Charles Lindbergh, the most famous man in the world at the time, moved to Europe in 1935 to get away from the U.S. media frenzy, grown intolerable after the kidnapping and murder of his son.
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In 1936, the aviator visited Germany, where Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering showed off the latest bombers and fighters coming out of the busy aircraft plants. Lindbergh concluded, incorrectly, that the German air force was invincible and that France and Britain must appease Hitler.
On Oct. 18, 1938, just weeks before Kristallnacht, Lindbergh accepted a medal from Goering -- the Service Cross of the German Eagle. As late as 1955, Lindbergh wrote that the fuss about it was a “tempest in a teapot.”
When he returned to the U.S. a few months later, Lindbergh became the leading voice for the isolationist movement and a powerful foe of President Roosevelt -- until Pearl Harbor changed his stance.
Many years later, his wife, Anne, acknowledged that he’d been “used” as a Nazi propaganda tool.
I spoke with Lynne Olson, author of “Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941,” on the following topics:
1. Aid to Allies.
2. Lindbergh’s Propaganda.
4. Traitors & Maggots.
5. Pearl Harbor.
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(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.