Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Lindbergh’s Anti-jewish Speech Meets with Severe Criticism in American Press

September 15, 1941
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Severe criticism against Charles A. Lindbergh for charging his speech in Des Moines that the Jews are “the second major group leading America towards war,” is being voiced in almost all leading newspapers throughout the country. At the same time it is reported that Lindbergh’s slur on the Jews has also provoked dissatisfaction in the ranks of the America First Committee which sponsored the flier’s speech. Some members of the America First Committee may withdraw unless the organization repudiates Lindbergh’s anti-Jewish tenets.

The New York Herald-Tribune, in an editorial “Against the American Sprit,” said: “The Des Moines speech, marking the climax of a series of innuendoes and covert allusions by isolationist leaders, opens new and ugly vistas and seeks to inject into open debate subjects which all good Americans should pray might be confined to the pages of the ‘Voelkischer Beobachter’ and the addresses of one Adolf Hitler. To be sure, Mr. Lindbergh did not counsel anti-Semitism. He warned the Jews that they may suffer from it in the event of war – and provided anti-Semites with fuel for their anti-Semitism. He asserted, after the fashion of anti-Semites everywhere, that the Jews were dangerous to the United States because of their ‘large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.’ To state that Jews exert an influence in this country out of proportion to their numbers is to state what is unproved and unprovable; to state that their influence is exerted as Jews and not as American citizens is to libel not only the Jews but the whole American system.”

The New York Post, in an editorial “Obsession,” comments: “So deep does Mr. Lindbergh’s anti-Semitism go that he can look upon a world in which almost half the human race has suffered intolerable outrage against its independence and dignity, and decide that somehow the chief villain in the piece is the Jew. This is no shallow, surface anti-Semitism, no mere petulance or passing bar-room anger; this is a deep, dark, mystical current, Teutonic, if not in inspiration, quite obviously in coloration and content. Only a feeling that has climbed to the level of obsession, only a fury among emotions can explain such an analysis of recent events. To look upon a nation which has responded to an obvious peril by taxing and straining itself for a fifty billion-dollar defense program, and to conclude that its future would be bright if only the Jews would cease to make war, is to tell us more about the speaker than about the world in which he lives. This is anti-Semitism of size, so strong that it seems to have taken possession of its possessor.”

The Detroit Free Press, in an editorial carrying the headline “Enough Said,” writes: “Colonel Lindbergh at Des Moines let his mask slip long enough to charge that the Jews are responsible for our entry into the World war. No more need be said. He should not only keep that Nazi medal Goring pinned on him. He should use it as a decoration for a Ku Klux Klan nightshirt when he is also given that “honorary” decoration.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer in its editorial on Lindbergh’s speech says: “Anti-Semitism is a cardinal Nazi doctrine. Without urging anti-Semitism in so many words, Lindbergh virtually accuses Jewish citizens in the United States of being dangerous to its peace and safety. Place the most striking passages from Lindbergh’s and Hitler’s speeches side by side and they are as alike as Tweedledum and Tweedledee.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer declares: “Lindbergh took the chapter and verse of his speech from official German propaganda. It was not the first time this has occurred, but never before so strikingly as when he said that America was being driven to war by three groups – the British, the Jews, and the Roosevelt Administration. Characteristically, there was not a word of criticism of the Nazis in his speech. Anti-Semitism, Hitler’s staple commodity, showed itself repeatedly in Lindbergh’s speech.”

The Chicago Tribune, taking an apologetic tone, writes: “Col. Lindbergh said that the Jews of America, as a group, are working for war, although he conceded that a few far-sighted Jews see the folly of this course and oppose it. He might have added that other racial groups whose birthplaces have been overrun by Hitler are also working for war. But neither these other groups nor the Jews are unanimous in this. It may be recalled that while the only ward in Chicago that voted for war in The Tribune’s poll was a predominantly Jewish community, that ward gave only the barest majority for war… Americans have but one demand that they may rightfully make of American Jews and that is the same demand that they rightfully make of Americans of British, Polish, Italian, Irish, or any other descent. It is that they think and act as Americans. This does not mean that in political matters, and particularly in matters touching our foreign relations, they should be wholly American and not members of any racial group.”

The Kansas City Times, Calling Lindbergh’s attack on the Jews “cheap, unfair and un-American,” states: “When Mr. Lindbergh publicly accuses a racial group among his fellow countrymen of warmongering, as he did on Thursday night in Des Moines, then he goes beyond the rights of an American citizen. Lindbergh may not have meant to play upon race prejudice when he described the Jews of the United States as anxious to bring this country into the conflict, out of sympathy for the plight of the Jews in Germany. That remains, however, the incontestable effect of what he said.”

Recommended from JTA