There was a significant rise in expressions of anti-Jewish prejudice in Germany during the years following World War I. Many Germans believed the so-called "stab-in-the-back" myth that blamed Jewish Germans, socialists, and communists for undermining Germany's military and causing the country's defeat in WWI. This unfounded conspiracy theory was promoted by high-ranking German generals like Erich Ludendorff and Paul von Hindenburg in order to shift blame and responsibility for the military defeat.
But rising antisemitism during this period was not limited to Germany. Many non-Jewish Americans also regarded Jews with suspicion and fear. Some prominent figures in US public life encouraged these attitudes by characterizing Jews as "foreigners" seeking to infiltrate US society and spark a communist revolution.1
The industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford, was among the most well known of these voices. Ford published The Dearborn Independent, a weekly newspaper produced throughout the 1920s. The newspaper also published the featured pamphlet—The International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem. Translated into 12 languages and available throughout North America and Europe, The International Jew was widely read. Its contents rely heavily on the antisemitic tract The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an antisemitic publication that spread lies about Jews and advanced the idea of a Jewish conspiracy to conquer the world.2
The International Jew reflects several widespread antisemitic prejudices. For example, it describes the world's Jewish population as "being dispersed among the nations, but never merging themselves with nations and never losing a very distinctive identity." The International Jew also asserts that "The Jew is the world's enigma. Poor in his masses, he yet controls the world's finances…." It claims that every trade and industry had been "infiltrated" by Jewish people, from magazines, to theater, to real estate. The International Jew also repeats the antisemitic stereotype that all Jewish people are naturally crafty and greedy.
As an important business figure and industrialist, Henry Ford used his newspaper to legitimize and spread these views. The International Jew was an influential publication that spread many different antisemitic prejudices and stereotypes throughout American society.3