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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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          Bennett also felt that Ford may have accepted the medal to spite President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom he hated. This feeling had been longstanding; Roosevelt had criticized Ford's Peace Ship mission in 1915 when he was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. When going through a list of things Ford despised, an acquaintance would later say, "FDR was first on the list, and after that was what he called "monied" Jews, and all those whom he even suspected of admiring the monied Jews."263 Roosevelt had once actually set up a meeting between himself and Ford at the White House. Ford, however; remained unimpressed. When a friend asked Ford what the two of them had talked about, Ford snapped, "Well, he took up the first five minutes telling me about his ancestors. I don't know why, unless he wanted to prove he had no Jewish blood."264 It is interesting to note that union men, in 1936, accused foremen at Ford of distributing anti-Semitic literature that referred to Roosevelt as "Roosenfelt."265 About the only good thing Ford had to say about Roosevelt's New Deal concerned the appointment of Henry Morganthau Jr. as Secretary of the Treasury. It made sense, Ford would say, to have the nation's money under the control of a Jew.266

          At this rime, Ford was convinced that reports of impending war in Europe were nothing more than false rumors. To close acquaintances, Ford put down reports of German aggression and persecution as being propaganda. Three days before the invasion of Poland, Ford praised Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for his policy of appeasement, calling him "one of the greatest men who ever lived."267 That same day, when reporters asked Ford for his opinion of Hitler; Ford responded, "I don't know Hitler personally, but at least Germany keeps its people at work. Apparently England's reason for going to war is that she doesn't make enough use of her land."268 When asked about the possibilities of a war in Europe, Ford claimed that it was all a bluff; "They don't dare have a war and they know it."269

          When war was declared, Ford was unsympathetic to the cause of the Allies. An Englishman once came to Ford and asked for help in bringing English children over to America for safety from The Blitz. Ford refused the request and mockingly voiced his new opinion of Chamberlain. "Why did you send that fool with the umbrella to talk to Hitler?" Ford asked. "Why didn't you send a man?"270 Privately, Ford had no doubt as to who had started the war. He talked to John Dykema, his friend from the Huron Mountain Club, about the matter soon after the war had been declared. "You know, John," Ford stated," there hasn't been a shot fired. The whole thing has just been made up by Jewish bankers."271

          Ford developed strong ties with fellow isolationist, Charles Lindbergh, at this time. Both publicly declared their belief that the United States should stay out of the conflict. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Robert Sherwood, accused Ford and Lindbergh as being exponents of "a traitorous point of view" and of being "bootlickers of Hitler."272 However; Ford was also viewed with suspicion within the isolationist America First organization. Ford became a member of the America First National Committee in 1940 at the same time as businessman Lessing J. Rosenwald. When the Jewish Rosenwald found out about Ford's membership, he promptly resigned from his post in protest. Ar this stage, the America First Committee did not want to be labeled as being anti-Semitic and voted to drop Ford as a member. The America First leadership justified this by explaining that Ford was not able to commit much time or energy to the movement and "because the committee could not be sure that from time to time Mr. Ford's views were consistent with the official views of the committee.273

          However; Ford continued his good friendship with the prominent America First member Lindbergh. The FBI believed that someone had been leaking classified information to Lindbergh from the War Department, and had Detroit agent John S. Bugas question Ford over the matter. "When Charles comes out here," Ford told Bugas in July 1940, "we only talk about the Jews."274 Lindbergh visited Ford for two weeks in the summer of 1941. One month later; Lindbergh gave a speech in Des Moines, Iowa in which he expressed the decidedly Ford-like view that "The three most important groups which have been pressing this country towards war are the British, the Jews, and the Roosevelt Administration."275 Shortly after America declared war on the Axis Powers, Ford offered the then-unpopular Lindbergh a job in Detroit. Lindbergh immediately accepted the offer.

          It was obvious in Ford's private circles that his anti-Semitism, though less publicly proclaimed, was as strong as ever. In the late 1930's, Ford befriended the notorious anti-Semite, Gerald L.K. Smith. Like Ford, Smith hated the New Deal, referring to it contemptuously as the "Jew Deal." Similar to Cameron, Smith believed that Jews had not descended from the Israelites of the Bible, but "sprang from a tribe of roving bandits."276 The Ford Company provided bodyguards for Smith at an anti-Communist rally and used him as a principal speaker at an Election Day gathering. Ford was even once quoted as saying, "I wish Gerald L.K. Smith could be president of the United States."277 According to Smith, Ford informed him during an interview in 1940 that he had never signed the 1927 apology for The International Jew. Bennett had signed it and Ford did not show signs of regret for having published it in the first place. "Mr. Smith," Ford allegedly stated, "I hope to republish The International Jew again some time."278 Eventually, Ford was to sever his relationship with Smith. However; that did not stop Smith from republishing a copy of The International Jew in 1964 through his Christian Nationalist Crusade and serializing it in his publications.

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End Notes

263. Dahlinger; 216.

264. Collier and Horowitz, 130.

265. Lee, 100.

266. Collier and Horowitz, 130.

267. Sward, 459.

268. Lee, 121.

*269. New York Times, 28 August 1939, 8.

270. Bennett, 214.

271. Lacey, 406.

272. New York Times, 26 August 1940, 9.

273. Wayne S. Cole, America First: The Battle Against Intervention 1940-194 1 (Madison:University of Wisconsin Press, 1953), 132.

274. Collier and Horowitz, 205.

275. Lee, 126.

276. Lee, 110.

277. Ibid.

278. Ford, The International Jew, 7.


*End Notes #269. New York Times, 29 August 1939, 8. Return to End Notes #269.

Corrections by Yosef Cohen with the invaluable assistance, courtesy, and research provided by Bruce Brigell from the Skokie Public Library.
Special thanks to Albert S. Cohen, my father, and Janet Holmes for various footnote verifications made at the Gary Public Library.

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