Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

Montage of images and link description. Lindbergh Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
The Film & More
Interview Transcripts | Bibliography | Primary Sources

Arnold Foster on:
Charles Lindbergh

Arnold Foster Q: Who was Charles Lindbergh?

AF: Charles Lindbergh was a genius, in my judgement, of a mechanic who found himself in an airplane instead of an automobile and mastered it--fell in love with flying. And that kind of persistent, obstinate nature that would deny failure, made him the hero. It got him across the Atlantic Ocean in the "Spirit of St. Louis" and made him a great hero in America in the twenties. I don't think, intellectually, he measured up to his position in the community.

Q: Why didn't he measure up? What was lacking in his character that you saw?

AF: Oh, I don't know, it was lack of character. I think it was a lack of formal education. He was not a tutored person. I don't recall that he went to college, for example, not that college makes the difference between an educated and tutored person. But I think he was a mechanically minded.

Q: But where did that lead him astray, do you think?

AF: I think it gave him an oversimplified understanding of the forces at play across the earth when Hitler came along, and when Soviet communism was going to go face to face with it. He saw things in black and white terms. I don't think he ever understood the evil of Nazism, or the evil of Fascism, or the evil of that kind of Stalin communism.

Seeing things in black and white, being a simple guy intellectually, he misunderstood the forces at play, and found himself on the wrong side.

Q: Where did that vision come from?

AF: I think Lindbergh was snowed by the Nazis. They knew about his record. They felt a certain sympathy for their cause. They invited him to Germany. That was in 1938. And that's where they did the snow job on him, if I may use that cliche. They showed him a glamorous Nazi air force. They showed him an undefeatable power. They showed him a military force that had to conquer the world. And I think he was awed by it. And the political implications skipped him.

When he returned home, he was convinced that Nazism and Germany were the waves of the future. And he never let go, in my judgment, of that conviction. As a matter of face, when Germany lost the war, he must have been the most surprised, shocked man in America. And from the beginning of his political life, if I may say it that way, until the day he died, he was convinced that the only reason Germany lost was because the world overwhelmed, by propaganda, the nations that joined in the effort to destroy Nazi Germany.

back to Interview Transcripts | next

Program Description | Enhanced Transcript | Reference



WGBH | PBS Online


Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by: