FORD ISSUES REPORT ON FORD-WERKE UNDER THE NAZI REGIME
DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 6, 2001 – Ford Motor Company today released the results of its 3 1/2-year study on the activities of its German subsidiary, Ford-Werke, during the World War II era.
The report, Research Findings About Ford-Werke Under the Nazi Regime, summarizes more than 98,000 pages of documents and other materials gathered and analyzed from more than 30 archival repositories, including Ford archives in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as outside archives such as the National Archives in Washington, D.C. At various times, more than 45 archivists, historians, researchers and translators worked on this project.
"This study represents a massive undertaking by the company to determine how its German subsidiary, Ford-Werke, operated under Nazism," said John Rintamaki, chief of staff, Ford Motor Company. "We didn't find anything substantial that hasn't been known before, but we did add a great deal of detail on this subject."
The company began this study in January 1998 when questions were raised about the use of forced and slave labor in Germany during World War II.
"The use of forced and slave labor in Germany, including at Ford-Werke, was wrong and cannot be justified," Rintamaki said. "In looking back, it must be remembered that all companies operating in Germany at that time had to use labor provided by the German government, and that the Nazi regime chose to provide forced and slave laborers to industry. By being open and honest about the past, even when we find the subject reprehensible, we hope to contribute toward a better understanding of this period of history."
The company hired two independent experts to watch over the development and release of the report. Lawrence Dowler, formerly a librarian and archivist at both Harvard and Yale universities and a noted authority on research methodology, was commissioned to assess the thoroughness of the research and the report process. Author and university professor Simon Reich, one of the world's foremost scholars on the automotive industry in Germany during the World War II era, reviewed the report as it was being compiled and consulted with Ford on the issues raised by the investigation.
Regarding the process, Dowler said, "I conducted an independent three-year analysis of the objectives, methods and results of the research effort. Ford Motor Company has not only fulfilled its original promise 'to find out what happened,' but has traveled an extra mile in doing so."
Reich verified the integrity of the report. "I believe that the outstanding effort of a dedicated staff of professionals has yielded a report that offers honest answers to sensitive questions," he said. "It is a credible example of a company accepting and implementing the code of corporate social responsibility regarding a most delicate issue."
The company is donating the documents compiled for this project, along with a searchable database, to the Benson Ford Research Center at Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, where they will be available for research.