Ford's Anti-Semitism | American Experience | Official Site | PBS
Although it has long been known that Henry Ford, the company's founder, held anti-Semitic views, the extent of his involvement in Hitler's rise to. So, too, has Henry Ford's role as a leader of the America First Committee, him to the attention of a former German Army corporal named Adolf Hitler, who . economic relationship with Cologne–because Ford of America was. In , Henry Ford purchased his hometown newspaper, The Dearborn Independent. A year and a half later, he began publishing a series of articles that .
Ford 'used slave labour' in Nazi German plants - Telegraph
It could be pretty much anyplace. What exposure might Henry Ford have had to anti-Semitism when he was growing up on a farm in rural Michigan in the s and s? The world that Henry Ford grew up in was one that very likely offered him certain themes about the Jews.
He might have heard about them in church, that they were responsible for the crucifixion.Trial of Henry Ford Trailer
He could have heard about them when somebody grumbled about having shopped in a Jewish-owned store and felt that they didn't get the right price, or that they were sold shoddy goods, that the Jewish shopkeeper was too aggressive in trying to talk them into buying something. There were many places, without being able to put your finger on a specific one in a specific town, in which "the Jew" serves as, at that point of time, almost both a theological and a kind of racialized symbol of forces that people considered to be nefarious.
What kind of things did Henry Ford blame on Jews? It was the Jews. Any kind of financial scandal? So "the Jew," in a way, became the symbol of a world that was being manipulated and controlled. To me, that's one of the really crucial forces in this rhetoric -- that things didn't just happen; but rather somebody is orchestrating these developments, and it's the Jews who are doing it for their benefit.
They're doing it in order [to] gain the twin-linked goodies of power and wealth. The world was controlled by this little cabal of Jews.
And so someone reading it would take this to be the news. What separates Ford from other people who were publishing anti-Semitic material during this time? There are lots of small town newspapers that publish scurrilous anti-Semitic material, so it wasn't unusual in that way. And so that there'd be stacks of them in a dealership in California, dealership in Massachusetts, a dealership in Iowa.
But this was Henry Ford's newspaper, and pretty much anything Henry Ford did was news. What Henry Ford says, people stop and listen.
There are people who talked about him as a potential presidential candidate in the s. Some local tavern keeper makes a anti-Semitic remark over the bar, well, nobody cares. Somebody may listen, and maybe repeat it, but it has a very limited span. But Henry Ford's ability to gain a national audience with his words made him a very dangerous person. What did the Jewish community think about Ford's paper? They're really tracking this.
They're frightened, I think, for two reasons. One, which is haunting, which is they're aware of what's going on in Germany. They see the rise of the National Socialist Party, and they're tracking that at the same time. And while it's at a very early date in Hitler's career, they are really paying attention to what's happening.
It's also frightening because it's going on in their home in the United States, where they want to feel like they really belong and that they have served their country and that they are citizens and that they are viewed as real Americans. And Ford is just about the most popular American, certainly one of the wealthiest; here's the person whose money and whose influence commands tremendous attention, spewing stuff that's no different than what Hitler is saying in his beer hall meetings in Munich at the same time.
For the Jews, I think it causes them to really question how really they're being accepted as Americans. I think it had psychic damage. I think it caused a kind of inward turning, a kind of fear of the larger society.
I think it caused them to feel that they had to prove themselves, that it wasn't just enough that they were sober, honest, hard-working citizens. They had to make these pronouncements about how American they were.
What does it mean? The Germans honor Ford, we could say, for a couple reasons. For one thing, they're very taken with the whole assembly line technological modernization.
The Model T and Volkswagen are sort of similar cars. On May 1,the Ford Motor Company's factory workers switched to a five-day hour workweek, with the company's office workers making the transition the following August.
However, altruistic concerns also played a role, with Ford explaining "It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either 'lost time' or a class privilege. He explained his views on unions in Chapter 18 of My Life and Work.
Most wanted to restrict productivity as a means to foster employment, but Ford saw this as self-defeating because, in his view, productivity was necessary for any economic prosperity to exist.
He believed that productivity gains that obviated certain jobs would nevertheless stimulate the larger economy and thus grow new jobs elsewhere, whether within the same corporation or in others. Ford also believed that union leaders had a perverse incentive to foment perpetual socio-economic crisis as a way to maintain their own power. Meanwhile, he believed that smart managers had an incentive to do right by their workers, because doing so would maximize their own profits.
Ford did acknowledge, however, that many managers were basically too bad at managing to understand this fact. But Ford believed that eventually, if good managers such as he could fend off the attacks of misguided people from both left and right i. Bennett employed various intimidation tactics to squash union organizing.
In the late s and early s, Edsel—who was president of the company—thought Ford had to come to some sort of collective bargaining agreement with the unions because the violence, work disruptions, and bitter stalemates could not go on forever. But Ford, who still had the final veto in the company on a de facto basis even if not an official one, refused to cooperate.
For several years, he kept Bennett in charge of talking to the unions that were trying to organize the Ford Motor Company. Sorensen's memoir  makes clear that Ford's purpose in putting Bennett in charge was to make sure no agreements were ever reached.
Sorensen recounted  that a distraught Henry Ford was very close to following through with a threat to break up the company rather than cooperate, but his wife Clara told him she would leave him if he destroyed the family business.
In her view, it would not be worth the chaos it would create. Ford complied with his wife's ultimatum, and even agreed with her in retrospect. Overnight, the Ford Motor Company went from the most stubborn holdout among automakers to the one with the most favorable UAW contract terms.
The contract was signed in June Now you're in here and we've given you a union shop and more than you got out of them. That puts you on our side, doesn't it? We can fight General Motors and Wall Street together, eh? Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. July Ford, like other automobile companies, entered the aviation business during World War Ibuilding Liberty engines.
After the war, it returned to auto manufacturing untilwhen Ford acquired the Stout Metal Airplane Company. Ford's most successful aircraft was the Ford 4AT Trimotoroften called the "Tin Goose" because of its corrugated metal construction.
It used a new alloy called Alclad that combined the corrosion resistance of aluminum with the strength of duralumin.
The plane was similar to Fokker 's V. VII-3m, and some say that Ford's engineers surreptitiously measured the Fokker plane and then copied it.
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The Trimotor first flew on June 11,and was the first successful U. Several variants were also used by the U. Ford has been honored by the Smithsonian Institution for changing the aviation industry. Willow Run Peace and war World War I era Ford opposed war, which he viewed as a terrible waste,   and supported causes that opposed military intervention. He and about other prominent peace leaders traveled there.
Ford's Episcopalian pastor, Reverend Samuel S. Marquis, accompanied him on the mission. Marquis headed Ford's Sociology Department from to Ford talked to President Wilson about the mission but had no government support.
His group went to neutral Sweden and the Netherlands to meet with peace activists. A target of much ridicule, Ford left the ship as soon as it reached Sweden. Wilson believed that Ford could tip the scales in Congress in favor of Wilson's proposed League.
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- Ford's Anti-Semitism
When Wilson made a major speaking tour in the summer of to promote the League, Ford helped fund the attendant publicity. Ford "insisted that war was the product of greedy financiers who sought profit in human destruction"; in he went so far as to claim that the torpedoing of U.
Like many other businessmen of the Great Depression era, he never liked or entirely trusted the Franklin Roosevelt Administration, and thought Roosevelt was inching the U.
However, Ford continued to do business with Nazi Germanyincluding the manufacture of war materiel. The number of slave laborers grew as the war expanded although Wallace makes it clear that companies in Germany were not required by the Nazi authorities to use slave laborers.
He "lined up behind the war effort" when the U. Ford broke ground on Willow Run in the spring ofand the first B came off the line in October At its peak inthe Willow Run plant produced Bs per month, and by Ford was completing each B in eighteen hours, with one rolling off the assembly line every 58 minutes.
Ford was increasingly sidelined, and others made decisions in his name. Ford grew jealous of the publicity Sorensen received and forced Sorensen out in Articles from The Dearborn IndependentIn the early s, Ford sponsored a weekly newspaper that published strongly antisemitic views.
At the same time, Ford had a reputation as one of the few major corporations actively hiring black workers, and was not accused of discrimination against Jewish workers or suppliers. He also hired women and handicapped men at a time when doing so was uncommon. Lieboldpurchased an obscure weekly newspaper for Ford, The Dearborn Independent.
The Independent ran for eight years, from untilwith Liebold as editor. Every Ford franchise nationwide had to carry the paper and distribute it to its customers. During this period, Ford emerged as "a respected spokesman for right-wing extremism and religious prejudice", reaching aroundreaders through his newspaper.
In a letter written inHeinrich Himmler described Ford as "one of our most valuable, important, and witty fighters". Ludecke was introduced to Ford by Siegfried Wagner son of the composer Richard Wagner and his wife Winifredboth Nazi sympathizers and antisemites. Ludecke asked Ford for a contribution to the Nazi cause, but was apparently refused.
Henry Ford receiving the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Nazi officials,
According to trial testimony, he wrote almost nothing. Friends and business associates have said they warned Ford about the contents of the Independent and that he probably never read the articles he claimed he only read the headlines. News reports at the time quoted him as saying he was shocked by the content and unaware of its nature. During the trial, the editor of Ford's "Own Page", William Cameron, testified that Ford had nothing to do with the editorials even though they were under his byline.
Cameron testified at the libel trial that he never discussed the content of the pages or sent them to Ford for his approval. Miller, a former Dearborn Independent employee, swore under oath that Ford had told him he intended to expose Sapiro. That Cameron would have continued to publish such anti-Semitic material without Ford's explicit instructions seemed unthinkable to those who knew both men.
Stanley Ruddiman, a Ford family intimate, remarked that "I don't think Mr. Cameron ever wrote anything for publication without Mr.
They formed a coalition of Jewish groups for the same purpose and raised constant objections in the Detroit press. Before leaving his presidency early inWoodrow Wilson joined other leading Americans in a statement that rebuked Ford and others for their antisemitic campaign. A boycott against Ford products by Jews and liberal Christians also had an impact, and Ford shut down the paper inrecanting his views in a public letter to Sigmund LivingstonADL.
The purpose of the letter was to clarify some general misconceptions that he subscribed or supported directly or indirectly, "any agitation which would promote antagonism toward my Jewish fellow citizens. Extremist groups often recycle the material; it still appears on antisemitic and neo-Nazi websites. Testifying at Nurembergconvicted Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach who, in his role as military governor of Viennadeported 65, Jews to camps in Poland, stated: