1938 Henry Ford Receives the Grand Cross of German Eagle from Nazis: Or Why My Dad Never Allowed Us to Buy FORDS

From cojs.org

At a ceremony in Dearborn, Michigan, Henry Ford is presented with the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle on his 75th birthday. Henry Ford is the first American recipient of this, an honor created a year earlier by Adolf Hitler. This is the highest honor Nazi Germany could give to any foreigner and represents Adolf Hitler’s personal admiration and indebtedness to Henry Ford. The presentation is made by Karl Kapp, German consul in Cleveland, and Fritz Heller, German consular representative in Detroit. Ford is the only American mentioned in Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf”.

The peculiar admiration that National Socialists had for Henry Ford and the supposed sympathies that the Detroit industrialist harbored for Nazism keep attracting the curious, both academic historians and internet readers. There is something irresistible about the connection between the man taken to symbolize American industrial modernity and the quintessential villains of the twentieth century. The New York Times reported that a portrait of Henry Ford graced Hitler’s Munich office 1922. Hitler acknowledged Ford in Mein Kampf and Baldur von Schirach testified in court in Nuremberg that “the decisive anti-Semitic book” he had read was Ford’s International Jew.

According to Prince Louis Ferdinand, Hitler told him over lunch in 1933 that he was “a great admirer of Ford’s” and would do his “best to put his theories into practice in Germany.” German diplomats awarded Ford a prestigious decoration in 1938. Robert Ley, head of the Nazi labor organization German Labor Front, wrote a letter to Henry Ford from his Nuremberg prison cell, days before his suicide.

We also know that Nazi engineers and industrial managers adapted technological and functional aspects of Fordism. Flow production (assembly lines and vertical integration) had considerable appeal after 1936, when the Four-Year Plan sparked renewed interest in industrial rationalization. The Volkswagen plant invoked Ford’s Rouge Factory as a model, and the German Labor Front hired Ford engineers to staff it. Finally, the Nazi-appointed manager of the airplane builder Junkers, Heinrich Koppenberg, was a vocal disciple of Ford production techniques.

Historians have proposed different understandings of the Ford-Nazi connection. Some have offered muckraking indictments of the American industrialist as a Nazi sympathizer and war profiteer. For others, the connection exhibited Nazi “reactionary modernism,” that paradoxical Fusion of technological zeal and anti-modern romanticism supposedly characteristic of Nazism. Others again have suggested a structural nexus between Fordism and Fascism. In this vein, Fordism is essentially understood as a device of capitalist control over the industrial work force. In Germany, it is asserted, Fordism only became dominant under Nazism.

But depite these interpretations, the Ford-Nazi connection still leaves us with considerable uneasiness. It fits only awkwardly into the master narratives of a historiography still dominated by national conceptual frameworks. In the American case, the status of Henry Ford as a herald of the roaring 1920’s makes it difficult to integrate his Antisemitism and indelicate political leanings into a unified appreciation of his historical role, which, in turn, creates the clichéo of the man as an “enigma.” Meanwhile, in German historiography, the juxtaposition of “Ford” and “Nazis” is still more likely to elicit ruminations about the relationship between National Socialism and modernity rather than empirical investigation. Source


4 thoughts on “1938 Henry Ford Receives the Grand Cross of German Eagle from Nazis: Or Why My Dad Never Allowed Us to Buy FORDS

  1. Mark V

    I’ve read elsewhere before about his Antisemitism. “The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem” – Henry Ford 1920. Not that I read this, but this is probably why Hitler loved him.

  2. saintsnotaints

    People should know this. Amen. My quick controversial thoughts. Look at u.s govt layout. Its all satanic. It waa a jesuit creation between states of virgin..& mary…. the capital dome made in the papal states and sent to america as a vatican gift. On top of capitol dome is 15 foot woman named persephone that stands over the congress. She has many titles like isis or queen of hell.
    America was satans master piece created by the devil. Gods response was to pour tens of millions of christians into america to seize america from satan. There was much success but the devil pushed back and its been conflict for control all along. Once one understands this, its easier to understand that israels rebirth is very similiar. The difference is God rebirthed israel but had to use satan people to bring it about, thus giving satan a foothold. Before the holocaust, not many religious jews wanted to return to israel so God had to use athiest socialist jews to rebuild as they were willing, pushing israel into a constant internal good v. Evil like america.
    Have studied history and eugenics & nazism is american creation exported to germany. Will stop here as thousands of particular details that can be printed.too many. The devil will overcome the saints for brief time. The power of the holy people will be scattered or shattered. Some of us will perish in Christ and some of us will remain till we rise in the air. Its Gods choice and we just need stay faithful and worthy.

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