Henry Fords articles in the Dearborn Independent were clearly antisemitic. Whether his views were based on naïvety or racist ideology is a topic of continuing debate.
A series of articles on "the Jewish question" in American automaker Henry Fords Dearborn Independent have aroused much debate and controversy since their publication in the early 1920s. The Dearborn Independent first attacked Jews in its 22 May, 1920 issue and continued to do so in 91 subsequent editions. 1 "The Scope of Jewish Dictatorship in the United States" "Jewish Degradation of American Baseball," "The International JewThe Worlds Foremost Problem," and other stories like them claimed the Jews were using communism, labour unions, gambling and even jazz music to weaken the American people. They were later reprinted by the Dearborn Publishing Company in four paper-bound volumes.2
Even before the articles were written, E.G. Pipp, editor of The Dearborn Independent, resigned in April, 1920, and was replaced by William J. Cameron. Ernest Liebold, Henry Fords personal secretary, collected much of the material and Cameron likely wrote many of the articles himself. For another five years after the last of the "International Jew" articles was published, the Dearborn Independent continued to attack Jews. 3
After being accused by the Dearborn Independent in 1927, of trying to control American wheat production, Jewish lawyer Aaron Sapiro filed a defamation suit in Detroit but a mistrial was declared after a juror spoke to a reporter. Although Ford never testified, after the mistrial was declared, he issued public statements and apologies to individuals and Jews as a group.4 On July 16, 1927, an out-of-court settlement of the Sapiro suit was announced. Ford shortly thereafter sold the newspaper.
In a 1942 letter to Sigmund Livingston, then ADL national chairman, Ford wrote, "I do not subscribe to or support, directly or indirectly, any agitation which would promote antagonism against my Jewish fellow citizens." He pointed out that he "destroyed copies" of The International Jew when he first apologized and had refused to give "permission or sanction to anyone to use my name as sponsoring such publication, or being the accredited author thereof." 5
"[Ku Klux] Klan editors later assembled ninety-six of Henry Fords antisemitic essays from The Dearborn Independent and bound them in a volume they entitled The International Jew The book subsequently was reprinted in Germany by the Nazi World Service. 6 On January 12, 1942, an embarrassed Henry Ford wrote [Imperial Wizard James A.] Colescott saying that he did 'not subscribe or support, directly or indirectly, any agitation which would promote antagonism against my Jewish fellow citizens.' Ford threatened the Klan with legal action unless it ceased publication and circulation of his misbegotten essays." 7
During the Nürnberg Trial of Nazi war criminals after the Second World War, two of the twenty-one defendants present, Hitler Youth Leader Baldur von Schirach and Radio Propaganda Chief Hans Fritzsche, cited the German edition of The International Jew as a major influence on their antisemitic views. 8
Fords retractionwhether opportunistic or heartfelt did not discourage a California group, the Christian Nationalist Crusade, from reprinting an abridged and much smaller edition within a decade of his death, introducing the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" to a new generation.9
1Anti-defamation League website: <adl.org>. ^
2The International Jew : the worlds foremost problem. Dearborn, Mich.: Dearborn Publishing, November 1920. 235 p. "Being a reprint of a series of articles appearing in the Dearborn independent from May 22 to October 2, 1920." LCCN: 74153861 //r83 [20 articles]
The International Jew. Jewish activities in the United States. "Being a reprint of a second selection from articles appearing in The Dearborn Independent from Oct. 9, 1920 to March 19, 1921." trade paper "April 1921." Dearborn, Mich.: Dearborn Pub. Co., 1921. 255 p. ; 20 cm. LCCN: 21013445.
Jewish influences in American life; volume 3 of the International Jew, the worlds foremost problem; being a reprint of a third selection from articles appearing in the Dearborn independent. Dearborn, Mich.: The Dearborn Publishing Co. 1921.
Aspects of Jewish power in the United States; volume 4 of the International Jew, the worlds foremost problem; being a reprint of a fourth selection of articles from the Dearborn independent. Dearborn, Mich.: The Dearborn Publishing Co. 1922. ^
3Anti-defamation League website: <adl.org>. ^
4This retraction was dated June 30, 1927: "To my great regret I learn that in the Dearborn Independent and in reprint pamphlets entitled, 'THE INTERNATIONAL JEW', there have appeared articles which induce the Jews to regard me as their enemy, promoting anti-Semitism.
"As a result of this survey I am deeply mortified that this journal, which is intended to be constructive and not destructive, has been made the medium for resurrecting exploded fictions, for giving currency to the so-called Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion, which have been demonstrated, as I learn, to be gross forgeries, and for contending that the Jews have been engaged in a conspiracy to control the capital and the industries of the world, besides laying at their door many offences against decency, public order and good morals...I deem it to be my duty as an honourable man to make amends for the wrong done to the Jews as fellow men and brothers, by asking their forgiveness for the harm which I have unintentionally committed, by retracting, as far as lies within my power the offensive charges laid at their door by these publications, and by giving them the unqualified assurance that henceforth they may look to me for friendship and good will..."
"Had I appreciated even the general nature to say nothing of the details of these utterances, I would have forbidden their circulation without a moments hesitation...This statement is made on my own initiative and wholly in the interest of right and justice, and is in accordance with what I regard as my solemn duty as a man and as a citizen." See: <christianactionforisrael.org>
After Fords death, a disgruntled employee named Harry Bennett claimedwithout corroboration that he had forged Fords signature to this "apology" that had been actually written by Samuel Untermeyer and Louis Marshall of the American Jewish Committee. See We Never Called Him Henry. by Harry Bennett and Paul Marcus. Also see True Magazine. October, 1951. p. 125. Referenced in Gerald L. K. Smiths introduction to the Christian Nationalist Crusade reprint. ^
5 Letter from Henry Ford to Sigmund Livingston, January 7, 1942. California State University, Northridge Urban Archives Center, Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles' Community Relations Committee Collection. <library.csun.edu>. ^
6 Der Internationale Jude: Fünfunddreissigste Auflage, Leipzig: Hammer-Verlag, 1940. 344p. [British Library], Die Geheimnisse der Weisen von Zion herausgegeben, München : von Gottfried zur Beek, 1938. 74 pages. [official Nazi Party edition]
7Wyne Craig Wade. The Fiery Cross, The Ku Klux Klan in America. Simon and Schuster, Inc. New York: 1987. p. 273 ISBN: 0-671-41476-3. Also see: U.S. Congress, House Congressional Record, 77 Cong., 2 Sess. (1942): A1084. ^
8G. M. Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary. New York : Da Capo Press, 1995. ISBN 0-306-80661-4. 471 pp. p. 22: October 27, 1945, p. 270, April 16, 1946. Fritzsche denied ever believing the Protrocols were true. The International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg received the indictment (1. preparation for wars of aggression; 2. preparation for wars in violation of treaties; 3. war crimes; 4. crimes against humanity) on October 20, 1945 and rendered its verdict on September 30-October 1, 1946. Schirach was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment, Fritzsche was found not guilty of the charges. (Of the original 24 defendents, Robert Ley committed suicide before trial, Gustav Krupp von Bohlen un Halbuch was mentally and physically incapable of being tried and Martin Bormann was tried in abstentia.)
9Smith, Gerald L[yman]. K[enneth]. (1898-), The International Jew : the worlds foremost problem. Copy prepared for the printer by Gerald L. K. Smith. Los Angeles : Christian Nationalist Crusade, 195-?. 77 p ; 28 cm.
"abridged from the original as published by the world renowned industrial leader Henry Ford, Sr., appearing originally in the periodical published by the Ford Motor Co., The Dearborn Independent." LCCN: 74153861 //r974 ^
Note: Dearborn Independent cover page from issue of 6 August 1921.