Charles Lindbergh

Col Charles Lindbergh.jpg

From Wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt.

Charles Augustus Lindbergh (February 4, 1902 – August 26, 1974) was an American aviator, military officer, author, inventor, and activist. At age 25 in 1927, he went from obscurity as a U.S. Air Mail pilot to instantaneous world fame by winning the Orteig Prize for making a nonstop flight from New York to Paris. Lindbergh covered the ​33 12-hour, 3,600-statute-mile (5,800 km) flight alone in a single-engine purpose-built Ryan monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis. Although not the first non-stop transatlantic flight, this was the first solo transatlantic flight, the first transatlantic flight between two major city hubs, and the longest transatlantic flight by almost 2,000 miles, thus it is widely known as a turning point in the trajectory of aviation history and advancement.

Lindbergh was an officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve, and he received the United States’ highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his transatlantic flight. His achievement spurred interest in both commercial aviation and air mail, which revolutionized the aviation industry, and he devoted much time and effort to promoting such activity. Lindbergh’s historic flight and celebrity status also led to tragedy. In March 1932, his infant son, Charles Jr., was kidnapped and murdered in what the American media called the “Crime of the Century”. The case prompted the United States Congress to establish kidnapping as a federal crime once the kidnapper had crossed state lines with their victim. By late 1935, the hysteria surrounding the case had driven the Lindbergh family into exile in Europe, from which they returned in 1939.

Before the United States entered World War II, Lindbergh was an advocate of non-interventionism and a supporter of NS Germany. He opposed not only the intervention of the United States, but also the granting of aid to the United Kingdom. He supported the anti-war America First Committee and resigned his commission in the U.S. Army Air Forces in April 1941 after President Franklin Roosevelt publicly rebuked him for his views. In September 1941, Lindbergh gave an address stating that the British, the Jews and the Roosevelt administration were the “three most important groups” pressing for greater American involvement in the war. He also said capitalists, intellectuals, American Anglophiles, and communists were all agitating for war.

Lindbergh publicly supported the U.S. war effort after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent German declaration of war against the United States. He flew 50 missions in the Pacific Theater of World War II as a civilian consultant, but did not take up arms against Germany, and Roosevelt refused to reinstate his Air Corps colonel’s commission. In his later years, Lindbergh became a prolific author, international explorer, inventor, and environmentalist.

Attitudes toward race and racism 

Lindbergh elucidated his beliefs regarding white race in a 1939 article in Reader’s Digest:

We can have peace and security only so long as we band together to preserve that most priceless possession, our inheritance of European blood, only so long as we guard ourselves against attack by foreign armies and dilution by foreign races.

Lindbergh’s speeches and writings reflected his adoption of views on race and religion similar to those of the “Nazis”. Because of his trips to Germany, combined with a belief in eugenics, Lindbergh was suspected of being a “Nazi” sympathizer.

Lindbergh’s reaction to Kristallnacht was entrusted to his diary: “I do not understand these riots on the part of the Germans,” he wrote. “It seems so contrary to their sense of order and intelligence. They have undoubtedly had a difficult ‘Jewish problem‘, but why is it necessary to handle it so unreasonably?” Lindbergh had planned to move to Berlin for the winter of 1938–39. He had provisionally found a house in Wannsee, but after “Nazi” friends discouraged him from leasing it because it had been formerly owned by Jews, it was recommended that he contact Albert Speer, who said he would build the Lindberghs a house anywhere they wanted. On the advice of his close friend, Alexis Carrel, he cancelled the trip. 

In his diaries, he wrote, “We must limit to a reasonable amount the Jewish influence … Whenever the Jewish percentage of total population becomes too high, a reaction seems to invariably occur. It is too bad because a few Jews of the right type are, I believe, an asset to any country.”

“Nazi” classification and racial definition

Lindbergh’s anticommunism resonated deeply with many Americans, while his eugenics and Nordicism enjoyed social acceptance. 

Although Lindbergh considered Hitler a fanatic and avowed a belief in American democracy, he clearly stated elsewhere that he believed the survival of the white race was more important than the survival of democracy in Europe: “Our bond with Europe is one of race and not of political ideology,” he declared. Critics have noticed an apparent influence of German philosopher Oswald Spengler on Lindbergh. Spengler was a conservative authoritarian and during the interwar era, was widely read throughout the Western World, though by this point he had fallen out of favor with the “Nazis” because he had not wholly subscribed to their theories of racial purity.

Lindbergh developed a long-term friendship with the automobile pioneer Henry Ford, who was well known for his anti-Semitic newspaper The Dearborn Independent. In a famous comment about Lindbergh to Detroit‘s former FBI field office special agent in charge in July 1940, Ford said: “When Charles comes out here, we only talk about the Jews.” 

Lindbergh considered Russia a “semi-Asiatic” country compared to Germany, and he believed Communism was an ideology that would destroy the West’s “racial strength” and replace everyone of European descent with “a pressing sea of Yellow, Black, and Brown”. He stated that if he had to choose, he would rather see America allied with “Nazi” Germany than Soviet Russia. He preferred Nordics, but he believed, after Soviet Communism was defeated, Russia would be a valuable ally against potential aggression from East Asia. 

Lindbergh said certain races have “demonstrated superior ability in the design, manufacture, and operation of machines”. He further said, “The growth of our western civilization has been closely related to this superiority.” Lindbergh admired “the German genius for science and organization, the English genius for government and commerce, the French genius for living and the understanding of life”. He believed, “in America they can be blended to form the greatest genius of all.” His message was popular throughout many Northern communities and especially well received in the Midwest, while the American South was anglophilic and supported a pro-British foreign policy. The South was the most pro-British and interventionist part of the country. 

In his book The American AxisHolocaust researcher and investigative journalist Max Wallace agreed with Franklin Roosevelt’s assessment that Lindbergh was “pro-Nazi”. However, he found that the Roosevelt Administration’s accusations of dual loyalty or treason were unsubstantiated. Wallace considered Lindbergh to be a well-intentioned but bigoted and misguided “Nazi” sympathizer whose career as the leader of the isolationist movement had a destructive impact on Jewish people. 

Lindbergh’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, A. Scott Berg, contended that Lindbergh was not so much a supporter of the “Nazi” regime as someone so stubborn in his convictions and relatively inexperienced in political maneuvering that he easily allowed rivals to portray him as one. Lindbergh’s receipt of the German medal was approved without objection by the American embassy; the war had not yet begun in Europe. The award did not cause controversy until the war began and Lindbergh returned to the United States in 1939 to spread his message of nonintervention. Berg contended Lindbergh’s views were commonplace in the United States in the pre–World War II era. Lindbergh’s support for the America First Committee was representative of the sentiments of a number of American people. 

Yet Berg also noted, “As late as April 1939‍—‌after Germany overtook Czechoslovakia‍—‌Lindbergh was willing to make excuses for Hitler. ‘Much as I disapprove of many things Hitler had done,’ he wrote in his diary on April 2, 1939, ‘I believe she [Germany] has pursued the only consistent policy in Europe in recent years. I cannot support her broken promises, but she has only moved a little faster than other nations … in breaking promises. The question of right and wrong is one thing by law and another thing by history.'” Berg also explained that leading up to the war, in Lindbergh’s mind, the great battle would be between the Soviet Union and Germany, not fascism and democracy.

Wallace noted that it was difficult to find social scientists among Lindbergh’s contemporaries in the 1930s who found validity in racial explanations for human behavior. Wallace went on to observe, “throughout his life, eugenics would remain one of Lindbergh’s enduring passions.” 

Lindbergh always preached military strength and alertness. He believed that a strong defensive war machine would make America an impenetrable fortress and defend the Western Hemisphere from an attack by foreign powers, and that this was the U.S. military’s sole purpose. 

Berg revealed that while the attack on Pearl Harbor came as a shock to Lindbergh, he did predict that America’s “wavering policy in the Philippines” would invite a bloody war there, and, in one speech, he warned, “we should either fortify these islands adequately, or get out of them entirely.”

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