Nazi Ford and The Freep    

                                    AP/Special to the Free Press 

                   A VICTIM: A 16-year-old Elsa Iwanowa was forced
                   from Russia in 1942, made to work 12 hours a day at a
                   German Ford plant. She remembers little of food and
                   lots of tears. Now, she wants Ford to pay.

                   History of Nazi labor stares Ford
                   in face 

                   Hitler reigned. Foreigners, hungry and
                   abused, worked in factories, including
                   Ford's. Now they want to be paid. 

                   December 21, 1999

                   BY BILL McGRAW
                   FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

                   As a girl in Russia, Elsa Iwanowa dreamed of becoming
                   an actress.

                   Then German troops showed up in her town during
                   World War II. She was just a teenager when soldiers
                   stuffed her into a boxcar and hauled her to Cologne, on
                   the Rhine River, where she was forced to work at
                   gunpoint in a factory for virtually no pay. For more than
                   two years, she was hungry, tired and scared.

                   Now, at 74, Iwanowa has
                   another dream. She is seeking
                   compensation for the years of
                   coerced labor. Her employer
                   was Ford-Werke AG, Ford
                   Motor Co.'s German subsidiary.

                   "So many nerves I have spent on
                   this," Iwanowa said recently
                   through a Russian interpreter.
                   "What are they waiting for?"

                   Iwanowa is among more than a million forced laborers
                   who survived Hitler's factories. Their numbers are
                   dwindling. Many are seeking compensation.

                   The emotional issue of forced workers is one of the last
                   unresolved matters of World War II. Half a century
                   later, representatives of survivors such as Iwanowa
                   have forced global corporations such as Ford and
                   General Motors Corp. to confront a grim chapter from
                   their past that had remained dormant.

                   The issue is complex. It is interwoven with subjective
                   concepts of guilt and responsibility, obscured by the fog
                   of time and war, and caught up with the extraordinary
                   personas of Henry Ford, whom Fortune Magazine just
                   named the century's greatest businessman, and Adolf
                   Hitler, the century's ultimate war criminal.

                   Ford officials today deplore what happened to workers
                   at the Cologne plant, but maintain they bear no
                   responsibility. They say Dearborn executives lost
                   contact with the plant in 1941, and the Nazis seized it in

                   An examination of the evidence, though, depicts a more
                   ambiguous picture. In searching old files, historians and
                   the survivors' lawyers have uncovered documents that
                   raise questions about Ford's role in Nazi Germany.

                   THE ACCUSED: White-clad Henry Ford is honored
                   by German consuls Fritz Hailor, left, and Karl Kapp, in
                   1938. Ford's ties to Hitler haunt his company today. 

                   Ford's relationship with the Nazi regime, in particular, is
                   complicated, because Henry Ford, despite his brilliance,
                   was a noted anti-Semite admired by Hitler.

                   The compensation issue took a dramatic turn last week
                   when German companies and government officials
                   agreed on a $5.2-billion fund for survivors of forced
                   labor. Whether Iwanowa will collect remains unclear.
                   Ford was not part of the agreement. The automaker has
                   spoken of establishing a humanitarian fund for
                   U.S.-based companies, but has provided no details. The
                   company, for now, is examining the voluminous record
                   of its experience with the German plant.

                   This, then, is the story of one company and one forced
                   laborer caught up in some of the century's most
                   turbulent events.

                   A girl is forced away

                   Elsa Iwanowa grew up in Rostov, Russia, a scenic city
                   along the Don River, not far from where it enters the
                   Sea of Azov.

                   She was part of a large extended family with
                   aristocratic roots. Her mother was a bookkeeper, and
                   her father worked in the Black Sea tourism industry.

                   By 1942, when Elsa was 16, the Germans had visited
                   her town at least twice in search of workers the Reich
                   needed for the war, because the Nazi notion of
                   motherhood did not permit German women to work in
                   plants. That autumn, German soldiers in Rostov began
                   rounding up people to send to Germany. Iwanowa fled.

                   "I ran away to the countryside, about 50 kilometers
                   from my home, and worked in the fields," she recalled
                   recently at her apartment in Antwerp, Belgium, where
                   she has lived since the war.

                   One day, Iwanowa's mother went looking for her. The
                   Germans had given an ultimatum: Find your daughter or
                   we'll send you in her place.

                   Iwanowa's grandmother lived with the family and
                   needed her mother's care. Iwanowa's father and
                   brothers were fighting the war. Elsa knew she had no

                   The Germans allowed each person one suitcase.
                   Iwanowa brought underwear, dresses, photos and her
                   grandmother's blue coat. The soldiers crammed her and
                   about 100 other young people on a boxcar. It was Oct.
                   6, 1942. Two weeks later, the train arrived in
                   Wuppertal, Germany.

                   "They divided us there -- some go to the peasants, some
                   go to the city," Iwanowa recalled.

                   The Germans forced Iwanowa and other girls to stand
                   naked for a day while their clothes were disinfected.

                   By the end of 1944, researchers say, one of every five
                   workers in the Reich was a foreigner -- as many as 12
                   million in all. Many, like Iwanowa, were non-Jewish
                   Slavs, whom the Nazis considered inferior.

                   The workers eventually would get two labels.
                   Kidnapped foreigners would be referred to as forced
                   laborers; concentration-camp inmates who did outside
                   work became known as slave laborers.

                   From Wuppertal, the Germans took Iwanowa to the
                   Ford factory in Cologne. Iwanowa's home for the next
                   2 1/2 years was a wooden barracks surrounded by
                   barbed wire and guarded by attack dogs.

                   The Cologne plant

                   Twelve years earlier,
                   in 1930, Henry Ford
                   had laid the
                   cornerstone for the
                   Cologne plant. It
                   evolved into a
                   sprawling complex
                   along the Rhine,
                   though Ford never
                   had a large share of
                   the German market
                   before the war.
                   owned 52 percent of
                   Ford-Germany by the late 1930s.

                   After Hitler came to power in 1933, Ford-Germany was
                   forced to deal with increasing government demands.
                   Cars had to be made of standard German-made parts.
                   Germans had to run the company.

                   Ford resisted some of the demands, and its relationship
                   with the government was often contentious. Seizure of
                   Ford property was a constant threat, but the company
                   received a boost at a 1936 Berlin auto show when
                   Hitler visited the Ford exhibit and praised Henry Ford,
                   and Hitler's chief aide, Hermann Goering, bought a

                   In 1937, with Hitler needing more industrial might as he
                   geared up for war, Ford-Germany earned approval to
                   perform government work.

                   Hitler invaded Austria in March 1938. By this time
                   Ford-Germany had decided to begin work on another
                   assembly plant, this one near Berlin. With Dearborn's
                   approval, Ford-Germany had begun to pursue
                   government contracts. The vehicles were intended for
                   military use, U.S. government records show.

                   "Even before the war, a portion of German Ford had
                   with Dearborn's consent become an arsenal of Nazism,
                   at least for military vehicles," concluded a post-war
                   report by the U.S. Army. The report said 15 percent to
                   20 percent of the German army's 1942 total of 650,000
                   vehicles were Ford-built.

                   "Ford trucks prominent in the supply lines of the
                   German army were understandably an unpleasant sight
                   to men in our Army," the report said, adding that the
                   Third Reich "used German Ford and its cooperative
                   parent in Dearborn as a direct means of stockpiling raw
                   materials needed for war."

                   According to historians Mira Wilkins and Frank Hill,
                   who in the 1960s examined the history of Ford's
                   overseas empire with the company's cooperation,
                   Ford-Dearborn Vice President Charles Sorensen
                   "scoffed at the danger of war and felt that orders from
                   the regime would simply help the company." The
                   authors said cooperation with Hitler's government was
                   the only way the company could survive in Germany.

                   1936 BERLIN AUTO SHOW: Adolf Hitler visits the
                   Ford exhibit at a 1936 Berlin auto show, a publicity boon
                   for the company. Hitler praised Henry Ford; his chief
                   aide, Hermann Goering, bought a Ford. 

                   Sixty years later, dealing with the Germans in the late
                   1930s may appear unseemly, but it was not illegal. The
                   United States was not at war, and as Ford Motor
                   attorney Robert Biskup noted last week, "The U.S.
                   government maintained diplomatic relations with
                   Germany until the outbreak of war."

                   While his German plant was helping to prepare the
                   Reich for war, Henry Ford at first resisted producing
                   armaments for Britain.

                   After Pearl Harbor, though, Ford Motor in the United
                   States helped make Detroit the Allies' Arsenal of
                   Democracy by producing huge numbers of aircraft
                   engines, trucks, tank engines, gliders, tanks and tank
                   destroyers, watercraft, armored cars, universal carriers,
                   jet bomb engines, aircraft generators and
                   superchargers. Its Willow Run factory near Ypsilanti
                   became one of the world's famous war plants, building
                   8,685 B24 Liberator bombers.

                   Haunting anti-Semitism

                   In dealing with issues of the Nazis and forced laborers,
                   Ford Motor of today has a public relations problem --
                   Henry Ford.

                   Ford before the war was perhaps the world's most
                   famous businessman. He was a Bill Gates with
                   personality, a folk hero and great industrial innovator
                   known as a grandfatherly eccentric who experimented
                   with soybeans, loved square dancing and advocated a
                   return to rural values.

                   But Ford had a controversial side. He began denouncing
                   Jews in 1920. His nationally circulated paper, the
                   Dearborn Independent, attacked Jews in virtually every
                   issue from May 1920 to January 1922, and occasionally
                   afterward. More frequent attacks began anew in 1924.

                   Among the paper's numerous articles in 1920 and 1921:
                   "How Jews in the U.S. Conceal their Strength"; "Jewish
                   Degradation of American Baseball"; "How Jewish
                   International Finance Functions."

                   Ford later collected the anti-Jewish attacks in brochures
                   and a book that were translated and widely distributed
                   in Europe before and during Hitler's rise to power. The
                   book's title: "The International Jew: The World's
                   Foremost Problem."

                   Ford never called for violence against Jews, and he
                   issued a retraction in 1927. But in 1938, during a
                   two-day celebration in Detroit for his 75th birthday,
                   Ford accepted a medal from the German consul, who
                   said Hitler was awarding it to Ford because he made
                   cars available to the masses.

                   David Lewis, a respected Ford biographer who is
                   mostly sympathetic to his subject, said recently that
                   anti-Semitism was one of Ford's great failings.

                   "If I were Jewish, I don't know that I would admire him,
                   and I would not forget what he did, and I'm not sure
                   whether I would forgive him," Lewis said. "But on
                   balance, I think the world is a better place because of
                   Henry Ford. And in terms of his anti-Semitism, he was
                   not an Adolf Hitler."

                   Ford caught Hitler's eye. Ford is the only American
                   mentioned in the U.S. edition of "Mein Kampf," Hitler's
                   autobiography. "Hitler's ravings and public speeches
                   against Jews frequently were based on Ford's
                   anti-Semitic literature," Lewis wrote. A Detroit News
                   reporter, asking Hitler in 1931 about the life-size
                   of Ford in his office, quoted the fuhrer as saying: "I
                   regard Henry Ford as my inspiration."

                   Michael Hausfeld, a Washington lawyer working for the
                   survivors, said he sees a direct link between Ford's
                   anti-Semitism and Ford-Werke's acceptance of Nazi

                   Elizabeth Adkins, who is heading Ford Motor's
                   worldwide research project, said: "There is no link
                   between Henry Ford and forced labor."

                   A forced laborer's life

                   The girls and women in the Ford-Werke barracks slept
                   on bunks stacked three high, as in the concentration
                   camps. Iwanowa drew the top bunk. It was so close to
                   the ceiling that she could not sit up. The bedding was
                   potato and flour sacks.

                   The daily routine was strict: At 6 a.m., the workers
                   went to the cantina for breakfast, which was three
                   small pieces of dark bread. "Bread like black earth, like
                   coal," she said.

                   A bit of margarine -- she twisted her thumbs and index
                   fingers into a coin-sized shape to illustrate --
                   accompanied the bread.

                   At 7 a.m., soldiers with guns marched them out of the
                   barracks and into the factory. At 7 p.m., the soldiers
                   marched them back.

                   They worked 12 hours a day, six days a week. Her job
                   was to place heavy metal blocks in a machine or on a
                   line, stamp holes in them and then stack them elsewhere
                   on the line. The work was too taxing for a 16-year-old
                   girl, and she wanted her supervisors to know. So she
                   and a Ukrainian friend, Galina, refused to work. Their
                   action earned them three days in isolation cells, with no

                   The supervisors were German men, mostly old,
                   disabled, maimed or otherwise unfit for military service,
                   Iwanowa said.

                   On the job, Iwanowa stood all day. She developed leg
                   problems and once fell so ill that she was forced to go
                   to the infirmary for three weeks.

                   Guards beat workers in the factory, she said.

                   She recalled that some Germans were helpful. Some
                   soldiers looked the other way when workers broke
                   rules. An old man who sometimes sneaked sandwiches
                   to Elsa would glance at her, draw his finger across his
                   throat and whisper, "Hitler kaput."

                   Lunch was a bowl of soup made with cabbage bits. The
                   Russians called it "empty water."

                   The Germans gave them dinner every other night and
                   on Sundays: five pieces of black bread.

                   "I was thinking about bread all the time," Iwanowa said,
                   tears welling in her eyes. "I was hungry all the time. I
                   was crying the whole year, every day."

                   Sewn on their clothing, over their left breasts, was a
                   white-and-blue rectangular patch with the word "Ost,"
                   designating them as workers from the east.

                   On Sundays, their free day, a half dozen or so girls
                   sometimes would remove their "Ost" patches and leave
                   the barracks, walking into nearby fields to beg farmers
                   for food. The most they received were a few potatoes.
                   Often the farmers would scream: "Go back home, you
                   Russian pigs."

                   Though she longed to escape, she feared the
                   consequences. "There were soldiers with weapons
                   everywhere," she said.

                   During the entire 2 1/2 years, Iwanowa was allowed to
                   send one postcard to her mother. The Germans made
                   her write that everything was fine.

                   On weeknights, the workers were too tired to do
                   anything but fall asleep after their shifts.

                   While men and women were segregated in the
                   barracks, they worked together in the factory. Some
                   liaisons formed, and Iwanowa recalled the authorities
                   permitting them to continue. One Ukrainian girl in her
                   barracks fell in love with a male worker. The couple
                   married, the woman became pregnant, and they moved
                   into a barracks for couples. As far as Iwanowa knows,
                   the woman was allowed to keep her baby.

                   Iwanowa is adamant that the Germans did not rape or
                   otherwise mistreat the women and girls sexually.

                   By February 1944, the Ford-Werke plant had 5,742
                   workers; more than 40 percent were foreigners,
                   virtually all them forced laborers.

                   Who controlled Cologne?

                   In December 1941, when the
                   U.S. entered the war after Pearl
                   Harbor, Ford-Dearborn lost
                   contact with Ford-Werke and
                   did not regain it until the war's
                   end in 1945, Ford officials said.
                   Lawyers for the survivors have
                   not produced hard evidence to
                   contradict that.

                   By the spring of 1942, the Nazi
                   regime seized the Cologne plant, Ford officials said. The
                   Nazis dismissed the board and appointed a verwalter,
                   or custodian, who would report to the Reich.

                   The custodian, Robert Hans Schmidt, was no stranger
                   to Ford. Leading up to the war, he was the Cologne
                   plant's co-chief executive, a seasoned manager well
                   known to Ford executives in Dearborn.

                   The Nazis did not impose Schmidt on Ford-Werke; his
                   appointment had been negotiated in advance by the
                   Ford-Werke board and the government, according to
                   Ford Motor documents.

                   Because the shift occurred in- house, Ford critics deride
                   the idea that Ford-Werke was seized.

                   "If you say you are taken over, there is an implication of
                   hostility," said Deborah Sturman, a New York lawyer
                   working for the forced laborers.

                   "He was exactly who they chose, so it was a mere
                   formality. They appointed him in the first place. He's
                   their employee."

                   Biskup, the Ford attorney, said Ford-Dearborn had no
                   say in Schmidt's appointment. He also said Schmidt had
                   no control over the factory's product, its customers,
                   employees, the product price or plant profits.

                   "All of those key, strategic business considerations were
                   in the hands of the government authorities," he said.
                   "And the documents bear that out."

                   The Gestapo, Hitler's secret police, also had a Ford man
                   in the plant who reported to that branch of the Nazi war
                   machine, Ford Motor officials said.

                   Who gave the orders to bring in the forced laborers?
                   Ford officials said that remains unclear.

                   As custodian, Schmidt ignored officials in Dearborn,
                   according to University of Pittsburgh historian Simon
                   Reich, an expert on the German wartime economy who
                   is working for Ford on the laborer issue. In making
                   decisions for Ford-Germany, Schmidt "ruthlessly
                   implemented" the plans of Nazi economic czar Albert
                   Speer, Reich has written.

                   Karola Fings, a German historian, said: "Normally, a
                   foreign company that evidenced sufficient willingness to
                   cooperate with the Reich was neither confiscated or
                   liquidated, but placed under the trusteeship of a
                   custodian from the company itself." 

                   Ford officials say while Schmidt was preferable as a
                   custodian to an outsider, his appointment was the
                   culmination of a gradual loss of autonomy to the Nazis
                   over several years.

                   Schmidt clearly supported the German war effort.

                   In December 1941 he wrote in the Ford-Werke
                   publication about the plant's "unshakable faithfulness to
                   our fuhrer." Ford-Dearborn officials, though, cite a 1947
                   U.S. military evaluation of Schmidt that said his public
                   statements were less vociferous than those of many
                   German business leaders during the war.

                   Ford critics say Schmidt was a Nazi Party member,
                   though Ford denies it. There is ample evidence that
                   Schmidt, without Dearborn's knowledge, ran a side
                   business manufacturing parts for the German war

                   Before Schmidt became custodian in Cologne, the Nazis
                   put him in charge of Ford installations in countries the
                   Germans had conquered as they stormed across Europe
                   in 1939 and 1940.

                   According to Wilkins and Hill, while Schmidt "was the
                   agent of the Reich, and bound to see that the plants
                   operated for the good of their new masters, he was also
                   a Ford employee and, along with certain arbitrary
                   actions ...showed such loyalty to Ford interests as his
                   official role permitted."

                   Immediately after the war, the Allies detained Schmidt,
                   made him go through the so-called de-Nazification
                   process, probably because of his private armament
                   business, and forbade him to work for Ford.

                   In 1950, after the Allies had cleared him, Schmidt was
                   looking for a job. Ford-Werke, under Dearborn's
                   control, rehired him.

                   Ford officials say Schmidt returned in the lesser position
                   of technical director, and maintain it was not unusual for
                   seized firms to rehire custodians.

                   Fings, the German historian, said Schmidt was one of
                   several Ford-Werke managers who continued running
                   the Cologne plant during peacetime.

                   "After the war, the Ford Motor Co. did not just
                   reassume control of a factory, but also took over the
                   factory's history," she said. "Apparently no one at Ford
                   Motor Co. was interested in casting light upon this part
                   of history, not even to explicitly proclaim a distance
                   from the practices of Ford-Werke AG during the Nazi

                   Ford officials today say wartime finances remain
                   confused, but acknowledge Ford-Dearborn received
                   $60,000 in wartime dividends from Germany.

                   Hausfeld and Melvyn Weiss, another U.S. attorney
                   representing laborers, say they do not believe that
                   Ford-Dearborn lost control of the Cologne plant. But
                   even if Ford did lose control, they said, the parent
                   company still profited from the increase in value of the
                   Cologne plant while it was staffed with forced laborers.

                   Ford officials say the plant was virtually worthless after
                   the war.

                   Hausfeld also noted that Ford applied for $7 million in
                   compensation from the United States for Allied bombing
                   damage to the Cologne plant. In the 1960s, Ford was
                   granted $1.7 million -- less funds the company already
                   had received from Germany.

                   Finally, freedom

                   By early 1945, Germany's war effort was collapsing
                   and Hitler was seven weeks from killing himself in his
                   bunker. On March 6, U.S. troops marched into

                   As the Americans approached, the Germans told
                   workers to go to the riverbank, where a boat was to
                   take them to the other side. With four other Russian
                   female workers and some Belgian men, Iwanowa fled
                   to the forest. The men went out at night and foraged for
                   milk and food.

                   After several days, one man returned with a car, and
                   the escaped laborers drove to Belgium, where Iwanowa

                   A short, full woman with refined movements, Iwanowa
                   wept during the recent interview in her art-filled
                   apartment in Antwerp, especially when she discussed
                   her beloved Russia.

                   She married a Belgian man, who died of cancer in 1983,
                   had two children and did not return to her home of
                   Rostov until 1956.

                   Her mother, grandmother and brother had survived the
                   war. Her father never returned; she does not know his

                   Along with a number of other forced workers, Iwanowa
                   returned to the Cologne factory for a short visit in 1995.
                   The company gave them a pin decorated with the Ford
                   logo, a present Iwanowa called humiliating.

                   The war was the defining point of a life she never

                   "But this is our fate," she said. "We are born at a
                   moment in time. I wish that I had been born later, that I
                   was much smaller. Then I would not have been taken to

                    Find Holocaust-era resources at:

                   BILL McGRAW can be reached at 313-223-4781
                   or Colleen Fitzpatrick, a
                   Free Press special writer in Europe, contributed to
                   this report. Staff writer Sheryl James also

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      All content © copyright 1999 Detroit Free Press and may not be
republished without permission.



                               GARY TRAMONTINA/Special to the Free Press 

                   Ford is hinging its credibility on Simon Reich, an expert
                   in German war economy whose parents escaped the
                   Nazis. His only aim: truth.

                   Doron Levin: He seeks truth,
                   finds it on Ford's side 

                   Historian faults Nazis for forced-labor

                   December 21, 1999

                   Ford Motor Co. has promised in the
                   next few months to publicize the results
                   of its extensive probe into what exactly
                   happened at its Cologne, Germany,
                   factory during World War II.

                   Based on examination of more than
                   77,000 pages of documents, Ford
                   predicts that the public and courts -- if it
                   comes to that -- will clear the company
                   of any complicity in the exploitation of
                   thousands of forced laborers after the plant was seized
                   by the Nazis.

                   A public relations victory, though, will hinge on
                   credibility. Did Ford look carefully at every shred of
                   evidence? Were Ford's archivists as tough and thorough
                   as they should be? To ensure that its research has
                   integrity and is believable, Ford took pains to find a
                   scholar to review the work of its archivists, someone
                   whose involvement could influence the public to accept
                   that damaging evidence wasn't thrown away,
                   suppressed or overlooked.

                   The man Ford chose, Simon Reich, possesses at least
                   two sterling assets for his job. The first is his academic
                   credentials as an expert in the German war economy,
                   with a specialty in the German auto industry. "Through
                   some freak accident, I apparently know more about the
                   Ford case than anyone in the world," he said.

                   Just as significant as his
                   academic knowledge, Reich
                   brings to the task his legacy as
                   the son of Holocaust survivors.
                   Currently a professor of public
                   and international affairs at the
                   University of Pittsburgh with a
                   doctorate in government from
                   Cornell University, Reich was
                   born in England and is a
                   naturalized U.S. citizen. His
                   father was Austrian and his mother was Czech. They
                   fled from Europe to Great Britain in 1939. His
                   grandfather, who also narrowly escaped the Nazis,
                   subsequently died in the German bombardment of

                   Despite his emotional perspective on the Nazi era, he
                   says he feels a strong commitment to arriving at
                   historical truth, no matter what that is. "I have no ax to
                   grind in this," he said.

                   Ford hired Reich, 40, in November 1998 to review the
                   activities of about 45 archivists and researchers.

                   As a Jew with many relatives murdered by the Nazis,
                   Reich understands that his scholarship on behalf of Ford
                   carries a special burden.

                   "Given my background as a child of Jewish refugees, I
                   obviously couldn't participate in anything that looked like
                   a cover-up," he said. "I told the Ford people that the
                   only thing I have to sell is my reputation as a scholar."

                   Reich accepted Ford's offer of employment, subject to
                   four conditions: "I wanted access to all materials; I
                   wanted categorical assurance that no material was
                   being withheld; I wanted Ford to consider making all
                   materials public, and I wanted the whole project
                   organized professionally and exhaustively."

                   Ford agreed.

                   Ford's decision to make all its records and reports
                   available to the public -- on a "consumer-friendly basis,"
                   in Reich's words -- is extraordinary, because they also
                   will be available for any plaintiffs' attorneys who wish to
                   use them in a lawsuit.

                   Determining culpability

                   For now, Reich says all the available evidence points --
                   as it has for some time -- toward Ford's loss of control
                   of the Cologne plant in 1940, a prelude to the plant's
                   official confiscation in 1942. "Ford was not in charge of
                   its property, for which they are now accused in a
                   lawsuit," Reich said, referring to a lawsuit filed against
                   Ford by lawyers on behalf of Elsa Iwanowa.

                   Reich said evidence exists that managers in Cologne
                   were operating Ford's plant with forced laborers as
                   early as 1941 and slave laborers by 1944. However, no
                   evidence has surfaced to show that executives in
                   Dearborn knew of either practice. 

                   "Lawyers have tried to argue that there were linkages
                   between Ford in the U.S. and in Germany," he said.
                   "But I never could find evidence linking the two. After
                   the Ford of Germany supervisory board was dissolved
                   in 1940, the company was handed over to a
                   Nazi-appointed custodian, Robert Schmidt."

                   Reich's familiarity with Ford archives dates back 15
                   years to his days at Cornell, working on his doctoral
                   thesis, which examined the roots of Germany's postwar
                   economic success as seen through its auto industry.
                   "Ford had this warehouse and prefabricated hut, full of
                   huge neglected, uncataloged boxes, including lots of
                   stuff from Cologne, reports and all kinds of records," he

                   Nearly three years ago, the law firm of Milberg Weiss
                   Bershad Hynes & Lerach called him. The firm had a
                   client, Iwanowa, who was prepared to testify that she
                   was kept captive at Ford in Cologne. "They asked me
                   about the Ford case," brought by Iwanowa, "and about
                   my perspective," Reich said. "I told them the evidence
                   showed they had no case."

                   For the next two years Reich answered questions posed
                   to him by Milberg Weiss attorneys, free of charge. He
                   briefly considered an offer to become a paid expert
                   witness on the plaintiff's behalf; he declined. "I thought
                   they were reaching," he said.

                   Then Ford called. "I wanted to uncover the truth. I
                   thought the only way to do that would be from the Ford
                   side," Reich said.

                   From his office in Pittsburgh, Reich examines
                   documents and reports sent by Ford archivists who are
                   examining records in Dearborn, Cologne, London and
                   Washington. Periodically he travels to Detroit to
                   examine material and meet with Elizabeth Adkins,
                   Ford's chief archivist.

                   Reich says Iwanowa and others legitimately are
                   pursuing recognition for suffering they endured.
                   Because lawyers seek redress through huge financial
                   settlements, however, recognition is "only partial, at
                   best," Reich said. "What doesn't happen when a big
                   check is written, such as in the Swiss bank settlement,
                   is a public and sincere expression of guilt and remorse,
                   which is of primary importance to the victims.

                   Until all the research is complete, neither Ford nor
                   Reich is willing to exclude the possibility that
                   evidence could surface. Ford's nightmare is the
                   last-minute discovery of a smoking gun, a document or
                   letter that shows unequivocally that executives in
                   Dearborn knew that counterparts in Cologne were using
                   slaves or forced laborers.

                   A nightmare for Ford wouldn't be a nightmare for

                   "The research may produce a smoking gun, but I'm not
                   worried if it does," Reich said. "From a scholarly
                   viewpoint, all it does is change my perspective."

                   DORON LEVIN can be reached at 313-223-4355

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                   Special report: GM subsidiary
                   also entangled in war 

                   December 21, 1999

                   Like Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. had a
                   subsidiary in Germany where laborers were forced to
                   work during World War II.

                   Also like Ford, GM denies responsibility, saying the
                   Nazis took its plants and kicked GM out.

                   GM's wholly-owned company, Adam Opel, was the
                   dominant automaker in Germany in the 1930s and '40s.
                   Adam Opel also was a major contractor for the German
                   military before and during the war.

                   GM is allowing Opel to decide the best course with
                   respect to reparations for forced laborers, subject to
                   approval from company leaders in Detroit. Opel has
                   said it supports the establishment of a fund for the
                   laborers but hasn't decided whether to participate.

                   GM hired Henry Ashby Turner, an eminent historian at
                   Yale University, to oversee its effort to discover what
                   happened in GM's European plants during the war.

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