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spacer Anna Hauptmann, New York City, 1981
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Anna Hauptmann, New York City, 1981

Anna Hauptmann, the widow of the German immigrant executed for kidnapping the son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh, was 83 when I made this photo, while working on a long piece for Life magazine about what had been called, in pre-OJ America, the trial of the century. Under the Freedom of Information act, it had become possible to obtain previously classified documents, and much of the material surrounding the Lindbergh case seemed to indicate that Bruno Hauptmann had at best received less than a fair trial: evidence had been suppressed and witnesses bribed. None of this surprised the widow Hauptmann, who had spent a half century fighting to exonerate her dead husband, all the while omitting the words “liberty and justice for all” when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. She was reluctant to be photographed; when she finally consented, she made sure that her engagement ring was clearly visible in the frame. One of the issues raised in the documents from the case was whether the dead baby that had been found in New Jersey was in fact the Lindbergh child. This was long before DNA testing was possible. Years later, when I was thinking of retracing the first great circle flight flown by Charles Lindbergh and recounted by his wife in the book “North To the Orient,” I had lunch with Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and asked if she ever wondered whether her child was still alive. She said that she had obsessed about it for years, but that eventually so many men had appeared claiming to be the lost scion that ultimately it was more comforting to consider the child dead.


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