Business and the Holocaust Research


"What a drama! Two of the most popular figures in 20th century America - Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh - pitted against a third - Franklin Delano Roosevelt - over what to do about Adolf Hitler. Max Wallace reminds us that the destiny of the republic hung in the balance in the Great Debate of 1940-41." -Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning historian The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich by Max Wallace The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich by Max Wallace
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© Max Wallace 2003.   Used by permission.
The American Axis:
Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of the Third Reich

by Max Wallace

Excerpt From Chapter 12

Part One  |  Part Two  |  Part Three  |  Part Four

In an effort to absolve Dearborn from any responsibility, Ford has painted itself as an unwitting victim of the Nazi regime. According to Simon Reich, "The evidence provided by the data suggests that there was no complicity on the part of Ford's Dearborn management in assisting the Nazi government's wartime effort." This is a carefully worded, and potentially misleading, statement that lends a subjective interpretation to a report from which the reader is supposed to "draw their own conclusions." Reich may be correct that no evidence exists proving Dearborn directly aided the Nazi war effort but this is true only after the United States joined the war. There is substantial evidence that, before December 1941, Dearborn was highly complicit in strengthening the German war machine, becoming, in the words of a post-war US military report, "an arsenal of Nazism."

"I think there is a big difference in my own mind between if you were actively involved in the manufacture of chemicals for gas chambers or if you were actively involved in the manufacture of trucks," declares Reich, overlooking Ford's close political and financial relationship with its part-owner, IG Farben, the company that actually manufactured the chemicals for the gas chambers. Moreover, Ford-Werke was manufacturing more than just trucks. According to a US military investigation, as much as eight per cent of the company's total wartime output was devoted to more specialized war munitions materiel, including the turbine for the V-2 rockets that killed thousands of civilians in London during the Blitz .

Certainly no one has called into question Reich's integrity. Indeed, the investigation itself appears to have been very thorough and there is no indication that the company is trying to cover up its wartime past. However, it is the interpretation of the report's findings that is most crucial to an objective assessment of Ford's wartime role. The Ford Motor Company has repeatedly bragged about its "transparency" during this investigation, arguing correctly that it has been more open than any other US company operating in Germany during the war. But critics have pointed out that hiring a paid consultant such as Simon Reich to provide an interpretation of the team's research data undermines the objectivity of the report itself, much like doctors who make a career of testifying for the plaintiff in medical malpractice cases. Ford refuses to disclose how much it paid Reich to participate in the investigation and "comment on the research team's findings." At the same time it released its findings, the Ford Motor Company also announced that it has hired Reich to assist in setting up a new center for the study of human rights issues with a $2 million endowment from Ford. Thus, the independent consultant hired by Ford to evaluate its slave labor practices remains on the company payroll.

In December, 2001 New York University law professor Burt Neuborne told the Los Angeles Times that no conclusions can be drawn about Ford's wartime conduct until a fully independent review of the documents could be made.

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"My pick for the most powerful book of the year." -John Loftus, author of The Secret War Against the Jews

"Wallace's extensive investigation probes three and four layers deeper than others, pulls no punches, names names and creates a powerful historical document." -Edwin Black, author of  IBM and the Holocaust

"Eye-opening....A finely wrought, careful, and utterly damning case that ought to prompt a widespread reevaluation of both Ford and Lindbergh." -Kirkus Reviews

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