The National Archives’ Auschwitz exhibit had displays filled with documents, but nothing on Ford Motor Company’s role in fueling the Nazi regime.
Featured photo courtesy of by Susana Raab via JTA
A three-week-long exhibit sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund honored the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. But the exhibit raised eyebrows by overlooking Ford’s own role in fueling anti-Semitism during the Nazi regime.
The exhibition was held Jan. 16-Feb. 5, showcasing documents about Nazi war crimes and investigations by the U.S. Government, as well as German records used at the Nuremberg trials. There was also a silent video showing the liberation of Auschwitz.
Ford Motor Company has previously acknowledged its influence during the Holocaust, including creating a third of Germany’s army trucks using laborers who were forced to work in German factories owned by American companies or their subsidiaries.
According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), Ford Motor Company donated $2 million to a $5 billion fund for victims of slave labor in 2001.
While the National Archives have some documents that contain this information, none of them were shown during the exhibit.
These documents also provide details on how Ford Motor Company, based in Dearborn, encouraged its French subsidiary to work with the Nazis after occupying France.
Henry Ford himself was also a well-known anti-Semite who spread hateful ideologies through his newspaper, The Dearborn Independent.
Jamie Wraight, the director of the Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, was surprised that the National Archives did not mention Ford’s role, both as a company and as a owner, in the Holocaust.
“As a historian in Dearborn, this idea that we should not remember what happened with Henry Ford and his involvement and the company’s involvement in the Holocaust is ludicrous,” Wraight said. “This is not a secret, and to confront, expose and talk about it is the only way to ever receive any closure on the matter. We can’t keep sweeping these matters under the rug.”
While the National Archives could not be reached for comment on the lack of information on Ford’s influence during the Holocaust, Ford Motor Company released a statement to the Jewish News on Feb. 10.
“Ford Motor Company condemns anti-Semitism and every form of discrimination,” the statement said. “Ford Motor Company Fund, the company’s philanthropic arm, has supported the National Archives Foundation and other historical groups for many years to foster awareness and understanding of our past. We remain committed to the advancement of understanding and goodwill among all races, religions and cultures.”