Charles Lindbergh

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Charles Lindbergh
Charles Lindbergh in front of the Spirit of St. Louis (1927)

Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. (born February 4, 1902 in Detroit , Michigan , † August 26, 1974 in Kīpahulu , Maui , Hawaii ) was an American pilot , writer and Medal of Honor recipient . From May 20 to 21, 1927, he managed the non-stop flight from New York to Paris , for which the Orteig Prize was donated by Raymond Orteig in 1919 , and almost incidentally, the first solo crossing of the Atlantic, making him one of the most famous people in aviation has been. Lindbergh wrote several books about his flight, including The Spirit of St. Louis (1953). For this work he received the Pulitzer Prize in 1954 .

The first non-stop Atlantic crossing from America to Europe by plane had already been made in June 1919 by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown , and the first Atlantic crossing with intermediate stops was again completed a few weeks earlier in May 1919 by Albert C. Read .


Origin, school, education

Charles Lindbergh as a child with his father, around 1910
Charles Lindbergh, 1925

Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., was born in Detroit as the grandson of a Swedish immigrant who left his homeland for political reasons and who took the name Lindbergh when he emigrated. His father Charles August Lindbergh (1859-1924) was a lawyer and Congressman for Minnesota , his mother Evangeline Lodge Land chemistry teacher. His maternal grandfather was the dentist Charles Henry Land (1847-1922), who invented the jacket crown (coat crown) and is considered the "father of porcelain dentistry ". Even as a child, Lindbergh was interested in engines and machines.

In 1922, after almost two years, he broke off a mechanical engineering degree due to poor performance and completed a pilot training course at the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation , which included training as a mechanic. But since no fixed course program had been set, he only got a few flying hours. He was not allowed to complete the final solo flight because he could not afford the $ 500 security deposit for possible damage to the aircraft.

For a few months, Lindbergh teamed up with another pilot for flight demonstrations, but he did not fly himself, only parachute jumps. He then bought his own aircraft, a Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny", with which he acquired the experience he still lacked and which he traveled through the country as an aerobatic pilot until 1924.

That year he joined the United States Army Air Service, where he received good flight training. After initial difficulties, he graduated in March 1925 as the best of his year. Since there was little need for military pilots at the time, Lindbergh became a mail aviator on the St. Louis - Chicago route .


On June 9, 1926, he was in the Masonic Lodge Keystone Lodge No. 243 in St. Louis, where he was promoted to journeyman on October 20 and promoted to master on December 15.

The Atlantic flight

From 1926 he was concerned with the idea of non-stop flights from New York to Paris. In May 1919, Raymond Orteig - a French-born American who had made it from bus conductor to wealthy hotel owner - offered a price of over 25,000 US dollars for the first non-stop flight between the two cities, regardless of the direction. Some pilots had already failed at this task. Lindbergh contacted the rather unknown aircraft manufacturer Ryan Aeronautical in San Diego and asked if Ryan could build a single-engine machine for this route. Ryan accepted the challenge, and by April 28, 1927 the aircraft was ready after just two months of development and construction. The machine was named Spirit of St. Louis .

The Spirit of St. Louis at the National Air and Space Museum

Even the transfer of the aircraft from coast to coast happened in record time. Finally, on May 20, 1927 at 7:54 a.m., Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in New York on his solo flight, the distance of which was 5,808.5 km (3,610 miles). As a committed Freemason, he wore the Masonic symbol on his jacket as a good luck charm during the flight , and the plane also carried the Masonic symbol of his box. For weight reasons , Lindbergh had dispensed with radio and sextant in favor of maximum fuel load and had to be content with a wristwatch , maps and compass . Biggest problems caused him a snowstorm near Newfoundland , which he flew over to New York and Nova Scotia , as well as overcoming the tiredness on his way over southern Ireland and southern England to the European continent . He managed to navigate particularly well, however, because by the time he reached the coast of Ireland he had deviated only 5 km from the course. It was then relatively easy for him to fly along the coast of Ireland and England and to reach France via the English Channel. Lindbergh finally found Paris through the widely visible illumination of the Eiffel Tower with the advertising lettering CITROEN .

Lindbergh's flight from Paris to Brussels, after his transatlantic flight

In his autobiography, Lindbergh writes that he toyed with the idea of ​​flying on to Rome because there was still plenty of fuel, he could have landed there in daylight, and because he was unsure of how much the French were waiting for him. After 33.5 hours he landed at Le Bourget Airport in Paris to the cheering of an enthusiastic crowd and won the prize money. Dubbed the “Flying Fool” by the press, a confetti parade was even held in his honor in New York - Lindbergh had become a national hero.

However, Lindbergh was not, as is often claimed, the first ever to cross the Atlantic. In fact, he was already the 67th person to accomplish this, because the first non-stop Atlantic crossing by plane was made in 1919 by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown . A few days later the English airship R34 drove non-stop from England to Mineola / New York and returned non-stop after a landing. However, Lindbergh managed the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris and the first solo crossing of the Atlantic. The first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean from east to west was made on August 18, 1932 by the Scot Jim Mollison .

Marriage, kidnapping of the son

This poster was used to search for the kidnapped child

In 1929 Lindbergh married Anne Spencer Morrow , the daughter of the businessman and politician Dwight Morrow , whom he also taught to fly. Anne later accompanied her husband on his flights as a co-pilot and radio operator. The marriage resulted in six children, born between 1930 and 1945 (for the children see Anne Morrow Lindbergh ).

On June 22, 1930, the son Charles III. born. Almost two years later, on March 1, 1932, the child was kidnapped by strangers who demanded a $ 50,000 ransom. On May 12, the child was found dead. Because of Lindbergh's fame, the case attracted much attention. Bruno Richard Hauptmann was convicted for the act and executed in 1936. Hauptmann always denied the act, and to this day there are doubts about his guilt. Lindbergh's statement is also criticized that he recognized Hauptmann's voice as that of the ransom recipient, even though he was 70 meters away in a car when the ransom was handed over. The killing of the kidnap victim despite the payment of a ransom inspired Agatha Christie to write her novel Murder on the Orient Express , published in January 1934 .

Stay in Europe

In August 1932, a few months after Charles III's death, their second son, Jon, was born. Charles Lindbergh felt increasingly exhausted from the constant public concern following the death of his first son and was concerned about the safety of the second child. In search of peace and security, the Lindbergh couple and their three-year-old Jon traveled secretly from the USA to England in December 1935: As the only passengers on board a cargo ship, under a false name and equipped with diplomatic passports , they drove from Manhattan to Liverpool , where they arrived on December 31, 1935. The family first visited relatives in South Wales and then lived in the small village of Sevenoaks Weald in Kent . In 1937 the son Land was born. In March 1938, Lindbergh bought a small island off the Breton coast for 16,000 US dollars : the Île Illiec near Penvénan . The family lived on the 1.6-hectare island from June to early December 1938.

At the request of the US military and in his capacity as Colonel in the US Army Air Corps , Lindbergh traveled to Germany several times to report on German air armaments. He also met high-ranking Nazi figures such as Hermann Göring , from whom he was awarded the Grand Cross of the German Eagle Order in October 1938 . In April 1939, the Lindbergh couple returned to the United States.

Political activity and participation in the war

After the founding of the America First Committee (AFC), an isolationist movement that sought to prevent the United States from participating in World War II , Lindbergh soon became the organization's best-known spokesman. In 1940 and 1941 he gave high-profile radio addresses and speeches to meetings with thousands of listeners, in which he - as for example in a radio address broadcast on August 4, 1940 - advocated that the USA should stay out of the European war and have to come to terms with the new balance of power in Europe:

Lindbergh speaks at an AFC meeting

"[...] no outside influence could solve the problems of European nations, or bring them lasting peace. They must work out their destiny, as we must work out ours. "

“No outside influence could solve the problems of the European peoples or even bring them a lasting peace. They (= the European peoples) have to take their fate into their own hands, just as we have to take ours into their own hands. "

He also stated:

“[…] I believe it is of the utmost importance for us to cooperate with Europe… It is only by cooperation that we can maintain the supremacy of our western civilization… Neither they [die Europeans] nor we are strong enough to police the earth against the opposition of the other. In the past, we have dealt with a Europe dominated by England and France. In the future we may have to deal with a Europe dominated by Germany. "

“I believe that it is of the utmost importance for us to work with Europe. Only by working together can we maintain the superiority of our western civilization ... Neither we nor we are strong enough to rule the earth alone against the resistance of others. In the past we have dealt with a Europe dominated by England and France. In the future we may have to do with a Europe that is dominated by Germany. "

As his biographer Scott Berg writes, Lindbergh was convinced that the powerful United States, guided by blind idealism, could not see that the annihilation of Hitler's Europe would surrender Europe to the barbarism of Stalin and thereby possibly inflict a deadly wound on Western civilization. After President Roosevelt announced at a press conference in the White House on April 25, 1941 that Lindbergh would not be called back to active service because of his political views , he resigned his rank as Colonel in the Air Force on April 28 "with deep regret" low.

On September 11, 1941, at an AFC meeting in Des Moines , Iowa , Lindbergh made his infamous Who are the War Agitators? , in which he stated that the three main groups the US wanted to drive to war were "the British, the Jews and the Roosevelt government." Although he said that the persecution of the “Jewish race” in the German Reich could not be approved by anyone “who cares about human dignity”, he also issued a clear warning to the Jews:

“But no person of honesty and vision can look on their pro-war policy here today without seeing the dangers involved in such a policy both for us and for them. Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way for they will be among the first to feel its consequences. Tolerance is a virtue that depends upon peace and strength. History shows that it cannot survive war and devastations. "

“But no person with honesty and foresight can look at their warmongering policies [of the Jews] without realizing the dangers that such policies bring for us and for them. Instead of agitating for the war, the Jewish groups in this country should oppose it in every possible way because they will be the first to feel its consequences. Tolerance is a value that depends on peace and power. History shows that she did not survive the war and its devastation. "

Finally, he also pointed out to his audience the "danger" allegedly posed by Jews to the United States:

"Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government."

"Their [the Jews] greatest danger to this land is their large stake in and influence over our film industry, our press, our broadcasters, and our government."

The Des Moines speech drew Lindbergh severe criticism from the press, Jewish organizations, politicians from all parties and even from the ranks of the AFC. Lindbergh was criticized as a sympathizer of the National Socialists and as an anti-Semite . For example, the Des Moines Register newspaper wrote that the speech "made him [Lindbergh] unfit for any claim to leadership in political affairs in this republic." Lindbergh's public standing fell dramatically after that speech, which also led the FBI to investigate him and his personal life. Newspapers and radio in Germany, on the other hand, were instructed by Goebbels not to comment too positively on Lindbergh's speeches, as he believed that praise from Nazi Germany could be counterproductive for Lindbergh in the US and impair the hoped-for effect of Lindbergh's public appearances. The final end of his work as AFC speaker came with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the entry of the USA into World War II, which resulted in the self-dissolution of the AFC.

After the start of the war, Lindbergh applied for his re-entry into the US Air Force, but encountered opposition from key members of Roosevelt's cabinet and the press. Several attempts to find a position in the US aviation industry also initially failed. Eventually, with the approval of the US government, he managed to get a position as a consultant for the Ford bomber development program in Detroit. In the following years he trained pilots for the Corsair fighter aircraft and also worked as a test pilot himself. In 1944 he received permission to travel to the Pacific theater to observe the Corsair in action. There he also took part in missions from New Guinea against Japanese targets, initially as an on-board observer, but finally as a pilot with his own fighter aircraft. In the course of his assignment with the 475th FG , on July 3, 1944, he instructed the squadron's fighter pilots in his type of fuel-efficient flying. The background was the finding that after his first six-hour flight with the squadron he returned with 790 liters more fuel in the tanks than his comrades. This was synonymous with a 30 percent increase in range. After around 50 combat missions and the shooting down of a Japanese fighter plane in July 1944, he returned to the USA, where he then worked for a US aviation company.

In 1953, Lindbergh published the autobiographical report The Spirit of St. Louis about his pioneering flight and its preparation from September 1926. For the book, he received the Pulitzer Prize in 1954 in the category of biography and autobiography . In the same year, on the recommendation of US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, he was accepted into the reserves of the United States Air Force as Brigadier General .

The second, third and fourth families

From 1957 until his death in 1974, Lindbergh had a relationship with the 24 years younger hat maker Brigitte Hassheimer († 2001) from Munich . They had three children together: two sons and a daughter. The relationship remained a secret until the end. The children did not know the true identity of their father, who rarely came to visit; for them it was called "Careu Kent". The daughter Astrid Bouteuil later found a magazine article about Lindbergh, discovered photographs and about 150 letters from him to her mother. Two years after her death (2003), she went public with her knowledge. A posthumous paternity test (DNA analysis at the University of Munich) in November 2003 confirmed the correctness of the assumptions.

In addition, Lindbergh maintained a relationship with Brigitte Hesshaimer's sister Marietta (who had two sons) and with his private secretary Valeska, whose last name is not known (a son and daughter emerged from this, their names are not known).

The seven children from these relationships were born between 1958 and 1967:

  • Dyrk (1958–2015), son of Brigitte Hesshaimer
  • NN (* 1959), son of Valeska
  • Astrid (* 1960), daughter of Brigitte Hesshaimer
  • NN (* 1961), daughter of Valeska
  • Vago (* 1962), son of Marietta Hesshaimer
  • Christoph (* 1966), son of Marietta Hesshaimer
  • David (* 1967), son of Brigitte Hesshaimer

Death and grave


At 7:15 a.m. on August 26, 1974, Lindbergh died of lymph gland cancer at his home on the Hawaiian island of Maui at the age of 72 .

His grave is in the Palapala Hoʻomau Church in Kīpahulu, Maui. On his tombstone is a verse from Psalm 139 ( Ps 139.9  ELB ):

"If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea"

"I raise the wings of dawn and settle down at the far end of the sea"

The solution in the next verse of the Psalm is to be added mentally: "... there too your hand would guide me and your rights would take hold of me."


In 1927, by a resolution of the US Congress , Lindbergh was awarded the Medal of Honor , the highest military valor award in the USA.

"For displaying heroic courage and skill as a navigator, at the risk of his life, by his nonstop flight in his airplane, the 'Spirit of St. Louis', from New York City to Paris, France, 20-21 May 1927, by which Capt. Lindbergh not only achieved the greatest individual triumph of any American citizen but demonstrated that travel across the ocean by aircraft was possible. "

“For his heroic courage and his skills as a navigator, at the risk of his life, on the non-stop flight on his 'Spirit of St. Louis' plane from New York to Paris on 20-21. May 1927, with Capt. Lindberg not only achieved the greatest personal triumph of any American citizen, but also demonstrated that travel by plane across the sea was possible. "

- Citation for the award of the Medal of Honor to Charles Lindbergh

In 1927 he was Time magazine's Man of the Year .

In 1933, Lauge Koch named a group of nunataks in East Greenland, Lindbergh Fjelde , after Lindbergh and his wife had flown over the Greenland Ice Sheet and met Koch on Ella Ø .

In 1938 he received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle Order donated by Adolf Hitler .

In 1954 he received the Pulitzer Prize in the Biography and Autobiography category for his autobiography The Spirit of St. Louis .

In 1976 the lunar crater Lindbergh was named after him.

In 2019 Phantasialand named a hotel after him.

Fonts (selection)

  • 1927: We . German: We two. Across the Atlantic in a plane. FA Brockhaus, Leipzig 1927, in the series " Travel and Adventure ".
  • 1953: The Spirit of St. Louis . German: My flight over the ocean . S. Fischer, Berlin / Frankfurt am Main 1954 ( DNB 453056199 ).
  • 1978: Autobiography of Values (unfinished work, published posthumously). German (translated by Johannes Eidlitz): Stations of my life. Memoirs. Molden, Vienna / Munich / Zurich / New York 1980, ISBN 3-217-00945-2 ; 1984 Goldmann-TB 6710, ISBN 3-442-06710-3 .



Figure plaque by Hoetger at the House of the Glockenspiel in Bremen

radio play

Other reception

  • The Lindy Hop dance supposedly takes its name from a headline on Lindbergh's flight.
  • A “radio lesson for boys and girls” written by Bertolt Brecht in 1929 with the title The Flight of the Lindberghs has the theme of the Atlantic crossing. The aim of the radio play is to show that the Atlantic pilot did not manage his ocean flight alone, but had helpers like every great inventor, researcher and ruler.
  • The kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh's child was featured in the 1988 Danish film Emma's Shadow .
  • The German music project Wumpscut released the title Lindbergh on the album Mesner Tracks .
  • In his novel Conspiracy Against America, Philip Roth sketches an alternative world historical scenario in which Lindbergh is elected American President in 1940, whereupon the United States does not enter World War II.
  • Torben Kuhlmann , Suzanne Levesque: Lindbergh - The adventurous story of a flying mouse , graphic novel , NordSüd, Zurich 2014, ISBN 978-3-314-10210-3 . Various awards, including a. according to the book art foundation "one of the most beautiful German books of 2014".
  • In Puerto Rico there is a frozen fruit ice cream called "Limber" (based on Lindbergh), which he is said to have been offered on February 4, 1928 when he landed in Puerto Rico. Since then, the ice cream has been very popular and is available almost everywhere there in summer.
  • In Phantasialand a hotel called arises Charles Lindbergh , which is part of the new theme world Rookburgh.
  • In Plane Crazy , the first Mickey Mouse silent film from 1928, Micky tries to imitate Lindbergh.
  • On the cover picture of Perry Rhodan's booklet No. 19, Der Immortliche, created by Johnny Bruck , the figure Perry Rhodan is depicted. She has the features of Charles Lindbergh.

See also


  • Thomas Kessner: The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation. Oxford University Press, New York 2012, ISBN 978-0-1999-3117-0 .
  • Rudolf Schröck, among others: The double life of Charles A. Lindbergh. The most famous aviation pioneer of all time; its true story. Heyne, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-453-12010-8 .
  • Mark Benecke: Murder Methods. Investigations by the world's most famous forensic biologist . Bastei Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 2002, ISBN 3-404-60545-4 .
  • Andrew Scott Berg: Charles Lindbergh. An idol of the 20th century. Blessing, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-89667-089-1 .
  • Tim Healey, Andreas Held (translator): Discoverer and adventurer. Row: Our 20th Century. Verlag Reader's Digest - Das Beste, Stuttgart 1999 ISBN 3-87070-830-1 (with numerous illustrations - translated from English)
  • Joyce Milton: The Lindberghs, a biography . (Original title: Loss of Eden , translated by Brigitte Jakobeit and Jörn Ingwersen), Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1995, ISBN 3-455-08574-1 ; Paperback edition: Piper, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-492-22425-3 .

Web links

Commons : Charles Lindbergh  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Schröck, p. 128.
  2. ^ L. Laszlo Schwartz (1957): The Life of Charles Henry Land (1847-1922) .
  3. Dr Charles Henry Land in the Find a Grave database . Retrieved September 18, 2017 (English).
  4. a b William R. Denslow, Harry S. Truman: 10,000 Famous Freemasons from K to Z, Part Two . Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 1-4179-7579-2 .
  5. Raymond Orteig- $ 25,000 prize. Retrieved January 25, 2010 .
  6. ↑ Handover of ransom
  7. Geoffrey Batten: Our visit to Ile Illiec, with a map and photos.
  8. a b Lindbergh address Our Relationship with Europe (PDF; 68 kB), accessed on April 12, 2010.
  9. See: David Gordon: America First: the Anti-War Movement, Charles Lindbergh and the Second World War, 1940-1941. History Department, Bronx Community College / CUNY Graduate Center. Originally presented at a joint meeting of the Historical Society and The New York Military Affairs Symposium on September 26, 2003.
  10. ↑ On this and on the propagandistic exploitation of the dispute by Joseph Goebbels : Willi A. Boelcke: " Do you want the total war?" The secret Goebbels conferences 1939–1943 , Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1967, pp. 205–207, quotation p 207.
  11. Original text of the speech , accessed on September 11, 2014.
  12. a b c Des Moines Speech: Delivered in Des Moines, Iowa, on September 11, 1941, this speech was met with outrage in many quarters. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
  13. See also: David Gordon: America First: the Anti-War Movement, Charles Lindbergh and the Second World War, 1940-1941. History Department, Bronx Community College / CUNY Graduate Center. Originally presented at a joint meeting of the Historical Society and The New York Military Affairs Symposium on September 26, 2003. - This was also used in literature in the novel The Plot Against America (2004) by Philip Roth .
  14. Ibid.
  15. See Douglas M. Charles: J. Edgar Hoover and the Anti-interventionists. FBI Political Surveillance and the Rise of the Domestic Security State, 1939-45. 1st edition. Ohio State University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-8142-1061-1 , pp. 43-47; 77 f.
  16. Gerhard Jelinek: Speeches that changed the world. dtv, Munich 2012, p. 141.
  17. Flugzeug Classic, issue 6/2018, page 24
  18. ^ Genetic test: Lindbergh's Munich children . Online at from November 28, 2003.
  19. ^ Charles Lindbergh in the Find a Grave database . Retrieved September 18, 2017 (English).
  20. Anthony K. Higgins: Exploration history and place names of northern East Greenland (= Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland Bulletin 21, 2010), ISBN 978-87-7871-292-9 (English). P. 45 ( PDF ; 12.3 MB).
  21. Information on the “Limber” ice cream on The Healthy Dish website
  22. Plane Crazy , D23, The Official Disney Fan Club
  23. ^ Cover picture by Johnny Bruck on KH Scheer : Der Immortliche, Perry Rhodan No. 19, Moewig, Munich, January 12, 1962.