Henry Ford was once ranked in popular polls as the third greatest man in history: just below Napoleon and Jesus Christ. His wealth may be gauged by the fact that when young Edsel turned twenty-one, the father took the boy into a private vault and gave him $1 million in gold. Henry Ford controlled more than half of the American automobile market by 1940: in the early years of the century, his famous Model T, the chariot of the common man, revolutionized the nation.
Lean and hard as a Grant Wood farmer, Henry Ford was a knotty puritan, dedicated to the simple ideals of early-to-bed, early-to-rise, plain food, and no adultery. He didn’t drink and fought a lifetime against the demon tobacco.
He admired Hitler from the beginning, when the future Fuhrer was a struggling and obscure fanatic. He shared with Hitler a fanatical hatred of Jews. He first announced his anti-Semitism in 1919, in the New York World, when he expressed a pure fascist philosophy. He said, “International financiers are behind all war. They are what is called the international Jew: German-Jews, French-Jews, EnglishJews, American-Jews . . . the Jew is a threat.”
In Germany, Hitler was uttering identical sentiments. In 1920, Ford arranged for his Dearborn Independent, first published in 1918, to become a platform for his hatred of the Jews. Week after week the newspaper set out to expose some horror of Jewish misbehavior. The first anti-Semitic issue on May 22 carried the headline THE INTERNATIONAL JEW: THE WORLD S PROBLEM. The leading article opened with the words “There is a race, a part of humanity, which has never been received as a welcome part . . .” and continued in the same vein to the end. A frequent contributor was a fanatical White Russian, Boris Brasol, who boasted in one piece: ”I have done the Jews more injury than would have been done to them by ten pogroms.”
Brasol was successively an agent of the Czar and of the U.S. Army Intelligence; later he became a Nazi spy.
Ford’s book The International Jew was issued in 1927. A virulent anti-Semitic tract, it was still being widely distributed in Latin America and the Arab countries as late as 1945. Hitler admired the book and it influenced him deeply. Visitors to Hitler’s headquarters at the Brown House in Munich noticed a large photograph of Henry Ford hanging in his office. Stacked high on the table outside were copies of Ford’s book. As early as 1923, Hitler told an interviewer from the Chicago Tribune, ”I wish that I could send some of my shock troops to Chicago and other big American cities to help.” He was referring to stories that Ford was planning to run for President.
Ford was one of the few people singled out for praise in Mein Kampf. At Hitler’s trial in 1924, Erhard Auer of the Bavarian Diet testified that Ford had given Hitler mone~lFord formed crucial link in The Fraternity at an early stage. He appointed Gerhardt Westrick’s partner Dr. Heinrich Albert as chairman of the Ford Company. Other prominent figures in that company were fanatically pro-Nazi. They included a grandson of the Kaiser and Carl Bosch, Schmitz’s forerunner as head of I.G. Farben. Later, Carl Krauch of I.G. Farben became a director and Kurt von Schroder, as one might have predicted, handled the banking.
Carl Krauch testified in an interrogation in 1946:
“I myself knew Henry Ford and admired him. I went to see Goring personally about that. I told Goring that I myself knew his son Edsel, too, and I told Goring that if we took the Ford independence away from them in Germany, it would aggrieve friendly relations with American industry in the future. I counted on a lot of success for the adaptation of American methods in Germany’s industries, but that could be done only in friendly cooperation. Goring listened to me and then he said: “I agree. I shall see to it that the German Ford Company will not be incorporated in the Hermann Goring Company.” So I participated regularly in the supervisory board meetings to inform myself about the business processes of Henry Ford and, if possible, to take a stand for the Henry Ford Works after the war had begun. Thus, we succeeded in keeping the Ford Works working and operating independently of our government’s seizure.”
Edsel Ford had a great deal to do with the European companies. He was different in character from his father. He was a nervous, high-strung man who tried to work off his extreme tensions and guilts over inherited wealth in a furious addiction to tennis and other sports. Darkly handsome, with a whipcord physique, he was miserable at heart. He could not relate to his father, who despised him, and his inner distress caused him severe stomach ulcers that developed into gastric cancer by the early 1940s. Nevertheless, he and his father had one thing in common. True figures of The Fraternity, they believed in Business as Usual in time of war.
Edsel was on the board of American I.G. and General Aniline and Film throughout the 1930s. He and his father, following their meetings with Gerhardt Westrick at Dearborn in 1940, refused to build aircraft engines for England and instead built supplies of the 5-ton military trucks that were the backbone of German army transportation. They arranged to ship tires to Germany despite the shortages; 30 percent of the shipments went to Nazi-controlled territories abroad. German Ford employee publications included such editorial statements as, “At the beginning of this year we vowed to give our best and utmost for final victory, in unshakable faithfulness to our Fuehrer.” Invariably, Ford remembered Hitler’s birthday and sent him 50,000 Reichsmarks a year. His Ford chief in Germany was responsible for selling military documents to Hitler. Westrick’s partner Dr. Albert continued to work in Hitler’s cause when that chief came to the United States to continue his espionage. In 1941, Henry Ford delivered a bitter attack on the Jews to The Manchester Guardian (February 16, 1941) saying inter alia, that the United States should make England and Germany fight until they both collapsed and that after that there would be a coalition of the powers.
And in 1941 he hired Charles Lindbergh as a member of his executive staff. Lindbergh had been one of the most vocal supporters of Hitler. Indeed, the advent of Pearl Harbor made no difference to Lindbergh’s attitude. On December 17, 1941, ten days after the Japanese attack, Lindbergh said to a group of America Firsters at the home of prominent businessman Edwin S. Webster in New York,
“There is only one danger in the world-that is the yellow danger. China and Japan are really bound together against the white race. There could only have been one efficient weapon against this alliance…. Germany…. the ideal setup would have been to have had Germany take over Poland and Russia, in collaboration with the British, as a bloc against the yellow people and Bolshevism. But instead, the British and the fools in Washington had to interfere. The British envied the Germans and wanted to rule the world forever. Britain is the real cause of all the trouble in the world today.” (FBI Report, December 18, 1941.)
While Lindbergh took over as consultant, Edsel Ford began to concentrate on insuring that his interests in France would not be affected following the German invasion. Management of the Ford interests was in the hands of the impressively handsome and elegant Paris financier Maurice Dollfus, who had useful contacts with the Worms Bank and the Bank for International Settlements. Although he had little knowledge of manufacturing processes, Dollfus supplied much of the financing for the new sixty-acre Ford automobile factory at Poissy, eleven miles from Paris in the Occupied Zone. Under Dollfus the Poissy plant began making airplane engines in 1940, supplying them to the German government. It also built trucks for the German army, as well as automobiles. Carl Krauch and Hermann Schmitz were in charge of the operation from their headquarters in Berlin along with Edsel Ford at Dearborn.
After Pearl Harbor, Edsel Ford moved to protect the company’s interest in Occupied France, even though this would mean collaboration with the Nazi government |Edsel and Dollfus decided to consolidate their operation in conjunction with Carl Krauch, Heinrich Albert, and Gerhardt Westrick in Gemmany. The problem they had was how to keep in touch, since their two countries were at war. In order to overcome this difficulty, Edsel traveled to Washington at the beginning of 1942 and entered into an arrangement with Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long, who simultaneously was blocking financial aid to German-Jewish refugees by citing the Trading with the Enemy Act. Long agreed that it should be possible for letters to travel to and from Occupied France via Lisbon and Vichy. Since it would be too dangerous to risk the letters falling into the hands of the press or foreign agents, they would have to be carried by a Portuguese courier named George Lesto who, with clearance from the Nazi government, was permitted to travel in and out of Paris.
On January 28, 1942, Dollfus sent the first letter after Pearl Harbor to Edsel Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, via the Portuguese courier Lesto. Dollfus wrote that, “Since the state of war between U.S.A. and Germany I arn not able to correspond with you very easily. I have asked Lesto to go to Vichy and mail to you the following information.” He added that production was continuing as before, that trucks were being manufactured for the occupying Germans and the French, and that Ford was ahead of the French automobile manufacturers in supplying the enemy. Dollfus said he was getting support from the Vichy government to preserve the interests of the American shareholders and that a company in North Africa was being founded for the Nazis with ground plots in Oran. Amazingly, the letter concluded by saying, ”I propose to send again Mr. Lesto to the States as soon as all formalities and authorizations are accomplished.”
Edsel replied at length on May 13: ”It is interesting to note that you have started your African company and are laying plans for a more peaceful future.” He went on, “I have received a request from the State Department to make a recommendation for issuance of a visa to Mr. Lesto.” However, the letter went on, Ford was uneasy about making the request; it was clear that he was nervous about the matter being disclosed.
The Royal Air Force, apparently not briefed on the world connections of The Fraternity, had just bombed the Poissy plant. Ford wrote on May 15 that photographs of the plant on fire were published in our newspapers here but fortunately no reference was made to the Ford Motor Company. In other words, Edsel was relieved that it was not made clear to the American public that he was operating the plant for the Nazis.
On February 11, 1942, Dollfus wrote again-that the results of the year up to December 31, 1941, showed a net profit for Ford’s French branch of 58 million francs including payment for dealings with the Nazis.
On June 6, Dollfus wrote Edsel enclosing a memorandum prepared by George Lesto. The memo stated that the RAF had now bombed the plant four times, and that all machinery and equipment had been taken from the plant and scattered all over the country. Lesto was pleased to state that the Vichy government “agreed to pay for all damages.” The reparation was “approved by the German government.” Ford replied to this letter on July 17, 1942, expressing pleasure with this arrangement, congratulating Lesto on organizing the repayment, and saying that he had shown the letter to his father and to Charles E. Sorenson, and that they both joined him in sending best wishes to Dollfus and the staff, in the hope that they would continue to carry on the good work that they were doing.
Meanwhile, Dollfus and Heinrich Albert set up another branch of Ford in North Africa, headquartered in Vichy Algiers with the approval of I.G. Farben. It was to build trucks and armored cars for Rommel’s army. In a lengthy report to the State Department dated July 11, 1942, Felix Cole, American Consul in Algiers, sent a detailed account of the planned operation, not complaining that the headquarters was located in the Occupied Zone of France or that Dollfus was prominent in the Pucheu* group of bankers that financed the factory through the Worms Bank, the Schroder Bank, and BIS correspondent in Paris. Cole remarked en passant, ”The [Worms] firm is greatly interested in the efforts now being made to effect a compromise peace on behalf of Germany.” Cole had put his finger on something: Dollfus was more than a mere Nazi collaborator working with Edsel Ford. He was a key link in The Fraternity’s operation in Europe, scheming with Pucheu, the Worms Bank, the Bank of France, the Chase, and the Bank for International Settlements.
The letter from Cole went on: “It is alleged that the main outlets for the new works [in Oran] will be southwards, but the population which is already getting plenty of propaganda about the collaboration of French-German-American capital and the questionable (?) sincerity of the American war effort * is already pointing an accusing finger at a transaction which has been for long a subject of discussion in commercial circles.”
Dollfus wrote again on August 15, 1942; the letter reached Edsel Ford two weeks later. Dollfus stated that following the RAF bombing, production had been resumed in France at the same rate; that he was not permitted to say where the new plants were to which production had been disbursed but that they were four of the principal plants. He went on, “Machinery has been overhauled and repaired and some new machinery purchased so that the capital in machinery and equipment is completely restored to its pre-bombing status. I have named a manager in each plant and the methods and standards are the same as they were in Poissy. Essential repairs have been started at Poissy but work is slow because of the difficulty in obtaining materials.”
In the rest of a very long letter, Dollfus pointed out that at this stage the Poissy and other works came directly under Dr. Heinrich Albert and a German officer named Tannen, in trust, “Mr. Tannen has in turn given me back most of the powers that I used to have previously to run our business, with the exception of certain ones that he does not hold himself, and some others which I believe should have been given me but anyhow they are not indispensable for me to continue to run the business normally.” Dollfus added that Dr. Albert was clearly anxious to play a part “so as to appear a Good Samaritan after the war in the eyes of the Allies.”
On September 29, 1942, Breckinridge Long wrote to Edsel enclosing a letter from Dollfus saying that Vichy’s compensation payment to Ford to the tune of 38 million francs had been received. On October 8, Ford sent a letter of thanks.
In April 1943, Morgenthau and Lauchlin Currie conducted a lengthy investigation into the Ford subsidiaries in France, concluding that
“their production is solely for the benefit of Germany and the countries under its occupation” and that the Germans have “shown clearly their wish to protect the Ford interests” because of the “attitude of strict neutrality” maintained by Henry and Edsel Ford in time of war. And finally, “the increased activity of the French Ford subsidiaries on behalf of Germans receives the commendation of the Ford family in America.”
Despite a report running to hundreds of thousands of words and crammed with exhaustive documentation including all the relevant letters, nothing whatsoever was done about the matter.
Meanwhile, Ford had gone on making special deals. On May 29, 1942, the Ford Motor Company in Edgewater, New Jersey, had shipped six cargoes of cars to blacklisted Jose O. Moll of Chile. Another consignee was a blacklisted enemy corporation, Lilienfeld, in Bolivia. On October 20, 1942, John G. Winant, U.S. Ambassador to London, coolly reported to Dean Acheson that two thousand German army trucks were authorized for repair by the Ford motor works in Berne. On the same day, Winant reported that the British Legation and the U.S. authorities recommended the Ford Motor Company of Belgium be blacklisted because its Zurich branch, on U.S. orders, was repairing trucks and converting the use of gasoline for trucks and cars of the German army in Switzerland.
In December 1943 a further report from Minister Leland Harrison in Berne said, “The Ford Motor Company in Zurich, acting for Cologne, supplies spare parts for the repair of Ford trucks and passenger cars to U.S. Ford Motor Company agents in Switzerland. Some of these parts are imported, which provides the enemy with clearing funds.” Thus, one year after these matters were reported in Washington, trading with the enemy was continuing. All Swiss operations functioned under the guidance of Ford’s Charles E. Sorenson.
Edsel died of cancer in 1943, but Sorenson went on with the dealings. On November 6, 1945, Maurice Dollfus, enemy collaborator, traveled to New York (by U.S. Army Air Transport Command) and gave an interview to The New York Times at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. He discussed his operation during the war, but apparently nobody on the New York Times staff thought to question him on the nature of that operation, which remained a complete secret to the American public.
General Motors, under the control of the Du Pont family of Delaware, played a part in collaboration comparable with Ford’s. General Aniline and Film had heavy investments in the company.
Irenee du Pont was the most imposing and powerful member of the clan. He was obsessed with Hitler’s principles. He keenly followed the career of the future Fuhrer in the 1920s, and on September 7, 1926, in a speech to the American Chemical Society, he advocated a race of supermen, to be achieved by injecting special drugs into them in boyhood to make their characters to order. He insisted his men reach physical standards equivalent to that of a Marine and have blood as pure as that in the veins of the Vikings. Despite the fact that he had Jewish blood in his own veins, his anti-Semitism matched that of Hitler.
Between 1932 and 1939, bosses of General Motors poured $30 million into I.G. Farben plants with the excuse that the money could not be exported. On several visits with Hermann Schmitz and Carl Krauch of Farben in Berlin in 1933, Wendell R. Swint, Du Pont’s foreign relations director, discovered that I.G. and the gigantic Krupp industrial empire had arranged for all Nazi industry to contribute one half percent of its entire wage and salary roll to the Nazis even before they rose to power. Thus, Swint (who testified to this effect at the 1934 Munitions Hearings) admitted under oath that Du Pont was fully aware it was financing the Nazi Party through one half percent of its Opel wages and salaries as well as through its deals with I.G. and its building of armored cars and trucks.
Simultaneously with the rise of Hitler, the Du Ponts in 1933 began financing native fascist groups in America, including the anti-Semitic and antiblack American Liberty League and the organization known as Clark’s Crusaders, which had 1,250,000 members in 1933. Pierre, Irenee, and Lammot du Pont and John Jacob Raskob funded the Liberty League, along with Alfred P. Sloan of General Motors. The League smeared Roosevelt as a communist, clairned the President was surrounded by Jews; and despite the fact that they were Jewish, the Du Ponts smeared Semitic organizations.
The connections between General Motors and the Nazi government began at the moment of Hitler’s rise to power. Goring declined to annex General Motors and indeed received with pleasure Williarn S. Knudsen, General Motors’ president, who returned on October 6, 1933, to New York telling reporters that Germany was ”the miracle of the twentieth century.”
Early in 1934, Irenee du Pont and Knudsen reached their explosion point over President Roosevelt. Along with friends of the Morgan Bank and General Motors, certain Du Pont backers financed a coup d’etat that would overthrow the President with the aid of a $3 million-funded army of terrorists, modeled on the fascist movement in Paris known as the Croix de Feu. Who was to be the figurehead for this ill-advised scheme, which would result in Roosevelt being forced to take orders from businessmen as part of a fascist government or face the alternative of imprisonment and execution? Du Pont men allegedly held an urgent series of meetings with the Morgans. They finally settled on one of the most popular soldiers in America, General Smedley Butler of Pennsylvania. Butler, a brave hero, had been awarded two Congressional Medals of Honor and his brilliant career as commandant of the Marine Corps had made him a legend. He would, the conspiratorial group felt, make an ideal replacement for Roosevelt if the latter proved difficult. These business chiefs found great support for their plan in Hermann Schmitz, Baron von Schroder, and the other German members of The Fraternity.
The backers of the bizarre conspiracy selected a smooth attorney, Gerald MacGuire, to bring word of the plan to General Butler. MacGuire agreed Butler would be the perfect choice. Butler had attacked the New Deal in public speeches.
in the election. Other backers were the American Nazi party and the German-American Bund.