Ford Motor Co. Attempts to Erase Nazi Stain Left by its Founder

Ford Motor Co. Attempts to Erase Nazi Stain Left by its Founder

Henry Ford's "The International Jew" sold 11 million copies in Nazi Germany. His anti-Semitic tract was a best-seller ... and the Ford Motoc Co. is still trying to live it down ...


Moderate Voice, December 8, 2012

Normally, this would not be of much concern except to avid readers of the  Wall Street Journal. There were several COOs and presidents before Fields. There  will be several after him.

But this time it’s different. Mark Fields is a Jew.

Henry Ford, who founded the company in 1903 that bears his family name, was  an anti-Semite. When asked in 1920 what the problem with major league baseball  was, Ford summed it up in three words—“too much Jew.” At the time, fewer than  two dozen Jews had ever played professional baseball during the previous four  decades. During the 1920s, Ford’s newspaper, the weekly Dearborn Independent,  distributed to every Ford dealership, was loaded with anti-Semitic articles.  Several of those articles were compiled into a four-volume set, The  International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem.

By the 1930s, Ford was both praised and honored by the Nazis, including  Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS whose mission included the extermination of  Jews. Adolph Hitler personally awarded Ford the Grand Cross of the German Eagle,  that country’s highest award to a foreigner; Hitler personally kept a picture of  the industrialist on his desk.

Ford, of course, wasn’t the only anti-Semite or racist in America. America’s  colleges established admissions quotas or excluded minorities entirely. Medical  schools admitted only a few Jews, and then only if they promised not to enter clinical practice but become psychiatrists. Apparently, they had to cede  psychiatry to Jews because of the pioneering work by Freud, Adler, and other  Jews. Jewish scientists—many like Einstein—were trained in European universities and then came to the United States during the wave of immigration between the  world wars; they were “carefully watched” and often demeaned. Country clubs  denied Jews access, villages denied them residence. And throughout the country,  the resurgence of the Klan led to lynchings of Blacks and firebombing of  synagogues.

Because of a higher proportion of Jews historically in the sciences, creative  arts, social work, mass media, and financial empires than among the general  population, a large number of Americans have isolated those professions and  blamed Jews for whatever the current problem happens to be. A survey by the  Anti-Defamation League in 2007 revealed that 15 percent of Americans held  anti-Semitic views. More disguise their views by claiming they don’t oppose  Jews, just urban liberals—a higher proportion of Jews live in urban areas than  in rural areas, and Jews tend to be more liberal, and more active in social  justice, than the general population.

During the late 1940s, Henry Ford II, the founder’s grandson, systematically  decreased the company’s virulent anti-union attitudes and increased the  company’s affirmative action program, promoting Jews, Afro-Americans, Hispanics,  and women into management positions. Mervyn Manning, a Jew, became the first  minority ever promoted to a Ford vice-presidency. He once recalled that at the  time he was hired in the mid-1950s, the only Black in corporate headquarters was  the shoeshine boy. Under Henry Ford II, the company approved and encouraged  minorities to own Ford dealerships. But it was never enough.

My family, like hundreds of thousands of other Jewish families, never owned a  Ford, nor had any plans to own a Ford, no matter the price, deals, or quality of  product. There were other car lines produced by union workers whose bosses may  have had attitudes against Jews and other minorities—GM and Chrysler’s  affirmative action programs also lagged—but they weren’t as blatant in their  Anti-Semitic hate as was the paternalistic creator of the Ford brand who had  revolutionized the manufacturing process, paid his workers slightly better than  industry averages, and established marketing as a central part to any  corporation’s business plan.

Mark Fields was born in Brooklyn, and earned an economics degree from Rutgers  and an MBA from Harvard. He began his career at Ford in 1989, and was  fast-tracked into several executive positions. Shortly after his promotion to  executive vice-president, Fields told an organization of Jewish business  executives he

...never encountered one iota of discrimination as a Jew during my  career at Ford. He will probably become the CEO within the next two years when  the current CEO, Alan Mulally, retires....

It’s possible my family, and thousands of other families, may some day buy a  Ford. The stain the company’s founder painted onto his product has faded.  Perhaps when Mark Fields becomes CEO—and it’s no longer news that a minority has  been promoted into executive management—it might be time to reconsider our  decisions.

[Walter Brasch’s latest book is the critically acclaimed best-seller  Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, available at,, and brick-and-mortar bookstores.]

The Moderate  Voice (

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