Was Henry Ford a Nazi?

 

A lot of people already think they know. Such a stark, blunt question deserves a direct answer: No, he wasn’t. Ford did not support Hitler or his ideology. He wasn’t a Nazi, officially or unofficially.  What Ford was, however, was pretty awful without ever getting near a swastika armband. He was one of the most powerful, influential anti-Semites in history, and did immense harm all over the world by lending his once-golden name to vicious lies. Ford didn’t go around quoting Hitler, but Hitler was grateful that “a great man like Ford” was sounding the alarm.

Ford’s notorious publicity campaign against the Jews began after World War I when he bought a local newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, and turned it into a heavily subsidized powerhouse of anti-Jewish agitation. That campaign largely ended by the end of the Twenties, by which time he had other, more pressing problems. Hitler didn’t come to power until 1933. But the effects of Ford’s pseudo-history lingered for decades to come, for the millions of Jews he slurred, and for the reputation of Henry Ford himself.

People who’ve never seen it often think it’s got to be an exaggeration or a case of over-sensitivity. Not at all; the Independent was proud to publish anti-Jewish forgeries such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and republished its 92-part series on the evils of Judaism as four pamphlets called The International Jew. They are still circulated today.

Yes, even today, there are places where scans of century-old articles in The Dearborn Independent are treated like hallowed internet samizdat. Shakespeare called it right: “The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones”. That ancient hatred that flourished for centuries in eastern and central Europe found renewed strength in new homes all over the globe. And some part of its bogus claim to legitimacy is the backing of Henry Ford, who in worldwide prestige was the Steve Jobs or Elon Musk of his day.

By 1938 it was obvious to most Americans, including Ford, that Adolf Hitler was something markedly less benevolent than Europe’s outstanding anti-Bolshevik. Henry Ford accepted a medal from Germany on the occasion of his 75th birthday, but he didn’t (as is often claimed) receive it from Hitler himself, but in his office from two minor German officials. “My acceptance of a medal from the German people does not, as some people seem to think, involve any sympathy on my part with Nazism. Those who have known me for many years realize that anything that breeds hate is repulsive to me”.

We should point out here that the Ford Motor Company, like the General Motors Corporation, had factories in Germany, which they bought and built when Germany was still a democracy. Those factories were essentially taken over by the regime by 1939 and no blame for their wartime production is due to their American parent companies. Ford’s vast plants in the US performed valuable and honorable services for this country.

How much of Ford’s anti-Semitism was generally known at the time? All of it; he wanted it known. If it hadn’t been, the millions he put into it would have been wasted. To take an apolitical example from that era, the giddy 1930 musical Just Imagine was set in the distant, futuristic world of 1980. The movie has basically the same story as Woody Allen’s Sleeper (1973) and the animated Futurama (1999), and they both got it from H.G. Wells’ When the Sleeper Wakes (1899, revised 1910). In Just Imagine, a man who’s been in a coma since 1930 wakes up to discover that New York is a city of 250 story skyscrapers, conveyor belt sidewalks, Zeppelin mass transit, jumbotron-sized television screens, and vending machines for “drunk pills”.

Since the 1930 guy has no government-assigned ID number, he’s “Single O”.

Single O: Boys, I wouldn’t know the old town! Where are all the automobiles?

J-21: Hardly anyone drives a car now. They all use planes.

Single O: Is that so?

RT-42: Yeah, I drive a Rosenblatt. J flies a Pinkus for his personal use, but all the airliners are Goldfarbs.

Single O: Goldfarb!

[laughs uproariously]

Single O: It looks like someone got even with Henry Ford!

I saw Just Imagine in the summer of the actual 1980, in one of those theaters near a college campus that showed old movies. Everyone in the audience laughed. Clearly, half a century later, they still knew who they were making fun of, and what the joke was about.

The evil that men do does live after them. And so does the lasting damage that men do to their own reputations.

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  1. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    The frozen in time plot is also in “Buck Rogers” although he’s asleep much longer – the story was originally created in the 1920s or 30s.

    • #1
  2. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    The frozen in time plot is also in “Buck Rogers” although he’s asleep much longer – the story was originally created in the 1920s or 30s.

    Sometimes a “mere” joke is a tipoff of how universal a phrase or an idea is, like Spock’s “We have a saying on Vulcan: It took Nixon to go to China”. 

    • #2
  3. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    One of Ted Geisel’s (Dr. Suess) first known published images, made to promote a radio show. It went on the air in early 1941, when America was already gearing up for war production. It was still more-or-less legal to trade with Germany, Italy and Japan, but it was tightening quickly. It remained on the air for some months into 1942, kind of odd because by then, nobody was doing any business with Hitler whether they felt like it or not. 

    It was based on a book by a former US consular official in Berlin, and every story in the series was a variation on one invariable theme: you’ll get cheated. You’ll get robbed of your investment, and whatever you build will be twisted to evil uses. 

    It was a peculiarly bloodless series styled as if it were an action series. “How do I know I can trust you, Professor Deutsch?”

    “You can’t. Now hand over the money.”

    • #3
  4. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    The frozen in time plot is also in “Buck Rogers” although he’s asleep much longer – the story was originally created in the 1920s or 30s.

    Sometimes a “mere” joke is a tip off of how universal a phrase or an idea is, like Spock’s “We have a saying on Vulcan: It took Nixon to go to China”.

    I think the quote was “We have a saying on Vulcan: Only Nixon could go to China”… Considering the lifespan of the average Vulcan, would the Nixon trip to China still be within ‘living memory’ of Vulcan? In the Enterprise episode “Carbon Creek” they talk of a Vulcan ship crashing on Earth in the 1950s, and speculated that a survivor of that crash, might still be alive on Earth.

    I was also thinking of Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving, Who also slept for 20 years. Missing out on the American Revolutionary War. I was thinking that someone who went to sleep in the summer of 2001 would wake in a completely alien world…

    I think we’re a society of boiled frogs, things change so incrementally, that from day to day we dont think of the changes – but over time we realize we’re in a boiling stew pot.

    • #4
  5. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Another great post.

    I have always admired Ford, even as I recognized he would have despised me. Note that the famous assembly line grew organically – it was not created by upper management, but instead came off the assembly floor. Ford was wise to embrace it, despite the fact that it was not his idea.

    • #5
  6. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    Very interesting post. Thanks!

    Adding to the Rip Van Winkle theme here, my favorite B-movie is Idiocracy (2004) where a perfectly average  enlistee is frozen in an Army experiment that went wrong, he wakes up 500 years later (although it could really be 50) to discover he’s the smartest man in the world. It’s not especially well known because corporate interests squashed the film because of how irreverently their products/brands were depicted. It’s hilarious.

     I feel like I’m living that everyday  – not the smartest myself, but people are getting dumber for sure! 

    • #6
  7. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge
    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.
    @BartholomewXerxesOgilvieJr

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    Considering the lifespan of the average Vulcan, would the Nixon trip to China still be within ‘living memory’ of Vulcan?

    I guess I’ll be that guy: It seems unlikely. Sarek was considered very old when he died at age 203. But Spock made his Nixon remark in 2293, which was 321 years after the actual event.

    • #7
  8. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    Yeah, one can be an anti-Semite without being a National Socialist. Not sure about the other way around though.

    • #8
  9. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    Considering the lifespan of the average Vulcan, would the Nixon trip to China still be within ‘living memory’ of Vulcan?

    I guess I’ll be that guy: It seems unlikely. Sarek was considered very old when he died at age 203. But Spock made his Nixon remark in 2293, which was 321 years after the actual event.

    Sayings can live on a long time though.  

    Not many people have looked any horse in the mouth, let alone a gift one.

    • #9
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I think this is a cautionary tale for our time.

    The Chinese Communists are the world’s gravest problem right now. I do not know what we should do about it.

    • #10
  11. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    One of Ted Geisel’s (Dr. Suess) first known published images, made to promote a radio show. It went on the air in early 1941, when America was already gearing up for war production. It was still more-or-less legal to trade with Germany, Italy and Japan, but it was tightening quickly. It remained on the air for some months into 1942, kind of odd because by then, nobody was doing any business with Hitler whether they felt like it or not.

    It was based on a book by a former US consular official in Berlin, and every story in the series was a variation on one invariable theme: you’ll get cheated. You’ll get robbed of your investment, and whatever you build will be twisted to evil uses.

    It was a peculiarly bloodless series styled as if it were an action series. “How do I know I can trust you, Professor Deutsch?”

    “You can’t. Now hand over the money.”

    IBM did do business with them – they created the tracking system used by the NAZIs – read  – I wonder if look at Apple or NIKE like this in 100 years

     

    • #11
  12. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Hoping to not come across as an anti-Jewish person:

    People were anti-Semitic during those days. If Ford bought a newspaper and used it to promulgate anti-Jewish sentiment, it stands to reason that if the community at large opposed those sentiments, the paper would have floundered.

    I once spent a day in a public library thumbing through the Look and Life magazines that had been published prior to 1940. Use of the “n” word in letters to the editor was somewhat routine. The “k” word for a Jewish person was used. Right there in full sight.

    There might be a few people here whose relatives from that time period would have hired an African American for anything other than janitorial duties – but very few.  Same with Christians hiring Jewish individuals. It simply “wasn’t done.”

    Inter-marriage between whites and blacks was a rarity. A white woman in the Deep South who let a black man court her was probably issuing the guy’s death sentence.

    My girlfriend who is in her eighties now, she attended for a brief time a Catholic grammar school in Chicago. Many times a nun would offer up a sermon against the “diabolical Jews.” (This friend is African American but once an adult she often  passed for white.) I was shocked to hear her talk about this matter. Fifteen years is what separates us age-wise – but she grew up in a completely different era.

    By the time I attended a Chicago Catholic grammar school from 1957 on, Jewish people were described by the nuns as “God’s chosen people.” It was explained that their ideas, philosophy and many religious teachings served as the foundation for the Catholic Church.

    The cultural norms have shifted. African Americans and Jewish people don’t face the job discrimination, housing discrimination and notions of being “diabolical” or “shiftless and lazy.”

    I’d say we have come a long long way, except for the fact that these days, until you really know someone, it is best to not ever  mention you vote for conservatives, are pro-gun, supported Donald Trump, and have seen though the COVID restrictions hoax with eyes wide open.

    Mention any one of those attitudes, and you will be called scum, even by relatives and formerly close bosom buddies.   We happen to be the new “n*****s.”

     

    • #12
  13. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    One of Ted Geisel’s (Dr. Suess) first known published images, made to promote a radio show. It went on the air in early 1941, when America was already gearing up for war production. It was still more-or-less legal to trade with Germany, Italy and Japan, but it was tightening quickly. It remained on the air for some months into 1942, kind of odd because by then, nobody was doing any business with Hitler whether they felt like it or not.

    It was based on a book by a former US consular official in Berlin, and every story in the series was a variation on one invariable theme: you’ll get cheated. You’ll get robbed of your investment, and whatever you build will be twisted to evil uses.

    It was a peculiarly bloodless series styled as if it were an action series. “How do I know I can trust you, Professor Deutsch?”

    “You can’t. Now hand over the money.”

    IBM did do business with them – they created the tracking system used by the NAZIs – read – I wonder if look at Apple or NIKE like this in 100 years

     

    There was a lot of this going around at the time.  FDR was convinced that Charles Lindbergh was a Nazi.  And, many people wondered about the political leanings of Joseph Kennedy.  Then there was this guy, Father Charles Coughlin…

    • #13
  14. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    One of Ted Geisel’s (Dr. Suess) first known published images, made to promote a radio show. It went on the air in early 1941, when America was already gearing up for war production. It was still more-or-less legal to trade with Germany, Italy and Japan, but it was tightening quickly. It remained on the air for some months into 1942, kind of odd because by then, nobody was doing any business with Hitler whether they felt like it or not.

    It was based on a book by a former US consular official in Berlin, and every story in the series was a variation on one invariable theme: you’ll get cheated. You’ll get robbed of your investment, and whatever you build will be twisted to evil uses.

    It was a peculiarly bloodless series styled as if it were an action series. “How do I know I can trust you, Professor Deutsch?”

    “You can’t. Now hand over the money.”

    IBM did do business with them – they created the tracking system used by the NAZIs – read – I wonder if look at Apple or NIKE like this in 100 years

     

    Some of us are convinced that a holocaust on American soil could be invisible. There is no longer a need for cattle cars or gas released into shower rooms. Maybe the fact the current COVID solution in a needle is killing 100 people a day is a fluke, an accident.

    Or maybe not. Remember, the PTB have already announced that these vax programs will be running for another nine years. Gates himself called 2020 to 2030 “the decade of the vaccine.”

    Anyone using the internet has probably created enough identifying markers for the PTB to keep tabs on you.

    The anti-Globalist end of the Conservative movement is already heavily censored. In the good old days book burning and canceling freedom of expression preceded the jailing of dissidents and undesirables and the germ-infested. These days, the contact tracers abut to descend on Californians could replace the need for work camps. Since last week, there have been ads on the local radio for how to apply for the job of innoculating people. (Pay is 14 to 17bucks an hour.)

    Why are those workers needed? People aren’t going to the vax events held on behalf of public health, so why the need to hire more employees to puncture one’s ski? 

    Conspiracy theory? Well, perhaps, but being one of the first here to talk about Fauci’s role in Wuhan lab already earned me that title. Only now Fauci’s role in keeping gain of function lab up and running is established fact.

    It appears the difference between conspiracy theory and factual knowledge happens to be time-related. A mere 12 to 15 months is the time factor involved.

    • #14
  15. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    People were anti-Semitic during those days. If Ford bought a newspaper and used it to promulgate anti-Jewish sentiment, it stands to reason that if the community at large opposed those sentiments, the paper would have floundered.

    The paper couldn’t flounder. It was given away in press runs of hundreds of thousands, shipped all over the country to Ford dealers, who were stuck getting rid of it. Usually it sat in a stack in the office, if anyone requested one. A handful of places were so anti-Semitic they welcomed The Dearborn Independent; a lot of other places, they went straight into the garbage. 

    Yep, America was pretty anti-Semitic in those days, but nothing compared to Europe. Ford didn’t just reflect those views. He wasn’t a typical American. He was a leader in promoting them, and as one of the first billionaires, he was ready to back up his prejudices with plenty of money. 

     

    • #15
  16. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    One of Ted Geisel’s (Dr. Suess) first known published images, made to promote a radio show. It went on the air in early 1941, when America was already gearing up for war production. It was still more-or-less legal to trade with Germany, Italy and Japan, but it was tightening quickly. It remained on the air for some months into 1942, kind of odd because by then, nobody was doing any business with Hitler whether they felt like it or not.

    It was based on a book by a former US consular official in Berlin, and every story in the series was a variation on one invariable theme: you’ll get cheated. You’ll get robbed of your investment, and whatever you build will be twisted to evil uses.

    It was a peculiarly bloodless series styled as if it were an action series. “How do I know I can trust you, Professor Deutsch?”

    “You can’t. Now hand over the money.”

    IBM did do business with them – they created the tracking system used by the NAZIs – read – I wonder if look at Apple or NIKE like this in 100 years

     

     

    There was a lot of this going around at the time. FDR was convinced that Charles Lindbergh was a Nazi. And, many people wondered about the political leanings of Joseph Kennedy. Then there was this guy, Father Charles Coughlin…

    Lindbergh wasn’t a Nazi, but he combined anti-Semitism with defeatism; his message was, the Germans have superior equipment and superior will, and we’d be fools to get into a war with them. Hitler relieved us of the decision by declaring war on us first. The Germans privately considered Lindbergh to be no more than a “dinner party anti-Semite”, but as with Ford, his worldwide fame made him admired. 

    Joseph P. Kennedy was a pro-German defeatist first, his views on Jewish people ranked a distant second. 

    Coughlin started out as a leftist, a New Dealer, incredibly enough, but he changed rapidly. The Catholic Church in the US in those days was, to say the least, no great bastion of philo-Semitism, but Coughlin was too much for them and they slapped him down. 

    • #16
  17. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Nazi? No. Jew-hating anti-Semite? Oh, and then some. 

    • #17
  18. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Percival (View Comment):

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    Considering the lifespan of the average Vulcan, would the Nixon trip to China still be within ‘living memory’ of Vulcan?

    I guess I’ll be that guy: It seems unlikely. Sarek was considered very old when he died at age 203. But Spock made his Nixon remark in 2293, which was 321 years after the actual event.

    Sayings can live on a long time though.

    Not many people have looked any horse in the mouth, let alone a gift one.

    321 years…so, Sarek’s grandfather’s youth….

    • #18
  19. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    iWe (View Comment):

    Another great post.

    I have always admired Ford, even as I recognized he would have despised me. Note that the famous assembly line grew organically – it was not created by upper management, but instead came off the assembly floor. Ford was wise to embrace it, despite the fact that it was not his idea.

    I’ve read that the assembly line was party inspired by the dis-assembly line used by Chicago’s butchers in meatpacking plants. Slaughtered cattle would come down the line, and each butcher specialized in one part of the cow. 

    One thing that seems almost tragicomic: Ford was surprised and hurt that Detroit’s Jews (and there weren’t many of them) were insulted and offended by his publications. Like many another anti-Semite, he felt he was speaking in generalities that didn’t apply to everyone. But that’s not what he wrote. 

    • #19
  20. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    GlennAmurgis (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    One of Ted Geisel’s (Dr. Suess) first known published images, made to promote a radio show. It went on the air in early 1941, when America was already gearing up for war production. It was still more-or-less legal to trade with Germany, Italy and Japan, but it was tightening quickly. It remained on the air for some months into 1942, kind of odd because by then, nobody was doing any business with Hitler whether they felt like it or not.

    It was based on a book by a former US consular official in Berlin, and every story in the series was a variation on one invariable theme: you’ll get cheated. You’ll get robbed of your investment, and whatever you build will be twisted to evil uses.

    It was a peculiarly bloodless series styled as if it were an action series. “How do I know I can trust you, Professor Deutsch?”

    “You can’t. Now hand over the money.”

    IBM did do business with them – they created the tracking system used by the NAZIs – read – I wonder if look at Apple or NIKE like this in 100 years

     

     

    There was a lot of this going around at the time. FDR was convinced that Charles Lindbergh was a Nazi. And, many people wondered about the political leanings of Joseph Kennedy. Then there was this guy, Father Charles Coughlin…

    Lindbergh wasn’t a Nazi, but he combined anti-Semitism with defeatism; his message was, the Germans have superior equipment and superior will, and we’d be fools to get into a war with them. Hitler relieved us of the decision by declaring war on us first. The Germans privately considered Lindbergh to be no more than a “dinner party anti-Semite”, but as with Ford, his worldwide fame made him admired.

    Joseph P. Kennedy was a pro-German defeatist first, his views on Jewish people ranked a distant second.

    Coughlin started out as a leftist, a New Dealer, incredibly enough, but he changed rapidly. The Catholic Church in the US in those days was, to say the least, no great bastion of philo-Semitism, but Coughlin was too much for them and they slapped him down.

    You would probably have had a tough time convincing FDR of Lindbergh’s proclivities.  In Bret Baier’s book, “Three Days at the Brink”, a conversation between FDR and Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau was featured in which FDR told Morgenthau, “If I should die tomorrow, I want you to know this.  I am absolutely convinced that Lindbergh is a Nazi”.

    If FDR had his own “enemies list”, I suspect that Lindbergh was very close to the top of it.  In some respects Lindbergh earned that position.  

    • #20
  21. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    @garymcvey

    By 1942, it was no longer important to deal with Germany.

    For instance: The ball bearings that would be used in German tank and airplane gun turrets were already inside those systems. With thanks to Henry Ford and US steel.

    Prescott Bush and Harriman had already concluded their Nazi dealings, with some historians now referring to The Third Reich as “The American Business’ World’s Masterpiece.”

    Prescott Bush was a partner of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co and director of Union Banking Corporation which had close relations with German corporate interests including Thyssen Steel, a major company involved in the Third Reich’s weapons industry.

    So let’s not pretend that since the big shots in the US dealmakers had quit by 1942, that the damage had not already been done in full.

    • #21
  22. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Percival (View Comment):

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    Considering the lifespan of the average Vulcan, would the Nixon trip to China still be within ‘living memory’ of Vulcan?

    I guess I’ll be that guy: It seems unlikely. Sarek was considered very old when he died at age 203. But Spock made his Nixon remark in 2293, which was 321 years after the actual event.

    Sayings can live on a long time though.

    Not many people have looked any horse in the mouth, let alone a gift one.

    And frankly, you should look a gift horse in the mouth.

    • #22
  23. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    My family is Jewish-y.  My mother, baptized a Roman Catholic, always read the Joys of Yiddish and kept it on her bedside table.  (And interestingly she frequently got in the mail invitations to join the B’nai B’rith.)  Her father, born and raised a Catholic, spoke fluent Yiddish and was often confused on sight with being Jewish.  (And was once taken off a street corner to be a tenth man? at a Seder?  Until he finally was able to explain — still speaking in Yiddish — that he was not Jewish.)

    In the 80s I worked for a Jewish firm, and the administrative team went out to lunch at an old restaurant.  I hope I’m not oppressively stereotyping here, but afterwards a well-coiffured white-haired lady (in what I would call the then-New York style) dressed in a simple, I would say Lord and Taylor, suit* took me aside and said that she was raised in that neighborhood, and she remembered as a little girl, that on the wall just inside the door hung a sign saying “No Jews Will Be Served Here”.

    That’s always kind of haunted me.

    Added: *This description doesn’t do her, or her personal presence or her professional skill justice.

    • #23
  24. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    @ garymcvey

    By 1942, it was no longer important to deal with Germany.

    For instance: The ball bearings that would be used in German tank and airplane gun turrets were already inside those systems. With thanks to Henry Ford and US steel.

    Prescott Bush and Harriman had already concluded their Nazi dealings, with some historians now referring to The Third Reich as “The American Business’ World’s Masterpiece.”

    Prescott Bush was a partner of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co and director of Union Banking Corporation which had close relations with German corporate interests including Thyssen Steel, a major company involved in the Third Reich’s weapons industry.

    So let’s not pretend that since the big shots in the US dealmakers had quit by 1942, that the damage had not already been done in full.

    CarolJoy, this doesn’t match up with known facts. The Germans knew how to make ball and sleeve bearings; for better or worse, as a nation they’ve always been great at metalworking, and unlike, say, the USSR, there wasn’t a big imbalance of industrial know-how between us and the Nazis. The US was long kicked out of managing its own German companies by the time the war started. (Check General Motors and the Nazis, by Henry Ashby Turner.)

    The one thing that GM did that they regretted later was finally building a gear-cutting plant to make Opel transmissions, which they’d been trying to get permits for since 1932. By the time it was okayed, built, and opened in 1937, General Motors was uneasily aware that it was potentially a dual-use factory. Transmissions are the most difficult and complicated part of a car, and Opel–at the time, the largest manufacturer of affordable cars in Germany–couldn’t survive without that factory. 

    Later, GM supplied detailed plans of the plant to the US armed forces so they’d know where to bomb. 

    None of this was due to any possible (and let’s face it, actual) American anti-Semitism. It was strictly the money. Both companies had also done business with the USSR.  

    • #24
  25. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    It was indirectly due to Henry Ford that I learned the word “anti-Semite.” I was reading a biography of him at school, and Susie told me that he was an anti-Semite. The reason that it stuck with me was because until then I hadn’t known Susie was a Jew. I knew my buddy David was. He’s the one from whom I got the skinny on Hanukkah.

    “Eight nights?”

    “Yeah, but it really isn’t all that. The first few nights, it’s ties … socks … stuff like that.”

    • #25
  26. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Flicker (View Comment):

    My family is Jewish-y. My mother, baptized a Roman Catholic, always read the Joys of Yiddish and kept it on her bedside table. (And interestingly she frequently got in the mail invitations to join the B’nai B’rith.) Her father, born and raised a Catholic, spoke fluent Yiddish and was often confused on sight with being Jewish. (And was once taken off a street corner to be a tenth man? at a Seder? Until he finally was able to explain — still speaking in Yiddish — that he was not Jewish.)

    In the 80s I worked for a Jewish firm, and the administrative team went out to lunch at an old restaurant. I hope I’m not oppressively stereotyping here, but afterwards a well-coiffured white-haired lady (in what I would call the then-New York style) dressed in a simple, I would say Lord and Taylor, suit took me aside and said that she as raised in that neighborhood, and she remembered as a little girl, that on the wall just inside the door hung a sign saying “No Jews Will Be Served Here”.

    That’s always kind of haunted me.

    Manhattan’s Yorkville neighborhood, 86th Street and thereabouts, was heavily German-American and the Nazis were clever about exploiting pro-German sentiment, which wasn’t always anti-Semitic. 

    Of course, on the other hand, sometimes it was. 

    • #26
  27. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    “Seize the USA in a Chevrolet…”

    • #27
  28. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    I, at a fundamental level, just don’t get anti-semitism.  I live in a world where every ethnic, racial, religious, geographical (Texas?  The only thing that comes out of Texas is steers and queers–and I don’t see any horns on you!) is the subject of jokes, often incredibly but cleverly profane, and I still have heard very, very few Jewish stereotype jokes.  Once (and it was funny; had to be there) one NCO told another, “Just pay the tip, ya Jew bastard.”  No heat and in context, it was really funny.

    [In that community, you tell and take the jokes because it’s a means of ensuring that one’s first loyalty is to the team, and not to tribe, race, religion or (yes) sexual preference.]

    Way I see it, I’m not a racist.  I’m not a misogynist, I’m not a bigot, and I’m not a homophobe.

    I’m a jackassist.  Whatever intersectional boxes you can check off, if you’re acting like a jackass, I’ll tell you.

    • #28
  29. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    I, at a fundamental level, just don’t get anti-semitism. I live in a world where every ethnic, racial, religious, geographical (Texas? The only thing that comes out of Texas is steers and queers–and I don’t see any horns on you!) is the subject of jokes, often incredibly but cleverly profane, and I still have heard very, very few Jewish stereotype jokes. Once (and it was funny; had to be there) one NCO told another, “Just pay the tip, ya Jew bastard.” No heat and in context, it was really funny.

    [In that community, you tell and take the jokes because it’s a means of ensuring that one’s first loyalty is to the team, and not to tribe, race, religion or (yes) sexual preference.]

    Way I see it, I’m not a racist. I’m not a misogynist, I’m not a bigot, and I’m not a homophobe.

    I’m a jackassist. Whatever intersectional boxes you can check off, if you’re acting like a jackass, I’ll tell you.

    That’s the perfect way to be. And yeah, I bet the NCO’s joke is no different than a hundred that I’ve heard Jews exchange among themselves. 

    • #29
  30. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    I, at a fundamental level, just don’t get anti-semitism. I live in a world where every ethnic, racial, religious, geographical (Texas? The only thing that comes out of Texas is steers and queers–and I don’t see any horns on you!) is the subject of jokes, often incredibly but cleverly profane, and I still have heard very, very few Jewish stereotype jokes. Once (and it was funny; had to be there) one NCO told another, “Just pay the tip, ya Jew bastard.” No heat and in context, it was really funny.

    [In that community, you tell and take the jokes because it’s a means of ensuring that one’s first loyalty is to the team, and not to tribe, race, religion or (yes) sexual preference.]

    Way I see it, I’m not a racist. I’m not a misogynist, I’m not a bigot, and I’m not a homophobe.

    I’m a jackassist. Whatever intersectional boxes you can check off, if you’re acting like a jackass, I’ll tell you.

    Jackassists Unite!

    • #30