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Business and the Holocaust Research

 

Business and the Holocaust
Articles | Excerpts | Government Resources | Historical Media Reports | Media Reports | Organizations | Restitution | War Crimes Trials
©2000 - 2001 Edwin Black.   Used by permission.
Chapter One 1 |  2 |  3   Chapter Two 1 |  2 |  3 |  4 |  5 |  6 |  7   Chapter Three 1 |  2 |  3 |  4 |  5 |  6 |  7 |  8

The Transfer Agreement:
The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine
  by Edwin Black
Excerpts from Three Chapters

~ Chapter Three - 5 ~

The Weapon Hitler Feared

The Transfer Agreement: The Pact Between the Third Reich & Jewish Palestine

American Jewish reaction to the Henry Ford threat was swift. Within a few months of the Dearborn Independent's inaugural anti-Semitic issue, a spontaneous Jewish boycott movement erupted. Libel suits were launched against Ford personally. A Jewish-lead campaign to legally ban the sale or distribution of the publication began in Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, and other cities. Where legislated bans were overturned by court action, angry mobs often greeted Dearborn Independent street vendors.(26)

The backlash campaign started hurting Ford in late 1920, when Jews began refusing en masse to purchase any vehicle bearing a Ford emblem. Typical was a Connecticut Jewish community's 400-car parade in early 1921 honoring Albert Einstein and Chaim Weizmann- parade rules included the proviso "Positively no Ford machines permitted in line." Ford himself couldn't even give one away to his Jewish neighbor, Rabbi Leo M. Franklin of Detroit. Each year Ford gave the rabbi a custom-built car as a gift. But the rabbi emphatically refused Ford's gift after the Dearborn Independent's articles began.(27)

Even the American Jewish Committee encouraged the boycott. The Committee opposed proclaiming an "official" boycott, reluctant to openly answer Ford's charges of an economic conspiracy with a coordinated economic weapon. But Committee leader Louis Marshall felt a "silent boycott" would be equally effective, maintaining that any self-respecting Jew would know what to do without being told when purchasing an automobile.(28)

Ford's steepest sales declines first appeared in the Northeast, where Jews comprised a substantial segment of the car-buying market. Within five years, a leading dealer in the Southwest was painfully aware that wealthy Jews in Texas and neighboring states hadn't purchased a Lincoln in years. And company inquiries about low sales in Missouri revealed that Jews wouldn't take a Ford if it was handed to them free.(29)

In reality, the Jewish boycott of Ford products was probably not statistically effective. While Ford's sales in urban centers did decrease significantly, equally important sales in small towns and rural areas either remained constant or increased. And the recorded urban sales slumps were only partially due to the Jewish-led boycott. General economic conditions and the declining popularity of the Model T were equally potent factors. But in the early and mid-1920s, Ford people were convinced that the Jewish-led boycott was in large part responsible.(30)

The precise figures were guaranteed by Ford's corporate sales hierarchy, even as dealers and regional sales managers continually pleaded for Ford's campaign to cease. For example, New York sales manager Gaston Flaintiff, a personal friend of Ford, wrote numerous letters bemoaning the boycott. Ford would typically reply, "If they want our product they'll buy it."(31)

In 1927, the advent of a competitive Chevrolet made the Jewish boycott an unacceptable liability for Ford Motor company. Any lost product loyalty and the company's future was precariously stacked on a new Model A. At the same time, Ford desperately sought to avoid humiliating public trials with libeled Jews who had sued.(32)

In the summer of 1927, Ford's representatives approached Nathan Perlman, a vice-president of the American Jewish Congress, seeking a truce. Stephen Wise was in Europe, so Perlman referred Ford's people to the Committee. Louis Marshall prepared an embarrassing retraction cum apology for Ford to sign and publish. Close advisers cautioned the car maker that the humiliating apology might be too much for Ford's pride. But the global leader of anti-Semites had endured boycotts, legal actions, and political abrasions long enough.(33) It was time to make money, secure the future, and fight Chevrolet.

On July 7, 1927, in the last year of the outmoded Model T, as Ford acknowledged a decline of about a half million fewer cars sold, and as he prepared for a major financial effort to introduce his new Model A, the proud gladiators of anti-Semites released to the press his contrite plea for forgiveness for wronging the Jews and misleading mankind.(34)

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NOTES

26. Lewis, 140; Rosenstock, 149-50, 169-70, 183-84. RETURN TO TEXT

27.Lewis, 140; Lee, 34, 38. RETURN TO TEXT

28. Rosenstock, 170. RETURN TO TEXT

29. See Lee, 38; Rosenstock, 188-89. RETURN TO TEXT

30. Lee, 38-39; 43-44; Rosenstock 188-89. See Lewis, 140. RETURN TO TEXT

31. Lee, p. 39; Lewis, p. 140. RETURN TO TEXT

32. Rosenstock, 189-91. RETURN TO TEXT

33. Rosenstock. 190-92; Lee, 84-85; Lewis, 145. RETURN TO TEXT

34. Rosenstock,191. RETURN TO TEXT

©2000 - 2001 Edwin Black   Used by permission.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this work covered by the copyright hereon may be used in any form or by any means--graphic, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or information storage and retrieval systems--without the permission of the publisher.


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