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Henry Ford and the Jews

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Neil Baldwin

Henry Ford was not only one of America's great industrialists, he was also one of America's great haters. With "his rambling mouth" and his "volatile passions and budgetless financial resources," Ford became famous around the country and the world for … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Neil Baldwin
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Publisher: PublicAffairs
1 review about Henry Ford and the Jews

A Business Genius...A Deeply-Flawed Human Being

  • Dec 10, 2001
As previously inaccessible material becomes available to an historian such as Baldwin (e.g. Ford-related documents released from archives in March of this year), it is possible to fill in at least some of the missing "pieces" of a complicated "puzzle" such as Henry Ford. By now Ford is widely recognized as an equal opportunity hater, not only of Jews, but as Baldwin suggests, he seems to have been obsessed with Jews. To a significant extent, Ford was a product of his times and of the specific circumstances of his youth and early career. He was not alone in his hatred of Jews nor was he alone when blaming them for all manner of social and economic crises whose true causes he was unwilling and/or unable to understand. Any evidence offered to dispute him was "bunk." No one questions Ford's importance in the development of 20th century business. His achievements were abundant, unique, and of major significance. Of course, Baldwin is fully aware of those achievements which are undeniable.

The focus of his book, rather, is on Henry Ford the human being, not the industrial icon. Baldwin creates a context within which to understand Ford's personality as well as the values which motivated his behavior. We learn about the nature and extent of his draconian control over those whom he employed. We learn about the people he hired to maintain that control at whatever cost. We learn about his fundamental hypocrisies such as blaming the Jews for exploiting world wars to their advantage while he and his company reaped great profits from them, especially from World War One. Ford was an ignorant man and apparently proud of it. He learned only what he needed to know to establish and then build what has since become one of the world's largest manufacturing companies. Apparently Ford believed that he could mass-produce workers according to his strict specifications just as his company mass-produced automobiles according to equally stringent standards. Perhaps, just perhaps, Ford hated Jews so much because they did not meet such specifications. We know he used the word "Jew" interchangeably with other words such as "war profiteers" and "moneylenders." He maintained strict control over the mechanisms by which he could propagate his anti-Semitism. For example, the series "The International Jew: The World's Problems" ran for 91 weeks in the Dearborn (MI) Independent which Ford owned.

For Ford, Jews were convenient scapegoats. After reading Baldwin's well-written and well-researched book, I still do not fully understand Ford's hatred of Jews. Perhaps even he couldn't explain it and no one else will ever know all of the reasons. In 1927, he signed (without reading it) an "apology" drafted by Lewis Marshall, a prominent Jewish lawyer. It is doubtful that the statement was sincere. More likely, Ford feared loss of business. His offensive theories about social engineering notwithstanding, he was until the day he died an unrepentant capitalist. He said or did whatever he deemed necessary to achieve his business objectives.

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