And Nazi Germany

kurt lichtmann

The photo shows Lindy joking with Reichsmarshall Herman Goering in Berlin, 1938. Goering decorated Lindbergh at a state dinner with the Verdienstkreuz der Deutscher Alder(Service Cross Of The German Eagle), one of the highest Nazi civilian medals, by order of Adolph Hitler. This event signalled the beginning of the end of Lindbergh's huge international popularity.

Lindbergh (at Goering's invitation) visited Nazi Germany four times since 1936. He openly admired the discipline, intellect, organization, and strength of the Nazis, and their views on the traditional role of women. Lindbergh despised the degneracy of Swing Era America; he had nothing good to say about "African Jazz", or even of dancing. In a Reader's Digestarticle, he warned against "the infiltration of inferior blood" into the American racial makeup. He critcized the American ideal of "universal equality." Hitler gave his architect Albert Speer carte blanche to build a permanent residence for the Lindbergh family in Berlin. (Decades later, in Apandau prison, Speer laughed,"The American must have been very naive!")

Friends and admirers quickly began to desert Lindy when he advised Europe of the futility of resisting Hitler's superior military power. The Russian government, having previously welcomed him as a hero, was insulted by his public devaluation of their air force. They angrily announced that Lindy would be arrested if he ever again set foot on Russian soil. Going against President Roosevelt, Lindy urged America to shun aid to Europe. He suggested that America ally with the stronger power! He was "convinced that Adolph Hitler... held the future of Europe in his hands, and maybe of civilization, too." The final straw for Americans was Lindy's 1941 speech in Des Moines, accusing Jewish media ownership and Jewish influence in government of pushing America towards war.

Cries of "Anti-Semitism!" and a tidal wave of rebuke immediately followed. The Lafayette Restaurant in NYC removed their large "Lindbergh Flag" from its wall. TWA's "Lindbergh Line" of commercial aircraft (which Lindy helped create) had his name painted out on all the planes. Little Falls, Minnesota (his birthplace) took down its proud "Home Of Charles Lindbergh" billboard. Pamphlets and articles appeared: "Is Lindbergh a Nazi?" and "Lindbergh And The Jews." Amidst the vitriolic anti-Lindbergh fervor from virtually every previous supporter, Lindbergh resigned his Air Force commission. Not much named in honor of Lindy remained. Hello JITTERBUG.

'30s Lindy Hoppers: Even one of Whitey's Savoy Lindy Hop troupes was named Jitterin' Jitterbugs. However, a small group of Savoy performers clung tenaciously to the name LINDY HOP. It was their creation, their identity, and their life. After all, it was named for Lindy the hero, not Lindy the racist. They privately applied the term "Jitterbug" as an epithet for any "white, honky, ofay" distortion of their baby, the LINDY HOP. '90s Lindy Hop revivalist circles, (and they are mostly white folk) often echo this perspective: WE do Lindy Hop, the superior 8-count dance, YOU do Jitterbug, the inferior 6-count dance. Interestingly, the Afro-American lindy hoppers of the '30s weren't referring to number of counts: get it?