HENRY FORD AND THE JEWS by Albert Lee

HENRY FORD AND THE JEWS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The scope of Henry Ford's well-known anti-Semitism is carefully presented here, but analyses of Ford's philosophy are confused and contradictory. Former Ford Motor Company writer Lee tells Ford's story as ""an object lesson in misdirected power."" In 1920, he begins, Ford used his paper, The Dearborn Independent, for ""the greatest barrage of anti-Semitism in American history"" and turned his aide, Ernest Liebold, into a ""gestapo,"" supervising agents around the country who collected incriminating data on Jews. The initial barrage ended in 1922, possibly because of Ford's presidential ambitions, desire for Jewish help in fighting the gold standard, and/or family pressure. ""All of these events could have influenced Ford, or none of them may have,"" Lee decides inconclusively. But by 1924, Ford's paper was accusing Jews of coveting the nation's farmland; later, Hitler labeled Ford ""my inspiration"" (though he denied receiving money from Ford, as some, including Upton Sinclair, charged); and American Nazis became common in Ford factories, where one employee headed the German-American Bund. Some say Ford was a ""pawn of smarter men"" like Liebold who encouraged his anti-Semitism, but Lee says ""no one ever controlled Ford""--except perhaps Thomas Edison, his ""lifelong idol and friend"" (evidence of whose anti-Semitism is ""far from conclusive""). Lee then decides that we must ""take Henry Ford at his word"": he became ""convinced of the international Jewish conspiracy"" during his Peace Ship fiasco of 1915 when he dealt with Jews. But then again, he argues, ""Ford's Jew mania is far too complex to have been inspired by a single traumatic event."" The net gain to the record is slight, the gain in understanding nil.

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 1980
Publisher: Stein & Day