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September 19, 1986 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-09-19

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PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

The Bigotry Of Henry Ford I And The Villainy He Generated

Robert Lacey revives interest in one
of the most dramatic international series
of developments under the title Ford. It
includes tragedy and comedy, in-
terspersed with stupidities and hatreds.
Because it primarily deals with Henry
Ford I, (Little, Brown Co.), the subtitle,
The man and the machine," has impor-
tant relevance to the extensively - re-
searched volume.
It is necessary to indicate that it is
the men," pluralizing the title; and the
machine has added significance here be-
cause of the author's impressive evalua-
tion of the "Ford empire, its role as a
great corporate machine, and Lacey's
analysis of corporate functions which are
valuable for students of economics.
(The names of anti-Semite Henry
Ford I and his grandson Henry Ford II
were inadvertently confused in last
week's Commentary. The elder Ford was
the enemy of the Jewish people who fan-
ned anti-Semitism. His grandson, Henry
Ford II, is, as will be indicated, a dedi-
cated friend of the Jewish people and an
active friend of Israel. The error is de-
eply regretted).
Lacey's Ford once again exposes the
fabrications in The Protocols of the
Learned Elders of Zion, which were the
basis for the Ford-inspired anti-Semitic
campaign in the auto magnate's acquired
Dearborn Independent. Lacey's expose of
The Protocols is a powerful condemna-
tion of them and the use made of them.
Lacey, in his excoriation of the faked
documents, indicates how Ford's chief
guide in fomenting the hatreds contin-
ued to defend them. Quoting Lacey:

This was pure, undiluted
Henry Ford. The practical,
week-to-week impetus for his
anti-Semitic propaganda of the
1920s and 1930s came from
others. William Cameron wrote
the columns, often with very little
detailed reference to Henry per-
sonally, and Ernest Liebold
supplied most of the data and
development of the ideas. The
private secretary was probably
the central driving force of the
entire campaign, courting the
spies and riffraff which it was
easy to recruit from Russian
emigres in the years following
1917.
Liebold hired private detec-
tives to gather dirt on prominent
Jews. He organized the reprint-
ing of the Dearborn Independent ar-
ticles as a series of books, The Inter-
national Jew, and he also published
an edition of the Protocols them-
selves. These books were distributed
all around the world in the early
1920s — they had a particular im-
pact in pre-Hitler Germany — and
they survive to this day, circulated
and reprinted by racist groups, as
enduringly potent and poisonous as
nuclear waste.

Ford's bigotries were on the record
and could have been expected to produce
only ridicule. Nevertheless, he was
widely admired, was praised by leading
newspapers, including the New York
Times, and many even pledged
endorsements of his planned candidacy
for president of the U.S. All of this in
spite of his hate 7 mongering anti-
Semitism which Lacey describes in this
brief summation:

The roots of Henry Ford's
anti-Semitism went back to his
farmboy, populist suspicion of
financiers and middlemen. "He
called all the moneylenders of the
world 'Jews,' " remembered his

2

Friday, September 19, 1986

sister Margaret. Entire genera-
tions were introduced to the
children of Israel by way of
Shylock and Fagin, and in the
years before the Holocaust,
anti-Semitism was a common,
lazy way of thought for whole
classes of society. Henry Ford
had some close associates who
propagated entrenched, anti-
Semitic views.

Louis Marshall is mentioned by
Lacey very briefly as the author of the
apology that was signed by Ford so that
he could evade the summons to appear
in court in his own defense in the Aaron
Sapiro libel suit. In Lacey's account, it is
Harry Bennett, Ford's chief adviser who
for many years dominated the Ford
Motor Co. until he was kicked out by
Henry Ford II, who was ordered by Ford
Senior to get the Marshall-dictated apol-
ogy for his signature.
Bennett was the evil spirit who, a
decade later, together with Ford Senior
met with Dr. Leo M. Franklin and pre-
pared a statement offering to aid Hitler's
victims and mildly rejecting Nazism.
Rabbi Franklin made the error of not
getting Ford to sign the statement.
When it was published, Bennett denied,
in a call to Father Charles E. Coughlin,
that the statement was ever written by
Ford.
Here is the Lacey description of how
Ford ordered Bennett to accept the apol-
ogy he was making from Marshall:

Harry Bennett had been one
of the agents that Henry Ford
commissioned to negotiate his
surrender of July 1927, and when
the text was drawn' up, essen-
tially as dictated by Louis Mar-
shall of the American Jewish
Committee, Bennett telephoned
his master in Dearborn.
"It's pretty bad, Mr. Ford,"
he said.
"I don't care how bad it is,"
responded Henry Ford, "you sign
it and settle the thing up."
Bennett tried to read some of
the statement over the telephone,
but Henry cut him short. "I don't
care how bad it is," he repeated,
you just settle it up." And then
he added, The worse they make
it, the better."

The cast of characters in the vicious
circle of propagators of anti-Semitism is
a long one. There was William Cameron
who played saint when it suited his pur-
pose. He encouraged Ford, as an editor of
the Dearborn Independent from the time
he left the Detroit News to join Ford's
staff. Ernest G. Liebold must have been
the vilest of Ford's advisers and he fan-
ned hatred throughout the years of
Ford's venom.
Edwin G. Pipp was an exception. He
left the Detroit News editorial staff to
work for Ford and was sickened by what
he confronted. He quit the anti-Semitic
gang and spoke publicly, exposing the
hatemongers. He delivered at least two
public addresses at overflow meetings of
Pisgah Lodge of B'nai B'rith, the only
B'nai B'rith lodge in Detroit. In his ad-
dresses in the Pisgah building, then lo-
cated on Adams Avenue, he exposed the
gang that surrounded Ford and revealed
the tactics that were evidenced in the
hatred engineered by Ford and his hirel-
ings.
Ford had a way of surrounding him-
self with anti-Semites and they included
notables whose bigoted views emerge as
shocking and belie their roles on the
American scene. Lacey thus exposes
Thomas Edison as among the guilty:

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Henry and Clara Ford re-enacted his ride in the original quadricycle on the 50th
anniversary of the event in 1946 in Greenfield Village.

Henry Ford had some close
associates who propagated
entrenched, anti-Semitic views.
Thomas Edison habitually
groused about Jewish con-
spiracies — he was a poor busi-
nessman, and his inventions had
never made him the money he
thought he was entitled to —
while Henry's German private
secretary, Ernest Liebold, who
was to create his own empire, in
the style of Ray Dahlinger and
Harry Bennett, from the patchi-
ness of Ford's panoramic atten-
tion span, appears to have im-
ported his notions undiluted from
Prussia.

The record is clear. Ford gave com-
fort to Nazism. He is the only American
mentioned in Hitler's Mein Kampf. His
role as distributor of the notorious
forgeries The Protocols of the Learned
Elders of Zion was recognized by Hitler.
The Ford-circulated forgeries were meat
for the Hitler propaganda. As Lacey re-
cords it:

Henry's anti-Semitism had
been the connecting thread in his
jaunty venture onto the national
stage, his conviction that he had
discovered the secret to "how the
game of rotten politics is
worked" — and the basic un-
reality of his fantasy, the sheer
intellectual unworthiness of
blaming the world's problems on
a nonexistent clique of con-
spirators, determined the dishon-
est and unworthy way that it all
ended: the staged car crash, the
jury tampering, and the apology
that was not an apology at all,
since Henry Ford clung to his
prejudice privately, and not al-
ways so privately, for the rest of
his life.
Anti-Semitism has come to a

particularly ugly and obscene
climax in the Twentieth Century,
and if any one American were to
be singled out for his contribu-
tion to the evils of Nazism, it
would have to be Henry Ford.
His republished articles and the
currency which he gave to the
Protocols of the Learned Elders of
Zion had considerable impact on
Germany in the early 1920s — a
vulnerable and, as it proved, cru-
cially formative time. Hitler, still an
obscure figure in those years, read
Ford's books, hung Henry's picture
on his wall, and cited him frequently
as an inspiration. Hitler appears to
have based several sections of Mein
Kampf upon Ford's words as proc-
essed by William Cameron, and he
accorded Henry the unhappy distinc-
tion of being the only American to
be mentioned in that work.
"Every year makes them (the
Jews) more and more the controlling
masters of the producers in a nation
of one hundred and twenty millions;
only a single great man, Ford, to
their fury, still maintains full inde-
pendence."

Ford Senior had friends in the
Jewish community. Albert Kahn was one
of them. So was Dr. Leo M. Franklin. He
was kind to his Jewish workers and
many of them came forth to praise him.
He was duped by a Jewess, Rosika
Schwimmer, into the Peace Ship stupid-
ity during World War I. It was really
also his conceit but part of his anti-
Semitism is attributed to Rosika
Schwimmer and his Peace Ship mission
which he abandoned in panic.

His friendship with Leo Franklin
and the way it was abandoned by the
rabbi of Temple Beth El by refusing to
continue to accept an annual gift of a

Continued on Page 22

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