We have sworn to you once,
But now we make our allegiance permanent.
Like currents in a torrent lost,
We all flow into you.
Even when we cannot understand you,
We will go with you.
One day we may comprehend,
How you can see our future.
Hearts like bronze shields,
We have placed around you,
And it seems to us, that only
You can reveal God’s world to us.
This poem ran in an in-house magazine published by Ford Motor Company’s German subsidiary in April of 1940. Titled “Führer,” the poem appeared at a time when Ford maintained complete control of the German company and two of its top executives sat on the subsidiary’s board. It was also a time when the object of Ford’s affection was in the process of overrunning Western Europe after already having swallowed up Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland in the East.
I found “Führer” among thousands of pages of documents compiled by the Washington law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, which sought damages from Ford on behalf of a Russian woman who toiled as a slave laborer at its German plant. This past September, a judge in New Jersey, Joseph Greenaway Jr., threw the case out on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired. Greenaway, who did not exonerate Ford, did accept the company’s argument that “redressing the tragedies of that period has been–and should continue to be–a nation-to-nation, government-to-government concern.”
Ford argues that company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, lost control of its German plant after the United States entered the war in 1941. Hence, Ford is not responsible for any actions taken by its German subsidiary during World War II. “We did not do business in Germany during the war,” says Lydia Cisaruk, a Ford spokeswoman. “The Nazis confiscated the plant there and we lost all contact.” She added that Ford played a “pivotal role in the American war effort. After the United States entered the war, Ford threw its entire backing to the war effort.”
That Ford and a number of other American firms–including General Motors and Chase Manhattan–worked with the Nazis has been previously disclosed. So, too, has Henry Ford’s role as a leader of the America First Committee, which sought to keep the United States out of World War II. However, the new materials, most of which were found at the National Archives, are far more damning than earlier revelations. They show, among other things, that up until Pearl Harbor, Dearborn made huge revenues by producing war matériel for the Reich and that the man it selected to run its German subsidiary was an enthusiastic backer of Hitler. German Ford served as an “arsenal of Nazism” with the consent of headquarters in Dearborn, says a US Army report prepared in 1945.