On a spring day in 1927, a dashing young man from Little Falls took off in a single-engine plane from New York. A day and a half later, Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris, instantly a worldwide sensation.
Five years later Lindbergh became an even more famous figure of tragedy when his infant son, who bore his father’s name, was kidnapped and killed. “The Crime of the Century,” they called it. America’s heart poured out for this tall, thin pilot, the pride of Minnesota.
Those feelings did not survive the decade. Lindbergh mistook fame for influence, and started telling people what he really thought: Let’s give these Nazis a chance.
Nine decades after he became the most famous man in the world, Lindbergh’s back in the headlines. Statues of Robert E. Lee and lakes named for John C. Calhoun are under siege. So is “Terminal 1-Lindbergh” at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. Lindbergh’s defenders will tell you he “lived in complex times” and is getting an unfair rap.
Let’s find out by playing a little game. Read the quotes below, then decide if they belong to Lindbergh, or Hubert Humphrey (former Minneapolis mayor, U.S. senator, and vice president), for whom the other MSP terminal is named... or Adolf Hitler. Correct answers at the bottom.
1. “[The Jews’] greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government.”
2. “It is the European race we must preserve; political progress will follow. Racial strength is vital, politics a luxury.”
3. “Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of debate, discussion, and dissent.”
4. “Germany now has the means of destroying London, Paris, and Prague.”
5. “[Germany] alone can either dam the Asiatic hordes or form the spearhead of their penetration into Europe.”
6. “We have this race problem which is bound to cause the most serious trouble.”
7. “Germany is in many ways the most interesting country in the world, and she is attempting to find a solution to some of our most fundamental problems.”
8. “The friendship, goodwill, and understanding of other nations is another source of strength that we should seek and merit.”
9. “The rights of men and nations must be readjusted to coincide with their… strength.”
10. “This is a war over the balance of power in Europe, a war brought about by the desire for strength on the part of Germany, and the fear of strength on the part of England and France.”
11. “Perhaps we should do well to spend a few minutes in considering projects which grace and embellish the earth, instead of shaking it.”
12. “Whenever the Jewish percentage of total population becomes too high, a reaction seems to invariably occur.”
13. “And while we stand poised for battle, Oriental guns are turning westward, Asia presses towards us on the Russian border, all foreign races stir restlessly.”
14. “It isn’t the Communist that’s the trouble. It’s the poverty, the misery, the sickness, the illiteracy, the frustration, the hopelessness.”
15. “After all, there is a God-made difference between men and women that even the Soviet Union can’t eradicate.”
16. “It is a sad fact that in a world two-thirds colored our own Negro citizens are almost totally unused in the diplomatic field.”
17. “Our civilization depends on a united strength among ourselves; on strength too great for foreign armies to challenge; on a Western Wall of race and arms which can hold back either a Genghis Khan or the infiltration of inferior blood.”
18. “In matters of disarmament—as in every area of our foreign policy—we need both an open mind and an eagerness to explore every possibility to the limit.”
19. “We, the heirs of European culture, are on the verge of a disastrous war, a war within our family of nations, a war which will reduce the strength and destroy the treasures of the White Race, a war which may even lead to the end of our civilization.”
Answers: Statements Nos. 3, 8, 11, 14, and 18 belong to Hubert Humphrey. The rest were spoken or written by Charles Lindbergh between the years 1933 and 1941.
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