Henry Ford, founder of Ford motor company, is most well known as an icon of American manufacturing and ingenuity. A lesser known aspect of Ford’s history is his fascist leanings and blatant anti-Semitism. Ford ruled over Dearborn Michigan as a de facto dictator, employing fascist tactics to control his workforce. His anti-Semitic writings influenced Adolf Hitler, who expressed admiration for the famed automobile industrialist. Ford’s company was instrumental in supplying the German military with vehicles during World War II even as they refused to assist the allies. Ford’s racist and corporatist views made him an idol of the National Socialists.
In 1931, Dearborn Michigan was the headquarters of the Ford motor company and the site of a bloody clash between labor protestors, Fords private security, and the Dearborn police (Folsom). Known as the hunger march, organized workers had been permitted to march through Detroit. When they attempted to enter into Ford controlled Dearborn, the protestors were met with violent resistance. Four men were killed and more than sixty injured when police and Ford security personnel fired into the crowd (Folsom). According to writer Franklin Folsom, Ford head of security Harry Bennett fired several shots from his vehicle before being pelted be stones from the crowd, at which point he exited his car and continued to fire at the demonstrators. Later, in 1937, Bennett and Ford’s security team were involved in an attack on workers handing out leaflets on an overpass near the rouge plant in Detroit which came to be known as the battle of the overpass.
In addition to suppression of labor rights, Ford embodied several of the tenets of fascism including expressions of nat...
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...years than engage in anti-Semitic activities” (Logsdon). Baldus von Schirach, former leader of the Hitler Youth, testified in the Nuremburg trials "You have no idea what a great influence this book had on the thinking of German youth," von Schirach stated. "The younger generation looked with envy to the symbols of success and prosperity like Henry Ford, and if he said the Jews were to blame, we naturally believed him" (Logsdon). After suffering several strokes, the most severe reportedly suffered in 1945 while watching footage from Majdanek Concentration Camp, Ford never recovered and became paranoid that government agents were after him, perhaps out of guilt for his contributions to the Nazi atrocities. Ford would later die in 1947 while confined to his bed in a severe state of depression. His fascist leanings and fervent anti-Semitism will forever taint his legacy.
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