If You Ever Start Trusting U.S. Businessmen, Remember Henry Ford

(The name Henry Ford came up in a comment thread recently so I thought it’d be helpful to offer some lost context.)

Henry Ford, the autocratic magnate who despised unions, tyrannized workers, and fired any employee caught driving a competitor’s model, was also an outspoken anti-Semite.

In 1918, he bought and ran a newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, that became an anti-Jewish forum. The May 22, 1920 headline blared, “The International Jew: The World’s Problem,” and thus began a series of ninety-two articles, including “The Jewish Associates of Benedict Arnold” and “The Gentle Art of Changing Jewish Names.”

By 1923, the Independent’s national circulation reached 500,000. Reprints of the articles were soon published in a four-volume set called The International Jew, which was translated into sixteen different languages.

The New York Times reported in 1922 that there was a widespread rumor circulating in Berlin claiming that Henry Ford was financing Adolf Hitler’s nationalist and anti-Semitic movement in Munich,” write James and Suzanne Pool in their book Who Financed Hitler. They add:

“Novelist Upton Sinclair wrote in The Flivver King, a book about Ford, that the Nazis got forty-thousand dollars from Ford to reprint anti-Jewish pamphlets in German translations, and that an additional $300,000 was later sent to Hitler through an intermediary.”

Ford’s plants in Germany adopted an Aryan-only hiring policy in 1935 before Nazi law required it. A year later, Ford fired Erich Diestel, manager of the automobile company’s German plants, simply because he had a Jewish ancestor.

An appreciative Adolf Hitler kept a large picture of the automobile pioneer beside his desk, explaining, “We look to Heinrich Ford as the leader of the growing Fascist movement in America.”

Hitler hoped to support such a movement by offering to import some shock troops to the U.S. to help Ford run for president.

In 1938, on Henry Ford’s 75th birthday, he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle from the Führer himself.

He was the first American (General Motors’ James Mooney would be second) and only the fourth person in the world to receive the highest decoration that could be given to any non-German citizen. An earlier honoree was none other than a kindred spirit named Benito Mussolini.

When appraising history and today’s Titans of Capitalism™, keep your guard up…

Mickey Z. is the creator of a podcast called Post-Woke. You can subscribe here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. Spread the word. Read other articles by Mickey.