The Religious Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous
and the Twelve Steps

Chapter 18: Henry Ford and Anti-Semitism

Frank Buchman in 1942

In 1942, when Frank Buchman's traveling show was in Detroit, they were the guests of Henry Ford Sr. at the Dearborn Inn. Mrs. Henry Ford pulled strings with the Michigan state government and got Buchman the use of a large Mackinac Island resort hotel facility for one dollar per year. Buchman set up his new headquarters there.39

Henry Ford, Frank Buchman, and Mrs. Ford

Mackinac Island shoreline. The hotel that Buchman got is the large building on the left.


Henry Ford Sr. was a long-time supporter of Frank Buchman. He was also a long-time supporter of Adolf Hitler. Ford had quite a history of involvement with ultra-conservative and fascist causes himself.

During World War I, Ford wrote a series of viciously anti-Semitic articles for The Dearborn Independent, which he then published in book form as a hate-filled diatribe against Jews called "The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem", which basically blamed Jews for all of the problems of the world. The International Jew is still reprinted and used and much admired by neo-Nazis and White Supremacists even today.

In the early 1920s, this book was published in Germany under the title The Eternal Jew. It reportedly had a major influence on Adolf Hitler, and he almost certainly plagiarized parts of it in Mein Kampf. The admiration was mutual. Following Hitler's assumption of power, Ford sent Hitler 50,000 Deutsch Marks every year on Hitler's birthday. Ford's anti-Semitic views were well known during the period that the Buchmanites bragged of Ford's support of their movement. For more information on Ford's Nazi connections, see Who Financed Hitler?, by James and Suzanne Pool. New York: Dial Press, 1978.
Alcoholics Anonymous, Cult or Cure?, by Charles Bufe, page 30, footnote 16.

What happened was, at the end of 1918, Henry Ford Sr. bought the small independent country newspaper The Dearborn Independent and, at great expense, turned it into a nation-wide newspaper that was devoted to spreading his message.

      Suddenly on May 22, 1920, the Independent lashed forth with a violent attack on the Jews. The boldface headline on the front page was a blunt and concise summation of the editorial's thesis: "The International Jew: The World's Problem." The first paragraph began: "There is a race, a part of humanity which has never yet been received as a welcome part." This people, the article continued, has ever been fouling the earth and plotting to dominate it. In order to eventually rule the Gentiles, the Jews have long been conspiring to form an "international super-capitalist government." This racial problem, the Independent said, was the "prime" question confronting all society.
      The following ninety-one articles covered a wide field of topics related to the international Jew. ...
      In subsequent articles, Ford frequently accused the Jews of causing a decline in American culture, values, products, entertainment, and even worse, of being the instigators of World War I.
Who Financed Hitler; The Secret Funding of Hitler's Rise to Power 1919-1933, James Pool and Suzanne Pool, page 87.

Click on the image for a larger, readable, copy.

After Ford launched his attack on Jews in 1920, the Jewish community responded by boycotting Ford's cars and other products. Other companies who did a lot of business with Jewish firms, or who were otherwise sympathetic to the Jewish community, joined the boycott. Ford lost much business, but it was not enough to cripple the Ford industry.

Despite all of the attempts to silence Ford's campaign, his racist ideas spread quickly throughout the world. Within a year and a half Ford had turned the Independent into a notorious, mass-circulated, anti-Semitic propaganda sheet.
Who Financed Hitler; The Secret Funding of Hitler's Rise to Power 1919-1933, James Pool and Suzanne Pool, page 89.

Henry Ford Sr. came up with some more ideas that inspired the Nazis:

Unlike the traditional religious and social anti-Semitism which had flared up at various times since the Middle Ages, Mein Kampf presented a theory of racial anti-Semitism. The distinguished group of historians, including Sidney B. Fay, William Langer, and John Chamberlain, who edited the American edition of Mein Kampf, claimed that the use of racial anti-Semitism as the integral part of a political program was Hitler's "Copernican discovery."24 However, this harsh new philosophy was first propagated to the general public, not by Adolf Hitler, but by Henry Ford.

24. Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler, editors' fn., p. 155.
Who Financed Hitler; The Secret Funding of Hitler's Rise to Power 1919-1933, James Pool and Suzanne Pool, pages 91-92.

And Ford declared that...

In contrast to the Jews, who are presented in The International Jew as a race "that has no civilization to point to, no aspiring religion... no great achievement in any realm...,"28 the Anglo-Saxons are portrayed as explorers, nation builders, and thinkers. As Ford was fond of telling people, it was the Anglo-Saxons who overcame all odds to establish a great new civilization on the American continent. Their accomplishments throughout the centuries, Ford said, have proven that the Anglo-Saxon race is destined to "master the world."

28. The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem, abridged from the original as published by Henry Ford, in the Dearborn Independent, ed. Gerald L. K. Smith (Los Angeles, 1964), p. 30.

Who Financed Hitler; The Secret Funding of Hitler's Rise to Power 1919-1933, James Pool and Suzanne Pool, page 92.

[Curiously, Carl Jung wrote the very same things about the Jews having built no great culture or civilization, many years later. Perhaps Carl Jung also read Henry Ford's diatribes.]

Henry Ford bundled his 91 articles together and published them in book form as The International Jew. Some of the chapters were:

  • Are the Jews Victims or Persecutors?
  • Jewish Gamblers Corrupt American Baseball
  • Jewish Degradation of American Baseball
    [Henry Ford was very upset about "the commercialization of baseball". Some star baseball players were beginning to receive what Ford considered to be very large salaries ($125,000 for Babe Ruth's contract was mentioned), and Ford blamed the Jews for all of it. It is funny that the fabulously wealthy multi-millionaire Ford felt that Babe Ruth should work for peanuts, but that he, Henry Ford, should not.]
  • Jewish Jazz Becomes Our National Music
    Yes, everybody knows how the Jews all moved out of New York City and went to New Orleans and took over Basin Street...
  • How the Jewish Song Trust Makes You Sing
  • Liquor, Gambling, Vice, and Corruption.
    Ford says that Jews control all of the mobs. Silly me, I thought that Alfonso Caponé was an Italian name, but what do I know?
  • Jewish Hot-Beds of Bolshevism in the U.S.
  • Jew Trades Link With World Revolutionaries
  • Will Jewish Zionism Bring Armageddon?
  • How the Jews Use Power — By an Eyewitness
  • How Jews Ruled and Ruined Tammany Hall
  • Jew Wires Direct Tammany's Gentile Puppets
  • Dr. Levy, a Jew, Admits His People's Error
  • Jewish Idea Molded Federal Reserve Plan
  • Jewish Idea of Central Bank for America
  • How Jewish International Finance Functions
  • Jewish Power and America's Money Famine

The level of stereotyping and hatred is almost unbelievable. For instance, Ford considered all of the Jewish garment makers to be Bolsheviks:

'Why the tendency of the Jew to the "needle trades"? It is explained in his aversion to manual labor, his abhorrence of agricultural life, and his desire to arrange his own affairs.'
(Page 91, Jewish Hot-Beds of Bolshevism in the U.S.)
...the "needle trades" being exclusively Jewish, all their abuses are Jewish too. ... Bolshevism is not Russian but Jewish...
(Page 92, Jewish Hot-Beds of Bolshevism in the U.S.)

But in other chapters, Henry Ford declared that the Jews were cleverly controlling international banking and finance, not busy making garments. And I never noticed Henry Ford taking to the agricultural life either, out plowing the south forty behind his mule. And Henry Ford sure insisted on arranging his own affairs.

Why did a man of such fantastic wealth and power spend so much time, money, and energy attacking people who had apparently done nothing to him, and whose alleged world-wide conspiracies had not stopped Henry Ford from becoming as wealthy as King Midas? How could he possibly cry in his beer about how the Jews had done him wrong?

I have to seriously question Henry Ford Sr.'s sanity, especially when you consider that he went from being the most enlightened and generous employer in the world to being a hateful miser in just twenty years. In the beginning, Henry Ford shocked the industrial world by doubling his workers' wages in one day. Ford and his secretary Liebold had crunched the numbers carefully, and calculated his profits, and calculated what his profits would become, and then Ford announced that he was doubling the wages of everybody in his factories who built his cars — doubling wages that were already considered high by that day's standards. Henry Ford did that without even a union pressuring him, or even existing, or any strike happening. Ford simply believed that such an action would make his employees very happy, loyal, and more productive. Other industrialists believed that Ford was crazy and destroying industry. But Ford was right and they were wrong — Ford's profits increased even more, and he became even more fantastically wealthy.

But in the following twenty years, Henry Ford changed into a hateful union-buster who hired thugs and goons to beat up and shoot strikers and union organizers, and into a hateful anti-Semite who claimed that the Jews were the cause of all of his problems.

Did Henry Ford go insane? Did Henry Ford suffer a stroke? Was he absorbing toxic heavy metals in his car factories, and poisoning his brain?

Later in his life, Henry Ford Sr. was declared senile. I think that the mental deterioration may have started a lot sooner than his family realized.

The International Jew was translated into sixteen different languages, including Arabic, and printed worldwide.

From France to Russia, anti-Semitic and nationalist groups eagerly bought up the publications of the famous American. A prominent Jewish attorney, after completing a world tour in the mid-1920s, stated that he had seen the brochures in the "most remote corners of the earth." He maintained that, "but for the authority of the Ford name, they would have never seen the light of day and would have been quite harmless if they had. With that magic name they spread like wildfire and became the Bible of every anti-Semite."14
        If The International Jew was the Bible, then to the Nazis Henry Ford must have seemed like a god. His anti-Semitic publications led many Germans to become Nazis. Baldur von Schirach, leader of the Hitler Youth movement, stated at the postwar Nuremberg War Crimes Trials that he had become an anti-Semite at the age of seventeen after reading The Eternal Jew (title of The International Jew translated for the German editions). "You have no idea what a great influence this book had on the thinking of German youth," von Schirach said. "The younger generation looked with envy to the symbols of success and prosperity like Henry Ford, and if he said the Jews were to blame, why naturally we believed him."15 One of Hitler's lieutenants, Christian Weber, boasted that Ford would be "received like a King" if he ever came to Munich.
        Hitler's admiration for the auto magnate, the New York Times reported, was made obvious by the large picture of Henry Ford on the wall beside Hitler's desk in the Brown House. In an adjoining room there was a large table covered with books, most of which were copies of the German translation of The International Jew.
        When news of the Jewish boycotts reached the Nazis, Hitler declared that "the struggle of international Jewish finance against Ford has only strengthened the sympathies of the National Socialist Party for Ford and has given the broadest circulation to his book, The International Jew."16 And in 1923, when Hitler learned that Ford might run for President, he said, according to the Chicago Tribune, "I wish that I could send some of my shock troops to Chicago and other big American cities to help in the elections.... We look to Heinrich Ford as the leader of the growing Fascist movement in America.... We have just had his anti-Jewish articles translated and published. The book is being circulated to millions throughout Germany."17
        ...Not only did Hitler specifically praise Henry Ford in Mein Kampf, but many of Hitler's ideas were also a direct reflection of Ford's racist philosophy. There is a great similarity between The International Jew and Hitler's Mein Kampf,21 and some passages are so identical that it has been said that Hitler copied directly from Ford's publication.* Hitler also read Ford's autobiography, My Life and Work, which was published in 1922 and was a best seller in Germany, as well as Ford's book entitled Today and Tomorrow.22 There can be no doubt as to the influence of Henry Ford's ideas on Hitler. Not only do Hitler's writings and practices reflect The International Jew, but one of his closest associates, Dietrich Eckart, specifically mentioned the Protocols [of the Learned Elders of Zion50] and The International Jew as sources of inspiration for the Nazi leader.23

* The International Jew was first published by Ford in 1920. Hitler did not begin to write Mein Kampf until 1924.

14. David L. Lewis, The Public Image of Henry Ford: An American Folk Hero and His Company (Detroit, 1976), p. 135.
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid.
17. Quoted in John Roy Carlson, Under Cover: My Four Years in the Nazi Underworld of America (New York, 1943), p. 210.
21. Lewis, op. cit., p. 143; Hitler, Mein Kampf, editors' fn., p. 929.
22. Hitler's Secret Conversations, p. 228.
23. Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide: The myth of the Jewish world-conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (New York, 1966), p. 183.

Who Financed Hitler; The Secret Funding of Hitler's Rise to Power 1919-1933, James Pool and Suzanne Pool, pages 89-91, and footnotes on page 501.

(click on image for larger version)

One New York Rabbi refuted Ford's ravings about the world-wide conspiracy of wealthy Jews by stating that the Jews in New York were unable to raise even $10,000 to help poor, starving, homeless Jews in post-World-War-One Eastern Europe. "How," he asked, "can we be taking over the world when we do not have the power to supply even the most minimal help to our own people?"

Henry Ford's anti-semitic campaign brought him so much trouble that he ostensibly backed off and declared that he was repudiating anti-Semitism and The International Jew. Ford met with some Jewish leaders and declared peace. But Ford really just switched to using front men like Father Charles Coughlin, the father of hate radio, to promote his opinions. Father Coughlin republished, with the help of Henry Ford and his secretary Ernest Liebold, more rabidly hateful anti-Semitic literature, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.50

Fr. Charles Coughlin, "The Radio Priest", the father of hate radio

The Protocols, as republished again in pamphlet form by "The Anglo-Saxon Federation Of America".

The book Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion was a fraud — a forged document that was purported to be a copy of the secret plans of the Jewish elders to create chaos and take over the world. It was a forgery created in czarist Russia by the czar's secret police in 1902. It portrayed Judaism as a worldwide conspiracy dedicated to the destruction of Christian civilization. The czar's police were trying to blame the Jews for the terrible state of affairs in Russia, to divert attention away from Czar Nicholas' incompetent management of the country. In the long run, it did not do Czar Nicholas any good — the revolutionairies killed him and his family anyway — but the forgery caused the Jews a lot of grief.

      The czarist secret police actually copied an obscure political satire written by the Frenchman Maurice Jole in 1864, "A Dialogue in Hell: Conversations Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu about Power and Right". The Dialogue was a series of debates between two fictitious characters — Machiavelli and Montesquieu in Hell — with Montesquieu defending republicanism and criticizing the authoritarianism of Napoleon III. As you can imagine, the fictitious Machiavelli attacked democracy and republicanism, and plotted its undoing. The czar's police simply plagiarized Jole's Dialogues, and put the words of this fictitious Machiavelli in Hell into the mouths of some equally imaginary Jewish elders. That forgery was then used as justification for murderous pogroms against the Jews.

      In the following century, the Protocols became a favorite document of all kinds of hateful anti-semites. Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler both spoke of its great influence on them. The Protocols provided an excuse for attacking the Jews. The Nazi logic was that the Protocols showed that the Jews had already attacked the German people, the German economy, and the German government, and the Nazis were merely fighting back to defend their country from aggressors who were bent on destroying their nation.
      See: A Rumor About The Jews; Reflections on Antisemitism and the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, by Stephen Eric Bronner, especially pages 83 to 88.
      Also see: A Doomsday Reader; Prophets, Predictors, and Hucksters of Salvation, edited by Ted Daniels. Includes a chapter on the "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion", pages 99-107.

Konrad Heiden, who wrote a biography of Adolf Hitler while Hitler was still alive, which concentrated on the rise of Hitler and how he did it, pointed out that the Protocols actually gave Hitler a plan for world conquest. Hitler followed the plans in the Protocols, and used the propaganda techniques and deceptive means described in that book. While Hitler blamed the Jews for Germany's troubles, and claimed that the Jews were using underhanded means to take over the world, it was actually Hitler who was using those means with that goal in mind.

Hitler never wearied of studying his own experiences and the world about him to discover the secrets and conditions of this world! He did not have a plan and act accordingly; he acted, and out of his actions a plan arose. At first he sincerely believed that The Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion were the instructions for establishing Jewish world domination. Later, when the time came for him to formulate his own aims, he was forced to recognize that they were laid down in this supposed Jewish book.
Der Fuehrer, Konrad Heiden, page 141.

It would be interesting to know how and in which member of the [Nazi Party inner] circle the realization dawned that The Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion was not a pamphlet at all, but a secret textbook of world domination. Nothing contradicts the assumption that, in any event, Hitler secretly and with sealed lips conceived the idea that he himself would become the 'king' and 'ruler' of the world prophesied in the Protocols.
Der Fuehrer, Konrad Heiden, page 100.

(There is much more of Konrad Heiden's history of The Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion here.)

      In the U.S.A., the original hate-radio rabble-rouser and demagogue Father Charles Coughlin — who invented Rush-Limbaugh-style hate radio back when radio was a new medium — republished The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion in the USA in July of 1938, as part of his very long tirade against the Jews. Father Coughlin got financial and other help from Henry Ford, who had supposedly renounced anti-Semitism and made peace with Jewish leaders, but who had really simply switched to using Father Coughlin as a front man. Father Coughlin probably even got the text for the Protocols from Ford's personal secretary Ernest E. Liebold, who was a central figure in Ford's campaign against the Jews.
See Father Coughlin and the New Deal, pp. 193-196, and Radio Priest; Charles Coughlin, The Father of Hate Radio, by Donald Warren, pages 145 to 153.

      And Father Coughlin was probably also receiving funds from Nazi Germany as well as Henry Ford. See Radio Priest, pages 232 to 244.
      And Coughlin was actively disseminating Nazi propaganda: "Some of Coughlin's writings followed speeches of Joseph Goebbels word for word." (Radio Priest, page 244.)

A U.S. Department of Justice internal memorandum said,

"...there is at least one occasion upon which [Father Coughlin's magazine] Social Justice reprinted in almost identical form a speech delivered by Joseph Goebbels. The Social Justice article gave no credit to Goebbels and did not in any way indicate that it was a reprint of Goebbel's speech. In addition to the Goebbels article we have testimony from one witness, the Reverend Dr. Cole of Boston, that on one occasion when he visited Coughlin at Royal Oak he saw Nazi propaganda leaflets stacked upon the shelves of Coughlin's library. Dr. Cole can specifically identify the Goebbels speech in pamphlet form, printed in English, as having been on Coughlin's shelf."
(Radio Priest; Charles Coughlin, The Father of Hate Radio, Donald Warren, page 251.)

      Father Charles Coughlin was a hero of Father Edward Dowling and his Jesuit order in St. Louis. Father Ed Dowling became Bill Wilson's priest and spiritual advisor after he read the first edition of the Big Book and decided that Bill Wilson's Twelve Steps resembled the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. What a small crazy right-wing world it is after all.

On July 30, 1938, on his seventy-fifth birthday, Henry Ford, dressed in an immaculate white suit with a red sash draped across his jacket, was photographed having the Grand Cross of the German Eagle pinned to his label by the Honorary vice-consul of the Third Reich in Detroit, Fritz Hailer.75 A year later, after Hitler's invasion of Poland, Ford confided to a young acquaintance, "There hasn't been a shot fired. The whole thing has just been made up by the Jew bankers."76

Henry Ford recieved the Grand Cross of the German Eagle from Adolf Hitler's Third Reich, presented by Karl Kapp, German consul-general of Cleveland (left), and Fritz Hailer, German consul of Detroit (right).

Two of the first recipients of the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, right after Hitler created it, were the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and his son-in-law Count Ciano.

In spite of all of that, Frank Buchman and his followers still happily bragged about the support that they received from Henry Ford Sr. Even more disturbing is the fact that a man like Henry Ford Sr. found Buchman's teachings and philosophy so attractive.

Frank Buchman recieves the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit, the highest German decoration, at New Delhi, India.
Frank had to wait until after the end of the war to receive his Grand Cross from Germany.
How odd that he was awarded the medal at the German embassy in India.

Henry Ford was not the only viciously anti-semitic supporter of the Oxford Groups and Moral Re-Armament, either. Thomas Edison, the famous electrical inventor, and Henry Ford were friends who saw eye to eye on anti-Semitic issues, and Thomas Edison's widow was an ethusiastic supporter of Frank Buchman's groups. She was often quoted by the Buchmanites as saying, "MRA, like my husband's light, must go to every home in the world."

Frank Buchman often bragged about his Oxford Group members Lord and Lady Hardinge of Penshurst (presumably because they were titled British nobility). Well, a book about British fascists of the 1930s tells us that...

In 1938 and 1939 there were many other small anti-Semitic associations in Great Britain.   ...   There was also the rather mysterious organisation mentioned (without a name) by Dickson, the German Ambassador [that is, the British Ambassador to Germany], in a dispatch sent on 19 July 1939; its president was described as Lady Alexandra Hardinge,6 and among its activities was the showing of a film in which Jewish ritual slaughter was depicted.7
      Most of these groups, as well as being anti-Semitic, were by now at least anti-war, and often pro-Nazi.

6. As the Hardinge family contains neither duke nor marquess, it is impossible for someone with such a title to have existed.
7. Dirksen dispatch, 19 July 1939, quoted in 'British Antisemitism was Hitler's Hope', Wiener Library Bulletin, Vol. XVI, No. 1, 1962, p. 17.

Fellow Travelers of the Right; British Enthusiasts for Nazi Germany 1933-9, Richard Griffiths, page 355.

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Last updated 12 April 2013.
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