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©The Hanover Historical Review 1999.   Used by permission.
Power, Ignorance, and Anti-Semitism:
Henry Ford and His War on Jews
by Jonathan R. Logsdon
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          Ford's statement did have its critics. The Chicago Tribune, not surprisingly, pointed out that there were few things as remorseless as a rich man trying to duck the future consequences of his actions. "Mr. Ford," The Tribune stated, "advances an empty head to explain his cold feet."210 The World expressed its support of Ford's apology. However; it noted that his "amazing unfamiliarity" with the actions of his paper and his willingness to "avoid responsibility at the expense of his subordinates are anything but impressive."211 In The American Hebrew, E.G. Pipp expressed his belief that Ford had stopped the articles when they began to threaten his power; money, and leadership. Ford then falsely shifted the blame for their contents onto Cameron. "The campaign," Pipp emphasized, "was carried on not only with Mr. Ford's approval but on his orders."212

          The world press has some reservations of its own regarding Ford's apology. The German paper; Vossische Zeitung, cynically stated that "The auto king was compelled to abandon his cheap product and is now getting rid of his borrowed views. "213 Other European publications argued that the retraction had come too late to stop the widespread influence of The International Jew. Still others questioned the sincerity of Ford's apology. The Berliner Trageblatt pointed out that, only a short time before, Ford had urged in its pages for the German nation to "free itself from the slavery of Jewish capital and of the Jewish League of Nations. "214

          Ford's apology had taken many of his associates by surprise. He had certainly acted on his own initiative. Ford did not notify his son, Edsel, or his lawyer, Senator Reed, of his intentions. When Cameron was asked about it by the press, he announced, "It is all news to me and I cannot believe it is true."215 There were a number of possible reasons as to why Ford acted so quickly to end the matter. He had finally given in to arguments that it was time to replace the Model T. The new Model A was making its debut in 1927, and it is doubtful that Ford relished the thought of a lawsuit coinciding with its release. The Jewish Press pointed to the possible influence of Edsel Ford. Edsel had apparently tried to invest $1,000,000 in Palestine mortgage securities the year before. He had been denied by Zionists, however, in protest of his Ford connection.216 The New York Astrologers Guild maintained that Ford had been influenced by the alignment of the planets. Will Rogers even had an explanation of his own: "Ford used to have it in for the Jewish people until he saw them in Chevrolets, and then he said, 'Boys, I am all wrong.217

          It is probable that Ford was attempting to avoid a trip to the witness stand through his apology. He had managed to get out of such an ordeal the last time through his car wreck. However; it was unlikely that he would have such an excuse during the retrial. Sapiro had been telling audiences that he would dedicate his life to getting Ford on the witness stand. At a speech in Carnagie Hall, he stated that, "I want to get Henry Ford on the stand and tear away the veil of secrecy. I want to show the world that he may be a genius at mass production, but he has disorganized their minds and souls when it comes to giving them freedom in religion."218 Ford no doubt realized that he had a losing case and he certainly did not want a repeat of his 1919 court appearance. In issuing the apology, Ford wanted to end the matter once and for all.

          Everything worked out exactly as Ford hoped it would. He not only regained footing within the Jewish Community but also brought an end to the Sapiro suit. Sapiro publicly praised Ford, stating that he had done the "square and manly" thing by apologizing. Sapiro agreed to end the lawsuit in exchange for a statement from Ford clearing his name and for monetary compensation for his legal fees. The subsequent statement again denied that Ford had any knowledge of the articles. It also stated that, as a result of "inaccuracies of fact," found in the articles, "Mr. Sapiro may have been injured and reflections cast upon him unjustly."219 Ford soon issued another apology to bring an end to the long standing Bernstein lawsuit. As with Sapiro, Ford was asked to make monetary reparations for the court costs. Ford also swore to counteract the effects of his accusations throughout the world-namely, by stopping overseas distribution of The International Jew.

          Not everyone was pleased, however, in the aftermath of Ford's apology. For years, rumors had been circulating that Rosika Schwimmer was the actual source of Ford's bitterness against Jews. Many of these rumors seemed to have circulated from within The Ford Company itself. Henrik Willem Van Loon had even published an article in The Jewish Tribune that blamed Schwimmer and her ill-conceived Peace Ship idea for the articles. Van Loon argued that the humiliation resulting from the expedition had caused Ford to hate the entire race to which Mine. Schwimmer belonged. For more than a decade, Mine. Schwimmer had tried in vain to contact Ford in an effort to gain vindication. She finally received a reply in September of 1927. It ended up being another of Liebold's notorious memos. While Liebold acknowledged Mine. Schwimmer's laudable aims on the Peace Ship expedition, he questioned her accusations and requested concrete proof. Mine. Schwimmer had no choice but to content herself with this partial vindication.

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End Notes

210. Rae, 114.

211. New York Times, 9 July 1927, 1.

212. New York Times, 12 July 1927, 12.

213. Indiana Jewish Chronicle, 15 July 1927, 1.

214. Ibid.

215. New York Times, 8 July 1927, 1.

216. Indiana Jewish Chronicle, 15 July 1927, 1.

217. Lee, 85.

218. New York Times, 31 May 1927, 21.

219. New York Times, 17 July 1927, 1.

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