Lindbergh's Double Life
After World War II, Lindbergh served as a consultant to the US Air Force and to Pan American World Airways. He continued to travel frequently.
In 1957, Lindbergh, then 55, met and fell in love with Brigitte Hesshaimer, a 31-year-old hat maker living in Munich, Germany. They began a long-term affair that only ended with his death in 1974. They kept their relationship a secret, even from their children, Dyrk, Astrid, and David. Lindbergh would visit Brigitte two or three times a year, introducing himself to the children as Mr. Careu Kent.
At the same time, Lindbergh was also involved in secret long-term relationships with Hesshaimer’s sister, Marietta, and a third woman, Valeska, Lindbergh’s German translator and private secretary. Lindbergh had two children with each of these women and again kept the identity of his fatherhood a secret.
Ten days before his death in 1974, Lindbergh wrote letters to his three mistresses, asking them to continue “utmost secrecy,” which they did until Astrid confronted her mother in the 1990s. Even upon learning the truth of her father’s identity, Astrid was sworn to secrecy until her mother’s death in 2001. The other two families have continued their silence and have not given any interviews.
In the summer of 2003, the three Hesshaimer children broke their silence. While they made no claim to Lindbergh’s estate, they went public because they wanted to verify their family relationship before publishing a book about their mother’s long-term secret relationship with Lindbergh. Their book, Das Doppelleben des Charles A. Lindbergh (The Double Life of Charles A. Lindbergh), was published in Germany in 2005.
Reeve Lindbergh, the youngest of Charles and Anne’s children, wrote about these revelations of her father's infidelities and about her connecting with her European brothers and sisters in an essay published in 2009 in her book Forward from Here: Leaving Middle Age and Other Unexpected Adventures.
“I have the feeling that he was the only person involved with all these families who knew the full truth, and I keep thinking that by the time he died in 1974, my father had made his life so complicated that he had to keep each part separate from the other parts ... I don’t know why he lived this way, and I don’t think I ever will know, but what it means to me is that every intimate human connection my father had during his later years was fractured by secrecy.”
Children with Anne Morrow Lindbergh:
- Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr. (1930–1932)
- Jon Lindbergh (b. 1932)
- Land Morrow Lindbergh (b. 1937)
- Anne Spencer Lindbergh (Perrin) (1940–1993)
- Scott Lindbergh (b. 1942)
- Reeve Lindbergh (b. 1945)
Children with Brigitte Hesshaimer:
- Dyrk Hesshaimer
- Astrid Hesshaimer Bouteuil
- David Hesshaimer
Children with Marietta Hesshaimer:
- Vago Hesshaimer
- Christoph Hesshaimer
Children with Valeska (surname unknown):
- a son (name unknown)
- a daughter (name unknown)
Berg, A. Scott. Lindbergh. New York: Berkley Books, 1998.
Lindbergh, Anne Morrow. Against Wind & Tide: Letters and Journals, 1947-1986. Edited by Reeve Lindbergh New York: Pantheon Books, 2012.
Lindbergh, Reeve. Under A Wing: A Memoir. New York: Random House, 1998.
Lindbergh, Reeve. Forward From Here: Leaving Middle Age - and Other Unexpected Adventures. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008.
Schrӧck, Rudolf with Dyrk Hesshaimer, Astrid Bouteuil, and David Hesshaimer. Das Doppelleben des Charles A. Lindbergh: Der berühmteste Flugpionier aller Zeiten - seine wahre Geschichte. München: Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 2005.