|The American Axis:
Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of the Third Reich
by Max Wallace
Excerpt From Chapter 12
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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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