While he lived in England, Charles Lindbergh observed as Europe descended into war. As a flyer, he could see the danger posed by Germany’s growing air force. He also noted how poorly prepared the British, French, and Russian air forces were in comparison with the Germans.
Just as his father had believed that America should not become involved in World War I, Lindbergh believed that America should avoid entering World War II
World War II was a global conflict that began in Europe on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. In response, Britain and France declared war on Germany. War broke out between the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) and the Allied Powers (Britain, France, and the Soviet Union). Japan invaded China, occupied the Philippines, and seized a number of islands throughout the Pacific, while Germany captured much of Europe and North Africa before invading the Soviet Union. Millions of civilians were killed; Jews were specifically singled out by the Germans for extermination, as were other minorities, such as those who were mentally ill, physically and mentally disabled, homosexual, or members of political and religious groups who opposed the Axis Powers.
The United States provided aid to the Allied Powers but remained neutral until Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. The United States then declared war on Japan and, in turn, Germany declared war on the United States. The United States joined the Allied Powers and launched an enormous war effort at home and abroad. On the home front, civilians made important contributions by helping to produce military equipment, supplies, and food in record amounts. American military forces fought in Europe, North Africa, and throughout the Pacific against the Axis Powers. By the end of the war, over twelve million Americans had served in the armed forces.
On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered, bringing an end to the war in Europe. The war in the Pacific continued until the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan in early August 1945. The Japanese surrendered on August 14, 1945. By the end of the war, over 418,500 American servicemen were killed, and worldwide an estimated thirty-eight million people lost their lives during the war.
. He believed if the U.S., British, and French remained armed but neutral that Germany and the Soviet Union
In the early 1900s, a series of workers' councils, called Soviets, was organized by dissatisfied Russian workers. In February of 1917, the Russian monarchy was overthrown. In October of that year, a revolutionary group called the Bolsheviks overthrew the new government and gave all the power to the Soviets, which they came to control. In 1922, after a civil war, the Bolsheviks formally created the Union of Soviet Social Republics (USSR). The Bolsheviks created a communist dictatorship which was very rigid and limited political and economic freedom in the USSR. At this time the term Soviet became a synonym applied to this type of communism, and to the citizens and government leaders of the USSR. This rigid style of government clashed with the ideas of economic and political freedom held by many Americans, causing tension between the USSR and the U.S. This led to an intense competition between the U.S. and its democratic allies around the world and the USSR and its communist allies during the Cold War. The Cold War lasted from the late 1940s until the USSR collapsed in 1991.
would exhaust themselves fighting each other in an eastern war. He became the most popular speaker for the America First Committee, an antiwar organization. His opinion about staying out of the war was
This editorial by Basil Brewer criticized Lindbergh’s efforts to stay out of war. Lindbergh’s views were unpopular with many.
[Basil Brewer Papers, 1911-1965 (C3132), The State Historical Society of Missouri, Manuscript Collection-Columbia]
and many began to wonder if he was actually on the side of the Germans.
After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, however, Lindbergh changed his mind and joined the war effort. He went to work for Henry Ford as a consultant in the production of B-24 bombers. Later he worked as a consultant for the United Aircraft Corporation on the Navy and Marine Corps’ F-4U Corsair. He even managed to fly fifty combat missions in the Pacific.