Henry & Hitler
24 November 1999
Both Japan and Germany went through periods of prolonged and vicious civil war before they became unified countries.
This led to a military tradition and discipline amongst the most brutal and ruthless ever seen in the world. British military tradition was not far behind. Winston Churchill described, the discipline of the British navy as being rum, sodomy and the lash.
However Henry Ford gave the edge to the German version. He was always a great admirer of this German discipline.
In the early days in Fords factories workers were not allowed to smile or talk on threat of dismissal. This led to the famous Ford workers ability to speak like a ventriloquist out of the side of the mouth!
Ford moved from puritanical control to gangsterism. He employed leading members of Murder Incorporated in his personnel department known as the Service Department.
In 1932 the 3,000 hunger marchers who came to the River Rouge plant looking for work were machine-gunned by the Ford Service Department. Four were shot dead and dozens seriously injured.
At this time Ford wrote a number of anti-semitic books and produced a regular racist newspaper, later stopped because of a boycott of Ford cars in the US. As always, making money was the core principle.
As long as open racism sold cars it was profitable. As soon as it did not, it was stopped.
However, he continued to support the growth of the Nazi movement in America, and Hitler kept a life-size portrait of Ford by his desk!
During this period the United Auto Workers union (UAW), tried to organise Ford plants. Union organisers, both men and women, were severely beaten up time and again. On one infamous occasion in Detroit union organisers were beaten up and very badly hurt when they were thrown off a bridge, down the iron steps on to the concrete below.
UAW organiser, Walter Reuther, later UAW president, lost an eye when Fords Service men blasted his home in a hail of shotgun fire. It was not until 1941 that Ford recognised the UAW, and his next move was to try to buy the union over, which has been largely successful today.
Henry Ford was one of the only two non-Germans to be awarded the highest honour of the grand cross of the German eagle by Adolf Hitler. The other was Benito Mussolini, leader of Fascist Italy.
Ford and General Motors have been cited along with a number of German firms for profiteering from slave labour during the Nazi era.
According to US army reports, Ford in Germany was the second largest producer of trucks for the Nazis. US investigator, Henry Schneider in 1945 accused the German subsidiary of being an arsenal of Nazism with the parent companys consent.
Documents reveal that Ford received dividends from its German subsidiary worth £40,000 between 1940 and 1943.
Business was conducted via Switzerland in the same way that, during the First World War that route was used to continue profit-making.
In those days Britain sold barbed wire to Germany and Germany sold hand grenades to Britain! Some British soldiers therefore died on British-made barbed wire, and some Germans died from the blast of German hand grenades!
Ford backed both horses, and at the end of the Second World War was compensated for the destruction of his factories in Germany, largely carried out by aeroplanes built by the Ford Motor Company for the US air force!
On 18 November 1999 Germany offered $4.2 billion in compensation to Nazi-era slave and forced labourers. But the victims lawyers are demanding between $5.3 and $7.9 billion.
One reason that the sides cannot agree is that they have different ideas as to what this should cover. The companies want legal immunity from future claims, while the victims lawyers say it could only cover compensation for slave and forced labourers.Lawyer Edward Fagan said the companies would have to pay an amount at the higher end of the range to get the broad legal protection they want, including settlement of unpaid insurance claims and bank accounts seized by the Nazis.
The more claims they want included and the more protection they want, the further up the scale they will have to go, he said.
All parties to the talks have acknowledged the urgent need to resolve the issue as the victims have an average age of 80, and 10 per cent of them die each year.
These issues are only being addressed now because the big capitalist firms and governments would not admit responsibility while the Soviet Union existed the propaganda value of this admission would have been too damaging at that time.