Charles Lindbergh’s secret life.
Charles Lindbergh became a hero in 1927 when he flew nonstop from New York to Paris. Five years later he gained the sympathy of the public when his young child was kidnapped and murdered.
Yet he fell from grace during the Second World War and after his death, his secret private life was discovered.
Lindbergh had not one but three secret families.
In 1941, before the United States joined the war, Lindbergh made an extraordinary speech. He maligned the Jews and suggested that the US, Britain and Germany should band together to form a superpower of race and arms.
This, he maintained, would protect the countries from ‘inferior blood’.
He immediately lost his hero status. He was pilloried by the media. Schools, airports, streets and landmarks which had been named for him during his hero years were renamed.
Several years later, a film was made about his New York – Paris achievement but it flopped at the box office. This is even more surprising as it starred the perennially popular James Stewart.
Charles Lindbergh was no longer America’s hero.
It was almost thirty years after his death that his secret private life was revealed. It transpired that he had three families in Germany – each consisting of a single mother and Lindbergh’s children. They were:
- Birgitte Hesshaimer, a milliner. She had three children by Lindbergh
- Birgitte’s sister, Marietta, who bore two of his children
- An aristocrat private secretary named Valeska with whom he had a further two children.
Lindbergh visited all three families two or three times a year. The children grew up knowing him as their father. All seven of his illegitimate children had been born between 1958 and 1967.
He had seven legitimate children with his wife (including young Charles, the kidnap victim) but they rarely saw their father. It’s possible that he was with his illegitimate children as often as he was with the others.
How do we know this?
Lindbergh was virtually on his deathbed – it was just ten days before he died – when he wrote to his three mistresses imploring them to maintain their secrecy about his relationship with them.
This they did. The secret went with them to their graves.
Later though,Brigitte’s daughter Astrid, read an article about the famous American aviator hero. She realised that he looked remarkably like the man she (and the other children) knew as Careu Kent – and their father.
Could this be their father? She found old photographs of Lindbergh and her mother, plus over a hundred and fifty love letters written between the years of 1957 and 1974, the year old Lindbergh’s death.
She kep this to herself until Lindbergh’s widow died in 2001. Then, as she no longer had to spare Anne Lindbergh’s feelings, she made her findings public. DNA tests proved without doubt that Astrid and her two brothers were indeed fathered by Lindbergh.
Reeve Lindbergh was the youngest child of Charles and Anne. She wrote a series of essays – see the book on the right- one of which dealt with her discovery of her seven half-brothers and sisters. In 2004, she travelled to Germany to meet them.
Exactly how Lindbergh managed to maintain his three secret families and maintain the deception has never been discovered.
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