Professor Neil Baldwin - Henry Ford
A native New Yorker, Neil Baldwin is represented by William Morris Endeavor Agency.
His next book, Martha Graham: When Dance Became Modern, will be published in 2022 by Alfred A. Knopf.
He received his PhD in Modern American Poetry from SUNY/Buffalo, where he studied with Robert Creeley.
Baldwin is the critically-acclaimed author of biographies of William Carlos Williams, Man Ray, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford, as well as Legends of the Plumed Serpent: Biography of a Mexican God.
Q: Henry Ford and the Jews – Professor Neil Baldwin - INTRO
A: When I was circulating the manuscript for this book to publishers in NY the almost unanimous reaction was, why would you want to go into this swamp of disgusting, muckraking, finger wagging? Thirty years ago I was doing research in the NY public library for my book on Thomas Edison and came across notes by John Burroughs. He describes how Ford (in 1919) started expostulating, sermonizing how the Jews caused the war. How the international conspiracy of Jewish bankers caused the war.
Q: What were the major influences in Ford’s life?
A: Ford was born two months after the Battle of Gettysburg. He was born in Dearbonville, Michigan, near Detroit, on a farm. He grew up in the Midwest, lift yourself up by the bootstraps, bible reading, Christian, proper, farm environment. Probably he did not meet a Jew until he was in his twenties. When he was a child the McGuffy Reader was the textbook of choice. The story of the Merchant of Venice and Shylock was one of the spotlighted stories. And it certainly fed into the stereotype of the Jew as the other, money lender, usurer.
Q: What was unique about Ford’s business geniu?
A: Arthur Dowd, who worked with Ford, said that “Henry used to get SET as a young man as he does now. When Henry Ford gets SET, he is SET”. He had this core of steel about his business and his inculcated beliefs. This gave him his success with the assembly line which is basically the first really powerful innovation which catapulted him to be a millionaire in the space of a decade.
Q: When did Ford’s first take a public stance against the Jews?
A: I would say that the public voice came when he was at the peak of his success. He was getting slightly bored. He had a feeling that there must be a platform to promote his beliefs. He decided to start a newspaper and he bought out the Dearborn Independent.
Q: What was the organized Jewish response to the Dearborn Independent?
A: It wasn’t like the entire Jewish community decided to get together or rally around against Ford. Henry Ford published an anthology titled, The International Jew, The World’s Problem. Jewish organizations published an article on December 2 1920 in Der Tog, “the stupid slander against the Jews” Then it took more time to develop a sense of indignation to the point where Ford was sued.
Q: What was the Ford / Hitler connection?
A: Ford’s, The International Jew, was translated into German in the late 1920s, early 1930s. A New York Times reporter was visiting Hitler in 1933 and on the table in the waiting room found the International Jew pamphlet. And in Hitler’s office a portrait of Henry Ford was hanging on the wall. Ford is the only American name mentioned in Mein Kampf. In 1938 Ford received the Cross of the German Eagle.
Q: How should we view the Ford phenomenon in 2021?
A: I wrote in the Afterword of the book in 2001, “…similar behavior on the scale of Henry Ford’s, manifested by a figure with equal public visibility and power, is well-nigh inconceivable”.
But today all perceived non-Americans are up for stigmatizing and persecution and being marginalized.