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The Lindbergh kidnapping 1

The Lindbergh kidnapping

Mobs, mass psychology, & myth

Jerry Kroth, Ph.D.

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Cover photo: Crowds gather at the trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann

Pre-publication reviews

“A fascinating piece of psychological analysis that reads like an

Agatha Christie novel. I couldn’t put it down!

—Marvin Forrest, Ph.D., psychotherapist,

Santa Barbara
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Coming events cast their shadows before

—T. Campbell, 1907

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Table of Contents

1. A hero is born. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
2. Infanticide and retribution. . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
3. Death of the hero: exile and infamy. . . . . . 89
4. The force. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
5. The meaning of the myth. . . . . . . . . . . . . 145

Book Jacket

There are many excellent books about the Lindbergh kidnapping, but
none which talk about the mass hysteria that enveloped this story.
From the moment that “Lucky Lindy” stepped out of his plane after
he landed in Paris, right through the kidnapping of his son, the
crowds never stopped. Women grabbed discarded corncobs that
Charles Lindbergh ate and treasured them as souvenirs.
Millions came out to see and touch their Prometheus after his
stunning thirty-three hour flight across the Atlantic. More than half
the population of New York City came to his ticker tape parade. But
the mass hysteria did not disappear and fade into the landscape after
his transatlantic achievement. It never quit, and it never let up. Even
nine years later, the Lone Eagle could not even go to a movie with his
wife without both of them wearing a disguise. He was called “the
most famous man in the world,” and probably no one in the twentieth
century ever knew such notoriety or had to deal with its enormous

When his baby was kidnapped and killed, newspaper production in

the United States increased twenty percent. At the trial of kidnapper
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Bruno Richard Hauptmann, hawkers were selling miniature copies of

the kidnap ladder and putative locks of hair from the murdered baby.
Mobs of blood-thirsty citizens clustered about the kidnap scene and
clamored in front of the Flemington Court House shouting “Kill
Hauptmann! Kill Hauptmann! Kill Hauptmann!”

Never in American history has there been such a continuous eruption

of mass psychology and herd behavior. But what is even more
curious is that never has this story been looked at as a deep and
disturbing collective psychodrama instead of a crime story.

For the first time the mythic character of this drama is dissected and
put in context. Indeed, this is not a drama about the greatest “crime
of the century.” Rather it is a mysterious parable that encrypts
incredibly significant meanings for Americans, their history, and
events that were to unfold across the landscape of their future.

Bruno Richard Hauptmann was sent to the electric chair an innocent

man. He death was a mob-motivated, ritual killing, and understanding
the core meaning and significance of his death leads to the stunning
realization of what the entire mythic story of Charles Lindbergh was
all about.

Overview of the book

Chapter one: A hero is born. In this chapter (submitted with this

proposal as a ‘sample chapter’), the reader is introduced to the nature
of this book. This is not a biography of Charles Lindbergh. Instead
we start by following Jung and Joseph Campbell’s dictum about
dreams and myths.

“Big dreams” and collective myths are often draped in “numinosity”

or vividness and mass appeal. Further they are often symbolic of
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something outside of themselves. They have the character of parables

and allegories and are frequently archetypal.

So in this chapter first we review the incredible “numinosity” of

America’s hero, and the gargantuan popularity his transatlantic
achievement garnered.

The reader is also introduced to the controversial methods of this

book. If we look at the Lindbergh story as a dream, then we pay close
attention to the fact that under the wing of the Spirit of St. Louis,
someone scribbled a swastika for good luck. At the time this symbol
was associated with good luck, and for most historians or crime
aficionados that is an entirely irrelevant detail. But for dream sleuths
who seek to interpret this event as a myth that compresses important
collective meanings, it is highly relevant indeed.

So, too, for the name of the plane “The Spirit of St. Louis.”

To a non-fiction biographer, it was merely the name given to the

plane in order to honor the men who contributed money to the
construction of the airplane. But to the depth psychologist, we find
ourselves investigating the life of St. Louis IX, and there we discover
bewildering similarities between the life of this thirteenth century
saint and Charles Lindbergh himself. An entirely unconscious
association certainly, but one that makes the hairs on one’s arm
stands straight up.

Chapter 2: Infanticide and retribution. To interpret a “big dream”

says Jung, one must do their homework. And so we dive fully into the
crime, the trial, the evidence, and the summation of both prosecution
and defense. All the most salient evidence of this crime is presented,
and the reader is given a full and complete overview.

Did Hauptmann really commit this crime, or was this a complete

miscarriage of justice motivated by the shouts of the mob just outside.
Everyone then called this “the greatest crime of the century,” and it
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is still known by that moniker

today. Later in the book, we will
seriously question that

Chapter 3: Death of the hero:

exile and infamy. A ‘big dream’
is not over, says Jung, until the
numinosity stops, or, in this case,
when the crowds finally go
home. That did not occur until
Sept 11, 1941 when Charles
Lindbergh made a speech that
most Americans felt was pro-
Berlin and, frankly, patently anti-
Crowds pushing and shoving to gain access to
the trial in Flemington
He immediately fell into
disrepute and went from the penultimate “Promethean American
hero” into a “a silver-shirted, Nazi loving anti-Semite.” These were
roles Lindbergh played out in our American opera, and with his
speech in Des Moines, the play ends, the crowds go home, and hardly
anyone hears about Lindbergh for the next seventeen years. Lindy
disappears from this collective stage right at the threshold of World
War II.

Chapter 4: The Force. Once we have delineated the fourteen-year

‘big dream’ and see this story as a genuine American myth, we can
start the process of analyzing it. The first observation is that the
collective unconscious is a force that sucks all the characters in this
drama into its specter. Lindbergh never expected anything to come
from his flight across the Atlantic other than to receive a $25,000
prize for being the first man to fly solo across the ocean. Instead the
force had other things in store for him. The same is true for a hapless
German carpenter in the Bronx who could not understand why he was
selected for a sacrificial execution. He went to his death bewildered
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over why he had to play out this fatal part. It was the force that
governed these affairs, and the actors on the stage were required to
play out the script that was given to them.

This chapter ends with the reasoned conclusion that Bruno Richard
Hauptmann—who was called an “egomaniac,” “venomous,”
“tyrannical,” “Public Enemy No. 1 of this world—had nothing
whatsoever to do with the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. It was
the drama that counted, not reality. It was the mob, mass psychology,
and the collective psyche that was out in full regalia, directing,
producing, and scripting this psychodrama, not the quiet presence of
rational deliberation, untainted exculpatory evidence, or reasoned
dispassionate argument which was presented to a jury of one’s peers.

Bruno Richard Hauptmann was lynched, and the meaning of his death
is the central core to understanding the Lindbergh myth.

Chapter 5: The meaning of the myth In this final chapter we

assemble all the pieces of this drama and put the entire fourteen-year
myth in context. It begins with Lucky Lindy, the “most famous man
in the world,” and it ends with a public rebuke of our hero as a
“seditious, brown-shirted Nazi-loving anti-Semite.”

If we look at the drama as that, a drama, an

opera, a play in three acts, we can see
incredible German-Jewish and Jewish-
German symbolism draped across the entire
enterprise, from the swastika scribbled on the
propeller of the Spirit of St. Louis in Act I, to
the swastika presented to Lindbergh by
Hermann Göring in a reception in Berlin in
Act III.

The symbols ornament the drama, and the The German Eagle presented to an
core ritual killing as the centerpiece of this Lindbergh
by Hermann Göring
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play shows that this play is an archetypal story that has everything to
do with World War II.

The “crime of the century” was not the kidnapping of the Lindbergh
baby, but the crime of the century—as well as the millennium—was
the genocide and holocaust of World War II. Bruno Richard
Hauptmann was a stand-in, a symbolic foreshadowing of a great
archetypal devil, “venomous,” “tyrannical,” “egomaniac,” and
“Public Enemy No. 1 of this world.”

The Lindbergh drama is an encrypted myth foreshadowing the

greatest crime of the century.
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Author Information
Jerry Kroth, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Graduate Division, Counseling Psychology
Loyola Hall, 140, Santa Clara University
Santa Clara, CA 95053
Email: Tel: (408) 515-4171
University email:

Jerry Kroth, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the

graduate counseling psychology program at Santa Clara
University. He teaches psychotherapy and personality
theory, dreamwork, and research methods. He has an
abiding therapeutic interest in working with dreams,
personal oracles, and the applications of dream theory to
psychohistory. Dr. Kroth has been a member of the
International Psychohistorical Association since 1983.

Dr. Kroth’s eleven prior books were in the areas of counseling

psychology, child sexual abuse, learning disorders, metapsychology,
and research methodology. In addition, he has written and presented
over seventy papers on anxiety, child development, mass psychology,
synchronicity, the dream process, psychohistory and collective
psychology. He is also an occasional contributor to the Huffington
Post. His most recent work is Conspiracy in Camelot: The Complete
History of the Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (New York:
Algora, 2003). Dr. Kroth has two daughters and lives in California.
(Complete c.v. available on request.)
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The fact is that archetypal images are so packed with

meaning in themselves that people never think of
asking what they really do mean.

Carl Jung 1

The kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby was, in its time, as

compelling a drama as the trial of O.J. Simpson or the death of
Princess Diana.

In the case of Mr. Simpson, American national

character was as close to possessed as it ever
had been. Millions talked of nothing else.
Coverage of the trial dwarfed everything else.
Marriages faltered. Relationships came apart.
One psychotic woman, overcome by the wave of
media-induced emotions, shot and killed her
fifteen-year old daughter in Detroit. When
arrested, she screamed into the cameras that
she didn't want her daughter to grow up in a world populated
with OJs.

Kato Kailin and Mark Fuhrman became household names. A

white woman (Marcia Clark) prosecuted a black man (OJ) for
murdering a white woman (Nicole Brown Simpson). A black
attorney (Johnnie Cochran) defended a black man against the
charges of made by this white woman. A white police officer
(Mark Fuhrman) lied on the stand when asked if he ever used a
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racist slur against a black man. Marcia Clark’s co-counsel was

a black man. Johnnie Cochran’s co-counsels were white men.
There was white-black symbolism virtually everywhere. It was a
complete American soap opera. [In fact virtually all soap operas
were cancelled so viewers could vicarious participate in this
mass contagion on a daily basis.]

Americans were polarized as never before. Sixty percent of

black Americans thought he was innocent. Sixty eight percent
of whites felt he was guilty.* When the verdict was finally read,
and OJ acquitted — “if it doesn’t fit you must acquit”— black
college students broke out into pandemonium as their white
cohorts looked sullen and shocked.

White students vs. black student reactions to hearing that OJ was not guilty.

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Racial divisions in the country never seemed more acute.

Despite all the hoopla, few asked why Americans became as

obsessed as they did. There were no discussions of mass
psychology, mass hysteria, and very little on the incredibly
polarizing racial subtext that festered underneath this

People were too busy with Mark Fuhrman, the 'N' word, bloody
gloves, and rumors of an affair between Marcia and her co-
counsel to realize they were in a collective trance. Not even
scholarly Ted Koppel was able to grunt out a single program on
the epidemic of mass hysteria which overtook the nation.

With the funeral of Princess Diana, one pundit finally noticed

that a psychological epidemic was in process. George Will
opined that it wasn't just her death, or her personality, her
kindness, or her contributions which needed to be deliberated.
One in six people on planet earth watched her funeral. It was
finally time that mass psychology should be discussed.

However quiet, subdued, and respectful the observation, Will

made the first effort to bring his fellow commentators round to
the idea that another volcanic eruption of
mass psychology was at hand.
Unfortunately, there were no takers.

At Diana's funeral a young lady cried into a

microphone, and probably more than any
other person came closer to understanding
the archetypal character of this event:

“She was Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Barbie all

rolled into one for me. She had an eating disorder.
I did too. She was rejected in love, and so was I. I
grew up with her. When she died, a part of me
died too.”
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To her, and to millions like her, Princess Diana was someone

out of a fairy tale, mythic in stature and dream-like in effect.

We are not talking here of single, isolated, and disturbed

"patients" who suffer from a "pathogenic projective
identification" with a symbolic object. This was not limited to
individuals or patients. It was pandemic and collective. Millions
were fixated, fused, and enmeshed in this mysterious
admixture of unconscious linkage with the symbolic object.

Diana, like O.J., was a projective vessel, a carrier and

container of mass projection and unconscious fantasy. She
represented an object of profoundly deep psychological
significance worldwide.

Such events, when they occur, are altogether prepossessing

and packed with meaning and symbol, yet rarely are they
analyzed, dissected, or understood. These are like living
dreams begging for an interpretation.

The story of Charles Lindbergh falls precisely into this category.

It overshadows the death of Princess Diana and OJ by an
incredible margin. And yet most of us did not experience nor
live through this age and cannot relate to the hypnotic and
mythic power of this story. In this book we will try to capture
and render this event, and the mass psychology which
enveloped it, so that the reader who did not live through this
event will be able to grasp its magnitude and its meaning.


Carl Jung's distinction between "big" dreams and little dreams

begins our discussion. A little dream, he said, is that run-of-
the-mill, standard, forgotten-in-the-morning dream. The vast
majority of our dreams are like this. They are usually colored
by personal and emotional issues, and probably this is one of
the major reasons they are so easily repressed and forgotten
upon waking.
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But another class of dream, the 'big dream' is characterized by

numinosity, vividness, and a very special kind of psychological
radiance. It possesses uncanny, unforgettable, and
extraordinary qualities. We may only experience a few of these
dreams in our entire lifetime. These dreams are awe-inspiring,
intense, easily remembered, and loaded with meaning. Many
people remember these dreams throughout their entire lives.

But these too often go unexplored and uninterpreted.

Numinosity was the term Jung used to describe this special

aura and compelling quality of the “big” or “archetypal” dream.

If we move from the individual dreamer to a more collective level

numinosity also exists. Here it shows its face not as vivideness
so much as “popularity,” “mass appeal,” “mass hysteria,” and
trance-like states of consciousness. These events, like dreams,
possess a unique glow and vividness and represent our clue to
what is archetypal, collective, and amenable to deeper
understanding . . . if only we begin to look.

Everyone who was an adult American could easily answer the

question “What were you doing when Kennedy was shot?” The
reply was easy. Virtually every conscious adult at that time
froze in their tracks and remembered exactly where they were
and what they were doing. The psychic energy of the Kennedy
assassination in Dallas was like a jolt of a psychic atomic
explosion, which spread out across the entire planet and
seemed to irradiate the psyches of everyone in its path.

Like the big dream that transfixes us, so too do these external
and historical events also have such bedazzling, mesmerizing,
and hypnotic qualities.

Norman O. Brown and the collective dream

Norman O. Brown, a classics professor and author of Love's

Body, walked gingerly into psychoanalytic theory and
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immediately started to rewrite it. A man with a gargantuan

intellect—and without a word of supplication or apology to the
establishment—offended orthodox psychoanalysts to the
extreme. His radical ideas raised hairs on the necks of many.

One short but pointed affront is contained the following


"Psychoanalysis is the interpretation of dreams, of

this life as a dream!” 1

How outrageous! How egregious to interpret real events as if

they were nothing but dreams or dream material. Brown opened
the way for what we might call collective psychoanalysis.

Is the story of O.J. Simpson really just a large, historical

"event," or was it an outbreak of mass psychology, a fusillade of
deeply unconscious, dream-like material which streamed across
the American stage for months infecting, enchanting, and
captivating millions in its trance?

When you think about it, Norman O. Brown was right, and the
most interesting thing about the OJ Simpson trial was not
Marcia Clarke, or OJ, or his defense dream team, or the
evidence. It was the American people and their complete
possession by this event. It was a living American soap opera
played out in real time, and, actually, most daytime soaps were
cancelled so that we could all participate in the collective

Even Jung recognized something peculiar here:

In sleep, fantasy takes the form of dreams. But in

waking life, too, we continue to dream beneath the
threshold of consciousness, especially when under
the influence of repressed or other unconscious
complexes. 2
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When one starts looking at life itself as an unconscious

manifestation, we start swimming in very turbulent waters.
When we interpret a dream, for example, we draw out
associations and meanings of symbols and try, in consultation
with the dreamer, to find clues to their meaning.

But when we extrapolate this method to the world of real

events, our perspective becomes radicalized, far different than
that of the historian, the journalist, or the anthropologist,
because the event itself is seen as a kind of projected image on a

Charles Lindbergh flew a plane across the Atlantic called The

Spirit of St. Louis. Somewhere under the wing—and now
probably erased—a swastika was scribbled. It was a sign of
good luck in 1927, but to us, and to this perspective, it is a
dream symbol and is just as relevant to our interest in this story
as how much fuel he had on board might be to a historian.

If you are a journalist, you ask when he flew, how long it took,
and when he arrived. But depth psychologists,
psychohistorians, and analytic psychologists often see such
events as collective dreams, and they ask different questions,
and questions that take us to different places: "What is the
Spirit of St. Louis?" "Who is the Spirit of St. Louis?" "What is
the origin of this dream symbol?" "What does the appearance of
a swastika mean?"

Perhaps you may think this kind of approach absurd or

tangential to understanding the true nature of the event. What
is more important: to know how Princess Diana was killed,
whether the driver was drunk, and which paparazzi may have
side-swiped the car, or how Princess Diana represented an
unconscious icon to women all over the planet who saw in her a
symbolic Rapunzel, Cinderella, or Barbie with whom they could
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I suggest that our understanding of the meaning of the event is

enriched more by looking at this deeper, psychological
perspective than the former linear, prosaic, and historic one.

So, yes indeed, who was St. Louis, and how is he related to the
Spirit of St. Louis? That indeed is a relevant question to us
although it is entirely irrelevant, if not farcical, to the historian
who decides to study the life of Charles Lindbergh.

So this is not a biography of Charles Lindbergh, and it is not a

historical piece of non-fiction. It is a psychological analysis of a
collective dream in the purest sense
of that word.

St. Louis, a city in Missouri, was

named after the French King, Louis
IX who died in 1297 A.D., and, to
our surprise, the life of this ancient
king remarkably parallels the life of
Lindbergh himself. Making the
association and drawing from it,
adds to the understanding of the
Lindbergh phenomenon, even St. Louis IX
though it sometimes feels as if we
are moving further out on a limb into craziness with each step
we take.

The Spirit of St. Louis was an airplane. It was built in San

Diego, but it was called The Spirit of St. Louis because the
financial backers of Lindbergh were from St. Louis. That’s it.
There was no “intention” to make any statements about a saint
that lived six hundred years earlier.

But if you study the life of St. Louis IX, and you compare it to
the life of Charles Lindbergh, the hairs on your arm stand up to
be counted. You shiver with a realization that something else is
going on here. The connection between Lindbergh and St. Louis
is astonishing and incredible, and yet it is an entirely
unconscious connection.
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No one knew of it then. No one knows of it now.

But it is indeed worth our time to go into these unconscious

nooks, crannies and crevices and carry forward with our

So this book intends to interpret and decode a major American

myth, the "big," collective dream of Charles Lindbergh, but it is
not merely a speculative, impressionistic, or artistic task. There
are problems with such an approach. To Jung,

It is obvious that in handling "big" dreams intuitive

guesswork will lead nowhere. Wide knowledge is
required. 3

This effort requires analysis, homework, and a thorough

knowledge of the whole set of circumstances which made up the
Lindbergh story.

There are young people today who ask what the fuss over
Kennedy's assassination was as they were too young to have
been touched by the contagion which marked the event. Few
readers of this piece, including this writer, are of the age to have
remembered or personally been touched by this event which
began some eighty-two years past.

Therefore, let us first begin by establishing that Lindbergh

indeed was a numinous figure, and that this story truly has this
necessary ingredient to be called a ‘big dream.’

Not able to rely on our own personal experiences and memories,

we consult the literature in this effort:
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The numinosity of Charles Lindbergh

I was astonished at the effect my successful landing in France

had on the nations of the world. To me, it was like
a match lighting a bonfire.

– Charles A. Lindbergh

Lindbergh was a slender, 6'3" inch only-child who spent much

of his youth on a farm. His father, a Congressman, spent little
time at home, and the estrangement between his wife,
Evangeline, and her husband, also named Charles, did not
result in a divorce, but a long and chronic separation.

Young Charles became the master of the household with a

generally absent father. He played the role of his mother's
guardian at an early age.

Biographer Leonard Mosley describes Lindbergh's early years

as those of a "Huckleberry Swede:"

“He wandered the river and forest on his own,

shooting partridge and prairie chickens for the pot,
studying woodcraft, collecting butterflies and
fireflies, taming a chipmunk, swimming in the creek,
catching crayfish, building himself a raft with which
to pole himself along the reaches of the great river.” 4

He went to the University of Wisconsin, but was unhappy there

and pleaded with his mother to let him become a flier. He
succeeded in this undertaking and became an Air Corps
Reserve pilot and later a barnstorming daredevil.

At twenty-five, he neither drank, nor smoked, nor dated

anyone. He was handsome, mild-mannered, soft-spoken, not
taken to excessive verbiage, and incredibly poised and mature
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for his age. However he also enjoyed taking well-calculated

risks. [By all reckonings, he was also a virgin.]

A fantasy took hold of him, the $25,000 Raymond Orteig prize

for the first successful flight from New York to Paris (or vice
versa). When people heard a man flying alone was going to
attempt the trip to Paris across the Atlantic, however, they
called him "The Flying Fool." At the time it was remarked,

“. . .it is considered doubtful by the experts that a

single flier can stay awake and alert long enough to
challenge successfully the dark forces waiting to do
battle with him over the Atlantic.” 5

Largely on his own, Lindbergh

solicited St. Louis businessmen to
back the construction of a plane.
While some two-person teams were
gearing up for the transatlantic
flight, Lindbergh took off solo a few
days before them. He was not
concerned about the money, nor
was he seeking to become a
national hero. It was simply the
challenge that intrigued him.

After 33-hours of flying, swooping

down out of the sky to avoid icing
on his wings—and narrowly missing Atlantic icebergs in the
process—Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget airfield in Paris on
May 21, 1927 unwittingly opening up a door to the collective
psyche which he was not able to close for another fourteen

When he landed in Paris news spread across the globe. Over

100,000 Parisians jammed the highways and went to meet the
daredevil. As soon as he touched down and climbed out of the
cockpit . . .
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“I was dragged the rest of the way without assistance

on my part. . .For nearly half and hour I was unable
to touch the ground, during which time I was carried
around in what seemed to be a very small area, and in
ever position it is possible to be in. Every one had the
best of intentions but no one seemed to know just
what they were.†”

No detail of his flight, his reception, or his personality was too

trivial to merit publication, and so avid was the interest in him
that the nation's newspapers used up some 25,000 tons of
newsprint beyond the normal amount. Even so, they were
unable to satisfy the popular demand; street sales were two to
five times normal in city after city. 8

That day "an American flag would fly all day over the French
Foreign Office, the first time in the history of France that such

Lloyd Gardner, The Case that Never Dies: The Lindbergh kidnapping. New Jersey: Rutgers University
Press, 2004, ebook edition; location 95
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an honor had been accorded a foreign visitor who was not a

head of state." 9

After his arrival in Paris he was offered

“. . . up to half a million dollars for a cigarette

endorsement, a million dollars for a film, $300,000
for a phonograph record of the flight and anything
from $100,000 upward for a claim that he used a
certain shaving cream, hair oil, soap, or hat and
gloves. Altogether offers amounting to $5 million
had come in. One group of businessman had even
approached one of Lindbergh's associates and said
they were willing to offer $1 million "with no strings
attached" in order to preserve his independence and
keep him untainted by commercialism.” 10

He refused all such offers, including the $1 million to keep him

"untainted," quite to the offense of the businessmen. Not by
any feigned desire to behave like a hero, but more in keeping
with his otherwise austere form of self-discipline and humility,
he was already quite untainted.

Hundreds of babies were named after him, dozens of parks,

streets, schools, even villages, including a mountain in
Colorado. A Pennsylvania railroad line named itself “The Spirit
of St. Louis.” The world's tallest airplane beacon atop a new
Chicago skyscraper became known as the "Lindbergh Beacon."
He received 14,000 packages, 100,000 telegrams and 3.5
million letters right after the flight. The ticker tape parade in
New York City boasted a crowd of over 4 million persons, close
to sixty percent of the entire city.
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Over 1,800 tons of paper

had to be disposed of after
the parade.

His bust was sculpted in

silver, bronze, ivory,
plaster, and soap. He
received rolls of Swedish
wallpaper with his image
repeated, an ivory inlaid
billiard cue, a Persian
manuscript of the Koran, a
Gutenberg Bible, and a
stickpin with the Spirit of
St. Louis cut from a single
diamond. . . The Shubert
Theatre Corporation issued
him a gold and diamond
Lifetime Pass to all their
theaters throughout
Europe and America; the
National League . . . sent a
Lindy’s ticker-tape parade
gold Lifetime Pass to any of
their games. 11

Over 5,000 poems made their way into the papers. Some give a
hint of the overwhelming joy and mass contagion taking hold.
A brief sampling of two:

“Lindbergh here and Lindbergh there

Lindbergh! Lindbergh! everywhere!
Lindbergh wins our favor
Lindbergh's brave beyond compare!

You are the answer. . . the riddle has ended.

The leader has come to his glorified clan.
You are the one that the ages have beckoned--
Once more the West has furnished a man! 12
The Lindbergh kidnapping 27

. . . People shredded telephone books and other

papers into confetti and threw it out their windows. .
. Gordon Gurley announced the birth of his son,
Charles Lindbergh Hurley; he would be the first of
countless babies to be given the same Christian
names. . . in Buenos Aires people demanded to know
the whereabouts of the kitten alleged to have made
the trip with him. A Hindi periodical outside Bombay
observed 'few things have so deeply stirred the hearts
of India and evokes such huge admiration as the
marvelous feat of. . . Lindbergh.”' 13

When he landed he had become "almost a winged god brought

temporarily to earth" 14 Everyone was caught by the psychic
epidemic. Lindbergh's manner, soft spoken and given to few
words, only fueled the flames already burning. U.S.
Ambassador Herrick in France said,

“I am not a religious man, but I believe there are

certain things that happen in life that can only be
described as interpretation of a Divine Act...
Lindbergh brought you the spirit of America in a
manner in which it could never be brought in a
diplomatic sack.” 15

In the first few days after the flight, he met the King and Queen
of Belgium, King Albert and Queen Elizabeth in England, the
Prime Minister, Princess Elizabeth, the Duke and Duchess of
York, the Prince of Wales, and Lady Astor. He was regaled with
his mother at the White House guests of President and Mrs.
Coolidge on his return. 16

The New York Times devoted its first sixteen pages exclusively
to Lindbergh and his triumph.
The Lindbergh kidnapping 28

Lindbergh was the first non-combatant to be awarded the

Congressional Medal of
Honor, the first person in
United States history to be
honored with a
commemorative postage
stamp while still living. He
was Time magazine's first
"man of the year." Within
days, Lindbergh's name
spread around the world but,
for Americans, he was rapidly
becoming deified:

“Gods, after all, are created by those who worship

them; they are created through the very act of
worship; and Lindbergh, by the end of June 1927,
was worshiped by his fellow countrymen as no other
private individual, while yet contemporary with his
worshipers, had ever been. His every word, his
slightest gesture, became invested with symbolic
meaning. his glorification became ritualistic.” 17

Was it the objective fact that the gulf between America and
Europe had been breached from the air, or was there some
deeply rooted psychological reason for this effusive frenzy?

In just two short weeks after Lindbergh's flight Clarence

Chamberlin took off from New York and landed in Germany,
exceeding Lindbergh's record, but the event was virtually
unnoticed. After Chamberlin's flight, another team succeeded
too. Was it that Lindbergh was the only one to have flown

Precisely why he was chosen for this role remains a mystery—a

complex mystery we shall explore later—but our task now is to
establish that Lindbergh was in fact crowned with a numinous
halo by the American psyche. Of that fact there can be little
The Lindbergh kidnapping 29

As Will Rogers wrote:

“The first thing we want to get into our heads is that

this boy is not our usual type of hero that we are
used to dealing with. He is all the others rolled into
one and then multiplied by ten, and his case must
be treated in a more dignified way.” 18

In Paris Lindbergh drove in an open car

“. . . down the Champs Elysees, through the Place

de la Concorde, and along the Rue de Rivoli to the
City Hall. The route was lined with over five
hundred thousand—some estimated one million-
people. It was the greatest reception Paris had ever
accorded a private citizen, rivaling the visit of
President Woodrow Wilson after the war.” 19

Some seven million feet of newsreel film recorded his

movements, more than any subject of documentary film making
in history.

After his return to the United States, he flew The Spirit of St.
Louis to every state of the Union touching down in over eighty-
two different cities. On the tour he had made 147 speeches.
The tour took some eleven months. An estimated 30 million
people had seen him during this tour, about a fourth of the
entire population of the country at the time!

When he came to Boston, a huge throng went insane with

excitement. One man died of a heart attack, the cry
"Lindbergh" on his lips. One hundred and fourteen others,
most of them women and children, were injured in the crush as
thousands sought to touch the flier or come as near him as
possible. 20

Lindbergh was festooned by publicity and rapidly developed an

extreme antipathy for the cult worship and press interest.
The Lindbergh kidnapping 30

During these tours he spoke only about aviation and never

provided personal information about himself or his life.

His reserve seemed only to exacerbate what was now teetering

on the brink of a full-fledged American mass psychosis.

On his U.S. tour women broke into his hotel rooms, even
fought through restraining ropes to grasp corncobs from which
he had eaten.

Spurning commercial offers, Lindbergh did accede to writing an

account of his flight. It was published under the title We and
became a best seller earning him $100,000
in royalties and another $60,000 in
syndication rights. It was written in three
weeks with a ghostwriter and passed
through twenty-eight printings in the first
six months. 21

William Randolf Hearst offered him

$500,000 plus ten percent of the gross to
make a movie, and though such an offer
would have made him financially independent for life, he
turned the publishing magnate down. Invited to Hearst's
sumptuous residence and handed the movie contract,
Lindbergh politely declined:

“All right,” Hearst said at last, “but you tear up the contract; I
have not the heart to do it.”

More embarrassed than ever, Lindbergh attempted to hand it

back to him. "No," said Hearst quietly, sizing up the young
man, “if you don't want to make a picture, tear it up and throw
it away.” Double-dared, Lindbergh tore the pages in half and
tossed them into the fireplace. Hearst watched with what
Lindbergh would long remember as “amused astonishment.” 22

A man offered to guard Lindbergh's trophies which were then

flooding into St. Louis. He offered to do so for no pay "simply
The Lindbergh kidnapping 31

because “Col. Lindbergh is a messenger from God. . . sent here

to inspire the people risking his life every day for the
betterment on mankind.”

Paul Garber asserted “After the flight, Charles Lindbergh. . .

literally became all things to all men.” 23

According to biographer Mosley, "whether he liked it or not, he

was. . .the most famous man in the world." 24

Charles Evans Hughs, former Secretary of State summed up

the reaction:

“We measure heroes as we do ships, by their

displacement. . . Lindbergh has displaced
everything. . . For the time being, he has lifted us
into the freer and upper air that is his home. He has
displaced everything that is petty, that is sordid, that
is vulgar. What is money in the presence of Charles
A. Lindbergh? What is the pleasure of the idler in
the presence of this supreme victor of intelligence
and industry? He has driven the sensation mongers
out of the temples of our thought. He has kindled
anew the fires on the eight ancient altars of that
temple. Where are the stories of crime, of divorce, of
the triangles that are never equilateral? For the
moment we have forgotten. This is the happiest day,
the happiest day of all days for America, and as one
mind she is now intent upon the noblest and the
best. America is picturing to herself youth with the
highest aims, with courage, unsurpassed; science
victorious. . . We are all better men and women
because of this exhibition in this flight of our young
friend. Our boys and girls have before them a
stirring, inspiring vision of real manhood. What a
wonderful thing it is to live in a time when science
and character join hands to lift up humanity with a
vision of its own dignity.” 25
The Lindbergh kidnapping 32

But this is not the end of our story.

Lindbergh's flight occurred at the peak of the roaring twenties,

in the jazz age, an age of speculation, yellow journalism,
flappers, and instant millionaires. America's possessive love
affair with Lindbergh grew to such an extent his privacy
became non-existent. Even on his honeymoon, secreted away
on a ship, a reporter found the couple and buzzed the ship for
seven hours, rocking it until the Lindberghs would appear on
deck for a photo. (He and his bride never did.)

“. . . the great, demanding, ever-pursuing, ever-

present crowd which if it could, in its insatiable
curiosity, would leave untouched not a shred of his
privacy—would tear his clothes apart, pluck hairs
from his head, reach into every corner of his
life—would suffocate him and his in its fever to
possess him, the idol, the famous one who had
grown to fear his fame.” 26

Charles and his new bride, Anne, lived in a state of siege. They
could not leave their home without being assaulted by
reporters and photographers. They could not go to a movie
without disguising themselves. Their telephone lines were
tapped. When driving, they were followed. Newspapermen
bribed household servants for any inside story, one reporter
even tried to get a job as a servant in the house.

The numinosity of this figure in American collective psychology

was only beginning. Lindbergh was likened to Prometheus
stealing fire from the air; he was nicknamed The Lone Eagle;
still others likened him to Zeus.

But a second even more powerful explosion occurred in 1932,

five years after the flight, and the archetypal drama burgeoned
forward again like a gigantic beast rising out of the earth.

On March 1, 1932, Lindbergh's first-born son, Charles, was

kidnapped from his crib. From Illinois to China the word
The Lindbergh kidnapping 33

spread like a tidal wave as intense as the news of the

assassination of President Kennedy. People froze in their tracks
and remembered where they were and what they were doing. It
was this event, which even surpassed his crossing the Atlantic
in its hypnotic effect.

The entire coverage of the kidnapping, from its beginning

through to the trial, amounted to three million words in the
New York Times alone. Lunatics everywhere were turning
themselves in as kidnappers making the job for the police
incredibly difficult. 27

After the kidnapping total U.S. newspaper circulation went up

twenty percent in the first three weeks. 28

When the baby was kidnapped, a UPI editor said that "I can't
think of any story that would compare with it unless America
should enter a war." 29

Col. Schwarzkopf was the New Jersey official in charge of

heading up the investigation into the

The President of the United States, the

Kind of England, the Presidents of France
and Mexico were among those who sent
messages of condolence or
condemnation; the Governor of New York
State, Franklin D. Roosevelt, put his
entire police force at Colonel
Schwarzkop's disposal. 30

There was a bewildering flurry of activity

around the Lindbergh home in Hopewell,
New Jersey. State troopers had to keep
traffic away from the grounds. Sightseeing airplanes charged
$2.50 for a ticket to fly over the house.
The Lindbergh kidnapping 34

The hunt for the culprits involved thousands of police and

government man-hours from all over the country. Over
914,000 Boy Scouts searched for the baby. One person driving
west was stopped 107 times by police, just because of the New
Jersey license plates on his car. 31

The Lindbergh estate had been turned into a fortress.

The newsmen in town were putting out a million words a day

over 168 newly installed telephone lines, a communications
network big enough to serve a city of a million. The was the
largest telephone system ever set up to cover a news event. 32

The U.S. Congress passed a law in 1932 making kidnapping a

federal crime. This is still known as "The Lindbergh Law."

What started in 1927 and continued snowballing with the

kidnapping (1932), marched forward with even greater
intensity two years later with the arrest of Bruno Richard
Hauptmann in 1934. During the arrest and indictment of
Hauptmann, mass hysteria could be measured in the amount
of mail the Lindberghs received, over 100,000 letters per day.

The numinosity which began in 1927 ran stronger than ever

even in 1934, seven years after the Paris flight.

The trial in Flemington, New Jersey was called The Trial of the

The demand for copy was staggering—the coverage given to the

trial exceeded that of any other comparable event in American
history, including the Armistice and the Olympic Games. It was
estimated that an average of half a million words spewed out of
Flemington daily. 33

When the body of the child was discovered in the woods, it was
taken to a funeral home where an autopsy was to be
The Lindbergh kidnapping 35

Sometime Thursday night, amid the excitement and confusion

around the funeral home, a reporter and a cameraman slipped
into the morgue and photographed the baby. How the
unidentified intruders got into the building remains a mystery.

On Friday, photographs of the corpse were being sold on the

street at five dollars apiece. 34

And when the trial began,

“. . . five thousand treasure seekers triumphed over

bitter opposition and gained the interior of the
building and, eventually, the holy of holies, the
courtroom itself. They hunted for portable fragments
of its fame, hacked slivers from chairs and tables,
tugged at wired-down antiques, endeavored to hide
spittoons under their coats, and argued with the
frantic guards.” 35

The frenzy in the media and in the populace was unending.

When Hauptmann's jury went in to deliberate the verdict,
hundreds shouted outside "Kill Hauptmann! Kill Hauptmann!
Kill Hauptmann!"

The story of Charles Lindbergh, or what might more properly

be called America's mass-dream-psychosis, had its numinous
peak between 1927, with his arrival in Paris, up through the
final execution of Bruno Richard Hauptmann in 1936, probably
reaching its apex with the kidnapping of his son.

One would think the Lindberghs might have then had a

reprieve from this gargantuan collective assault, but they were
not so lucky.

Shortly before Hauptmann was to go to the electric chair,

Governor Hoffman of New Jersey had strong doubts about the
evidence and granted a delay. As he studied and investigated
the crime through the aegis of his office, the Lindberghs began
The Lindbergh kidnapping 36

to receive lunatic hate mail, still a minority of the mail they did
receive, but nonetheless disturbing.

Their second child, Jon, was being driven daily by his teacher
to nursery school. One day as the car took Jon to school, a
truck sped away after obviously spotting the child and his
teacher in the car.

The second time. . . a car shouldered Jon's to the curb and

several figures scrambled out. The teacher dropped the steering
wheel and drew the little boy close. Their frightened faces
stared at the cameras jammed in at them. 36

The Lindberghs decided that they could no longer remain

immune or protected from the lunacy that was all over them,
and they decided to retreat. Living in England might offer them
a measure of protection, they thought.

Thus, the hero of our myth, exiled by his own people, secretly
boarded a ship for England and took up residence in 1935. In
England the Lindberghs were not bothered, and they did not
return from this brief but happy exile for four entire years.

Americans were shocked at the news of their departure. Many

years later Lindbergh remarked to a friend,

“We Americans are a primitive people. We do not

have discipline. Our moral standards are low. . . It
shows in the newspapers, the morbid curiosity over
crimes and murder trials. Americans seem to have
little respect for law, or the rights of others.” 37
The Lindbergh kidnapping 37

We are stopping this preview here, but chapter one runs

for another 15 pages.

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