Menu JTA Search

Coughlin, in New Attack on Jews, Says Rabbi Misquoted Ford; Charge Denied by Ford Aide

Returning to his attack on Jews as inspirers and financers of Communism, Father Charles E. Coughlin, in his nation-wide broadcast address today, charged that Henry Ford had been misquoted in a statement urging immigration of refugees to the United States — a charge which was immediately denied by Mr. Ford’s representative.

The “radio priest,” whose talk was heard locally on Station WHBI, Newark, said Harry H. Bennett, an executive of the Ford Motor Company, had denied that Mr. Ford had issued the statement on refugees attributed to him by Rabbi Leo M. Franklin after an interview between the rabbi and Mr. Ford last Tuesday. Father Coughlin also said that Mr. Ford had asserted, through Mr. Bennett: “The Jews are not persecuted by the German Government.” The priest said the statement would be published in his weekly newspaper, Social Justice.

The statement on refugees was backed by Mr. Bennett in a telephone conversation with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency from his home in Ypsilante, Mich. “That statement was made by Mr. Ford in an interview with Rabbi Franklin on Tuesday afternoon,” Mr. Bennett said. “I signed the statement myself.”

Mr. Bennett said the confusion had arisen because the Detroit Free-Press had printed the statement in the form of an interview given the paper on Wednesday night and had interpreted it as an attack on the German Government. Mr. Bennett accordingly had denied that the statement was an interview with the Free-Press or that it was an attack on the German Government. It was this denial, Mr. Bennett said, that had caused the confusion. The J.T.A. first telephoned Rabbi Franklin, in Detroit, who stood by the accuracy of Mr. Ford’s statement, but said he would make no other comment and referred inquirers to Mr. Bennett.

(In the statement to Rabbi Franklin, Mr. Ford said: “It is my opinion that the German people, as a whole, are not in sympathy with their rulers in their anti-Jewish policies, which is the work of a few war-makers at the top.” Mr. Ford also said: “I am wholly sympathetic with the movement to give the oppressed Jew an opportunity to rebuild his life in this country and I myself will do everything possible toward that end.”)

Beginning his speech, Father Coughlin said it was intended as an answer to the critics of his last broadcast. Press comment had not been favorable, he said, and editorials in the “inspired press” had attacked him. He attributed this to domination of newspapers by “the advertising dollar.” He went on to read from Mr. Ford’s purported statement, and then returned to the subject which has involved him in a national controversy — his claims that the Bolshevist revolution in Russia was largely Jewish-financed and Jewish-inspired.

Referring to a statement by Alexander Kerensky, premier of the second Russian Provisional Government, the priest admitted that the first revolution had been devoid of “atheistic Jews,” but asserted that Jews had a hand in the subsequent Bolshevist revolution, one of whose leaders was Leon Trotsky, which, Father Coughlin said, was the start of “a pogrom against Christians.”

The priest repeated his charge that Jacob H. Schiff, the late Jewish banker, had furnished financial aid for the Bolshevist revolution, and brought in the name of another dead Jewish banker — Felix M. Warburg — as one who he claimed aided the revolution. Having pointed out that atheistic Jews were “too prominent” in the revolution, Father Coughlin said, “I was most unexpectedly assailed by those who called me pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic.” He charged that the editorials were inspired and that the press was controlled. The silence of the newspapers on persecution of Christians, he said, amounted to protection of Communism.

Father Coughlin launched into an attack on President Roosevelt and the late President Woodrow Wilson. He called Robert Lansing, President Wilson’s secretary, an agent of “the international Jewish bankers,” who, he said, had financed the Russian revolution. He assailed President Roosevelt’s foreign policy, taxing him especially with veiled support of Communism and with failing to protest persecution of Christians.

In what he termed an appeal to the Jews, Father Coughlin said: “There is no anti-Semite question in America. There is only the question of Communism.” He declared further: “This is a question which cannot be solved without your genius and your assets.” He added the assertion that official Jewry in America had not yet repudiated the “atheistic Jews.”

Father Coughlin was the subject of an implied attack yesterday by Chairman Martin Dies of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Mr. Dies said at a luncheon here: “It is unfair to condemn racial or religious groups because of the shortcomings of any minority with in that group.” Asked by reporters later if this referred to Father Coughlin, Mr. Dies said: “The words speak for themselves.”

NEXT STORY