This Day In History: Charles Lindbergh Calls For A U.S. Pact with Hitler (1941)

Lindbergh takes off in the Spirit of St. Louis in 1927. Wikipedia

On this day, in 1941 the great American aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He was asked to testify on the Lend-Lease Policy. Lindbergh shocked many observers by stating that he did not favor the scheme that aid Britain in her struggle with Nazi Germany. He then went on to state that he favored America signing a neutrality pact with the Nazi leader, Hitler. His views were controversial but many people supported such a policy as they did not want America involved in a European war.

Charles Lindbergh was born in Detroit, Michigan to a well-connected family. His father was a member of the House of Representatives. Young Charles fell in love with aviation and he enrolled in a flying school in Nebraska. Soon he proved to be a natural flyer and son he was working as a stunt flyer. Lindbergh later became a commercial pilot. One time flying between St Louis and Chicago, he had an idea that was to change his life and aviation history.

Lindbergh decided that he would be the first pilot to fly from New York to Paris. Lindbergh was able to use his considerable charm to win financial backing from some rich businessmen. He took off from New York for Paris on May 201927. His plane the Spirit of St Louis arrived some 33 hours later in Paris and was greeted by huge crowds. Lindbergh became famous worldwide overnight.

In 1932 Lindbergh was in the headlines for all the wrong reason. His young son, who was only two years old was kidnapped and later found death. A German immigrant was later convicted of the crime and executed. Lindbergh and his wife later moved to Europe and here he was greatly impressed by the German system and especially their aviation industry. He warned American that it was falling behind the Germans. Lindbergh also was impressed by Hitler and the Nazis. Like many others during the Great Depression, he believed that radical action was necessary to reform society. He believed that America could learn a lot from the Nazi system.

Charles Lindberg testifying at the trial of the man accused of his son’s murder. AVHS-APUSH

His views made him unpopular in some circles. Lindbergh was undeterred and he publicly urged America to stay neutral and refrain from aiding Britain. He also made several statements that were anti-Semitic. Soon he had lost the support of others who had urged America to come to terms with Hitler. Soon Lindbergh had become very unpopular and President Roosevelt denounced him for his anti-Jewish and pro-German statements. Lindbergh resigned from the Air Corps Reserve in protest.

In WWI he re-joined the air-force and he was to serve with distinction in the Pacific. He flew over fifty combat missions in the Pacific. This helped to redeem his reputation among many. By the 1950s Lindbergh was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. His story was brought to the screen in the film ‘The Spirit of St Louis’.  Many never forgave him for his early views and suspected that he held anti-Semitic views and had controversial opinions on race.