1938 – Henry Ford is awarded the Grand Cross of the German Eagle

Henry Ford was celebrating his 75th birthday when he was presented with the Grand Cross by the German Ambassador. The highest decoration that Germany awarded to non-citizens, it was given to him in honour of his service to German industry (i.e. helping equip the Wehrmacht), and also, one can’t help thinking, his service to the cause of anti-Semitism.

Ford’s German company, Ford-Werke, would later get him in trouble when it violated the Geneva Convention by employing prisoners of war in 1940. Ford himself was a staunch opponent of American entry into World War Two right up until the day before Pearl Harbour – he changed his tune very quickly thereafter.

Referenced in:

Henry Ford was a Facist — David Rovics

1921 – Sacco and Vanzetti are executed

Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were two Italian-born labourers and anarchists resident on Massachusetts. On May 5, 1920, they were arrested for a robbery that had taken place the previous month. They were tried and convicted of the robbery.

Later, in 1921, they were tried again for a murder, and again convicted. The two men were sentenced to the electric chair, and executed on August 23, 1927.

Their arrests and trials aroused considerable controversy, both at the time and ever since. The prosecution’s case had many holes in it, and it was widely believed that the two men were convicted not so much for being guilty of the crimes they were accused of, as for being anarchists.

50 years to the day of the execution, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation declaring, “Any stigma and disgrace should be forever removed from the names of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. We are not here to say whether these men are guilty or innocent. We are here to say that the high standards of justice, which we in Massachusetts take such pride in, failed Sacco and Vanzetti.”

Referenced in:

Here’s To You – Joan Baez
Two Good Arms – Charlie King
Facing The Chair – Patrick Street
Sacco and Vanzetti – David Rovics
Sacco and Vanzetti – Against All Authority
Sacco e Vanzetti – Ennio Morricone and Dulce Pontes