Part 3c: Henry Ford and J.P. Morgan

Henry Ford

Henry Ford

Henry Ford was one of several big US industrialists to adopt the managing methods propounded by Charles Bedaux, who would later become a notorious nazi collaborator. These were “brutal methods of production that brought about frequent strikes in the 1930s.”27] So Ford’s philosophy, as in the cases of Carnegie and Rockefeller, was anti-worker.

“Shortly after the Great War [WWI] began in Europe,” writes Edwin Black in a different work, “[Henry] Ford claimed he had discovered ‘proof’ that the Jews were behind the world’s troubles.” His special mission would be to communicate this to the entire world. “In 1918 Ford purchased the weekly Dearborn Independent and soon thereafter changed its editorial thrust to virulent anti-Semitism.” In a series that bore the title, The International Jew, this weekly soon promoted and reproduced The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.[28] This was the ‘proof’ that Henry Ford had found, and with it he fed a new wave of anti-Jewish hysteria in the Western world.

The Protocols was a fraud created by the Tsarist secret police, the Okhrana, that pretended to be the minutes of a secret group of super-powerful Jews who clandestinely had control over everything: the banks, the media, the unions, the capitalist industries, and the governments of the West.[29] (If this sounds familiar that’s because antisemitic propaganda has not changed and because The Protocols — even after millions of Jews were easily murdered by the Nazis with hardly anybody to defend them — continues to be believed, and its slanders have become institutionalized in our culture. Even people who have never heard of The Protocols, for example, will confidently state that ‘the Jews control the media,’something that is perfectly false.) The Russian government used this propaganda to motivate pogroms: massive, violent attacks against the Jewish communities of the Russian Empire, with the collusion of the authorities. This origin of The Protocols helps explain why “a frequent contributor [to Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent] was a fanatical White [i.e. Tsarist] Russian, Boris Brasol, who boasted in one piece: ‘I have done the Jews more injury than would have been done in ten pogroms.’ Brasol was successively an agent of the Tsar, and of the US Army Intelligence; later he became a Nazi spy.”[30]

J.P. Morgan

J.P. Morgan

Before the 1920s the dominant banking concern in the United States, by far, had been the House of Morgan. But during that decade much competition emerged in investment banking, and some of the new tough competitors were Jewish. Historian Thomas Ferguson writes that, in reaction, “J. P. Morgan Jr. quietly encouraged Henry Ford’s circulation of the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the early 1920s, and later his bank forbade Morgan-Harjes, the firm’s Paris partner, to honor letters of credit from Manufacturers Trust, a commercial bank with strong ties to Goldman, Sachs and Lehman Brothers [a Jewish-owned bank].”[31]

The content of The Protocols had essentially been cut and pasted from works of fiction, but especially from Dialogues in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu.[32] This book, by the French political philosopher Maurice Joly, was written to attack the authoritarian government of Napoleon III, and has absolutely nothing to do with Jews, one way or another. In 1921 Phillip Graves from the London Times published a series of very detailed articles, quoting Dialogues and The Protocols side by side so that readers could see that the second text had been copied from the first.[33] This demonstration did not affect Henry Ford’s campaign, nor did alter its effectiveness, much, especially with Europeans.

According to Ford, the Jewish bankers had produced World War I in order to enrich themselves. (Nobody should pay any attention, in other words, to the years that the quite antisemitic Hohenzollern Reich had spent arming itself to the teeth. And nobody should heed that it was the Hohenzollern Reich that had instigated WWI.) As if this were not enough, the Dearborn Independent accused ‘the Jews’ of practically anything bad that happened in the United States. Anything that people didn’t like could be blamed on… the Jews.

“These accusations were not just the ramblings of the Dearborn Independent. They were in fact a product of the Ford Motor Company. Henry Ford listed his name at the top of every front page. Ford motorcar dealers were compelled to buy and sell subscriptions. Dealers who filled their subscriptions quotas received Ford cars as prizes. …Many reluctant dealers received threatening legalistic letters insisting that they sell the tabloid. Reprints were bound into booklets and distributed to libraries and YMCA’s throughout the nation. …[Henry Ford] was the hero of antisemites the world over. In Germany, thousands of copies of Ford’s teachings were published under the title The Eternal Jew, by Heinrich Ford. Ford’s book quickly became the bible of German antisemites, including Adolf Hitler — this, at least two years before Mein Kampf was written. Hitler… hung a large portrait of Ford beside his desk and spoke of him incessantly.”[34]

After Hitler took power in Germany, “millions of Ford’s books were circulated to every school and party office in the nation, many featuring the names Hitler and Ford side by side on the cover.”[35]

The cultural impact of Ford in Germany was made clear by Baldur vonSchirach, whose Hitler Youth movement poisoned the minds of an entire generation of Germans. Schirach said that Ford’s book had converted him to antisemitism.[36] In his war crimes trial in Nuremberg he exclaimed: “You have no idea what a great influence this book had on the thinking of German youth.” He was talking about The International Jew, better known in Germany as The Eternal Jew, and none other than The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. “The younger generation looked with envy to symbols of success and prosperity like Henry Ford, and if he said the Jews were to blame, why naturally we believed him.”[37] My colleague the anthropologist Joseph Henrich and I have made a careful review of the mountain of evidence in the social sciences supporting the view that the ideas of people with prestige — quite despite the content of those ideas — tend to propagate with greater ease, due to certain important psychological biases that affect social-learning processes.[38] Henry Ford’s prestige was important: “Henry Ford was once ranked in popular polls as the third greatest man in history: just below Napoleon and Jesus Christ.”[39] Ford used this enormous prestige to propagate anti-Jewish hatred everywhere, but especially in the United States and Germany.

In fact, much of Hitler’s inspiration came directly from Henry Ford, and the führer was so taken with the automobile industrialist that in 1931, shortly before he was to come to power, he told the Detroit News: “I consider Henry Ford my inspiration.” This was literally true, because not only had The International Jew been written before Hitler’s own Mein Kampf, but in fact “many of the ramblings in Mein Kampf were identical to passages in The International Jew.” And that’s not all. The systems of mass production that Hitler transformed into systems of mass murder had been first innovated by Henry Ford, the hero of German industrialists who in fact proclaimed themselves ‘Fordists.’[40]

In the United States, Ford’s antisemitic campaign led to a boycott against his company that finally forced him to desist in that country and to offer a public act of contrition in 1927. But this ‘contrition’ didn’t stop him from going to Germany to receive the highest decoration that the Nazi state gave to foreigners, and neither did it soften much the effect that Ford had on the Western masses.

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