The Flight |
Flight Timeline |
Spirit of St. Louis |
Spirit Designer |
Spirit Log |
Charles Bio | Charles Timeline | Anne Bio | Anne Timeline | Maps | Airmail Pioneer | Emergency Jumps | Gliders | Orient
My Lindbergh Story | Contribution to Rocketry | Contribution to Cardiology | Contribution to Conservation | America First | WWII Pilot
Kidnapping | FBI Files | Movie Clips | Audio Clips | Music Clips | Lindy Documents | Lindy Pictures | Lindy Paintings
NY Times Articles | Lesson Plans | Awards | Lindy Links | Boyhood Home | Press Releases & Info | Memorabilia
Lindbergh Discussion Center—Ask a Question | Purchase Books | About Developer | Site Search
<< Return to Article Index
Lindbergh Says U.S. 'Lost ' World War II
August 30, 1970 By ALDEN WHITMAN
Charles A. Lindbergh, who was one of America's leading opponents of entry into World War II, still believes that he was right in urging the country to stay out of the conflict. Indeed, he contends that the United States, in the perspective of the last 30 years, lost the war.
This conviction is disclosed in "The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh" to be published Sept 30 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
The 1,000-page book, which tells for the first time the flier's innermost thoughts about the war, also reveals in diary form his intensive public and behind-the-scenes activities aimed at keeping the nation out of the war. These include his assessment of the Nazi military-aviation potential as communicated to senior American military men and his controversial association with the America First Committee.
The 400,000-word journal also recounts Mr. Lindbergh's role in the early years of the war in the Ford Motor Company's reproduction of B-24 bombers and his subsequent 50 combat missions as a civilian flier in the Pacific.
The book also describes his postwar inspection tour of Germany. Recounting his prewar activities, the book repeatedly makes clear his belief that the Roosevelt Administration, pro-British elements and the Jews were trying to push the United States into the war. And it provides intimate glimpses of Mr. Lindbergh's private life.
Meditating on the war in a letter to William Jovanovich, his publisher, which is printed in the introduction to the book, Mr. Lindbergh writes.
"Your ask what my conclusions are, rereading my journals and looking back on World War II from the vantage point of quarter century in time? We won the war in a military sense; but in a broader sense it seems to me we lost it, for our Western civilization is less respected and secure than it was before.
"In order to defeat Germany and Japan we supported the still greater menaces of Russia and China - which now confront us in a nuclear weapon era. The British empire has broken down with great suffering, bloodshed and confusion. France has had to give up her major colonies and turn to a mild dictatorship herself."
"Much of our Western culture was destroyed. We lost the genetic heredity formed through eons of many million lives. Meanwhile, the Soviets have dropped their Iron Curtain to screen off Eastern Europe, and an antagonistic Chinese Government threatens us in Asia.
"More than a generation after the war's end, our occupying armies still must occupy, and the world has not been made safe for democracy and freedom. On the contrary, our own system democratic government is being challenged by that greatest of dangers to any government - internal coordinating and unrest.
"It is alarmingly possible that World War II marks the beginning of our Western civilization's breakdown..."
Mr Lindbergh kept his journal for eight years - from 1937 to mid-1945 - as a private record "in (the) realization that I was taking part in one of the great crises in world history."
The magic of Mr. Lindbergh's name, deriving from his epic New York-to-Paris solo flight in 1927, opened to him many otherwise closely guarded doors in Europe, where he moved in 1935 to escape "excessive newspaper publicity in America."
His self-exile followed the kidnapping and murder of his first son, Charles Jr, and the conviction and execution of Bruno Richard Hauptmann for the crime.
In the four years that Mr. Lindbergh and his family lived abroad - first in Britain and then in France - he was able to confer with (and meet socially) high officials in Germany, France and Britain. He also talked with officers of the Soviet Government on a tour of Russia.
The flier, according to journal entries, reported to American officials (and gave detailed impressions to British and French officials) on German air power.
He estimated in 1938, for example that "the German air fleet is stronger than that of all other European countries together." And he urged both senior British and French officials to find a way of getting along with the Nazis while increasing their own warplane production.
At the invitation of the Nazis, according to the book. Mr. Lindbergh mad several trips to Germany, the principal two being in t 1936 and 1938. Both were undertaken, he maintains, with the knowledge of American diplomats.
On both occasions he met the highest German air officials and visited aircraft factories and research establishments. It is clear that the Germans had a good regard for him, and he for them.
In fact, his journal entry for Oct.8 1938, describes how he received the Service Cross of the German Eagle, a civilian medal, that was to cause such a furor when he was campaigning for nonintervention in 1939-41. The scene was a stag dinner at the American Embassy, and the entry reads:
"Marshal Goering, of coarse, was the last to arrive (at the dinner). I was standing in the back of the room. He shook hands with everyone. I noticed he had a red box and some papers. When he came to me he shook hands, handed me the box and papers and spoke a few sentences in German. I found he had presented me with the German Eagle, one of the highest German decorations, "by order of Der Fuhrer.'"
Mr. Lindbergh says he never wore the medal, which he gave to the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis, the repository of many of his other decorations. He was later urged to return the medal - a number of Americans either rejected or turned back their German and Italian awards - but he declined. He has said recently that he regards the medal as "relatively unimportant."
The book, which describes the rising war temperature in Europe, states over and over Mr. Lindbergh's belief that neither Britain nor France was prepared to wage a modern war in which air power could be a decisive factor.
"The trouble is that many people want France and England to fight, without having the slightest idea of how they are going to fight," he wrote in one entry. "They never even think about the practical problems involved in waging a successful war."
He feared that "if England and Germany enter another major war on opposite sides, Western civilization may fall as a result." he believed, however, that Germany's expansion eastward toward the Soviet Union would not present so great a peril.
As for the United States, he wrote, that "we are not prepared for a foreign war" and "it seems improbable that we could win a war in Europe" if the nation had to land and maintain troops against German opposition. He also believed that "Japan is in a position to cause trouble in the Pacific" if all America's efforts were in Europe.
Prior to April, 1941, his journal now discloses, Mr Lindbergh was exceedingly active behind the scenes in generating antiwar sentiment. The flier worked intimately with Robert R. McCormick, the publisher of the Chicago Tribune; Robert Wood, board Chairman of Sears, Roebuck; former president Herbert Hoover, Henry Ford, Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia, Handford MacNider of the American Legion, Senator Burton K. wheeler of Montana and John T. Flynn, the economist.
At the same time , the journal relates, Mr Lindbergh then a colonel in the Army Air Corps, was an off stage advocate of increased American airplane production. And he also sought to impress such military men as Gen H. H. (Hap) Arnold of the Air Corps with Germany to assess the situation for himself.
As Mr. Lindbergh saw it in his journal, the bulk of the American people were against entering the war; but they were being pushed toward it by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his Administration. the flier met Mr. Roosevelt, who was later to excoriate him as a "Copperhead," for the first and only time in April, 1939. Mr Lindbergh's initial impression was this:
"He is an accomplished suave, interesting conversationalist. I liked him and felt I could get along with him. Acquaintanceship would be pleasant and interesting."
On reflection, however, he wrote;
"But there is something about him I did not trust, something a little too suave, to pleasant, too easy..."
As time passed, Mr Lindbergh, the diaries show, became implacably convinced that the President, described in one entry as "dramatic and demagogic," was driving the country toward war "as rapidly as he can."
In addition to the Roosevelt Administration, Mr Lindbergh wrote, the chief prowar forces were pro-British elements and the Jews. As early as June 1939, he voiced his concern in a conversation in Washington with Vice-President John Garner.
"We are both anxcious to avoid this country being pushed into a European war by British and Jewish propaganda," he wrote. "I can understand the feeling of both the British and the Jews, but there is far too much at stake for us to rush into a European war without the most careful cool consideration."
Several other diary entries underline Mr. Lindbergh's belief that the Jews were behind a great deal of the pro-war propaganda in the United States.
These beliefs were expressed publicly in a speech Mr. Lindbergh made Sept. 11 1941 at an America First rally at Des Moines, Iowa.
"It is not difficult to understand why Jewish people desire the overthrow of Nazi Germany." he said then "the persecution they suffered in Germany would be sufficient to make bitter enemies of any race. No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race suffered in Germany. but no person of honesty and vision can look on their prowar policy here today without seeing the dangers involved in such a policy, both for us and for them."
Mr. Lindbergh's speech provoked a nationwide furor, and he was widley denounced in the press. However, his published diaries contain neither excerpts from the speech, nor his reaction to charges of anti-Semitism that it brought down on him.
After Pearl Harbor, according to the diaries. Mr Lindbergh tried to re-enlist in the Army Air Corps, from which he had resigned after President Roosevelt had suggested he was a defeatist, but he was blocked by the President.
Mr Roosevelt, the journal says, also barred his working for the United Air Craft and Cortiss-Wright, both war contractors. Ultimately he went to work without Government protest for Ford as an aviation consultant.
In 1943, Mr Lindbergh joined United Aircraft as an engineering consultant, devoting most of his time to its Chance-Vought Division. A year later he persuaded United Aircraft to designate him a technical representative, and he wen to the Pacific to study plane performances under combat conditions in his six months there he took part in fighter bomber raids on Japanese positions.
During his Pacific tour Mr Lindbergh repeatedly recorded his shock over American treatment of Japanese soldiers. In an entry for June 28, 1944 he wrote:
"I am shocked at the attitude of our American troops. They have no respect for death, the courage of an enemy soldier or many of the ordinary decencies of life. They think nothing whatever of robbing the body of a dead Jap and call him a "son of a bitch" while they do so.
"I said during a discussion with American officers that regardless of what the japs did I did not see how we could gain anything or claim that we represented a civilized state if we killed them by torture."
This was a theme to which Mr.Lindbergh returned several times, as he recorded instances of shooting of Japanese taken as war prisoners or the torture of them.
And when he traveled in Germany shortly after the Nazi surrender in May 1945, he wrote in his journal. "What the German has done to the Jew in Europe, we are doing to the Jap in the Pacific."
The journal was originally written in 3-by-5-inch leatherbound books, and Mr. Lindbergh accumulated 650,000 words by the time he stopped. A total of 400,000 of these is included in this book.