SAN FRANCISCO — Charles A. Lindbergh, often branded as a Nazi sympathizer during World War II, gathered intelligence for the United States on four visits to Germany before the war, according to papers of the pre-war U.S. military attache in Berlin.

The late Col. Truman Smith, who was America’s military representative in Berlin between 1935 and 1939, disclosed in papers recently published by the Hoover Institution that Lindbergh provided crucial and detailed data on the Luftwaffe’s planes and Hitler’s aircraft manufacturing facilities.

As for the highly publicized incident in which Nazi Field Marshal Hermann Goering presented Lindbergh with a medal in 1938, the papers disclose that neither Smith nor Lindbergh had any advance knowledge of Goering’s plan.

Robert Hessen, who edited the Smith papers, said even if they had been alerted ‘Lindbergh would not have been able to refuse the medal without offending.’ Smith and Lindbergh did not want to offend Goering at that time because they needed his favor ‘if they wanted to see more of the German Air Force.’

This is from Richard M. Harnett, “Lindbergh’s spy missions in Germany,” UPI, November 4, 1984.

Bob Hessen is a dear friend and was a long-time Hoover fellow.

From my early 20s on, I had heard about how pro-Nazi Lindbergh was. So this came as a shock. A pleasant shock.

HT2 Glenn Garvin.