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Ford's attitude towards Jews may have been common for the era of his
youth and early adulthood. However; his decision to transform it into a
personal crusade was a quirk unique to Ford alone. It was a distinct trait
of his to publicize his beliefs, however bizarre they many be. And Ford
had a lot of strange beliefs. He once told reporters that milk was unhealthy
after it was touched by air. He had investigators produce a 22-page report
to determine whether the Mary of the rhyme "Mary had a Little Lamb" had
actually existed.133 He was convinced that
oilfield workers possessed uncommonly healthy heads of hair. As a result,
he instructed his houseman to soak razor blades in kerosene and water in
an effort to create a type of "hair tonic."134
When informed by Thomas Edison that a chemical in cigarette paper "rots
the nerves," Ford banned all tobacco products from the Ford company and
launched an attack on smoking in the press. "Study the history of almost
any criminal," he stated in one interview, "and you find an inveterate
It is interesting
to note that Ford was well ahead of his time in other respects. He supported
the women's suffragette movement and campaigned for it in the pages of
his newspaper. He also hired more black workers than all of the other car
manufacturers combined. In a practice unheard of at the time, Ford often
had black foreman placed in charge of white workers in his factories.136
Ford had his prejudices, but they appeared to be reserved solely for the
biography, The Amazing Story of Henry Ford by James Martin Miller; came
out the same year as Ford's autobiography. It devoted a full 7 chapters-
94 pages- towards defending Ford's position on the Jews and recycling the
allegations of the Independent. Like Ford's autobiography, the book was
a bestseller. Its author later wrote, with remorse, to Jewish lawyer Samuel
"I wrote a book about Ford, unfortunately; sent to do it in the heat
of the Ford presidential talk. I tell about his anti-Jewish propaganda,
quoting him in that book. I was with him a great deal. Ford personally
knew all about the attack on the Jews made in The Dearborn Independent.
I never had a visit with him, at lunch or dinner; when he did not talk
about the Jews and his campaign against them."137 Miller
would disassociate himself from Ford in a much more significant way later
One of Miller's
defenses of Ford in his book was that he "employs 4,000 Jews, and is doing
more to industrialize the Jew and make producers, rather than consumers
of them, than any other force in the world."138
This statistic was often used by Ford to ward off charges of anti-Semitism,
though, as he noted to Judson C. Welliver in Review of Reviews, he saw
that they were workers and did not get into office jobs.139
Even then, Jewish workers were not always in a guaranteed situation. Foreman
William Klamm recalled that there was a policy not to have Jewish boys
working in the shop: "Of course, it wasn't outspoken, but you knew it when
you were told to 'Fire that Jewish fellow over there."140
Ford's paranoia even controlled the materials his workers used. "Don't
ever let Mr. Ford see you using brass," new employees would be told. "It's
a Jewish metal."141
Frank Klingensmith was fired after suggesting to Ford that he may need
to borrow money from New York bankers during a postwar economic slump at
the company. According to Liebold, "Klingensmith used to line up with a
lot of Jewish bankers down there and that's what Mr. Ford didn't like.
When Klingensmith got to advocating that we ought to borrow money, why,
Mr. Ford thought that those fellows put him up to it."142
Warren C. Anderson, director of European operations, was fired after complaining
that Ford's campaign had resulted in a virtual boycott" of Ford cars overseas.143
Then, there was Ernest Kanzler; the best friend of Edsel Ford and one of
Ford's brightest executives. Kanzler was one of the few people to try to
persuade Ford to update the Model T., of which the public was rapidly tiring.
Ford declared that Kanzler was getting "too big for his britches" and had
executive Ray Dahlinger spread the false rumor that Kanzler was Jewish.
When word got back to him, Kanzler simply remarked, "A lot of brilliant
men are Jews." However; his days were numbered. He was fired when Edsel
was sent out of the country on a business venture.144
Although The Dearborn Independent had halted its anti-Semitic articles
in January of 1922, it did not cease totally in slandering the Jews. References
to them were still occasionally sprinkled among its pages. However; they
were less obvious than before. The headlines now read "Einstein Theory
Declared a Colossal Humbug" and "A Modern Disraeli" but did not specifically
refer to Jews. The Detroit Jewish Chronicle made the claim that Ford had
merely switched from the "crude" Russian anti-Semitism, "which appealed
to the basest passions of drunken peasants," to the more subtle German
anti-Semitism, "the intellectual method."145
and damaging, however; was the publishing of a number of articles from
the 1920-1921 campaign in book form. Collectively titled The International
Jew, the articles were spread over four volumes which averaged 250 pages
and which sold for $0.25 apiece. Volume I was subtitled "The World's Foremost
Problem," Volume II: "Jewish Activities in the United States," Volume III:
"Jewish Influences in American Life," and Volume IV: "Aspects of Jewish
Power in the United States." As stated in the preface to Volume I, the
reason for publishing these books was to meet the large number of public
requests; "The demand for back copies of the paper was so great that the
supply was exhausted early, as was a large edition of a booklet containing
the first nine articles of the series."146 The
books would eventually be condensed into a single volume also entitled
The International Jew. It was through these publications that Ford's message
was able to reach an enormously large global audience.
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132. Michael Seizer (Ed.), Kike! A Documentary History of Anti-Semitism
in America (NewYork: The World Publishing Company, 1972), 42-43. Richards,
133. Barbara Kraft, The Peace Ship (New York: Macmillan, 1978), 283.
136. Lacey, 235.
137. Lee, 74.
138. James Martin Miller; The Amazing Story of Henry Ford (Chicago:
M.A.Donahue and Company, 1922), i.
139. Richards, 95.
140. Collier and Horowitz, 105.
142. Jardin, 209.
144. Collier and Horowitz, 121.
145. Indiana Jewish Chronicle, 5 October 1923, 4.
146. Tolerance, 12 August 1923, 12.