WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump praised the famously anti-Semitic Henry Ford's "good bloodlines" during a visit on Thursday to a Ford plant in Michigan.
"The company [was] founded by a man named Henry Ford," Trump said in remarks at the plant. "Good bloodlines, good bloodlines. If you believe in that stuff, you got good blood.”
Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Co., was one of the most influential anti-Semitic figures in American public life in the early 20th century.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, called on the president to apologize, saying Ford "was an antisemite and one of America's staunchest proponents of eugenics."
One of the richest industrialists in the U.S., he bought a newspaper in his hometown of Dearborn, Michigan, in 1918, and used it to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and propaganda. The Dearborn Independent went on to publish hundreds of articles accusing Jews of a conspiracy to weaken and destroy the U.S.. Ford later bound those articles into a four-volume book titled “The International Jew.”
During that period, Ford also printed and distributed the anti-Semitic hoax text “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Segments from it were also printed in Ford’s newspaper and presented to the readers as a factual description of Jewish attempts to control the world. By the mid-1920s, the paper owned by Ford had a circulation of hundreds of thousands. In 1927, however, Ford shut down the newspaper, partially because of lawsuits that resulted from its anti-Semitic content.
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In Germany, the Nazis translated and shared articles that were published in Ford’s newspaper during the 1920s and 30s. Ford also received an honor from the German government in 1938, a year before Hitler's invasion of Poland sparked World War II in Europe.
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Ford apologized for the newspaper's anti-Semitism in 1927, and 15 years later, at the height of the war, wrote a letter to a Jewish attorney in which he expressed hope that anti-Semitism would disappear from the world after the end of the war.