the convinced dictatorial direction to create the new factories, airfields, and research laboratories. Militarism was pervasive-streets were full of uniforms and banners. It was such a contrast to the complacent and tranquil life in England from which we had come. Germany had the ambitious drive of America, but that drive was headed for war.

Cruising back to England after our visit was over, I found that Nazi Germany was forcing a reorientation of my thought. For many years aviation had seemed to me primarily a way of bringing peoples of the world together in commerce and peace. The accounts of air combats I had read as a young Minnesota wartime farmer had long been pocketed away in memory. My year at cadet school, followed by service in Reserve and National Guard squadrons, was hardly more than a passing bow to the rejected god of war. I had thought and talked about aircraft overcoming surface barriers of earth for the benefit of man's relationship to man. Now I began to think about the vulnerability of men to aircraft carrying high-explosive bombs.

(3) A. Scott Berg, Lindbergh (1998)

Only in the last month had Lindbergh requested a reappointment in the Air Corps Reserve, so that he could become "immediately effective in case our country is ever involved in war." Because of that military status, he was being invited as a civil guest of Lufthansa, the German commercial airline, rather than as a guest of the Luftwaffe. Much of the program the Air Ministry assembled for Lindbergh pertained to commercial aviation; but according to the man who initiated Lindbergh's visit, there was no mistaking this as anything but a military mission.

Borrowing a Miles Whitney Straight from Phillips & Powis, Lindbergh and his wife flew on July twenty-second from England to Berlin, landing at Staaken-the military airport. Fifteen huge German bombers and a phalanx of heel-clicking officers were on hand to greet them. The president of the Air Club of Germany welcomed Lindbergh in the name of the entire German aviation community. The Lindberghs were driven into town separately-Charles in an open car with Truman Smith, to the reminiscent sound of a cheering crowd, while Anne rode with his wife, Kay. Germany appeared recovered from the Great War. A sense of festivity, even superiority filled the streets, which were draped with the red-and-black Nazi flags. Past the Brandenburg Gate, Anne noticed young slips of trees planted in perfect rows. The Lindberghs stayed with the Smiths in their apartment; and Charles found his host an unusually "able and perceptive army officer."

While Anne enjoyed a week of deluxe tours around Berlin, Charles followed a rigid military schedule, a succession of inspections. Accompanied by an assistant air attaché, Theodore Koenig, Lindbergh visited the Tempelhof civil airport, where he was permitted to pilot a Junkers (JU) 52, the Luftwaffe's standard bombardment plane, and the Hindenburg, a large four-motored experimental passenger plane. He spent a day with the Richthofen Geschwader (Wing), the elite fighter group of the Luftwaffe. One day he visited two Heinkel factories and saw their latest dive-bomber, medium bomber, fighter, and observation planes-all, Lindbergh found, of superb design. He spent another day at the Junker works at Dessau, where he saw their new JU 210 engine, a liquid-cooled engine far more advanced than he or Koenig had expected, and a JU 86, a low-wing, all-metal medium bomber already in mass production. Lindbergh spent another day at the German air research institute of Adlershof, where the scientists spoke freely of their work until he steered the conversation to the subject of rockets.

In light of all the new construction he saw, Lindbergh concluded that Germany was "now able to produce military aircraft faster than any European country. Possibly even faster than we could in the States for the first few weeks after we started competitions. Certainly we have nothing to compare in size to either the Heinkel or Junkers factories," he wrote Harry Davison. Even greater than the size of the plants and their crews was "a spirit in Germany which I have not seen in any other country. There is certainly great ability, and I am inclined to think more intelligent leadership than is generally recognized. A person would have to be blind not to realize that they have already built up tremendous strength," he wrote Henry Breckinridge.

Lindbergh participated in three important social events during his week in Germany. The first came the day after his arrival at an Air Club luncheon in his honor. Before a crowd of aviators and diplomats, Lindbergh delivered a speech, which he had worked on for weeks. Its text ran longer than anybody had expected, prolonged by its having to be translated into German, sentence by sentence. Its subtext lingered long after it had been delivered. "We who are in aviation carry a heavy responsibility on our shoulders," Lindbergh said, "for while we have been drawing the world closer together in peace we have stripped the armor of every nation in war. It is no longer possible to shield the heart of a country with its army. Armies can no more stop an air attack than a suit of mail can stop a rifle bullet.... Our libraries, our museums, every institution we value most, are laid bare to our bombardment."

(4) Charles Lindbergh, Autobiography of Values (1976)

German officers, had earlier awaited us at the Berlin airport. He told me an urgent message had arrived from Moscow in regard to complications resulting from a story printed in London that quoted me speaking about Russia in a most uncomplimentary manner. I immediately telephoned Colonel Raymond E. Lee, our military attaché for air in London, and asked what had happened. It turned out to be a combination of political intrigue and newspaper irresponsibility. Lee said that a weekly publication, "a sort of mimeographed sheet without much standing and with a small circulation," had quoted me as saying that Russian aviation was in chaotic condition, that I had been invited to be chief of the Russian civil air fleet, and that the German air fleet could whip the Russian, French, and English air fleets combined. I was reported to have made these statements to Lloyd George, at Cliveden, and at Transport House.

This combination of fact and fiction was not unusual in a press article-there was a salting of just enough truth to give an illusory taste of reality, and the twist of phraseology to give the effect desired. But it had a serious effect on a circumstance and time that resulted in a chain reaction beginning with my journey to Nazi Germany, Communist Russia's most dangerous enemy. Moscow newspapers reprinted the story, giving it significance as though it had originated in the Times of London and denouncing me as a liar for saying I had been "invited to be chief of the Russian civil air fleet." It was a common habit with the press to attribute to a man a statement he had not made and then to attack him for having made it. I had come in contact with this before.

(5) Charles Lindbergh, Autobiography of Values (1976)

Goring was the last to arrive. I was standing at the back of the room when lie came through the door, wearing a blue Luftwaffe uniform of new design. He seemed less stout than when I last saw him. Heads turned and conversation dropped as Ambassador Wilson advanced to meet his guest of honor. I noticed that Goring carried a red box and some papers in one hand. When he came to me he handed me the box and papers and spoke several sentences in German. I knew no German but I soon learned that he had presented me with the Order of the German Eagle, one of the highest decorations of the government "by order of der Fuhrer," he said.


(6) Rex Stout, speech in New York City (24th April 1941)

I wish I could look you in the eye, Colonel Lindbergh, when I tell you that you simply don't know what it's all about.... A desperate war is being fought, and the winners of the war will win the oceans. No matter what we do, we shall be either one of the winners, or one of the losers; no shivering neutral will get a bite of anything but crow when the shooting stops. It would therefore seem to be plain imbecility not to go in with Britain and win....

If we do not see to it that our ships and planes and guns get across the Atlantic where they can

fulfill the purpose they were made for, we are saying for all the world to hear, "You've got our number, Mr. Hitler, you were perfectly correct when you said years ago that Americans were too soft and decadent and timid ever to stop you on your way to world conquest."

Every fascist and pro-Nazi publication in America, without exception, applauds and approves of him.... Dozens of times in the past year he has been enthusiastically quoted in the newspapers of Germany and Italy and Japan....

Charles Lindbergh is one of the minor tragedies of America. In 1927, twenty-five years old, he was the blue-eyed darling of a hundred million of us, the flaming and indomitable knight of the new element we were conquering, the air. In 1941, thirty-nine years old, he is a middle-aged sourpuss who apparently thinks that we scattered that thousand tons of confetti on him in those glorious days of May because we had found a hero who played it safe, who refused to confront danger like a man.

The America First Committee is calling people like me, who are convinced that we should go in with Britain now and win, a gang of warmongers.... If a 1941 warmonger is a man who advocates that we should immediately send warships and the men we have trained to sail them and shoot their guns, and airplanes and the boys we have trained to fly them and drop their bombs, send them to meet our acknowledged deadly enemy where he is, and attack him and defeat him, then count me in.

(7) Charles A. Lindbergh, speech in New York (23rd April, 1941)

I have said before and I will say again that I believe it will be a tragedy to the entire world if the British Empire collapses. That is one of the main reasons why I opposed this war before it was declared and why I have constantly advocated a negotiated peace. I did not feel that England and France had a reasonable chance of winning.

France has now been defeated; and despite the propaganda and confusion of recent months, it is now obvious that England is losing the war. I believe this is realized even by the British government. But they have one last desperate plan remaining. They hope that they may be able to persuade us to send another American Expeditionary Force to Europe and to share with England militarily as well as financially the fiasco of this war.

I do not blame England for this hope, or for asking for our assistance. But we now know that she declared a war under circumstances which led to the defeat of every nation that sided with her, from Poland to Greece. We know that in the desperation of war England promised to all those nations armed assistance that she could not send. We know that she misinformed them, as she has misinformed us, concerning her state of preparation, her military strength, and the progress of the war.

In time of war, truth is always replaced by propaganda. I do not believe we should be too quick to criticize the actions of a belligerent nation. There is always the question whether we, ourselves, would do better under similar circumstances. But we in this country have a right to think of the welfare of America first, just as the people in England thought first of their own country when they encouraged the smaller nations of Europe to fight against hopeless odds. When England asks us to enter this war, she is considering her own future and that of her Empire. In making our reply, I believe we should consider the future of the United States and that of the Western Hemisphere.

It is not only our right but it is our obligation as American citizens to look at this war objectively and to weigh our chances for success if we should enter it. I have attempted to do this, especially from the standpoint of aviation; and I have been forced to the conclusion that we cannot win this war for England, regardless of how much assistance we extend.

I ask you to look at the map of Europe today and see if you can suggest any way in which we could win this war if we entered it. Suppose we had a large army in America, trained and equipped. Where would we send it to fight? The campaigns of the war . show only too clearly how difficult it is to force a landing, or to maintain an army, on a hostile coast.

Suppose we took our Navy from the Pacific and used it to convoy British shipping. That would not win the war for England. It would, at best, permit her to exist under the constant bombing of the German air fleet. Suppose we had an air force that we could send to Europe. Where could it operate? Some of our squadrons might be based in the British Isles, but it is physically impossible to base enough aircraft in the British Isles alone to equal in strength the aircraft that can be based on the continent of Europe.

(8) Charles A. Lindbergh, speech in Des Moines (11th September, 1941)

The three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration. Behind these groups, but of lesser importance, are a number of capitalists, Anglophiles and intellectuals who believe that their future, and the future of mankind, depends upon the domination of the British Empire... These war agitators comprise only a small minority of our people; but they control a tremendous influence... It is not difficult to understand why Jewish people desire the overthrow of Nazi Germany... But no person of honesty and vision can look on their pro-war policy here today without seeing the dangers involved in such a policy, both for us and for them. Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way, for they will be among the first to feel its consequences....

I am not attacking either the Jewish or the British people. Both races, I admire. But I am saying that the leaders of both the British and the Jewish races, for reasons which are as understandable from their viewpoint as they are inadvisable from ours, for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war. We cannot blame them for looking out for what they believe to be their own interests, but we also must look out for ours. We cannot allow the natural passions and prejudices of other peoples to lead our country to destruction.

(9) Charles A. Lindbergh, diary (18th September, 1941)

John Flynn came at 11:00; and we talked the situation over for an hour. Flynn says he does not question the truth of what I said at Des Moines, but feels it was inadvisable to mention the Jewish problem. It is difficult for me to understand Flynn's attitude. He feels as strongly as I do that the Jews are among the major influences pushing this country toward war. He has said so frequently, and he says so now. He is perfectly willing to talk about it among a small group of people in private. But apparently he would rather see us get into the war than mention in public what the Jews are doing, no matter how tolerantly and moderately it is done.

(10) Charles A. Lindbergh, speech (17th December, 1941)

There is only one danger in the world-that is the yellow danger. China and Japan are really bound together against the white race. There could only have been one efficient weapon against this alliance.... Germany.... the ideal setup would have been to have had Germany take over Poland and Russia, in collaboration with the British, as a bloc against the yellow people and Bolshevism. But instead, the British and the fools in Washington had to interfere. The British envied the Germans and wanted to rule the world forever. Britain is the real cause of all the trouble in the world today.

(11) Joseph E. Persico, Roosevelt's Secret War (2001)

FDR's least recognized agent, John Franklin Carter, who was now operating with $54,000 from the President's emergency funds, also continued to enjoy easy access to the Oval Office, thanks to his cover as a columnist friendly to the administration. Some assignments that FDR gave Carter were straightforward espionage, in one instance, having an agent investigate a Suspected fifth column operation on the French island of Martinique in the West Indies. Others skirted the defensible. Charles Lindbergh continued to infuriate FDR, especially after the aviator became the crown jewel in the isolationist America First movement. In late April 1941, days after Lindbergh gave his first speech as a member of the organization, the President called Carter into his office and began speaking in his elliptical fashion, leaving the journalist mystified as to where he was headed. FDR finally got around to the Civil War and the Copperheads, northerners who sympathized with the South. The President wanted Carter to look into present-day Copperheads. Carter now understood what was expected of him. Within days, he delivered a fifty-page report for placement in the President's nighttime reading file. Thus armed, FDR was able to fire back when a reporter at a press conference asked him why Colonel Lindbergh had not been called to active duty. That was simple. Lindbergh, the President explained, was the equivalent of the arch-Civil War Copperhead Clement L. Vallandigham. The thrust drew blood. Lindbergh wrote FDR three days later resigning his commission as a colonel in the Army Air Corps Reserve. In Roosevelt's mind, his assignment to Carter had not been prompted by personal animus. Lindbergh, in FDR's eyes, was an enemy of his country, as dangerous as any fifth columnist, and had to be exposed.