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Charles Lindbergh
led double life?

Twentieth-century hero Charles Lindbergh had a mistress in Germany who bore him three children during a 17-year relationship that apparently remained hidden from his wife, according to a German newspaper.

The man who won the hearts of people around the world for his non-stop solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927 met Brigitte Hesshaimer in Munich in 1957 when he was 55 and maintained the relationship until his death in 1974, the S?ddeutsche Zeitung reported today.

Charles Lindbergh

Hesshaimer, 24 years younger than Lindbergh, died in 1999, and her children – Dyrk, Astrid and David – have decided to come forward about her relationship with the famed aviator, the respected Munich broadsheet said.

Born between 1958 and 1967, they each have “father unknown” on their birth certificates, the paper reported. They claim they knew their father, who made frequent visits to Germany in the 1960s, by the pseudonym Careu Kent.

Astrid Bouteuil, who now lives in Paris, told the German newspaper she discovered the identity of her father after coming across more than 100 letters in the attic of her mother’s house in Ammersee, Upper Bavaria.

The letters, mostly handwritten, were signed with “C” and referred to “our children.”

The German paper said it contracted an independent analysis that indicates the letters came from Lindbergh.

Lindbergh’s biographer, A. Scott Berg, told the New York Times he believes the letters could be genuine because of the dates, contents and Lindbergh’s prolific correspondence.

“I could easily see that these are Charles Lindbergh’s letters,” Mr. Berg said in a telephone interview with the Times.

However, Berg insisted the letters did not prove Lindbergh had an affair.

“Is it chronologically and geographically possible? Yes,” he told the Times. “Does it sound true to his character? No.”

However, Berg makes this observation in his book “Lindbergh”:

“For all his fascination with detail, Lindbergh never examined his family history closely enough to see that it included financial malfeasance, flight from justice, bigamy, illegitimacy, melancholia, manic-depression, alcoholism, grievous generational conflicts, and wanton abandonment of families. But these undercurrents were always there. And so this third-generation Lindbergh was born with a deeply private nature and bred according to the principles of self-reliance – nonconformity and the innate understanding that greatness came at the inevitable price of being misunderstood.”

Lindbergh married Anne Morrow Lindbergh in 1929, and they had six children. The kidnapping and death of their first son, Charles, Jr., in 1932, became a national tragedy. Anne, who was an accomplished author, died in 2001 at age 94.

The national icon, named by Time magazine as one of the 20 most inspiring figures of the 20th century, was known to have been an admirer of Adolf Hitler’s Germany.

In his biography, Berg notes that as late as April 1939 – after Germany overtook Czechoslovakia – Lindbergh was willing to “make excuses” for the Nazi dictator.

“Much as I disapprove of many things Hitler had done,” Lindbergh wrote in his diary of April 2, 1939, “I believe [Germany] has pursued the only consistent policy in Europe in recent years. I cannot support her broken promises, but she has only moved a little faster than other nations … in breaking promises. The question of right and wrong is one thing by law and another thing by history.”