Book Review: Henry Ford’s “The International Jew”

This book was originally published in 1920 by the globally popular American hero, Henry Ford, the engineer and entrepreneur who created the Ford Motor Company (and the Model T) in 1901 that we have known for so many decades. This allowed him to become very wealthy. For those who don’t know, he was considered a real pacifist and during the First World War, chartered a large ship to travel to Europe to try and negotiate a peace which turned out to be a miserable failure and so he left Europe upon reaching Sweden to come home seemingly bitter at German-Jewish bankers who he blamed for instigating the war. He is generally thought to be America’s biggest and most influential anti-Semite, a man who financed Hitler and his political party during the 1920s into the next decade, allowing him to grow in power until he became the monster he became. Indeed, legend has it Hitler had only one photo in his office — that of Henry Ford. Additionally, Ford was mentioned in Mein Kampf more than once and declared an “inspiration” by Hitler while Himmler described him as one of their most “valuable … fighters.”

Ford’s global popularity can be traced to a couple of major business decisions and actions which took place between the mid-1910s and mid-1920s. Ford was frustrated with tremendous personnel turnover and the costs associated with that, as well as a large drop in efficiency. He then literally stunned the world by announcing a new $5 per day minimum wage for his workers, which was more than double what he previously paid and even more than what other companies paid. (He also brought about profit-sharing.) This gamble resulted not in a huge loss of money, but a huge drop in personnel turnover and a successful recruitment tool for the best mechanics and engineers and other professionals in the country. This also forced his competitors to raise their wages merely to compete with him and the resultant effect was realized the world over as most companies in most industries ended up raising the wages paid their employees. Thus, members of the working class around the globe looked upon him as a true hero and possibly the greatest American since Washington.

He later made another major business decision that changes the lives of workers throughout the world. Up until that time, most people worked at least six days per week, 10+ hours per day, including children. Ford introduced and enacted a new severely reduced workweek that ultimately became the well known five-day, 40 hour per week (eight hours per day) workweek that became the standard throughout the world, and in the process helped to eliminate child labor as well. He also became one of the first major employers to hire black workers, women and some disabled people too.

And so with that lengthy introduction behind me, let me say that it may seem odd to write a small review of a book published a century ago, but I never read it until now, although I’ve wanted to, and now I can claim that I’ve done so and thus the review…

So this is an unusual book to give a rating to or write a review about. I’d read quite a bit about this book before ever reading this book. (And I’m currently reading two interesting books on the man. They are Max Wallace’s The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich while the second one is Neil Baldwin’s Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production Of Hate.) And yes, as this book is written, it’s reprehensible. There’s no doubt Henry Ford was anti-Semitic to whatever great degree. But there are several alleged variables that make it hard to take this seriously as his own writing and hence, specifically his own confirmed stance. I have read a number of books on Ford and especially as he related to his right hand man, his personal secretary, and ultimately the editor of the newspaper named “The Dearborn Independent” that Ford purchased and owned (where this individual oversaw the majority of the essays allegedly written by Ford and attributed to him). The man in question, Ernest Liebold, was a German, part of the Detroit-area German “American” community, and considered by many reliable sources to be a literal (future) Nazi (as Ford would become one of Hitler’s biggest financial supporters during his rise to power and on until about 1940), who was allegedly sent from Germany to influence one of the most powerful men in the world — Henry Ford. In various biographies and histories, one will read that Liebold got so much power that no one could get to see or talk to Ford without getting through Liebold first. Many sources say — including even Wikipedia — that Ford didn’t even write the articles attributed to him. Rather, he verbally expressed his opinions to Liebold (and to another man,William Cameron, who would take on editorial duties). It was thus left up to Liebold to take what Ford apparently/allegedly said aloud and shape those opinions into publishable articles — which was done virtually the entire time the weekly newspaper was published. Subsequently, most believe that Liebold himself was the real “author” of most of these articles, taking cues from Ford, if not literally making many opinions up while attributing them to Ford, who apparently signed off on all of them without reading them, even as friends warned him of the danger of doing so. This newspaper would go on to become so popular that it eventually reached over 700,000 readers and its articles were especially popular in Germany (and very influential), so much so that as far as I know, they were gathered together and put together in book format — this one — which was then called The International Jew, the World’s Foremost Problem, published by an anti-Semitic German politician.

However, to add some confusion to this tale, there were many Jews in the Detroit area where Ford lived and worked and indeed, his neighbor and apparent good friend was an active Jewish rabbi whom Ford had over for dinner virtually every week. So it may seem to some that while Ford’s antisemitism was certainly valid and unjustifiable, it was nonetheless frankly odd as hell since he liked and hung out with various Jews as friends. When the newspaper started publishing seriously anti-Semitic stuff, some of them were put off, naturally offended, and by some accounts, Ford found this perplexing and confusing and couldn’t understand why they’d be upset about his paper’s articles. (I believe this might even be brought up in one or both of the books I’m currently reading.)

The fact is the more you learn about Ford, the more you find while he had a few great ideas at times, such as his infamous massive ones involving better pay and working conditions, he seemed like a bit of an out of touch dunce, oblivious to the world, easily manipulable — kind of like Donald Trump is perceived (and acts) today. Basically clueless. So just as Trump is currently killing people around the world by urging them to inject bleach (if not drink it) to “cure” the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is truly batshit insane, so too did Ford go around in a daze, believing discredited crap to be authentic — just like The Donald — and some allege that’s how The Protocols of the Elders of Zion — already discredited by the London Times, among others — came to be reprinted in his paper, thus confirming for and influencing Hitler, his creepy pals, and countless of Jew hating Americans of the lack of any redeeming values in Jews, as well as their global “plot” to take over the world. Totally irresponsible and absolutely stupid. Again, some attribute this to Liebold, the German Nazi-to-be, and less to Ford whom they claim was too clueless to understand and know better. One has to recall that even though this infamous book had nearly universally and publicly been declared a hoax with the true author having been identified by differing sources as one of two primary culprits (although most feel it was ultimately the work of the Russian government), there were still those who were so stupid or naive that they continued to fall for that hoax years later, as indeed one biography on Allen Dulles stated that a German “informer” he had while stationed in Switzerland had gotten the book to him and he was so shocked and horrified at this international “Jewish plot” that he immediately fired off a top secret memo, going above his boss, that was sent directly to the White House, where it presumably died the death it deserved resulting in nothing. Thus, an example of how even allegedly knowledgeable and powerful people could be suckered by such despite it’s having been discredited if they didn’t already know that…

And on and on. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all trying to absolve Ford from his sins or claim he did not have a serious bias against the Jewish people as a whole. But the fact that he liked individual Jews as friends to have over regularly for years while his crap got published and distributed to the world by one or two men with definite antisemitic agendas who wrote things Ford allegedly said aloud and constructed articles out of them, but since there don’t appear to be any surviving types of evidence of these sayings, one might wonder if Liebold just didn’t make most of this shit up and since Ford didn’t even proof, edit or read the stuff published under his name, but simply signed off on it, it’s not so clear cut that he even knew what he was seemingly doing, even though such actions would go on to impact millions around the world. In fact, he became such an infamous anti-Semite that he was sued for libel and upon that happening, he claimed to be shocked and appeared totally clueless as to the reason for the lawsuit, and according to trial documents, editorial witnesses testified that Ford knew nothing of the editorials, had nothing to do in the writing or editing of such, and others wrote them under his name and ultimately, the only thing he ever read were occasional headlines after publication. I believe these assertions have been challenged since then, but I’m unaware of a universally agreed upon viewpoint.

Of course, everything attributed to Ford could indeed turn out to have been true and accurate, and I wouldn’t be surprised, but when you start finding out details of who basically controlled and influenced him (Liebold and others), who had total access to him and who wrote things on his behalf in his name AS Ford and with Ford apparently a Trump-like dittohead, it’s also possible to speculate as to how much he actually knew the stuff coming out under his name and attributed to him was as reprehensible as it was, as damning as it was and influencing far too many people against Jews in the worst possible ways, etc. I’m not sure if we’ll ever really know. It does make for some fascinating questions and speculations though.

In any case, this is an important historical book to read, if for no other reason than to see some of the truly awful things written about the world’s Jews at the time that ultimately lead others to commit unthinkable horrors, so regardless of Ford’s actual awareness or not, ultimately he is responsible for this fact, this reputation and its accompanying damage that was his fault and his legacy needs to always maintain that ugly truth. The book is recommended as a historical piece, but certainly not something to agree with or act on — unless you’re a KKK member, Neo-Nazi or the like. But since I tend to think many of them are likely illiterate, I don’t know that they’ll be reading this to begin with!

View all my reviews

Originally published at http://hankrules2011.com on May 22, 2020.

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Scott Holstad

Scott Holstad

Polymath. Writer. Analyst. Researcher. Geopolitics. E/SE Asia. Historian. Antifascist. 40+ Books. Pearson. HarperCollins. AAN; RUSI; AOC. 22K LI Followers