<< Return to Article Index

Lindbergh Said to Regret Misperceptions Over Jews

April 20, 1980 By HERBER MITGANG

Charles A. Lindbergh, the idol of American aviation whose name became synonymous with isolationism on the eve of World War II, in later life regretted that he was perceived as being anti-Semitic, according to his wife. He was appalled when he saw the survivors of a concentration camp in Germany after the war. And as early as 1941, a few weeks before Pearl Harbor, he and his wife discussed and approved the idea of an independent homeland for the Jewish people similar to what would eventually become the state of Israel.

These points emerge in "War Within and Without: The Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1939-1944," to be published as a Helen and Kurt Wolff Book/Harcourt Brace Jovanovich on April 28, and in an interview with the author, whose husband died in 1974.

"Charles was a stubborn Swede, you know," Mrs. Lindbergh,73, said goodnaturedly, "and he himself never felt the need to explain his feelings about where he stood and about past statements. But I feel free now to elaborate on his actual attitudes. He never wanted to be regarded as a hero or leader, and he never had political ambitions. His prewar isolationist speeches were given in all sincerity for what he thought was the good of the country and the world.

Mrs. Lindbergh concedes that she is now looking at events with the benefit of hindsight, that she has gained objectivity, and that she is now able to admit her own and her husband's mistakes. She says that she can understand the Roosevelt Administration's "misinterpretation" of Lindbergh's prewar role. but she also believes that some of his prophecies were correct.

"He felt that the Soviet Union would come out of the war with the greatest territorial gains - and that was prophetic," she said, in the course of an interview in the office of her publisher, Helen Wolff. "but he was wrong in saying that Britain could not survive in a war with Germany. He was unaware of the fact that the Nazi codes were broken, or of the existence of radar. What he feared was that aerial bombing could cause great destruction in a war. Of course, he did not know about the existence of concentration camps."

In the introduction of her book -"it took me two years to write the introduction because i read everything I could that he and others had said, and the histories of the period" - she says that on May 7, 1945, her husband was on a naval technical mission. He was driven to Norhausen, the German underground factory for V-1 and v-2 rockets. Nearby, he saw Camp Dora, where cconcentration-camp victims were used as forced labor.

"It was here that he faced for the first time the horrifying remains of the Nazi death factories, about which he wrote in his wartime journals: 'Here was a place where men and life and death had reached the lowest form of degradation. How could any reward in national progress even faintly justify the establishment and operation of such a place?' 'It seemed impossible that men - civilized men - could degenerate to such a level.' "

Mrs. Lindbergh added, "He was accused of being anti-Semetic, but in the 45 years I lived with him I never heard him make a remark against the jews, not a crack or joke, and neither did any of our children."

In the unretouched diaries in the book, the notation for Nov. 24, 1941, covers a private conversation between the Lindberghs about the need for the Jews having "a land of their own." Although pessimistic about the prospect, she quotes him as saying that it "must be worked at." On the subject of anti-Semitism, she adds: "He talks absolutely the way I feel, that it isn't only what happens to the Jews but what happens to the people who Jew-bait. How it degrades a man or a nation. War is clean, but the other is disease."

The diaries disclose that she was deeply disturbed about his speech made on Sept 11, 1941, in Des Moines, where he said that "the three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt Administration." In the same speech, he said that "no person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany."

In the interview, Mrs Lindbergh said she tried to stop him from making the Des Moines speech, and that she toned it down. "I told him he would be attacked, and he was. but his aim was to speak from the point of view of what air damage would do in destroying .Europe and causing deaths. he thought he was dealing with facts, not emotions. He did not realize the explosive power of his remakes, like the" - "penumbra of a bomb."

Mrs. Lindbergh said that she had been working on the diaries - this is the fifth to be published - for 10 years. Some of the writing had been in her home in Connecticut, in Hawaii and in her son's home in Switzerland. "I don't plan to continue with the diaries," she said, "but I may turn next to essays. I'm not happy when I'm not writing." her books are published by her friend Mrs. Wolff, who, with her late husband, Kurt, were outstanding publishers in Germany and elsewhere in Europe before coming to the United States because of Hitler's racial laws.

<< Return to Article Index

Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | This site is not affiliated with the Lindbergh family,
Lindbergh Foundation, or any other organization or group.
This site owned and operated by the Spirit of St. Louis 2 Project.
Email: webmaster@charleslindbergh.com
® Copyright 2014 CharlesLindbergh.com®, All rights reserved.
Help support this site, order your www.Amazon.com materials through this link.

Shop at Amazon.com