To the Editor:
I have but one fault to find with the excellent review by Louis Berg of The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh [Books in Review, February]. In that review Mr. Berg asks: “Does all this make Lindbergh a Nazi?” and then answers the question in the negative.
That Lindbergh ever joined an active Nazi group is highly unlikely. However, that he openly displayed a sympathy for Nazism is not to be doubted. For example:
- He was a disciple of Lawrence Dennis, the intellectual spokesman for fascism in America.
- He collaborated with and was a disciple of Alexis Carrel, who also espoused fascist principles.
- Without objection from him or any indication that he was in disagreement, his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wrote and published a book-length poem entitled The Wave of the Future. In this book the Wave of the Future was fascism and the atrocities were merely the froth on the wave.
- In the early 30′s, at the New School, I heard a debate between Lawrence Dennis, who spoke for fascism, and an American Communist whose name escapes me. Both agreed on one thing: democracy was finished and each individual was compelled to make a choice between fascism and Communism. It was apparent from his words and deeds that Lindbergh agreed with both of these speakers that democracy was dead, and that faced with a choice between fascism and Communism, he would choose fascism.
- Lindbergh evidenced his lack of confidence in democracy in many ways. To cite one instance: in urging this country to avoid becoming involved in the war against Nazi Germany, he said that for the democracies to win, it would be necessary for the United States to build at least 50,000 planes; that this could not be done by America, and that even if it were done, the planes could not be based in England. As a matter of fact, we built 100,000 planes and they were based in England.
What was the reason for Lindbergh’s strong anti-democratic feeling? Was it because, as Mr. Berg points out, he despised the common people? Was it because, with justification, he resented the treatment he had received at the hands of the free press in democratic America? Was it because of some authoritarian strain in his makeup? Was it because of his hatred of Roosevelt? These questions, of course, are speculative and cannot be answered with assurance.
However, there were many others in America, France, and England of whom the same questions could be asked. The publication of Lindbergh’s journals reminds us of what many have come to forget: that Hitler’s near success was due in no small measure to the support he received from important segments of the population in the democratic countries.
Irving M. Engel
New York City
Louis Berg writes:
I am grateful for Mr. Engel’s kind praise of my review and it would be hard for me to disagree with his single demurral. If anyone wants to imply that Lindbergh is or was a fascist, I offer no strong objections. He supported native fascists in the America First movement, sought to further the expansionist aims of Nazi Germany, and if he had any reservation about the Nazi ideology it is not in evidence in his war diary. My own opinion is that he was too innocent of ideas to be capable of understanding, much less embracing, any particular ideology. His was the military mind, which has its own resemblance to fascist thought. At least, that is the point I sought to make. I was not unaware of Anne Lindbergh’s writings, which undoubtedly influenced him. She too, I imagine, was riding the Wave of the Future, which unhappily for them both, but happily for the world, receded.