Chapter   1  Chronicler of the Neglected Truth

Chapter   2  The Fuhrer’s Inspiration

Chapter   3  Superhero

Chapter   4  Strange Bedfellows

Chapter   5  Hate by Proxy

Chapter   6  Historys Stage

Chapter   7  The Lonely Eagle

Chapter   8  An Arsenal of Nazism

Chapter   9  America First

Chapter 10  Fallen Hero

Chapter 11 “Will It Run?”

Chapter 12  Business as Usual

Chapter 13  Redemption







Twelve years had passed since Germany was compelled to sign the Treaty of Versailles when Annetta Antona arrived at 17 Brienner Strasse on the afternoon of December 28, 1931, to interview a rising politician named Adolf Hitler. Thirteen years of stewing in the bile of defeat. Thirteen years of Germanys pondering a suitable scapegoat for its capitulation in World War I and humiliation at the peace conference. Thirteen years of longing to reinvigorate Aryan pride.

A longtime Detroit News columnist, Antona was part of a team dispatched by the paper to tell the story of how the defeated nation was rebuilding itself. She was the author of a popular weekly column called “Five Minutes With Men in the Public Eye,” wherein she profiled notable figures from the world of politics, literature, and entertainment.

Detroit boasted a significant German immigrant population and the News frequently provided its readers with reports from their former homeland. The National Socialist German Workers Party had achieved great strides in the German Reichstag a year earlier, winning 107 out of 556 seats in the national election. That Hitler’s message of nationalism and anti-Semitism was appealing to a growing audience was undeniable. Antona believed the man she referred to as the “Bavarian Mussolini” was destined to one day take power. Through a friend who enjoyed influence with the National Socialists, she had secured a five-minute interview with the party leader, although her friend warned that Hitler had a profound dislike for foreign journalists.

At the appointed time, the American columnist arrived at the small brick building—an elegant Munich mansion, nicknamed Brown House, which the Party had recently acquired as its headquarters. Announcing herself to the hard-faced sentry posted at the door, she was ushered into a large office where her subject waited. Flanking a large desk were a pair of red flags bearing the menacing black swastika. But as Hitler welcomed her in, the American’s eyes immediately locked on a large portrait hung directly over his desk. It was an incongruous work to encounter in the capital of Bavaria, four thousand miles from home. The imposing oilpainted figure, dressed in a brown suit and gray vest, was immediately familiar to anybody from Detroit—the citys greatest industrialist, automobile pioneer Henry Ford.

Wasting no time, the reporter commenced her brief questioning of the radical nationalist politician she would later describe in print as “the Pan-German Siegfried with a Charlie Chaplin moustache.”

Hitler answered each of her questions about the partys political goals, outlining pedantically his vision of a new Reich. Finally, she concluded the interview with a question that the rest of the world would soon be asking: “Why are you anti-Semitic?”

“Somebody has to be blamed for our troubles,” came the immediate response. “Judaism means the rule of gold. We Germans are land-minded, not money-minded.”

The interview had already extended past the pre-arranged time limit and the journalist rose from her chair, apologizing for taking up so much of Hitler’s time. But before she made her exit, she couldn’t resist asking for an explanation of the portrait that had loomed over the entire interview.

The reason is simple, explained the future Fuhrer. “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration.”


Nine years later, Hitler ruled the Third Reich and had assembled the most powerful war machine in history. The German blitzkrieg was poised to topple France as it continued on its seemingly unstoppable drive toward Britain. It appeared that only American intervention could forestall a Nazi- dominated Europe. But one man was determined that the United States would not thwart Hitler’s plans.

The countrys most celebrated hero was rallying the isolationist forces to keep America out of the European conflict and prevent military assistance to Britain, despite the desperate determination of President Franklin Roosevelt to supply aid to the beleaguered island nation. On May 19, 1940, Charles Lindbergh took to the airwaves and delivered a national radio address urging America not to interfere with the internal affairs of Europe.

The next day, President Roosevelt was having lunch with U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau at the White House. Midway through the meal, the President put down his fork, turned to his most trusted Cabinet official and declared, “If I should die tomorrow, I want you to know this. I am absolutely convinced that Lindbergh is a Nazi.”





The process that brought Henry Ford’s portrait to a prominent position behind Hitler’s desk began during the summer of 1919, when Ford made the first public sortie in a hate-filled but distinctively American campaign that was to dominate his attention for the next eight years. In July, he announced to the New York World that “International financiers are behind all war ... they are what is called the international Jew: German Jews, French Jews, English Jews, American Jews ... the Jew is a threat.”[1]

From any other figure, the interview might have been dismissed as the ravings of a crackpot. But these words were uttered by the man who was arguably America’s most respected and celebrated figure—a man whose achievements had already permanently altered the nation’s economic and industrial landscape. This was the first signal that he was about to have a profound impact on America’s social character as well.

By 1919, Henry Ford had already secured his place as historys most important automobile pioneer. He had not invented the car or the assembly line, as many believed, but he had revolutionized both, radically changing the countrys transportation habits with the introduction of the Model T— the nation’s first affordable car. After proclaiming in 1908 that he would “build a motorcar for the great multitude,” Ford had by 1913 turned out more than a quarter million units of the car Americans affectionately referred to as the “Tin Lizzie.” According to economist Fred Thompson, Ford’s car was the chief instrument of one of historys greatest changes in the lives of the common people. Farmers were no longer isolated on remote farms. The horse disappeared so rapidly that the transfer of acreage from hay to other crops caused an agricultural revolution. The automobile became the main prop of the American economy.[2] Within a short period, Henry Ford had joined the likes of Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Mellon as one of the countrys industrial giants. Nonetheless, in 1913, five years after he first introduced the Model T, neither Who’s Who nor the New York Times index contained a single reference to Ford or his company.[3] His next innovation. however, was destined forever to put an end to this anonymity.

At the beginning of 1914, the Ford Motor Company found itself in trouble. Two factors in particular were worrying the board of directors. Because of low wages and poor working conditions, it had become increasingly difficult to retain employees. Turnover approached 380 percent, and at one point it was necessary to hire nearly one thousand workers to keep one hundred on the payroll. More worrisome still was a campaign begun the year before by the nation’s largest industrial union, the IWW, targeting Ford for unionization and encouraging the workers to stage a slowdown. Union pamphlets featuring such ditties as “The hours are long, the pay is small, so take your time and buck ’em all,” had shareholders terrified for their profits.[4]

Ford’s assembly line had revolutionized production but it was also being blamed for the increasing dehumanization of workers.[5] A letter to Ford from the wife of one of his assembly-line workers provides a touchingly humble indictment of the conditions in his factory at the time:


My Dear Mr. Ford—Please pardon the means I am taking of asking you for humanitys sake to investigate and to pardon my seeming rudeness but Mr. Ford I am the wife of one of the final assemblers in your institution and neither one of us want to be agitators and thus do not want to say anything to make anyone else more aggrivated but Mr. Ford you do not know the conditions in your factory we are all sure or you would not allow it. Are you aware that a man cannot “buck nature” when he has to go to the toilet and yet he is not allowed to go at his work. He has to go before he gets there or after work. The chain system you have is a slave driver! My God! Mr. Ford. My husband has come home and thrown himself down and won’t eat his supper—so done out. Can’t it be remedied?[6]

Her letter reflects nothing more than the norm in American industry at the beginning of the twentieth century. Workers were.................


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