Henry Ford's Forged "Apology"
At the apex of his business career Henry Ford, the industrial genius sensed that a terrific effort was being made to take his business from him and manipulate it into the hands of the money-changers. Mr. Ford had the impression that these manipulators were being engineered by powerful Jewish financiers.
He called to his office the most intelligent research men within his acquaintance. He commissioned them to make a thorough study of the International Jew and publish their findings in "The Dearborn Independent," which at that time was the official organ of the Ford Motor Company. No expense was spared, and it is estimated that literally millions of dollars were spent by Mr. Ford on this project. The original articles were carried first in "The Dearborn Independent," and then published in book form.
I have in my possession every copy of "The Dearborn Independent." This complete set is beautifully bound in Morocco leather and was given to me by an inner-circle member of Mr. Ford's personal staff.
When the report on "The International Jew" was originally published it opened each chapter with a text taken from "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," or from the published statements of world prominent Jews. The moment the manuscripts dealing with the Jewish problem reached the public, a terrific howl went up from official Jewry. If I were to summarize the campaign of reprisal and abuse which was carried on against Mr. Ford and his Company, this summary alone would require a book. Every instrument of torture and abuse which could be imagined was carried on against Mr. Ford -- smear, character assassination, ridicule, physical threat, boycott. The pressure was constant, consistent and endless. The most powerful and enigmatic pressures imaginable were brought to bear on Mr. Ford to stop the publication of "The International Jew." Finally the order came through to cease publication and to destroy the copies which were available. Jews and others went into the bookstores and bought and destroyed all copies which could be found. Sneak thieves were commissioned to visit libraries and steal the report out of the libraries. This made the book so rare and unfindable that it became a collector's item.
The day finally came when the one ambition of the Jews was fulfilled. Mr. Ford apologized for publishing "The International Jew" and blamed subordinates for the deed.
In 1940 I interviewed Mr. Ford on numerous occasions. In fact, on the day before his first automobile was put under glass, he and Mrs. Ford invited Mrs. Smith and myself to be their guests at Dearborn. On this occasion he told me the whole story of his first car and how he happened to make it. Among the precious souvenirs which have come to Mrs. Smith and myself is a New Testament autographed by Mr. Ford, and handwritten letters from Mrs. Ford commenting favorably on some of my speeches and expressing in her own handwriting Mr. Ford's appreciation for my activities.
It was on the occasion of one of these personal visits with Mr. Ford that he gave me a sensational and shocking report. He said: "Mr. Smith, my apology for publishing 'The International Jew' was given great publicity, but I did not sign that apology. It was signed by Harry Bennett."
For the information of the reader Harry Bennett was a very officious and aggressive employee of the Ford Motor Company. He presumed his way into the confidence of Mr. Ford and later became known as an enigmatic and obnoxious personality. Space will not permit a thorough discussion of the activities of Harry Bennett. Mr. Ford's personal secretary for 34 years, Mr. Ernest Liebold, told me that one of the worst things that ever happened to the Ford Motor Company was the employment of Harry Bennett. For a certain period of time Bennett exerted virtually a dictatorial control over the affairs of the Company. His alleged deeds, if summarized might make rather a scandalous book.
When Mr. Ford told me that he had not signed the apology, it seemed almost unbelievable. In fact, I could scarcely believe my own ears. Furthermore, on the occasion of this same visit, Mr. Ford said: "Mr. Smith, I hope to republish 'The International Jew' again some time." He showed no signs of regret for having published it in the beginning.
I did not report this conversation even to my most faithful followers because the original "apology" had been so thoroughly publicized that I knew it would be difficult to make people believe what I had heard from Mr. Ford's own lips.
After Mr. Ford died, the man Harry Bennett evidently was very much disillusioned and embittered by the fact that he did not share generously in the inheritance. He collaborated with a Jew by the name of Paul Marcus in the writing of a book entitled "We Never Called Him Henry" which smears and ridicules the late Mr. Ford.
Mr. Bennett's own story concerning the much publicized "apology" Mr. Ford is supposed to have made for exposing the machinations of the International Jew is hilighted in blue. Here are Mr. Bennett's own words:
Thirty Years With A Model-T Genius
"The way to hold a job with the elder Henry Ford was to do what he wanted done, whether he admitted it or not. It wasn't always easy, but the pay, though peculiar, could be mighty enjoyable".
Condensed from the book, We Never Called Him Henry,
by Harry Bennett as told to Paul Marcus
During the thirty years I worked for Henry Ford, I became his most intimate companion. I was closer to him even than his only son. The result has been a misconception in the public mind. A belief has arisen that Mr. Ford was a simple man who was merely illadvised in his unpopular actions - and that I was his adviser.
It wasn't true. After all, Mr. Ford was one of the world's greatest industrialists. He created a billion-dollar organization. No "simple" man could have achieved the things he did. The truth is that though I sometimes disagreed with Mr. Ford and took issue with him, I was completely loyal to him. The reason Mr. Ford kept me on for thirty years was that I did what he wanted me to.
It has also been said, whenever anything happened at the Ford Motor Company which displeased the public, that I had done this thing without Mr. Ford's knowledge.
That wasn't true, either. Nothing ever happened at the Ford Motor Company without Mr. Ford's knowledge; that was a physical impossibility.
I have been called a thug, a gangster, a pro-Nazi, an anti-Semite. It has been said that I was fired from my job.
All of these accusations are just plain lies.
I have no desire to glorify myself. But for the sake of my family, and for my own peace of mind, I want to try to set the record straight.
For a third of a century during America's automotive coming-of-age, Henry Ford was a public figure perhaps better-known to most Americans than their Presidents. Yet, paradoxically; in. his true character he was one of the least-known. The man. who knew him best was Harry Bennett. Fresh from a sailor's life in the Navy in 1916, young Bennett was picked up from a water-front brawl by Arthur Brisbane, noted newspaper writer, and presented that same day to Henry Ford as a young man whose rough-and-ready talents might be useful to the auto king in the forging of his industrial empire. Starting in a minor job, Bennett soon. was given great power. The relationship between Ford and Bennett that has remained mysterious for so many years is revealed for the first time by Harry Bennett himself in his book, We Never Called Him Henry, published currently by Fawcett Publications as a Gold Medal Book for news-stand distribution; and presented here in shorter form by TRUE. - The Editor
Exactly what was my job with Mr. Ford?
Well, I guess the simplest way to define my position is to say that I was Mr. Ford's aide, his man-of-all-work. Titles weren't popular at the Ford Motor Company. In fact, from 1918, when Mr. Ford gave the presidency to Edsel, until 1943 when he assumed it again, he himself had no title at all. Most of the years I was with Mr. Ford, there were only two titles in the whole company a President Treasurer; a Secretary-Assistant Treasurer. It was a one-man show, and Mr: Ford was jealous of authority.
But in addition to this general attitude toward titles, I had no title because it was out of the question for me to hold down any one job at the Ford Motor Company; both because of the way Mr. Ford kept me with him all the time, and the way he had me jumping around from one task to another.
Part of what my work was to be came out in his instructions on the first assignment he gave me. How I got moved into this assignment was also my first experience with the indirect methods Mr. Ford liked to use.
For six months I'd been holding down a small job at the Highland Park office, waiting for more exciting or interesting work, and half a dozen times getting disgusted, quitting, and each time being called back by Mr. Ford, who nevertheless would say only that he "just wanted to keep in touch with me:" My life in that job had been made harder by my department boss, a man named A. B. Jewett, who resented Mr. Ford's personal interest in me and had set a big fellow to harassing me in every way possible. I was small, being 5 feet 7 and weighing only 145 pounds, but I wore a 17 collar and I had trained and boxed with some of the best in the Navy. Jewett's man had finally got too much for me and I let him have it, splitting his nose right down the middle.
It so happened that, shortly after that, Mr. Ford sent for me. It was the real beginning of my career with the Ford Motor Company. Mr. Ford told me he was going to send me over to the Rouge.
He said: "I'm sending you over there to be my eyes and ears."
Then he warned: "There may be a lot of people over there who'll want to fire you, but don't you pay any attention to them. I'm the only one who can fire you. Remember, you're working for me."
We talked a while longer, and then I told Mr. Ford my troubles with Jewett.
Mr. Ford said: "Well, we'll just lay a trap for that fellow."
Then he explained: "I'll tell Bill Knudsen to ask the other executives during lunch for a big, tough guy to be sent over to the Rouge. And I bet Jewett will send you, to get rid of you:"
Mr. Ford's plot worked out perfectly, though I didn't know it until after a couple of days had dragged by and I thought they'd forgotten about me.
Ford executives met for lunch every day in a pine-paneled corner room at the Dearborn Engineering Laboratory, usually with Mr. Ford. These lunches, at a big round table, were really meetings, and lasted anywhere from one to five hours. At this lunch table, then, Knudsen, acting on Mr. Ford's instruction, said: "I need a big, tough guy out at the Rouge do any of you know one you could send out?"
True to Mr. Ford's prediction, Jewett fell all over himself volunteering to send me.
Knudsen thereupon called me on the phone, knowing nothing about me except my name. William S. Knudsen was a large, jovial, easygoing man who had started with Mr. Ford in 1907; he had built fourteen of the company's branch factories and was now in charge of building the Rouge plant. He told me to report to his office there.
Highland Park was the core of the Ford Motor Company in 1917; it was there that Ford was reaching his goal of producing a car every minute. The River Rouge plant then consisted of only a blast furnace and "B" Building. Thousands of construction workers swarmed over the vast acreage of the Rouge, a hard-bitten crew. The automobile industry as a whole was no place for hot-house plants; but the Rouge in particular was tough, brawling, violent. - Paul Marcus
At the Rouge gate, I had no idea where to go, and turned to a giant Polish foreman. I said: "Where can I find Mr. Knudsen?"
"Why do you want to see him?" the man said.
"That's my business," I answered.
Without another word, the big Pole clipped me on the jaw and knocked me down.
I sat there, shaking my head to clear it. I thought: "Mr. Ford has framed me." I did not know I was the butt of a Knudsen witticism: supposing I would be the "big tough guy" he had asked for, Knudsen had jokingly advised this foreman: "If he gets fresh, clip him." He thought, of course, that the fellow would never dare do it.
The big fellow stooped over and put his hands beneath my arms. "The next time you're asked a question around here," he said, "don't get so cocky," and he helped me up.
"Thanks," I said. Then I pushed his chin up with my left and swung with my right. Only his jaw didn't come down, as I had expected; and I hit him in the neck. The blow not only laid him out, but left him speechless as well. He went around the Rouge whispering for weeks.
I proceeded to Bill Knudsen's office, where I announced myself to his clerk. I cooled my heels there for some time. As I learned later, the story of my fight preceded me into Knudsen's office. When the clerk at last told Knudsen I was waiting to see him, Knudsen said: "Oh, Bennett a big fellow?"
"No, I wouldn't say so," the clerk said.
Puzzled, Knudsen came out to the waiting room himself. By now it was late, and I was sitting there alone. Knudsen looked at me. He clapped his forehead with his hand and exclaimed: "Jesus Christ!"
If I had worried earlier that I might not find enough excitement with Mr. Ford, I didn't have to worry long.
Here are some of the things that kept me interested.
Mr. Ford, always concerned for his personal safety, had a small-arms target range over his garage at the Residence, and almost from the beginning he took me up there and we had target practice together.
Once, we were tipped off that a gang meant to hold up our pay car on the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad, then owned by the company. A fellow named Milt Johnson, recently Twin Cities branch manager, and I, captured the bandits. We parked our car near the tracks in some pretty rugged country, where we knew the holdup attempt was to be made. When the bandits showed up, we chased them. I drove the car, and Johnson hung on the running board and blasted away with a shotgun. After a wild pursuit, the bandits threw their guns out of. the car and surrendered to us.
Again, there was the time when a Detroit News reporter named Art Ogle brought me a tip that there was to be a robbery attempt on our pay office at the Rouge.
When the car we were expecting drove down Miller Road, a public thoroughfare which bisects the Rouge plant, I went out to meet them.
I said to them: "There's a whole arsenal in there waiting for you. If you go in, there are going to be a lot of people killed and some of them will be you."
I also told them a newspaper reporter and a police judge were watching them which was the truth but that if they turned around and went away, nothing would happen to them.
I guess they weren't any more anxious to be shot at than anyone else would be and were glad of a chance to get out of it this easily. But at first they suspected some kind of double-cross. They wanted me to ride on their running board until they had cleared the plant. However, I convinced them that if they forced me to get on, the shooting would start.
Finally, they believed me, and drove away.
It was things like these that kept me with Mr. Ford, not missing the Navy at all.
The first nine or ten years I was with Mr. Ford was an educational period for me. I learned to know Mr. Ford. I learned how he thought, how he felt, how he operated. I also learned what he expected of me.
In those early days, he once said to me: "Harry, never try to outguess me."
I was green then, and I didn't quite get it. I said: "You mean, I should never try to understand you?"
"Well," Mr. Ford said, "that's close enough."
What he meant, I eventually realized, was that he expected me to carry out his wishes without probing for his motives. Mr. Ford always had a motive for everything he did; usually, he had two motives the one he gave, and the real one. He didn't want me digging into that too far.
Nevertheless, I learned a great deal about him. Mr. Ford was a great man; but he had his own peculiarities.
First of all, I learned, Mr. Ford was inconsistent. He was the most inconsistent man I ever knew. Yet he hated nothing more than being called inconsistent. I used to tell Mr. Ford that he was inconsistent, and he'd get angry and say: "If you mean I change my mind, I reserve the right to change my mind any time I want to." Just because he said something yesterday never mean that he felt obligated to it today.
Many times, in critical situations his attitude was: "Harry, let's you and him have a fight."
But he never wanted to have people hurt; or, if they were hurt as a result of his orders, he didn't want to know about it.
Mr. Ford always claimed that he didn't care what people said about him but he certainly wanted to know what people said. One of the tasks he gave me, over and over for thirty years, was finding out what people thought of him. He was insatiable for information.
Yet, Mr. Ford hated to have strangers get confidential with him. If someone he didn't know, very well sidled up to him at a social affair and began feeding him some gossip, Mr. Ford got away as fast as he could. Later, he would tell me: "So-and-so was piddling in my ear." That was a favorite expression of his.
Mr. Ford was extremely superstitious. If he put on a sock inside-out in the morning, he'd never change it. He was afraid of black cats, walking under ladders, breaking mirrors, and all the rest of it. And on a Friday the 13th, you could hardly get him to move. But he had ways of rationalizing some of these things. He'd say: "If a black cat crosses the road and you're superstitious, then you'll drive more carefully, and that's a good thing. Anybody who will walk under a ladder deserves to get a paint pot on his head."
As far as loyalty was concerned, Mr. Ford didn't seem to care too much. I saw men disloyal to Mr. Ford over and over, and yet if they were useful to him, he'd keep them on. He never let emotion interfere in business.
The one thing in the world Mr. Ford couldn't stand was ridicule. He couldn't stand any kind of slur on his intelligence. While I was with him I sometimes ignored orders; I took issue with him any number of times; but T know now that if I'd ridiculed him, I'd have been through.
During those early years, Mr. Ford gave me a lecture on the matter of gifts. He told me: "Never give anything without strings attached to it."
A gift from him always had a rubber band on it. Gifts to me were the one exception.
Time after time I saw Mr. Ford give things to people, like cars, tractors, and whatnot, and then if he got sore at the recipient, he'd take the gift back again, without any explanation. He'd never give a title or deed with a gift; he'd tell the person: "Now, this is yours for life." That was a favorite expression. But when he got angry, he forgot his promise.
The best example of this sort of thing. I know is the car he gave to a man named Ash.
Ash ran the power plant at the Rouge. He was an old, loyal employee. In fact, he had worked with Mr. Ford at the Edison Electric Company as a fellow mechanic before Mr. Ford ever began making cars. He was a kindly, somewhat simple man who had no thought but for his job.
Mr. Ford decided to reward Ash for his many years of service, and gave Ash a new Ford car.
Ash was terribly grateful. He wanted to show his appreciation. So whenever word traveled down the grapevine that Mr. Ford was coming to the powerhouse, Ash would grab a rag and run out to where his car was parked, and start polishing it with loving care.
Mr. Ford noticed this, all right, but the performance didn't have the effect that Ash had expected. It made Mr. Ford angry. He came to me and said: "That fellow Ash hasn't done a lick of work since he got that car. You go and take it away from him."
I just ignored this order, as I did others of a similar nature. But apparently Mr. Ford found someone to do it, because a few days later Ash's car disappeared.
Ash was wild. Of course, he had no idea what had happened to his prized possession. He notified me of the theft, and he also notified the Dearborn police.
Ash never got his car back, to my knowledge.
It wasn't often, though, that Mr. Ford came right out and told you something he thought you should learn, as he did with me in the matter of gifts. He had his own unique educational method, and I ran up against it very early in my career with him:
The following incident, which happened because Mr. Ford wanted a slag separator installed at the Rouge, has been told before but never accurately.
Mr. Ford bought the D. T. & I. Railroad, a dilapidated, vestpocket affair which he put into first-class operating order. One day when Mr. Ford and I were together, he spotted some rust in the slag that ballasted the right of way of the D. T. & I. This slag had been dumped there from our own ore furnaces.
"You know," Mr. Ford said to me, "there's iron in that slag. You make the crane crews who put it out there sort it over and take it back to the plant."
There were miles of this stuff, and to me Mr. Ford's order was a joke. I could plainly see, as anyone could, that the reclaimed iron would never repay the labor required to do the job. However, I figured Mr. Ford owned the plant, and if he wanted to do something silly like that, it was his own business. So I started having it done. I got a crane out there, and over a hundred men, and put them to work.
The men were bringing some of this stuff back to the slag crusher when Charley Sorensen saw them.
Charles E. Sorensen was then one of the three people who together headed Ford production himself, Peter E. Martin, and Knudsen. Sorensen, sometimes known as "Cast Iron Charlie" because of his ability at casting, was a Danish immigrant who started with Mr. Ford in 1904. He began as a pattern-maker, and did some of the work on Mr. Ford's famous racer, "999," which first Mr. Ford and then Barney Oldfield drove to fame. Sorensen was about 6 feet tall, heavy but well-proportioned, always well-groomed, and a handsome man; people used to say he could have been a Hollywood star. Sorensen went up to some of the men who were bringing in the slag, and demanded: "What the hell's wrong with your heads?"
They told him I'd given them orders to do it.
Sorensen, whose headquarters were then at Dearborn in the Highland Park plant, came to see me. He asked me if I didn't think it was a great waste of money to have this work done. "Yes, sure it is," I said.
Sorensen exploded: "Then why in hell are you doing it?" "Because Mr. Ford told me to," I said.
"Well," Sorensen said, "I suppose if Mr. Ford told you to tear down that powerhouse over there, you'd tear it down." I said: "If this is a game, just be sure Mr. Ford doesn't tell me to tear it down, because it will come down, all right."
I thought that Mr. Ford had wanted to make me look foolish. I didn't lose any time getting to him with this, and told him what had happened with Sorensen.
But Mr. Ford only said: "Now, Charley isn't like that at all. He's just a pinchpenny on things like this." Then he explained: "But what you did will save us a million dollars. Now Charley will get a separator to take the iron out of the slag before it goes out there."
In 1918, Mr. Ford resigned as president of the Ford Motor Company, though he kept his seat on the board of directors, and Edsel, then 25, was elected president.
Though Edsel remained president of the company from then until his death, Mr. Ford never really gave him anything but the title. Mr. Ford was boss, and no one ever had cause to doubt it.
Edsel, who had a quiet voice and manners, was built much like his father slender, and long-legged. He was a nervous man; when he got angry, he threw up. He was just a scared boy as long as I knew him. Mr. Ford blamed himself for this. He had always overprotected Edsel. He had had Edsel privately educated, refused to let him go to college, and had taken him into the business and under his wing when Edsel was about 18. This undoubtedly had its effect on Edsel's character.
I know that Mr. Ford loved Edsel dearly, but there was an unrelenting though sometimes hidden struggle between them which went on to the day of Edsel's death. The base for this was in Mr. Ford's desire to have Edsel be just like him to live like him, and to think like him.
Whenever Mr. Ford thought someone was selling Edsel ideas contrary to his, he came down on the offender like a ton of bricks. If Edsel began carrying out an idea which Mr. Ford didn't like, Mr. Ford never said a word to him; he let Edsel go ahead, and meanwhile worked against the project himself. It was his idea of the best way to educate Edsel and get some sense into him.
For an example of this, at one time Bill Mayo, chief engineer of the Ford Motor Company, convinced Edsel that some new coke ovens were needed. Edsel told Mayo to go ahead and build them.
Mr. Ford disapproved, but he did nothing to stop it. He came to my office and told me: "Harry, as soon as Edsel gets those ovens built, I'm going-to tear them down."
I saw nothing funny in this, and I promptly went to Edsel and told him what his father had said. But-Edsel resented my telling him. He said: "Bill knows more about coke ovens than Father; I don't think he'll do anything of the kind."
There wasn't anything more I could do, except wait for the explosion. It came. As soon as the ovens were finished, Mr. Ford had them torn down.
The feeling of hostility on Mr. Ford's part toward people he thought were influencing Edsel carried over even to Edsel's relatives. In 1916, Edsel married Eleanore Clay, and built a home on Grosse Pointe. Grosse Painte is a Detroit suburb which is largely inhabited by the city's "aristocracy," It is also the home of most of the General Motors people, many of whom were Edsel's in-laws and friends. Mr. Ford was so jealous of these people, and their real or imagined influence on Edsel, that he carried on a bitter feud with Grosse Pointers for thirty years. He made repeated, if fruitless, efforts to get Edsel to move to Dearborn where his own residence was located.
Mr. Ford always kept track of everything Edsel did. Countless times, he asked me to check on Edsel and his family. I refused point-blank. Mr. Ford was put out about this.
Nevertheless, Mr. Ford did constantly get information on Edsel, although for years I didn't know how. Then one day I caught Mr. Ford and one of Edsel's servants in a conference behind a building at the Dearborn laboratories. The servant ducked when he saw me. I asked Mr. Ford what they had been talking about, and he admitted that the man had been keeping hint informed of Edsel's private affairs.
I was at Edsel's house only once in my life. That was during Prohibition, and under rather difficult circumstances.
At a time when Edsel was out of town, Mr. Ford asked me to drive him to Edsel's home. On the way out, he told me that he'd heard Edsel had a stock of whisky and champagne, and he was going out there to break it all up.
Mr. Ford was violently opposed both to drinking and cigarette-smoking. The prejudice against cigarets he got from his old friend Thomas A. Edison, whom he admired greatly. Smoking was never permitted around the Ford plant.
When we arrived at Edsel's home, I refused to get out of the car. Mr. Ford threatened me, as he did often in those early days, saying: "Well, maybe you should have gone back to the Navy, after all." But I stayed in the car, and he went in alone.
I don't know what Mr. Ford did while he was in the house. But when he came out and got into the car again, his clothes smelled of liquor.
Edsel and I were never on completely friendly terms. Mr. Ford periodically would make efforts to get us more friendly. Then, just when Edsel and I were making progress in this direction, Mr. Ford would break it up. He'd say to me: "Now, Harry, you think you're getting along all right with Edsel, but he's no friend of yours."
Despite all the difficulties we had between us, I always refused to interfere in Edsel's life, as I've said. On Edsel's part, he knew of serious; blundering mistakes I made, yet he never told his father about them.
But to get back to those early days again a number of things happened that were important.
In 1919, Mr. Ford bought a small newspaper, called the Dearborn Independent, and set up editorial offices for it in the tractor plant in Dearborn.
E. G. Pipp was the first editor of the independent, and a man named William J. Cameron was his assistant. In its early issues, the paper came out strongly against sin. It was also strong against "Wall Street" and "capitalists."
"Why, you're a capitalist," I used to tell Mr. Ford. "No, I'm not either," he would insist.
Between 1919 and 1921, there was a radical shift of top personnel in the company, which gave me an insight into Mr. Ford's relations with his executives.
William Knudsen left the Ford Motor Company in 1921 and went over to General Motors, to head the Chevrolet division as far as I know, only because he wanted to. With his leaving, Sorensen became top man in production.
Once Sorensen came into complete control of production, he was not only the force that got things done, he was the cement that held the organization together. He was a driving, efficient executive who thought of nothing but the car.
There were stories circulated that when Sorensen was displeased with someone, he would notify that individual of his displeasure by taking an ax and chopping up the offender's desk. The stories were untrue. But Sorensen did have a brusk manner, and never wanted thanks for what he did.
I remember one time Sorensen promoted a man, and did it in such a way that the fellow thought he was being fired. "You leather-headed old ------," Sorensen said, "you're the only one around here who knows anything."
The man quit and went home. I called him back and explained: "Why, man, Sorensen was promoting you."
"I don't give a damn if he was," the man fumed, still boiling mad. "He can take his damn job and shove it." And he never did come back to work.
To show how much Mr. Ford depended on Sorensen, he would encourage Sorensen to take a vacation, and as soon as Sorensen left, Mr. Ford would start raising hell until he came back.
I learned from that, and would never take a vacation unless Mr. Ford did.
When dealing with Sorensen, Mr. Ford found it was only necessary to imply what he wanted. "I wonder what that fellow is doing here?" Mr. Ford would remark about someone to Sorensen. And the next day "that fellow" was gone.
In my dealings with Mr. Ford, however, I always refused to take a hint. I'd make him tell me.
But even so, after I carried out his orders, Mr. Ford would never take the responsibility. When people would complain about something I was doing, he'd throw up his hands and say: "I don't know a thing about it."
This question of how Mr. Ford evaded responsibility is an important one, and deserves some careful explanation. Both Sorensen and I took the rap for many things that were really Mr. Ford's doing, not out of loyalty to Mr. Ford, but because we had no choice you couldn't pin anything back on Mr. Ford.
Mr. Ford might come to me and say of some executive: "Now, you get rid of Joe. I don't want him around here any more." I'd call Joe in, then, and say: "Joe, Mr. Ford doesn't want you here any more. He has asked me to fire you."
Naturally, Joe doesn't like being fired, and doesn't mean to be, if he can avoid it. If he's up high enough in the organization, he gets to Mr. Ford and demands to know why he's being let out. Mr. Ford then throws his hands up and says: "I don't know a thing about it. You go back and see Bennett."
The man now comes back to me, and claims that Mr. Ford never told me to fire him at all. I now have no choice. I know that Mr. Ford expects me to discharge the man. So I say: "I don't care what Mr. Ford told you, you're fired."
Once you've had a few experiences like that, of course you stop saying: "Mr. Ford told me to do this." You know he won't back you up. So when he gives you an order, you go ahead and do it on your own responsibility.
This explanation may seem harsh, and I dislike having to make it; but it's true. That's the way things were, for both Sorensen and myself.
I always had great respect for Sorensen, and stories that we were enemies were totally untrue. What came between Sorensen and myself was not any bad feeling but Mr. Ford's jealousy and suspicion.
Mr. Ford began to resent my spending time with Sorensen and made his feelings plain. He would call me up at night, sometimes, when he knew I'd seen Sorensen, and ask: "What did Charley want?" He openly tried to foster hostility between us. After a while, if I went out on the floor to see Sorensen. Mr. Ford made life miserable for me. Things reached a point where I had to stop seeing Sorensen except on those occasions when it was plainly necessary.
However, I didn't have much time to think about it, because I was pretty busy. Around 1921, I made my first two big moves within the Ford Motor Company.
In the early 1920s, the Ford Motor Company was considered the greatest industrial enterprise in the world. Henry Ford had organized the company in 1903, when he was already past 40, with a cash capital of $28,000. From 1903 to 1926, the company earned total profits reliably estimated at $900,839,000 not far short of a billion dollars. The River Rouge Plant, an industrial wonder, covered 1,100 acres, or almost two square miles, and employed over 100,000 men, The company operated thirty-five branches in the US, of which thirty-one were assembly Plants. It owned vast timberlands, mines, subsidiary manufacturing plants, a six-million-acre rubber-producing tract in Brazil, and operated foreign branches and associatled companies in seventeen countries. Just to flex its industrial muscles, the company, in 1923, performed a remarkable feat. On a Monday, a certain load of ore was delivered at the River Rouge docks; it was cast, machined into parts, shipped to a branch 300 miles distant to be assembled into a finished car, sold to a dealer, sold by him to a customer by Thursday night.
But Henry Ford was known in these years not only for his industrial genius, but for his experiments with people, as well P. M.
The Sociology Department of the Ford Motor Company was rather famous in its time. It was set up before I came there around 1914, I believe. It was first headed by John R. Lee, and then by the Very Reverend Samuel S. Marquis, dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of Detroit. It was a kind of "moral uplift" organization which was supposed to help employes.
Under Dean Marquis, the Sociology Department had a staff of investigators who visited every employee's home. They asked the wives how much money their husbands saved, how much they brought home, whether they drank, and whether they had any domestic difficulties. If a workman had kept out of his pay a few dollars for a crap game or a glass of beer, he was in trouble. If he wanted to leave his wife, or she left him, he was just about washed up with the company. A card-catalogue record was kept on just how every employee was behaving himself. Of course, most workmen were determined to give up neither their jobs, nor their crap games, nor their beer, and they worked out ruses which enabled them to live as they wanted.
I felt the whole setup meant a stupid waste of time and money for the company, and petty tyranny over the employees. If I had been one of those being checked for what I did outside of working time, I certainly wouldn't have taken it. I criticized the whole thing to Mr. Ford, and he said: "Well, go ahead and stop it." So in 1921 I changed the Sociology setup as it existed, and Dean Marquis left the company.
This was my first big move in the company. My second was in connection with the Ford Service Department.
"Ford Service" was the name used for the plant police. Their job was to guard the gates, protect the plant, prevent theft, and keep order. But besides these ordinary police duties, Service men were used to check on the men constantly, to see that they kept working and broke none of the rules. How thorough a job they did is indicated by the fact that employees were even followed to the toilets.
This was going on when I came to the Ford Motor Company. Newspapers used to try to pin Ford Service on me. But the truth is, it was an organization policy, and was carried out by the organization.
It seemed to me, by 1921, that about every fifth employee was a Service man. Everyone was checking on everyone else. I thought the whole thing had got out of hand, and was ridiculous, and I told Mr. Ford so. He said, "Well, put 'em to work," and ordered me to cut down Service by two thirds.
I went in and did this. It was at that time that the newspapers first connected me with Ford Service. Actually, I was never the head of Ford Service. As I have said, it would have been physically impossible for me to hold down any one job, if I had wanted to.
A few years after this, our policy on thefts underwent a change when a Service man came back from a visit to the home of an employee charged with theft and boasted of snatching a Ford towel off a baby who was wearing it for a diaper.
I was so angry I wanted to quit right there, and I had a devil of a row with Pete Martin, the vice-president who supported Service. I told Mr. Ford about it, and he was as disgusted as I was. He told me to send a whole new set of diapers to the baby, which we did.
After this incident, Mr. Ford wanted to prevent theft of tools and parts rather than apprehend people. He refused to blame the workman who pilfered something, but instead blamed the foreman who let the material get out of his control.
While this system worked moderately well in regard to the workmen, it was not so successful with the foremen and executives. When there was an excess of anything, these people usually helped themselves. As an example of Mr. Ford's attitude on theft, I recall an incident that infuriated me at the time it happened.
We had learned that a man had stolen a new motor out of the plant and installed it in his car. I told Mr. Ford this, and he said: "Yeah? You've got the goods on him?"
I took him out to the parking lot and lifted up the hood on the man's car. Mr. Ford peered in, and said: "Yep, that's a new motor all right."
Then Mr. Ford said: "Well, by God, you just tell him he better bring his old motor in here, or there's going to be trouble."
I was flabbergasted and furious, after the trouble we'd gone to, and refused to do any such thing. But Mr. Ford himself ordered the thief to bring back the old motor.
That's the way he was. He'd use a theft against an executive he wanted to get rid of for other reasons, but otherwise he didn't seem to care about thefts.
From the first, Mr. Ford was with me frequently, but not every day. Somewhere around 1921 or 1922, he began asking me often to meet him in the plant at night, sometimes at 3 a.m.; he wanted to go through the plant and check on people, and see that they were doing their jobs. This custom persisted for years, and from the time it began, my time was never my own.
Mr. Ford wouldn't talk to the foremen or any of the supervisory personnel. He'd stop and talk to some man working on the job. Mr. Ford wanted information; he wanted the lowdown on what was going on. Usually, the man had something to say. When they were through talking, Mr. Ford would tell the man: "Now, if you have anything else, just call me on the phone." I got a laugh out of that, because he was about as easy to reach on the phone as the President of the United States.
A few years later, Mr. Ford began dropping in to see me every day. Mr. Ford was jealous and didn't want me to be confidential with anyone else in the plant. He would phone me the first thing in the morning and often drove to my home to take me to work. For twenty years, he phoned me nearly every evening at 9:30; if I went out to eating or drinking places, I was called to the phone at that hour.
Our relationship became so close that I was never to be free of it until the end.
When the Administration Building at the Rouge was finished, I took an office there at Mr. Ford's request.
Mr. Ford said to me: "Get in there as fast as you can, and keep your eye on the accounting department. And see that the third floor stays empty."
Mr. Ford disliked and distrusted accountants all his life. As a result of his orders to keep the third floor empty, people were jammed into the second floor like sardines. Mr. Ford knew this, but wouldn't change the situation because lie thought if everyone got miserable enough, that would force cuts in the office staff.
For an example of Mr. Ford's feeling about accountants, I remember the rebuilding of the Truant.
Mr. Ford bought an old yacht named the Truant, which had formerly belonged to Senator Newberry. His original intention was to restore the ship and use it for a museum piece. It was brought to the Rouge and the job of handling the work on it was given to Ray Rausch. As work proceeded on the Truant, Mr. Ford kept changing his plans. By the time the job was done, he had spent about half a million dollars on the Truant, and she had been rebuilt into a brand-new yacht of latest design.
Meantime, all this work had gone on without the knowledge of Edsel or any other official.
One day at lunch, shortly after the work was completed, Mr. Ford turned to some accountants who were at the table with Mr. Ford, Edsel, and myself. He said to them: "Are we in the black do your books balance?"
"They answered: "Oh, sure they do."
"So your books balance, do they?" Mr. Ford said angrily. "Well, we just spent half a million dollars rebuilding a yacht here. You're nothing but a bunch of ------." Then Mr. Ford got up from the table and stalked away.
After the first awful moment of silence had passed, Edsel said to me: "Hell, you and Father were the crooks."
"I said: "If I'd told you about it, I wouldn't be here."
Edsel shook his head, and said: "I don't know what kick Father gets out of this kind of thing."
I couldn't answer that one. Because I didn't know, either. Mr. Ford never did like the administration offices. He called the officials' offices upstairs "Mahogany Row," and he once said to me; in the presence of a newspaperman: "They've got some nice chairs up there, Harry but there's an awful odor."
An office had been prepared for Mr. Ford in the Administration, Building, but he never used it. A woman decorator had been engaged to "do" both Edsel's and his father's offices. When she came to Mr. Ford's, she installed a fancy marble fireplace. As soon as Mr. Ford saw this, he had the marble torn out and a brick fireplace put in, instead. This enraged the decorator, who said she'd been engaged to do the job and was going to do it her way. She had Mr. Ford's bricks ripped out, and the marble put back.
Mr. Ford didn't do any more about it, but the office was never used, by him or anyone else. He kept his office in the Dearborn Engineering Laboratory. When he had business at the Rouge, he used my office, which was in the Administration basement. If he wanted to see someone in the organization, he'd have them come down; he would hardly ever go upstairs, even to see Edsel. He met people from outside in my office, too. He once told me he liked to meet people in my office because he could always get up and walk out whenever he wanted to. He did that more times than I can recall; if he got annoyed or bored with some conversation, he'll just get up and walk out, leaving me there holding the bag. There was a back door, too, which he and I used for private comings and goings.
My office, incidentally, was in the basement because of the characters who came to the plant, and I never would leave it. We had a lot of crackpots to deal with, and there were enough of them so that they alone might have kept me busy.
For example, there was the time a man dropped in to see me. He was a fellow who had got it into his head that Edsel ought to pay him $100,000 for something or other.
The man had been trying to see Edsel, without success, and finally got in to see me. As soon as he was in my office, he leveled a .32 automatic at my stomach. I saw that the safety was on and that he knew nothing about guns. He yelled something at me, and then before I could make a move, he swung the gun up and pointed it into his ear, and began pulling the trigger. I got up, talking quietly to him, and took the gun away. He went out then, babbling: "You're my friend you're the best friend I've ever had."
One of the commonest variety we got were women who came in claiming to be Mr. Ford's mistress. We showed one such woman a group photograph which included Mr. Ford, and she "identified" Burbank, who had white bushy whiskers and looked like Santa Claus.
I had a target box in my office (Mr. Ford had a similar one in his garage) and Mr. Ford and I used to have target practice together, using .32 target pistols. Mr. Ford was a dead shot.
Sometimes Mr. Ford got bored with shooting at the target. There was a lighting fixture on my ceiling with a metal ball about as big as a marble. During the time the office above mine was occupied by W. C. Cowling, a sales manager, Mr. Ford thought it great fun to say: "Let's wake Cowling up!" And he'd start shooting at the metal ball, usually hitting it. This would invariably scare Cowling, and he'd leave his office until the shooting was over.
Of course, I not only spent a great deal of time with Mr. Ford in my office and in various parts of the company, but also drove around with him a lot, wherever he might want to go. Sometimes these expeditions had interesting results. One such trip I remember vividly, because of the effect it had on the company.
Mr. Ford and I drove to a northern Michigan city on some errand or other. After it was completed, Mr. Ford decided to drop in on a dealer and check on how he was running his business.
We drove into a Ford garage, right into the back where the shop was. Mr. Ford got out of the car and looked around. The place was filthy. Mr. Ford began asking questions of the foreman of the shop. But all he got were impertinent replies.
"Who's the boss here?" M: Ford asked.
"The boss is busy," the foreman snapped back.
"We'd like to leave our car," Mr. Ford said.
"Jesus Christ," the foreman exploded, "can't you see we're full up now?"
I tried my damnedest to let this fellow know who Mr. Ford was, but Mr. Ford kept his eye on me so closely I didn't get a chance.
Mr. Ford said: "We're driving a Ford car."
The foreman said: "A helluva lot of people are driving a Ford car."
We then tried to get into the dealer's office to see him, and you'd have thought from the treatment we received that we were a couple of thieves. The dealer was actually sitting behind a frosted-glass partition in his office, and we knew it. But we were told he was in conference, and we never did get in to see him.
At last we started back for Dearborn, and Mr. Ford was now furious. He told me: "By God, I'm going to get Charley to shake all these dealers up. They're all out playing golf most of the time, they won't service our cars, arid they're dirty pigs. I'm going to have Charley put another agency across the road from every agency in the United States."
And he meant it.
First, as soon as we returned to Dearborn, Mr. Ford had every frosted-glass partition but mine in the Ford Motor Company torn out.
Then Mr. Ford began carrying out his threat. Two executives, Harry Mack and Claude Nelis, were chosen to do the job. They started out on the road to do just what Mr. Ford and Sorensen told them to do set up a rival agency opposite every agency in the US. By the time they got halfway across the country, all hell broke loose among our agencies. It also broke loose in the company.
Mack and Nelis had been given their orders by Sorensen, who didn't, for reasons already explained, say: "Mr. Ford told me to do this." Edsel became enraged by the whole affair and actually threatened to leave the company. He became embroiled in a quarrel with Sorensen, saying that Sorensen was interfering in sales. Edsel was backed up by John Crawford, his assistant, who, if anything, beefed even louder.
The main operations of the Ford Motor Company by now had been moved from Highland Park to the Rouge, and the executives were all in the Administration Buildiny at the Rouge. The dispute between Edsel and Sorensen became so violent that Sorensen packed up and moved his whole office staff from the Administration Building right into the plant, to a spot over Gate 10 at the end of the overpass on Miller Road.
Finally, Edsel came down to see me about Mack's and Nelis's operations. He came to me on this and other occasions to ask me to intercede with Mr. Ford because he simply refused to argue with his father, but he knew that I would:
By now he had found out that Mr. Ford was behind the whole thing, and he wanted the story on how his father had got off on such a rampage. I told him. He said: "Hell, we won't have a dealer left if this keeps up. I can't even face people, the whole thing is so silly and wrong."
I agreed with Edsel, and said I'd see if I could help.
Ii thought that talking with Sorensen might do some good, so I went to see him first. But Sorensen only said: "Let 'em get off their fat butts."
Of course, most agencies had been working hard all along, and all were paving for one man's mistake. I finally went to see Mr. Ford and just asked him bluntly if I couldn't call those men in off the road, and stop them from setting up rival agencies.
"Yes." Mr. Ford said, "only I don't think they did any harm."
"No." I said, "only to the poor suckers with their life savings in an agency."
There must be a lot of old-time dealers in circulation who can verify all this.
The Model T was coming to the end of the line. Henry Ford had produced fifteen million of them at an average rate of 1.6 per minute, and had sold them in every corner of the globe for an aggregate sales gross of seven billion dollars. But by 1927, the public wanted more style and comfort than the "T" provided, and in that year, for the first time in its history, the Ford Motor Company lost money. P. M.
I performed my first big, important job for Mr. Ford in 1927. I settled the Aaron Sapiro case, which grew out of material published in the Dearborn Independent.
Back in May, 1920, the Independent had begun publishing a series of anti-Semitic articles which ran for almost two years.
"These articles were based on the spurious Protocols of Zion, which were exposed as a forgery in 1921, written by a Czarist agent named Serge Nilus in 1905 in order to divert a wave of social unrest.
Of the articles in the Dearborn Independent, twenty appeared under the title, Jewish Exploitation of Farmer Organizations. It was alleged that Aaron Sapiro, a young Chicago attorney and organizer of farm co-operatives, was the leader of a "Jewish Ring" that was trying to gain control of American agriculture.
Sapiro entered a libel suit against Mr. Ford for a million dollars damages. The case came to trial in the US District Court in Detroit in March of 1927. Few trials before or since have claimed as much public attention.
In my early years with Mr. Ford, I never saw any bigotry in him. I don't believe anyone else ever did, either, up until around 1920. But then some of those who were close to him began to poison his mind. Mr. Ford, after all, despite his great industrial successes, had little formal education. It is my conviction that, had Mr. Ford been a better-educated man, and had he not had certain people around him, bigotry never would have entered his life.
However, Mr. Ford did become a bigot. He became bigoted about Jews; and just as much so about Catholics, though the latter aspect of his intolerance was never so well-known to the public.
As for himself, Mr. Ford had his own private religion. He believed strongly in reincarnation. He used to expound his views on this to me at great length. One of the "proofs" he used was this: "When the automobile was new," he'd say, "and one of them came down the road, a chicken would run straight for home and usually get killed. But today when a car comes along, a chicken will run for the nearest side of the road. That chicken has been hit in the ass before in a previous life."
There were times when Mr. Ford tried to convert me to prejudice. But I'd never had any feeling of that kind, and the training I had got from my mother, who was a fine, principled woman, saved me from being susceptible.
And now I want to talk about two men &$150; Ernest Liebold and Bill Cameron. This is a good place to do it, since Cameron had become editor of the Dearborn Independent, and Liebold, Mr. Ford's business secretary, was, among his other duties, general manager of the parent company, the Dearborn Publishing Company. Both of them, but particularly Cameron, were constantly stirring up Mr. Ford.
During all the time I was with Mr. Ford, I was completely antagonistic to both Cameron and Liebold. I made endless attempts to fire them. It is hard for me to say which one I disliked most, but I guess honors would go to Liebold.
Liebold was squat, heavy-set, had a short, bull neck and close-cropped hair; he looked like a typical Prussian, and often acted like one. He had a Gestapo of his own within the Ford Motor Company; he kept elaborate files and had something there about everyone.
Bill Cameron was a short, stout, round-faced man; he looked and talked a lot like W. C. Fields, with the difference that Fields was funny. I have heard that he was once a preacher in Brooklyn, Michigan. He came to the Ford Motor Company from the Detroit Daily News.
Cameron and I were enemies almost from the very beginning. Back in the early days when Cameron. was very close to Mr. Ford, and I had but little standing in the company, I slapped Cameron's face in my office for using profanity before a young woman. He took it, too; backing out of the room, he said, "By God, I didn't think you had the nerve." After a while, our mutual hostility grew so that Cameron refused to talk to me in person, and if I called him on the phone, he just hung up.
For the thirty years that I knew him, Bill Cameron was quite a drinker. When he became the commentator on the Ford Sunday Evening radio hour in 1934, two men were assigned to the job of getting him to the studio. Mr. Ford, inconsistent in so many things, was also inconsistent in his hatred of drinking. He might fire a workman in the plant caught with liquor on his breath, but when it came to someone like Cameron, his attitude was different.
Well, to get back to the Sapiro trial. It began on March 15 in Detroit's Post Office Building in the court of Federal Judge Fred M. Raymond. Mr. Ford was represented by a legal staff of seven attorneys, headed by Senator James M. Reed of Missouri: Sapiro was represented by William Henry Gallagher, a Detroit attorney who was an Irish Catholic. Mr. Ford considered Gallagher a "Christian front" for Sapiro, and after that always spoke of the Catholics as "tools of the Jews."
A jury of six men and six women was selected that first day. The trial began with Cameron as the first witness. He testified that Mr. Ford had had no knowledge of the Sapiro articles at the time they were published. Over a period of about five days on the witness stand, Cameron took all responsibility for everything that had ever appeared in the Dearborn Independent, and said, in effect, that Mr. Ford had no connection whatsoever with the editorial policy of the paper. He testified: "I run the paper and use my own judgment."
I don't know about that. During the time Cameron was speaking of, Mr. Ford dropped in to Cameron's office just about every day of the week.
When Cameron's testimony was finished, he disappeared somewhere in Canada. It took us days to find him.
Sapiro took the stand as the next witness.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ford, who had been subpoenaed by Sapiro to appear as a witness and had expected to testify at the opening of the trial, began to lose his nerve. On the day when Sapiro went on the stand, I had taken Mr. Ford down to the Post Office Building to see if they were ready for him.
"Well, Harry," Mr. Ford said, when I came back to where I had left him sitting in the car, "I want to stop this. I'm not coming down here again."
Two days later the newspapers called me at my home. They said Mr. Ford had been in an automobile accident, and what did I know about it? The story, embodied in a formal statement issued by Cameron, was then on their presses.
It said that Mr. Ford had been driving alone in a Ford coupe from the Dearborn laboratories to his residence; that a big touring car driven by two men had knocked Mr. Ford's car off a bridge crossing the Rouge River. It was stated, further, that after a period of unconsciousness, Mr. Ford had walked to his gatehouse in great pain, that the gatekeeper called Mrs. Ford, who took Mr. Ford to the Residence and summoned Mr. Ford's physician. Mr. Ford's physician had stayed with Mr. Ford two days, and then taken him by ambulance to the Henry Ford Hospital, where an operation had been performed. The story said the statement had been held up two days because of the "unavoidable and, unfounded inferences that may be drawn" thus, neatly, inferring that Sapiro and/or his agents had made an attempt to kill Mr. Ford.
I went to the Residence, and there saw Mr. Ford. He looked all right to me. I said: "The papers said you have a broken rib."
"Did they?" Mr. Ford said. "Well, maybe I have."
I said: "I'm going to find out who knocked you into the river if it takes me the rest of my life."
"Now," Mr. Ford said, "you just drop this probably it was just a bunch of kids."
I kept at it. I was half indignant, and hall skeptical. On my way to the Residence, I had stopped at the scene of the "accident" and looked around, and there were things that seemed phony to me. I said: "No, I'm not going to drop it. If someone has tried to kill you, I'm going to find out about it. I don't have to work for you to do that I can do that on my own."
Finally, he saw there was no way to put me off, and he said: "Well, Harry, I wasn't in that car when it went down into the river. I don't know how it got down there. But now we've got a good chance to settle this thing. We can say we want to settle it because my life is in danger." The case dragged along for a few more weeks. Sapiro was kept on the stand by an exhaustive cross-examination from Senator Reed.
We had a large number of investigators checking the courtroom and following people around, to see what we could "get" on someone, thinking we might settle the case that way, but without results.
Finally, one day when I was with Mr. Ford, he gave me some information that had been brought to him; which purported to be an attempt at bribing a juror. I thought this evidence pretty slim, but I saw a chance to use it.
From the very beginning of the trial, I had been persistently followed everywhere I went by a man named Hutcheson, a Hearst correspondent who had been covering the trial. It seemed that everywhere I went, he popped up.
So I now said to Mr. Ford: "Do you want to settle this thing? If you do, I'll give your tip to this fellow Hutch. He'll print it, and the judge will toss the jury out. Then you can settle it." Mr. Ford told me to go ahead.
I approached Hutch and told him about Mr. Ford's information. "Mind," I said, "this isn't something I can prove. It's just something we've heard."
Our lawyers then took Mr. Ford's allegations up with the judge. They gave him fourteen affidavits alleging irregularities. The judge turned this information over to the FBI for investigation. Sapiro was not informed of this development. Judge Raymond called in all the newspapermen covering the case and warned thern to print nothing about the matter. Hutch was conspicuous by his absence.
Hutch wrote a story based on the affidavits that our attorneys had filed with the judge and turned it in to the Detroit Times. They printed the story in screaming headlines.
When the Times appeared on the streets, Judge Raymond at once said that the story constituted contempt of court and that he would start proceedings against the paper.
Mr. Ford's attorneys now filed an application for a mistrial. Judge Raymond granted the mistrial the next day, April 21. He also completely exonerated Sapiro of any charges of jury tampering.
A few months passed, and before the case could come up for retrial, Mr. Ford settled it out of court. Not much of that story is known.
A man whose name has never been publicly mentioned in connection with the Aaron Sapiro case is Herman Berristein. He had more to do with Mr. Ford's repudiation of anti-Semitism than anyone else.
Bernstein, editor of The Jewish Tribune, had gone to Europe in 1915 with Mr. Ford on the "Peace Ship." He came to see Mr. Ford before the Sapiro trial began. They had a long and bitter discussion about Mr. Ford's bigotry, and Mr. Ford claimed that nothing he had ever caused to be printed had "hurt anyone." Bernstein insisted it had stimulated real physical violence against Jews in Europe. "If you can prove that," Mr. Ford said, "I'll take back everything I've ever said."
Bernstein promptly departed for Europe. He made a five months' tour, returning to New York on June 9, 1927, after the mistrial had been granted. He brought to Mr. Ford documentary evidence that Mr. Ford's Dearborn Independent had indeed "hurt" a great many people. When he saw this evidence; Mr. Ford decided he was ready to quit publishing anti-Semitic material.
Mr. Ford sent me to New York to settle the case.
I got in touch with Arthur Brisbane, and through him learned that the American Jewish Committee could settle the matter. I entered into negotiations with Samuel Untermeyer and Louis Marshall of that organization, and with Brisbane. They drew up the now-famous "apology," which was to be the basis for a settlement. In this formal statement, it was said that Mr. Ford would see to it that no more anti-Semitic material circulated in his name and that he would call in all undistributed copies of The International Jew, which were booklet reprints of the Independent's articles. For the rest, the "apology" said that Mr. Ford had had no knowledge of what had been published in the Dearborn Independent, and was "shocked" and "mortified" to learn about it. Arthur Brisbane brought this statement to me at 1710 Broadway. I phoned Mr. Ford. I told him an "apology" had been drawn up, and added: "It's pretty bad, Mr. Ford." I tried to read it to him over the phone, but he stopped me.
"I don't care how bad it is," Mr. Ford said. "The worse they make it, the better. You sign it, and settle the thing up."
So I signed Mr. Ford's signature to the document. I had always been able to sign his name as realistically as he could himself. I sent the statement to Untermeyer and Marshall. The signature was verified, and the case was closed.
All this was done without Mr. Ford's taking anyone else into his confidence. Edsel knew nothing about it, and Cameron and Senator Reed heard about it by reading the papers.
Cameron's reaction was quoted by the newspapers: "It's all news to me and I cannot believe it is true."
Mr. Ford paid Aaron Sapiro's legal expenses, and he also paid Bernstein's expenses incurred on his trip. Neither man would take a cent over that.
The "apology" was printed in the Dearborn Independent, and the paper ceased publication early in 1928.
Thousands of ex-convicts and criminals were taken on the Ford pay roll over the course of the years at Mr. Ford's request. The hiring of such people by the Ford Motor Company began many years before I worked for Mr. Ford.
Mr. Ford gave the public to understand that he hired these people to rehabilitate them. But I didn't see much of that sort of thing happen. I guess we helped a few of the youngest ones straighten out. Otherwise, they were a constant headache to me. There'd be a crime committed in Detroit, or a check forged; the police would decide the whole thing looked like the handiwork of one of our employees, and they'd tear out to the plant.
Mr. Ford often had a specific motive in hiring a given exconvict. But behind this, I think, his motives lay deep in his own personality.
Mr. Ford had a profound morbid interest in crime. He also had a deep sympathy with criminals. He used to dream of a day when there would be no jails, and he was violently opposed to capital punishment.
Whenever we hired a known ex-convict, Mr. Ford always wanted to come to my office and talk with him.
He'd say: "Now, how did you get into this?" And then, sometimes before the man would have a chance to answer, he'd say: "I'll bet a woman got you into it:" That was his theory of crime he always looked for a woman at the bottom of the trouble.
To show how these people came on the pay roll, I shall tell the story of the hiring of "Buff" Ryan.
Ryan, a well-known Detroit gambler, was sent to prison for bookmaking. When this happened, Mr. Ford came to see me and insisted that I find out who Ryan was protecting. However, a grand jury took on that job and saved me the trouble.
Mr. Ford always had a sympathetic feeling for gamblers, and would never criticize one. A number of professional gamblers were his friends.
Besides sympathy, his interest in gamblers was also due to the fact that they are excellent sources of information. There isn't much goes on that gamblers don't know about.
While Buff Ryan was in prison, Mr. Ford came to me periodically to ask about him. Finally, we were able to have Ryan paroled to me by the prison board.
Mr. Ford came to my office to meet Ryan. He asked him many questions about prison life. After a long talk, Mr. Ford got up and said to me: "You hire him, right now."
Ryan, who was feeling pretty licked, got tears of gratitude in his eyes and said: "I never worked in a factory in my life, Mr. Ford, but I'll do my best."
Mr. Ford, who had started for the door, turned around and said: "You don't have to work in the plant. Just keep your eyes and ears open. We want to know what's going on around town."
We didn't make any secret of this, connection. The Detroit FBI office was informed of it, and even the newspapers knew about it. But some years later, there were efforts made to have the whole arrangement appear as something done behind Mr. Ford's back.
When young Henry Ford II, Edsel's son, came into the plant, he stopped in at my office and said he thought it was a terrible thing for a man of Ryan's reputation to be on the Ford pay roll. I told Henry there were men on the Ford pay roll who would make Ryan look like a Sunday-school boy.
The hiring of ex-convicts at the Ford Motor Company was only a part of our association with the criminal element, however. We also set up contacts with the underworld. We did this for two reasons. First, because Mr. Ford was deathly afraid that kidnapers would go after Edsel's children there were four, Henry II, Benson, Josephine, and William and it was Mr. Ford's idea that he could get protection by dealing with these people. Second, they served as a source of information.
Only if you'd lived in Detroit during prohibition times could you know how bad the crime situation was. Detroit was, I should say. on a par with Chicago.
I personally felt that Mr. Ford's fears for Edsel's children were without much foundation. It was my conviction that Edsel himself was in far greater danger. But we guarded the children, and with Edsel's full knowledge and consent, we had men tailing him wherever he went.
,br> Through Bert Brown of the US Secret Service. I was introduced to the man who, it was claimed, was the head of the Detroit underworld Chester LaMare, a short, swarthy Sicilian. Through Joe Palma of the Secret Service, later a Ford dealer, I also met other men of the underworld, both in Detroit and New York.
We gave LaMare a Ford agency, known as the Crescent Motor Sales Company. Later, we discovered he was using it as gang headquarters. We also gave LaMare the fruit-selling concession at the Ford Motor Company in an indirect way.
The fruit business at that time was in the hands of gangsters a situation which led to considerable bloodshed. When gangsters shot a little peddler through the eyes (he lived nevertheless) Mr. Ford got disgusted. He told me to find out who controlled the fruit business in Detroit and give the concession to them, with the understanding that there was to be no more violence, or we would not permit fruit to be sold at the plant any longer.
I learned that a man named Bolgna controlled the business, and we gave the concession to him. He took LaMare in with him whether by choice or not, I do not know.
Fred H. Diehl, head of the purchasing department, was so outraged at this arrangement that, he resigned from the company. However, there was no more violence over the fruit concession after that not to this day.
When Mr. Ford made me his agent in dealing with the underworld, he gave me a job which, a number of times, almost cost me my life.
The reason I was able to deal with these underworld people for so long and still stay alive was that I always kept them obligated to me, but never became obligated to them. If I had ever accepted even the smallest favor from one of them, I would have become their man and, eventually, that would have been the end of me. But even with this policy, a number of times we got into ticklish situations which I survived only by good luck.
Here is an example of that.
Once, some hoodlums got the idea that I was working with the law against one of their rackets. They apparently decided that the way to stop me was to get rid of me. Toward this end, they had been observing my customary route to the plant for a week though I did not know it at the time.
As my driver drove me down a continuation of Ford Road at about 75 miles an hour, these hoodlums put a car which they had concealed on a side road in gear, and let it run out into the road in front of my car. There was no way my driver could stop. I heard a loud "zing" in my head as we hit the other car, and that was the last I knew.
They took me to the Ann Arbor Hospital. There I recovered, though to this day I bear on my face the scars of this attempted murder.
Perhaps I should explain here why, although attempts on my life were made a number of times; I never prosecuted.
For one thing, if we were going to keep in touch with the underworld, we had to do so by acting within their own code. If I had ever begun a legal action against a member of the underworld, from that time on we would never again have been able to get information from any of them.
A second reason for this, and one which was just as strong, was the fact that Mr. Ford never wanted any of us to enter into prosecutions. When this subject came up, he often said to me, and to other officials in the company: "We live in a big glass house here we can't throw rocks."
I was nearly killed another time because we intervened in a kidnaping which occurred in Detroit. This writing will be the first time the real story has been told.
In September of 1929, a 5-year-old named Jackie was kidnaped. His distraught father came to Mr. Ford's office, and asked his help. Mr. Ford had a deep love for children. He was crazy about them any children. His prejudices stopped short when it came to children; he never hesitated, for example, to have Jewish children in Greenfield Village School.
Mr. Ford brought Jackie's father to see me, and said: "Don't we know enough hoodlums around town to get some help:" I told him I thought we did, and went to work on the case. Neither Mr. Ford nor I was interested in apprehending the kidnapers or in bringing about any prosecutions. Our sole desire was to get the child back unharmed.
The father, himself, gave us our first lead. He told me he was pretty sure a man named James Fernando had kidnaped Jackie. I had reasons to feel his belief was correct.
I gave that lead to some underworld characters in power at that time. They made contact. Shortly, they informed me that if the police were kept out of the case, they could bring the child back provided there was no ransom money paid. This last point was just as important with them as keeping the police out. Maybe they felt that if money were paid, the child, being no longer useful, might lose his life; or maybe they felt that it money were paid, there was danger of themselves being implicated in the whole thing.
Everything was working out fine, except for the fact that suddenly the father lost his head. On his own hook, he got in touch with a wrong party, a man who couldn't help him at all, and paid this man $20,000. At the same time, he began working with the police though all the while assuring us that he wasn't.
The group whom we were working through learned immediately of the pay-off and pulled out of the case. However, either to show their good faith, or else to ensure that they were not implicated in any ransoming, the gang brought to my office the money which the father had so recklessly paid out. They had got all of it, except $100, back from the man to whom it had been paid, by torturing him. When they did that, of course, they endangered my life, since the man, a professional killer, was sure to hold me responsible for his torture.
Meanwhile, Fernando, the real kidnaper, had demanded a $5,000 check as ransom for Jackie. I don't know whether the fellow had a screw loose or what, but he actually asked for a check. At that time, Max Wolfoegle and Inspector Norval Marlett headed the Detroit Police "Black Hand Squad a department no longer in existence. They took a check to Fernando and got the child back. Knowing of our interest in the case, they delivered Jackie to my office.
Fernando was soon arrested, held on bail of $1,000,000 and subsequently sent to prison.
As far as Mr. Ford and I was concerned, we had helped get the child back, and the matter was now closed. This feeling was not shared, however, by the man who had received the $20,000 and then been tortured to give it back.
This man drove out to my home. I was sitting in a chair facing the glass-paneled front door, reading a newspaper. I was expecting a visit from Inspector Marlett. I heard the door rattle, and called to my oldest daughter to open the door. Then I dropped my paper and looked up-to-see this killer drawing a bead on me. Before I could even rise, he fired twice through the door one shot missing, the other shot hitting me in the side. The man then fled whether because his gun jammed, or because my daughter's screaming frightened him away, I don't know.
Inspector Marlett appeared shortly after. Then some reporters arrived. We told the newspaper men that we had been cleaning a gun, and that it had gone off. But one of the reporters was smart.
"Don't give us that," he said. "The broken glass is on the inside of the door. Those shots were fired from outside." We could scarcely deny it, and so some of the story got into the papers.
I discussed the shooting with Marlett later. My wound was not a serious one, and for reasons already explained, I told Marlett that I didn't want to prosecute.
As it turned out, that wasn't necessary. The gunman was later shot and killed on a Detroit street I suppose, in some gang feud.
Our contacts with the underworld often led people to ask us for help in cases that were not so extreme as kidnapings and which sometimes had their moments of comedy relief.
For instance, there was the time I received a visit from a man named Niebiola.
Niebiola was the owner of one of Detroit's most famous Italian restaurants. He came to my office to ask my help. He said that some gangsters had been demanding he pay for "protection," and that he had refused. He said he could "protect" himself, without any help which was probably the truth, since he was a big, tough guy. However, he told me that the gangsters had now threatened to blow up his restaurant at dinner time on a certain night.
"Well," I said, "what do you want me to do about it?"
"Mr. Bennett," he said, "they would never blow the place up if you were there. I want you to come and have dinner in my restaurant that night."
"Thanks," I said, "but I'd rather eat somewhere else."
"No, you come," he said. "Then nothing will happen."
He kept after me, until finally I agreed.
I went to Niebiola's on the appointed evening. I had just begun my meal when Joe Tocco, a well-known member of the Detroit underworld with whom we had contact, came walking in. He looked around the place and soon spotted me. He walked over to my table.
"Mr. Bennett," he said, "this is a terrible restaurant. You come with me, and I'll find you some real Italian food."
I said: "Oh, I like it fine here, Joe."
"No, it's no good," Joe insisted. "You come with me, I'll give you a good meal."
We argued a while, and finally I said: "I won't go, Joe, because you want to blow this place up."
"Me?" Joe said. "I wouldn't do such a thing, Mr. Bennett."
"I know that's what you want to do," I said.
"Well, we give this man protection, and now he don't want to pay for it," Joe said, with the injured air of a businessman who has been done out of an honest fee.
"You haven't given him any protection," I said, and we had a long argument about the matter. Finally, Joe promised that if I went out with him he wouldn't blow the place up.
When we got outside, I still had my doubts as to Joe's intentions, and I expressed them.
"I'll show you I really mean it," Joe said, and he walked around the building and removed six sticks of dynamite he had wired against the walls.
The auto market boomed while the Ford plant closed down for a year to retool for the Model A. Henry Ford's reputation as a manufacturer was such that 500.000 custoniers made a down payment on the "A" before they knew its price and before they had even seen it. Madison Square Garden in New York was a pandemonium when the car was exhibited there; Cleveland mounted police were called to keep mobs from breaking in Ford show windows in that city; and 25,000 people turned out to view the Model A in subzero weather in St. Paul. P. M.
Because Mr. Ford had come to dominate my life so completely, to an extent where I had no existence outside the Ford Motor Company, late in the 1920s I decided to build a home away from Detroit, feeling that might help me find a life of my own. With this in mind, I built a house just outside Ann Arbor, which came to be known as "the Castle."
The Castle was a three-story brick structure with two towers. The towers had not been in the original architectural plan, but Mr. Ford suggested them.
A narrow tunnel was built leading from the house out some distance. There was a gravel sluiceway there when I built the house, and all that had to be done to create the tunnel was roof over the old sluiceway. This was, again, one of Mr. Ford's suggestions. He liked to inject himself into other people's building and decorating. But he had a special passion for duplicating things in my home that he had in his. Mr. Ford had elaborate tunnels underneath his own home.
In one tower, we put a secret door and a winding staircase which connected with the tunnel. Mr. Ford thought I should have it as an escape for the children, in case they were endangered. However, the secret exit was never used.
At the end of the tunnel, I kept my lion and tiger cages. For several years I raised lions and tigers at home as a hobby I have always been fond of cats of any kind and often I took one of the animals into the plant with me.
One time, I remember, a lion I'd brought into my office gave a sales manager, Fred Rockleman, and our attorney Lou Colombo a pretty bad scare. They had come in to see me, and hadn't noticed the lion. We were about halfway through our conference when suddenly they both spotted the big cat. Without a word, they simultaneously leaped to the top of my desk. It took a little while to get them down from there, too.
At about this time, still another responsibility was added to my work for Mr. Ford. The last twelve or fifteen years I was with him, I helped Mr. Ford give interviews to the press. Mr. Ford would see newspaper men only in my office.
There was at least one pleasant aspect to the job, which was verifying for reporters a few of the many stories that grew up about Mr. Ford, most of which were fiction. For instance, he verified as true the anecdote about Barney Oldfield.
Back in the days when Mr. Ford was trying to get a start as an automobile manufacturer, it was the custom to build racers to get public attention. Mr. Ford built the "999," which broke all the speed records and set Mr. Ford.on his way. At first, Mr. Ford drove the "999" himself, but then Barney Oldfield took over the assignment and became the most famous race driver of his day.
Many years later, when Mr. Ford was a great industrialist and a multimillionaire, Barney Oldfield and Mr. Ford got together and began to talk over old times.
"Well, Barney," Mr. Ford reminisced, "I guess you and I made each other."
"Yes," Barney said. "But I did a hell of a lot better job than you did."
The experience of another old-timer with Mr. Ford, in which I had a part, doesn't make such an agreeable story. It came from an apparently deep personal aversion that Mr. Ford, who was himself of spare build, had for fat people.
Fred Allison, a big, 300-pound man, was one of the real pioneers who helped build the Ford Motor Company. He was independent, however, and smoked and drank on the job. When, Mr. Ford tried to curb him, Allison resigned from the company.
Many years passed, and the time came when Allison was out of a job and broke. He tried to see Mr. Ford, and Frank Campsall sent him to me.
Allison eased his bulk into a chair in my office, and said: "I've got to have a job."
"Mr. Allison," I told him, "I haven't got anything in your bracket."
Allison was about to answer, when Mr. Ford came to my office. He said hello to Allison, and then I told Mr. Ford why Allison had come to see us.
"Well," Mr. Ford said, "he's worth about six dollars a day." That was Mr. Ford's favorite insult.
Allison said: "That's all right, Henry; I need a job, period."
Mr. Ford looked up and down his vast bulk, and said: "You go away and take off fifty pounds, and then come back and see us."
"All right, Henry," Allison said.
Allison went away, and sure enough, some time later he came back again, looking thinner. Mr. Ford came over to see him, chatted a while, looked him up and down again, and said: "By God, you're still too fat. You go away and lose another fifty pounds. "Then come back again."
Allison went away. Still later, he came to see me once more. He was now much thinner. I decided not to let Mr. Ford see him again. I sent Allison over to a substation to work as an electrician.
However, as I have explained, it was impossible to keep from Mr. Ford anything that was going on around there. One day he came into my office and said: "I hear Fred Allison is working here. Let's go over and see him."
We went over to the substation. Nature had given Allison a big frame and had never intended him to be so thin; he looked like a dead man.
Mr. Ford and Allison chatted a while, and then Mr. Ford said: "Looks like you're a little thinner, Fred."
Allison took hold of his clothes and held them out at the waist, to show how much weight he had lost.
"By God, you're still too fat," Mr. Ford said, and then he added: "You just go out and buy a new suit of clothes that fits you. You're leaving those clothes on because you want to eat your way back into them."
We left, then, and when we got outside, Mr. Ford said proudly: "He can't fool me."
I said: "I think this is the most hideous thing I ever heard of."
"You let fellows pull the wool over your eyes," Mr. Ford said, "but they can't pull it over mine: That's one trouble with you, Harry you're too soft."
With the deepening of the Depression that started with the stock-market crash in 1929 came the famous Hunger March of a crowd of some 5,000 demonstrators to the Ford plant, which has already been widely written about. If my memory is correct, we were the only automobile plant then running in Detroit. The National Recovery Act was passed in 1933, setting up voluntary "Codes of Fair Practice" regarding wages, hours, and production, and for about two years its symbol, the Blue Eagle, flew over the land. Among the automobile manufacturers, Mr. Ford was the sole holdout.
Somebody got the idea of having Pierre du Pont appeal to Mr. Ford. That was the worst possible way anyone could have gone about it. Mr. Ford hated the Du Ponts. He had a kind of persecution complex about them he felt they were out to "get" him. He reported to me what happened when he met Pierre du Pont at a party in New York.
"Mr. Ford," Pierre du Pont said, "I want you to go along with us on the NRA. That Blue Eagle is my baby."
"That's all the more reason I don't want to have anything to do with it," Mr. Ford said. And he walked out on the party.
General Hugh Johnson, administrator of NRA, came to Dearborn to persuade Mr. Ford. I sat in on the conversation. Mr. Ford told Johnson: "I wouldn't like it even if it was good."
I couldn't see much sense in Mr. Ford's stand; it seemed to me the Automobile Code gave the manufacturer every break in the world.
Meanwhile, the financial crisis came to a head in 1933. One effect it had within the Ford Motor Company was to bring to a close Ernest Liebold's long reign of power; he remained for some years, but his wings were clipped.
I must explain that at the time he became Mr. Ford's business secretary, Liebold was cashier of the Dearborn Bank, and he continued to be active in Detroit financial circles.
Shortly before the Bank Holiday that officially closed all the banks, I got a tip that the Union Guardian Trust of Detroit was in a bad way. Since Mr. Ford had many millions of dollars in there; I told him about my tip at once.
Edsel was a director of the Guardian Trust, and C. B. Longely, Edsel's attorney, was president of it. Mr. Ford at once held a meeting with Longely and Liebold. It was Mr. Ford's purpose to find out by indirection just how stable the Guardian Trust was. So he told them he intended to draw some millions of dollars out of the First National Bank of Detroit, where he also had money on deposit. These men told him that he could never get his money. Then Mr. Ford knew the worst.
When he came out of this meeting, Mr. Ford told me that things looked bad. I had about $16,000 on deposit in Liebold's bank, and Mr. Ford suggested that I draw out my money at once. I said: "What will I do with it?"
"Just give it to me," Mr. Ford said. "I'll keep it for you in the 'kitty.' " So I drew it out and gave the currency to Mr. Ford.
I should explain here that Mr. Ford had a safe at the Dearborn laboratories which he called our "kitty." He and I both put in money which we got from various sources; we had in there, at one time, about four million dollars in cash. In other corporations this might be called a "contingency fund," from which expenditures could be made without it being necessary to explain them. There was an understanding between Mr. Ford and myself that when he died, whatever was left in the "kitty" was to be mine. About two million dollars of that money was spent. I don't know entirely how Mr. Ford used it.
Meanwhile, I tipped off all my friends who had money in Liebold's bank. Liebold always accused me of starting a run on his bank. Well, I don't know; maybe I did. I certainly was more concerned for my friends than for Liebold.
After his meeting with Mr. Ford, Liebold disappeared. There was a great fuss about it in the papers. He was finally found under an assumed name in a hotel in Traverse City, Michigan, where he had just gone away "for a rest." What didn't become generally known, though, was that he had rented a safe-deposit box there, and before taking flight had phoned Edsel to ask if Edsel wanted him to "put away some money." Edsel had said no. Captain Donald Leonard of the state police phoned me to ask if I wanted the box opened. But Edsel said 'there'd been enough bad publicity, so I told Captain Leonard to let Liebold go, and Liebold came back home.
That marked the end of Liebold's reign of power in the Ford Motor Company. After that, Mr. Ford wanted to get him out. When I told Mr. Ford that Liebold wouldn't resign, Mr. Ford said: "All right, we'll just let him sit there and look out of the window."
Frank Carnpsall, who had been working as a secretary for Mr. Ford for some time and who was always friendly to me, took over Liebold's work, although he never assumed the power Liebold had for so long wielded.
Later, Mr. Ford told me that he didn't want to throw Liebold out because if he did he'd be pleasing too many people he didn't like. That was the motive he gave; it wasn't the real one.
The plain truth of the matter is that Mr. Ford was afraid of Liebold.
Perhaps this is as good a place as any to interrupt the story of events within the Ford Motor Company to throw what light I can on Mr. Ford's home life. I never had much to do with Mrs. Ford, so I must admit to being no expert on the Fords' marital happiness. However, certain things did come to my attention. Clara Ford was, to use a delicate word, a very frugal woman. She used to darn Mr. Ford's socks. I suppose there wasn't anything wrong with that but, as it happened, Mr. Ford detested nothing in the world so much as a darned sock. He claimed they hurt his feet.
Many times, when he was with me, Mr. Ford would have me stop the car in front of some store, and ask me to go in and buy him a pair of socks. Then he would change in the car, tossing the pair Mrs. Ford had so carefully darned out the window. The spectacle of a man with a billion dollars changing socks in his car so that his wife wouldn't know about it was, to say the least, a unique one.
A second evidence of Mrs. Ford's frugality arose one time when I pointed out to Mr. Ford that he had done many kind things for people which no one knew about. "Why don't we publicize that sort of thing?" I asked.
Mr. Ford said, "Well, if we do, there'll be more after us." Then he added: "And anyway, I don't want any trouble at home. You know how my wife is about money."
Once, at least, I was called upon to help solve a little domestic trouble Mr. Ford had got into, and my memory of that one is rather vivid, since I failed in my assignment.
There was a Finnish servant girl working at the Residence with the remarkable name of Wantatja. One day this girl went walking in the garden, presumably while resting between tasks. There, by chance, she saw Mr. Ford. He was standing behind a hedge, patting the hand of a second girl servant named Agnes, who was crying bitterly. Mr. Ford happened to look up from his consolations, and saw Wantatja.
Mr. Ford told me about the whole thing. He said he had only been comforting Agnes because of some grief.
Nevertheless, he said, he was afraid that Wantatja might get to Mrs. Ford and tell what she had seen. Therefore, Mr. Ford suggested it might be wise if I were to send Waneatja back up to the North Country, from where she came.
I managed to ship Wantatja back home without any fuss. But then her brother came down to Dearborn and tried to see Mr. Ford. I didn't let him get to Mr. Ford, and before he was through he went to both the FBI and the Michigan state police; who, if they wish, can verify this story. Finally, I got rid of the fellow.
All this didn't do much to quiet Mr. Ford's nerves, and he now thought it would be a good thing if I could get rid of Agnes, too.
I learned that Agnes had a brother of whom she was fond, and who was anxious to settle on the West Coast. I got Agnes's brother a good job on the Coast, and then, without much difficulty, talked Agnes into going out there with him.
I now thought the whole matter was ended and that I had successfully helped Mr. Ford out of his jam. But some while later, Mr. Ford called me and asked: "Is Agnes happy out on the West Coast?"
"Oh, sure, she's all set out there," I said. "You'll never hear any more from her."
"Oh, won't I?" Mr. Ford said. "Well, she's right here in Dearborn."
He then explained that Mrs. Ford had heard whisperings from other servants which had excited her suspicions. She had hired a Pinkerton detective, who traced Agnes and brought her back to the Residence.
Mr. Ford concluded: "Well, this time I'll handle it."
And I guess he did, because I never heard any more about the whole thing.
Other incidents in Mr. Ford's family life into which I was drawn were just sheer comedy. Mr. Ford had a long running feud with a certain woman. She was very close to Mrs. Ford, who liked her a great deal: I think Mr. Ford was jealous of Mrs. Ford's interest in her.
Mr. Ford learned that this woman was a devotee of spiritualism, and that she put deep faith in a certain "medium" in Detroit. So he worked out a plot.
First we "got" something on the medium, and then we hired her. We instructed her to tell this woman that on a certain Tuesday night at 10 p.m. she should go out on her bedroom balcony; there she should raise her arms three times to the moon and make a wish. If she did that, the medium promised, the wish would come true.
At a little before 10 on the appointed evening, Mr. Ford got Mrs. Ford into the car by saying that he felt like going for a drive. Probably to Mrs. Ford's wonderment, Mr. Ford parked the car under the woman's balcony, saying: "It's a nice night let's just sit here and look around."
A few minutes later, promptly at 10 the woman appeared on her bedroom balcony. She slowly and gravely raised her arms to the moon three times, and silently made her wish probably, that Mr. Ford would drop dead. Mrs. Ford watched the performance with astonishment, and Mr. Ford too craned his neck and looked up with an air of surprise.
"Well," Mr. Ford said, when the woman had returned to her bedroom, "she certainly takes that stuff seriously, doesn't she?" And saying nothing else, he drove off.
I suppose that more has been written on Mr. Ford's relations with organized labor than on any other aspect of his career. I can say that the United Automobile Workers, CIO, got into the automobile industry for some very good reasons.
It was the custom in the industry, when changing models, to pay everyone off and close down the plant. Upon reopening, all the men would be rehired at the flat rate. Thus, a man who might have worked his way up to $8 or $10 a day would be rehired at the wage of a beginner. If I had been in the shop, I'd have been in sympathy with the union myself.
Furthermore, unions were necessary in the automobile industry in order to stop all the politics, the favoritism, and the discrimination that went on in the plants.
However, having said this much, I will say frankly that we didn't want the CIO in the plant. As the CIO's efforts to unionize the Ford Motor Company became more intense, there were accusations that I was spying on the union. The accusations were unfounded. We didn't have to spy.
There were always a certain number of men who thought the union wouldn't win out and wanted to stay in good with us. After every meeting, these men would come to us and tell us what had transpired. We were good listeners.
At least one bit of humor came into the union situation.
The union was broadcasting over a little radio station in Detroit in the Maccabbee Building, a station so small that it was difficult to get on your radio.
One day, Benson Ford, second eldest of Edsel's sons, came to see me and asked if I ever listened to the union broadcasts. "I get a kick out of those fellows," he said. "You should listen to them some time."
I would have liked to; I told him, but I never could get the station. "How the devil do you get that station?" I asked.
"Oh, that's easy," Benson said. "You just push one of the selector buttons on a Ford car, and you get the union station." Evidently, we had some union man in the radio department who was setting a selector button to the Maccabbee station on every radio that went out of there. As a result, since practically all our employes drove Ford cars, when the union broadcasted they spoke to almost every man in the plant. We changed that situation in a hurry.
One day Clarence Avery of Murray Body called me up at a moment when Mr. Ford was in my office and asked if we knew of a good man to handle their union troubles. I relayed this request to Mr. Ford, and he said: "Tell 'em, if they can't lick 'em, join them that's what we're going to do."
It was Mr. Ford's idea that we might get company men to go into the union and disrupt it by accusing each other of being spies and mixing it all up. But it didn't work out that way. The union was too well supported from outside.
In the '30s, Mr. Ford's name became linked with Nazi activities, both at home and abroad.
It was my role to try to protect Mr. Ford against himself. This task was not made easier by the fact that, in his later years, Mr. Ford believed he had divine guidance. I don't know how many times I reproved him for some rash act, and he pointed to his head and said: "I'm guided, Harry, I'm guided."
In 1938, two German engineers brought the Grand Cross of the Eagle to Liebold for Mr. Ford. Mr. Ford accepted the decoration. By this time, Hitler's name was mud to a great section of the American people.
The newspapers published a picture of Mr. Ford, standing with two Germans, and with the medal hanging around his neck. I reproved Mr. Ford for having this picture taken, and he said: "Why, I never had my picture taken with that medal that was faked."
I didn't quite know what to believe. I called one of our company photographers and said I was about to bet someone that the photograph of Mr. Ford wearing the medal was a phony.
"Don't bet," he advised. "I took that picture, and I didn't fake it:"
After the publication of this picture, there was a marked drop in our sales. Company officials became convinced that there was an active and effective boycott on against us. We tried to convince Mr. Ford of this, but he stubbornly refused to believe us.
Not only were we getting a bad press on the Nazi stuff, but we became involved as well with some people at home Elizabeth Dilling, Gerald L. K. Smith, William Dudley Pelley, Fritz Kuhn who played on Mr. Ford's prejudices one way or another and did us no good.
Liz Dilling, author of the book Red Network and later indicted for sedition, came to Mr. Ford for money. I put her on the pay roll for a month while she dug up dope about Communists at the University of Michigan and then financed her trip to Europe to get rid of her.
(Elizabeth Dilling wrote, "Jewry never trusted Henry Ford. It was known that he repeatedly gave large sums of money to such "anti-Semites" as W.D. Pelley, Rev. Gerald Winrod, and my office received $5,000 from him in 1939, a year when $12,000 was spent in office research in my work, not to me, but to nine employees, etc., and his staff knew my ideas, well.
In vain did Jewry seek to bow the knee of Dr. James M. Gray, head of the Moody Bible Institute who refused to recant his assertions that the Protocols of Zion represent the program of Talmudic world Jewry. Concerning the Henry Ford apology, Dr. Gray wrote an article in the Moody Monthly of Sept. 1927 citing it and stating:
"This confession in our opinion is another link in the chain of prophecy. As we read it we were impressed that the great millionaire went further than the circumstances of the case required him to go. To put it another way, we do not believe the editor of the Independent, Mr. Ford's paper, was either as foolish or as wicked as the confession of its proprietor would make him appear. We believe he had good grounds for publishing some of the things about the Jews which he did publish. . . Indeed, the pressure brought to bear upon Mr. Ford to make his confession was in itself such corroborative evidence. This pressure came from the Jews all over the world, and in the face of it Mr. Ford was panic-stricken. He is one of the richest men in the world, and of course conscious of the power that money brings with it; but he was made to feel that the Jews have more money and hence more power than he, and that in such a cause their monies and their power can be quickly mobilized against an opponent and with crushing consequences... "
I knew Dr. Gray. My RED NETWORK was sold in large quanities in the Moody Bookstore. and I spoke over the Moody radio and in the church. etc. Dr. Gray was undismayed by threats. His successor quieted down many matters in favor of Jewry and the Institute has been "blessed" by large buildings and financial solidity. -- The Plot Against Christianity, p. 76).
Smith was a stickier proposition. He hadn't yet begun peddling "Nationalism" and bigotry; he was then a businessmen's spokesman against the CIO. I quickly became disillusioned with him, but he kept pestering us for more money. I had to threaten personally to run him out of Detroit before he let us alone.
Pelley, leader of the Silver Shirts, had quoted Mr. Ford admiringly in a pamphlet that.Cameron brought to Mr. Ford's attention. This was one involvement I was able to block. Probably encouraged by Cameron, Pelley came up North to try to see Mr. Ford. But I wouldn't let Pelley in to see him, and finally Pelley just gave up and went away.
I got the most satisfaction out of dealing with Fritz Kuhn. This leader of the Bund and "American Fuehrer" had been put on the pay roll but not by me. I watched for a chance to fire him in a way that would have no kickbacks in cries of "persecution" or further bad publicity. My chance came in 1937. Kuhn stopped an elevator between floors in the Henry Ford Hospital and made unwelcome advances to a nurse. The moment I learned of this, I bounced Kuhn out.
It came off as quietly as I could have hoped. Kuhn had no desire to talk about it. We notified the FBI that we had fired him, but said nothing to the public.
Liebold was angry. He said to me: "Why don't you fire him for the real reason you're firing him?"
But Liebold knew I didn't want to fire Kuhn for political reasons. I liked it fine the way it was.
By the spring of 1941, our relations with the CIO had reached a critical point, and in early April the plant was closed down. I put it that way because I will never agree that the Ford plant was struck. Only our steel mill really went on strike. The Rouge closed because the plant wasn't given the protection it should have had. The union simply blocked all the roads, and wouldn't let men into the plant.
Ray Rausch took over the plant and stayed there night and day. Besides him, Mr. Ford and I were the only two executives who went into the plant during the strike. Edsel kept in touch with us by telephone.
Mr. Ford wanted to fight the thing out. He told me to arm everyone we had in the plant, and use tear gas if necessary. I felt the same way Mr. Ford did. Edsel, however, became extremely alarmed and insisted that we give up any such ideas. Mr. Ford yielded to Edsel's wishes. I don't think the CIO would have won out, if it hadn't been for Edsel's reluctance for violence.
At first, though, Mr. Ford didn't want to settle. He believed that the whole thing was a "Jewish plot" against him. He preferred selling the plant to giving in.
In time, Mr. Ford saw how ridiculous his belief was, and only then was he ready to deal with the union.
We agreed to a government-supervised election. The election was held on May 21, 1941, and the CIO won it. A month later we signed a contract with the UAW which included everything they had asked for and a lot they hadn't asked for, and was far in advance of anything then in force in the industry.
By that time, World War II was almost at our doorstep.
An event of importance to the Ford Motor Company and to the country at this time was the beginning of Willow Run The Willow Run plant was Sorensen's idea, and he sold Mr. Ford on it sometime in 1940. Cameron's publicity department immediately went overboard and promised the public that we would soon be turning out 1,000 fighter planes a day a wild promise later to be remembered to our discomfort.
Willow Run was to manufacture the Liberator B-24, a Consolidated-Vultee four-engined bornber; the largest and the most elaborately tooled aircraft plant in the world, it was a mile long, a quarter mile wide, and was built at government expense for about 65 million dollars. Seventy subassembly lines were set up, and manpower needs were estimated at 100,000 workers. Willow Run was built in a little over a year. It began production in May, 1942. P. M.
Mr. Ford decided, in the spring of 1942, that he wanted to needle the Du Ponts. He told me to get word to the Du Ponts that he was going to build a huge new laboratory on his farm. Of course, he had no such intention. He thought that such a "tip" would get his archenemies worried about what he was up to.
Silly as the whole thing seemed to me, I did as he asked.
Now, as it happened, the government began to get worked up over the question of housing for Willow Run employes. They wanted to build temporary houses near the bomber plant. Most of the land around the plant belonged to Mr. Ford and was a part of his farm. So the Federal Housing Administration began surveying some land of Mr. Ford's, setting out about 700 surveying stakes. Mr. Ford looked at them as we drove by and then did a double take.
Mr. Ford blew his top. He was convinced that the whole thing was a plot and that the Du Ponts were behind it; they had got the government to build there so that he couldn't put up the laboratory which, of course, he had never intended to do in the first place.
"You just turn around, now," Mr. Ford said. "We're going to pull those stakes out."
So I had to turn the car around and go back. Mr. Ford and I got out, and I had to help him pull out I don't know how many of those stakes. When Mr. Ford was tired, we went back to the plant, and then I had to send some men out to finish the job.
By fall, however, Mr. Ford cooled off. In October, he sold the government 295 acres of his Willow Run property for a housing project.
At about this time, there began a chain of events which were to have serious effects on the Ford Motor Company.
A growing antipathy toward Cameron on Mr. Ford's part helped bring to a close Cameron's career on the radio and led to an important change in our handling of public relations. One day Edsel came to see me and asked what I thought of bringing Steve Hannagan, the well-known publicist, into the company to handle our public relations in place of Cameron.
Edsel knew my dislike for Cameron and didn't like the man much himself.
Next, Sorensen brought the subject up to me, and finally Mr. Ford got interested. So, in June of 1942, Steve Hannagan was brought in.
Mr. Ford asked Hannagan to build up some of the other executives around the place particularly Sorensen. Hannagan went to work on that, and he really did a job, too. Magazine articles, news items of all kinds began appearing in the press which portrayed Sorensen as the production genius of the Ford Motor Company.
Mr. Ford and Sorensen had gone along for years in a happy, close relationship of mutual confidence. But now the suggestion was made to Mr. Ford that Sorensen was trying to get all the publicity for himself and was trying to put Mr. Ford in the shade. And though Mr. Ford had himself asked Hannagan to build up Sorensen, the suggestions began to seep in.
In 1943, Mr. Ford's health began to go downhill. Always a food faddist, he now took on eating habits which could do nothing else than harm him.
For one thing, Mr. Ford became convinced that sugar was not a food, but a danger to the human body. He wanted to "prove" this to every one.
To "convince" Hub McCarroll, chief chemist of the company, Mr. Ford bought a huge magnifying glass and showed crystals of sugar under it to Hub. Of course, the crystals looked sharp and jagged, and Mr. Ford's contention was that these crystals acted like knives on the human tissue.
"Yes, Mr. Ford, but look at this," McCarroll said, and put a drop of water on the crystals. Of course, they dissolved at once: This infuriated Mr. Ford, and he wanted to fire McCarroll.
In addition to this, Mr. Ford got onto a diet of eating, only cracked wheat. "You can live as long as you want," he used to tell me, "as long as you only eat cracked wheat."
But Mr. Ford's declining health was not the only tragedy in the Ford family. Edsel was mortally ill with cancer, and was rapidly approaching his death.
Mr. Ford was always distrustful of the medical profession at one time, he wanted to kick all the doctors out of Henry Ford Hospital and install chiropractors instead. At first, he refused to believe that Edsel was seriously ill, and kept this up until Edsel underwent an operation in 1942. Then he refused to believe that Edsel had cancer: Up to the very end, he insisted that Edsel had undulant fever. So strong was this conviction that he stopped the use of milk in Greenfield Village, and wanted Ray Dahlinger, the farm manager, to get rid of all the cows on his farms.
Everything that could have been done for Edsel by medical science was done. But it was not enough, and he died in May of 1943.
Edsel's death was a blow to Mr. Ford the greatest single catastrophe he had ever suffered. At first he fell back on his theory of reincarnation, and said to me: "Well, Harry, you know my belief Edsel isn't dead."
But he couldn't deceive his own emotions very long, and soon he told me: "I never believed anything like this could happen to me."
Mr. Ford asked me if I intended going to Edsel's funeral, and I told him, "No, I couldn't be that hypocritical." I knew that Edsel had despised me, and felt that the honest thing to do was to stay away.
With Edsel gone, there was the question of who was to succeed him as president of the company. Mr. Ford talked this over with me. Henry, Edsel's eldest son, was only in his late twenties, and had had no real connection previously with the business. So I suggested to Mr. Ford that he make Sorensen president and let him hold that place until Henry was mature enough and capable enough to take over.
"You're absolutely right, Harry," Mr. Ford said.
So in Mr. Ford's mind, Sorensen was president of the Ford Motor Company for exactly eight hours. And I think that when he reads this, it will be the first he ever knew about it.
As soon as Mr. Ford announced his intentions to the family, certain members objected violently. I guess it got pretty bad. Eight hours after having decided to make Sorensen president, Mr. Ford called me up. He said: "Well, I'll settle this I'll be president myself. I don't think any one will have anything to say about that."
Within a few weeks, Henry was released from active Navy duty. He was made "executive vice-president" of the company and took up offices in the Administration Building in the Rouge.
At the same time, Mr. Ford made me a director of the company. This may sound very impressive, but won't once the reader understands the nature of our directors' meetings. They had no purpose other than to comply with the law. When Mr. Ford failed to show up, it was pretty funny, because all the directors dared do was conduct cut and dried business. However, the meetings reached their real humor on those occasions when Mr. Ford did show up.
Mr. Ford would come in, walk around and shake hands with every one, and then say: "Come on, Harry, let's get the hell out of here we'll probably change everything they do, anyway."
Probably a lot of the history of the Ford Motor Company will have seemed incredibly strange to the reader. But nothing, I'm sure, will be more incredible than the manner of Sorensen's leaving. For here are the facts of the matter. In the spring of 1943, Mr. Ford wanted to make Sorensen president of the company. In the fall, Sorensen resigned.
To grasp what happened, two things must be understood. First, by the fall of that year, Mr. Ford was not himself at intervals. He was losing his memory, and on occasions his mind was confused.
Second, the publicity build-up Hannagan had given Sorensen by now reached its full effect. There wasn't room in the Ford Motor Company for two "geniuses."
Early in October, Mr. Ford went to his winter place at Way Station, Georgia. I went to my place in California. At the same time, Sorensen decided to take a Florida vacation. And that's when it happened.
Frank Campsall told me later that he called Sorensen in Florida, at Mrs. Ford's instigation. Campsall told Sorensen that Mrs. Ford was worried about Mr. Ford's health, and that he was fretting about Sorensen's publicity. Mrs. Ford felt, Campsall said, that it would be better if Sorensen dropped out of the picture.
The next day, Sorensen announced that he had resigned. Campsall then called me up in California and told me what had been done. He told me that under no circumstances was I to mention the matter to Mr. Ford when I got back.
I told Campsall I would make no such promise, and I said: "It sure gives me a good, secure feeling with Mr. Ford if that's the way things are handled. Why should I come back?"
That was the end of our conversation. I was. by now so sick of the atmosphere in which I had been living that the thought of returning to that life was almost intolerable. On the other hand, I had been with Mr. Ford twenty-eight years by now, and in a sense that was the only life I'd had. It isn't so easy to break off such ties. So two weeks later, I went back to the Rouge.
Meantime, Sorensen's story is not quite ended. What happened to him after he "resigned" is of interest.
Sorensen had gone to Florida in a company-owned car. When he announced his resignation, I was told, a telephone call was made from Detroit to Florida, demanding that Sorensen turn over the car to the Jacksonville, Florida, branch. But by the time the call came through; Sorensen had started back home.
Bad as that was, it isn't all. There must be added to it the incident of Sorensen's clock.
Some years earlier, a neighbor of mine returned from a trip to Germany and made me a present of two unusually fine clocks, of the type which are motivated by changing air pressure. I gave one of these clocks to Mr. Ford and one to Sorensen.
Now, while Sorensen was driving back from Florida, some one from Dearborn went through. Sorensen's office. What else they did I don't know, but they moved Sorensen's clock over to Mr. Ford's office.
After both Mr. Ford and I had returned to the plant, Sorensen wrote me a letter about this clock, asking me to send it to him. I forwarded the letter to Dearborn, but got no reply.
I decided to take the matter up with Mr. Ford, and spoke to him about it. Mr. Ford seemed confused about the whole thing, at first insisting he knew nothing about it, but then finally agreeing that he had two identical clocks in his office. "Well," he said, "I want to talk to Charlie before I send it back."
I believe the clock is still in the Dearborn laboratories. Sorensen had been the binding force that held the plant together. When word came through that he was leaving, real panic swept through the Rouge.
As for myself, Sorensen's departure and the manner of his going had a profound effect on me. I no longer had that feeling of security, so deep that I had never worried much about what salary I got. Pretty early in my career with Mr. Ford, it had become plain that he didn't want me to have much money. I'd got peanuts for a salary during all the years since I had gone to work for him. On the other hand, Mr. Ford would give me almost anything I wanted as a gift. He maintained my homes for me. I believe he simply wanted me to be dependent on him.
But I saw that what happened to Sorensen could happen to me. Besides that, I had always said that when Mr. Ford left that place, I would leave there, too. And I could see that he wasn't going to be around for too long.
As a result of all this, I managed to get my salary up into the $75,000-a-year bracket for the last two years I was there. If I had been sick of the atmosphere which enveloped the company when Sorensen left, and wanted to get out, my feelings grew even stronger after some disagreements with Henry, who seemed in a hurry to fire many people, even though they had served his grandfather well and long. And to add to my feelings, there was the fact that by now Mr. Ford was slipping in a serious way.
Mr. Ford was seen at public meetings that last year, but usually he didn't know where he was. In the fall of 1945, the family arranged Mr. Ford's "retirement."
Now 83, and in a constantly confused state, he was carefully guarded at home and permitted to see no one outside the family. At the family's direction, Frank Campsall wrote out a "resignation" for Mr. Ford. In this, it was requested that Henry be made president of the company.
Then, Mr. Ford's "kitty" that safe in the laboratory whose contents I had always understood were to be mine when Mr. Ford went was taken over. I was told later, by Frank Campsall, that there was a blue envelope in there, addressed to me in Mr. Ford's handwriting.
I wasn't in much of a position to do anything about the "kitty," or the envelope, either. There was only one significant fact: this was the end of my life with Henry Ford.
Shortly, a board of directors meeting was called. When we were assembled, they began solemnly to read Mr. Ford's "resignation." Knowing what was coming, and unable to sit silently through a farce, I got up from my chair after the first few sentences had been read and congratulated Henry.
I wanted to walk out right then, but the others prevailed on me to stay. The reading of the letter was completed, and then the directors proceeded, still with straight faces, to elect Henry president of the Ford Motor Company.
After the meeting, when the other directors went home, I told Henry: "You're taking over a billion-dollar organization here that you haven't contributed a thing to."
I then walked out of the Ford Motor Company. I can't describe my feelings at leaving, they were so strong. I felt like a man coming out of prison.
The gossip writers made their conjectures on why I left and all made wrong ones. No one there "got" me out. As evidence of this, I remained on the Ford Motor Company pay roll for a year and a half after leaving. I left the Ford Motor Company for just one reason: I wanted to leave.
And I wish, now, that I could make that the last sentence of my story, and end the book there. But, unhappily, it wasn't the end.
Although I was now separated from the company, and Mr. Ford himself was under close surveillance and guard, some person or persons set a gang of junior G-men to checking on me and tailing me everywhere I went.
I soon learned about this. I further learned that all these men following me around carried guns, although I went unarmed. I can't say I was much frightened.
I tired of this game, and went up to my northern Michigan ranch for a rest. There, I got a secretive message from the state police that resulted in my holding a clandestine meeting in Saginaw with three men, one of whom was Harry Wismer, Mr. Ford's nephew and a well-known sports broadcaster. They told me that Mr. Ford would like to see me.
I told the men to tell Mr. Ford that I had not done anything against him nor said anything against him, and that I would be glad to see him.
A while later, Mr. Ford reached me by telephone. Somehow he had got to a phone outside his home.
Mr. Ford told me that he wanted me to go into the plant and shut it down. Then he began weeping, and became incoherent.
I checked my impression of Mr. Ford's health with a physician who had attended him, and as a result I just paid no attention to what Mr. Ford had told me to do.
After that, Mr. Ford called me again many times. But I refused to talk to him on the phone.
On April 7, 1947, the Rouge River flooded, and cut off all electric power and telephones at the Residence. In a cold room lit by oil lamps and candles, Mr. Ford died of a cerebral hemorrhage.
The next day his body lay in state in Greenfield Village, and a hundred thousand people filed past his bier.
I did not go to Mr. Ford's funeral. I was in California when I got the news. I knew that the family felt bitterly toward me and would not welcome my presence. I knew too that if I went, the newspapers would make a show of it. So I announced that I couldn't get reservations East.
To me, Mr. Ford had died two years earlier.
Harry Bennett as told to Paul Marcus
Later, Mr. Bennett's story appeared in abbreviated form in True Magazine. The above quotation appeared on page 125 of that magazine for October, 1951.
I give the reader this information in order that he may read what follows without the risk of any deception concerning the Ford apology.
1. The press quoted Mr. Ford as apologizing for the publication of "The International Jew."
2. Mr. Ford told me in the presence of Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Smith and Mr. Ernest Liebold (his secretary for 34 years) that he hoped to republish it and that he did not sign the apology.
3. Mr. Bennett, who at one time was one of the three most powerful individuals connected with the Ford Motor Company, admits that Mr. Ford did not sign the apology but that he (Bennett) copied Mr. Ford's signature with accuracy and that this signature is the only one which appeared on the formal apology.
As far as I am concerned, I am willing to base my Conclusions relative to the report ("The International Jew") on the personal statement which Mr. Ford made to me.
Whatever the case may be, the report in its original form as well as the abridged edition herewith, speaks for itself and is supported by the logic of its contents.
Concerning "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" Mr. Ford said on February 17, 1921: "The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on . . . They have fitted the world situation up to this time. They fit it now."
It must be observed that when Mr. Ford made this statement concerning the Protocols in relationship to his publication "The International Jew," this document, which is allegedly the secret minutes of the Elders of Zion, was only 16 years old. The Jews had advertised to the world that "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" were forgeries. Mr. Ford wasted no time arguing this question. He merely said to his friends: "No matter what they are, they fit what is going on."
Some students of the situation have pointed out that even the word "forgery" implies that the object referred to is an accurate reproduction of the original. For that reason every student of the Jewish problem should have a copy of "The Protocols of the Learned Eiders of Zion." Copies may be obtained by addressing orders to the CPA Book Publisher, PO Box 596, Boring, Oregon 97009, USA. Or Heritage & Conservative Books firstname.lastname@example.org.
In his book entitled "My Life and Work," which was published in 1922, Mr. Ford comments on his "International Jew" series with the following words:
No mature-minded thinker; no honest reader, could question Mr. Ford's logic summarized above. I agree completely with his expressed convictions that all America and the world needs is to know the truth "and the truth shall set us free."
"Readers of our articles will see at once that we are not actuated by any kind of prejudice, except it may be a prejudice in favor of the principles which have made our civilization.
"There had been observed in this country certain streams of influence which were causing a marked deterioration in our literature, amusements, and social conduct; business was departing from its old-time substantial soundness; a general letting-down of standards were felt everywhere. It was not the robust coarseness of the white man, the rude indelicacy, say, of Shakespeare's characters, but a nasty Orientalism which has insidiously affected every channel of expression -- and to such an extent that it was time to challenge it. The fact that these influences are all traceable to one racial source is a fact to be reckoned with . . . Our work does not pretend to say the last word on the Jew in America. It says only the word which describes his present impress on this country. When that impress is changed, the report can be changed . . . Our opposition is only to ideas, false ideas, which are sapping the moral stamina of the people. These ideas proceed from easily identified sources, they are promulgated by easily discoverable methods and they are controlled by mere exposure.
"When people learn to identify the source and nature of the influence swirling around them, it is sufficient. Let the American people once understand that it is not natural degeneracy but calculated subversion that afflicts us, and they are safe.
"The explanation is the cure. This work was taken up without personal motives. When it reached a stage where we believed the American people could grasp the key, we let it rest for the time. Our enemies say that we began it for revenge and that we laid it down in fear. Time will show that our critics (the Jews) are merely dealing in evasion because they dare not tackle the main question."
-- Gerald L. K. Smith
The next letter appeared in The CDL Report, Special Issue 234 page 30 (Christian Defense League, Box 449, Arabi, La. 70032, USA). It was written by Mr. Smith as Director and on the letterhead of the Nationalist News Service, The Christian Nationalist Crusade, Publisher of "The Cross and the Flag," and Editor of "Washington Letter".
October 29, 1956
Mr. Charles B. Hudson
P. 0. Box 985
Dear Mr. Hudson:
I have no items concerning Mr. Ford being run off the road, but I
will give you first-hand information concerning this matter, one
source being Mr. Ernest Liebold, private secretary to Mr. Ford
for 34 years and who was my personal friend. He believed that Harry
Bennett was in with the Jews and that the scare against Mr. Ford
was an inside job designed to intimidate the Ford family. It never
scared Mr. Ford, but it scared his family and subordinate executives.
You will recall that Mr. Bennett collaborated with a Jew in writing
a book entitled "We Called Him Henry." In this book he boasts (but
to me it was a confession) that he and Louis Marshall concocted Mr.
Ford's apology and that he (Bennett) signed Mr. Ford's name to the
apology. He boasts how he, being an artist, had learned to imitate
Mr. Ford's signature perfectly.
Mr. Ford told me before he died that one of his great hopes was that
he could republish "The International Jew." He told it to me in the
presence of two other witnesses.
Gerald L. K. Smith