Henry Ford Receiving the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Nazi officials, 1938

 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 was the first American recipient of this order, an honor created in 1937 by Adolf Hitler. This was the highest honor Nazi Germany could give to any foreigner and represented Adolf Hitler’s personal admiration and indebtedness to Henry Ford. The presentation was made by Karl Kapp, German consul in Cleveland, and Fritz Heller, German consular representative in Detroit.


Henry Ford receiving the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Nazi officials, 1938.

 

 


 

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.

In 1918, Ford’s closest aide and private secretary, Ernest G. Liebold, purchased an obscure weekly newspaper for Ford, The Dearborn Independent. The Independent ran for eight years, from 1920 until 1927. In Germany, Ford’s antisemitic articles from The Dearborn Independent were issued in four volumes, cumulatively titled The International Jew, the World’s Foremost Problem published by Theodor Fritsch, founder of several antisemitic parties and a member of the Reichstag.

In a letter written in 1924, Heinrich Himmler described Ford as “one of our most valuable, important, and witty fighters”. Ford is the only American mentioned favorably in Mein Kampf, although he is only mentioned once: Adolf Hitler wrote: “only a single great man, Ford, [who], to [the Jews’] fury, still maintains full independence…[from] the controlling masters of the producers in a nation of one hundred and twenty millions”.

Speaking in 1931 to a Detroit News reporter, Hitler said he regarded Ford as his “inspiration”, explaining his reason for keeping Ford’s life-size portrait next to his desk. Steven Watts wrote that Hitler “revered” Ford, proclaiming that “I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany”, and modeling the Volkswagen, the people’s car, on the Model T.

German 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.

While Ford was extremely anti-Semitic, at the same time he was very anti-war (and of course blamed Jews for World War I, not surprising given his propensity for blaming Jews for many things). So Ford didn’t like the Nazi militarism. Not enough to turn down this award, but still, he wasn’t close on a political level with the Nazis, and is quoted as saying in the New York Times at the time of the award: “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”. While Ford didn’t turn down the award, he also didn’t travel to Germany to receive it, so it was awarded to him in Michigan instead.

But despite 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 cliché of the man as an “enigma”.

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ALERT ALERT

YIKES!!! Chelsea Clinton Emphatically States A Person With A Beard And A Penis Can ‘Absolutely’ Identify As A Woman

  • The one issue Hillary and Chelsea don’t appear to agree on entirely is transgender self-identification
  • In an interview with The Sunday Times, journalist Decca Aitkenhead asked the Clintons about transgender self-identification
  • Chelsea Clinton replied ‘yes’ emphatically when asked if someone with a beard and penis can ever be a woman
  • ‘It’s going to take a lot more time and effort to understand what it means to be defining yourself differently,’ Hillary said
  • Aitkenhead said Hillary became ‘uneasy’ when the question was asked while Chelsea shot a ‘furious stare’ at the journalist as her mother answered
  • Hillary added: ‘It’s a very big generational discussion, because this is not something I grew up with or ever saw’

(Daily Mail) – It may appear Hillary and Chelsea Clinton always see eye-to-eye, but in a recent interview one topic cracked the facade of the like-minded mother-daughter power duo.

The one issue Hillary and Chelsea don’t appear to agree on entirely is transgender self-identification.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, journalist Decca Aitkenhead asked the Clintons if someone with a beard and a penis can ever be a woman, to which Chelsea replied emphatically, ‘Yes.’

However, as Aitkenhead describes it, Hillary looked ‘uneasy’, and blamed generational gaps for being less accepting.

‘Errr. I’m just learning about this,’ Hillary responded. ‘It’s a very big generational discussion, because this is not something I grew up with or ever saw. It’s going to take a lot more time and effort to understand what it means to be defining yourself differently.’

The Clintons sat sown with Aitkenhead to promote the book they co-authored, The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience.

The book features Danica Roem, the first trans woman elected to a U.S. state legislature.

According Aitkenhead’s account, she tells Hillary during the interview that many British feminists of Hillary’s generation have a problem with the idea that a ‘lesbian who doesn’t want to sleep with someone who has a penis is transphobic.’

Hillary nods in agreement, while Chelsea ‘stiffens and stares at me’, according to Aitkenhead.

The journalist then adds that many women of Hillary’s generation are uncomfortable with biological males sharing women’s bathrooms.

‘I would say that, absolutely,’ Hillary nods firmly. ‘Absolutely. Yes.’

That’s when Chelsea begins shooting a ‘furious stare’ at Aitkenhead, who points it out to her.

‘I’m a terrible actor’, Chelsea laughs.

Chelsea then says she is thrilled with the National Health Service’s decision to assign patients to single-sex wards according to the gender they identify as, instead of their biological make up.

‘How can you treat someone if you don’t recognize who they feel and know in their core they are?’ Chelsea says.

‘And I strongly support children being able to play on the sports teams that match their own gender identity,’ she adds. ‘I think we need to be doing everything we can to support kids in being whoever they know themselves to be and discovering who they are.’

At this point Hillary looks conflicted.

‘I think you’ve got to be sensitive to how difficult this is,’ Hillary says. ‘There are women who’d say [to a trans woman], ”You know what, you’ve never had the kind of life experiences that I’ve had. So I respect who you are, but don’t tell me you’re the same as me.” I hear that conversation all the time.’

Despite the clear tension in the room, the pair say they don’t argue about this topic.

But according to Aitkenhead, ‘I get the impression they don’t like to present anything less than a united front to the world.’

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