Charles Lindbergh’s Nazi Connection

Lindbergh with his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis. (Getty images)

Charles Lindbergh had a complicated public reputation. As the first pilot to fly nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean, he was a national hero. As the father of a kidnapped and murdered child, he was a tragic figure. History often stops there when telling Lindbergh's story, but there were several more chapters of his remarkable life, including the time he advocated for the United States to negotiate a pact with Hitler.

A Life In Germany

In the early 1930s, after the infamous murder of their infant son, Charles Lindbergh and his wife, the daughter of a U.S. ambassador, fled the media intrusion that had long plagued their lives and headed to Germany. It might seem like a strange time for a move there, of all places, but Lindbergh harbored lifelong white supremacist and antisemitic beliefs. He felt strongly about preserving the "pure" European bloodline and worried that co-mingling with other groups would lead to the downfall of white Europeans.

Living in 1930s Germany only intensified these attitudes; in fact, his wife wrote letters to her family back home singing the praises of the charismatic Hitler, defending his dedication to the German people, and claiming he was not at all power hungry or fanatical. As the decade progressed, German engineers made great strides in aviation, and Lindbergh was in a unique position to watch it unfold. As an international celebrity in the field, Lindbergh was invited to tour Germany's flying fleet, which impressed him so much that he spoke publicly of its superiority. In 1938, Lindbergh was presented an award by Luftwaffe commander Herman Goering on behalf of Hitler himself.