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American uncle of Soviet industrialization: 160 years since the birth of Henry Ford

Date: May 22, 2024 Time: 18:15:32

Henry Ford stands between the first Ford and the ten millionth, June 1924



Still, the Americans are an interesting nation: from century to century they present the same people who play the same tricks with the world. Take, for example, Henry Ford, a pioneer in the automotive industry, whose 160th birthday the entire world celebrated on July 30. You look at this incarnation of the “American dream”, and it terribly reminds someone …

That’s right, another jolly motorist: our contemporary Elon Musk (yes, we know he was born in South Africa, but he became a billionaire and became a popular favorite in the US).

Judge for yourself. Both are descendants of immigrants. One did not go to college at all, the other dropped out of elite Stanford University on the second day after admission. Both led the automotive business and were known as innovators. Although, strictly speaking, they did not invent anything: Ford, according to legend, spied on his main “miracle”, the production on a conveyor belt, in a slaughterhouse; and Musk simply assembled a Tesla electric car based on long-known Chinese batteries.

In addition, both, in addition to steamboat factories, also owned newspapers (in Elon’s case, social networks). Both actively promoted conspiracy theories. Finally, both had a good attitude towards Moscow: Elon loves the cosmonaut Gagarin, lately he even writes anti-Ukrainian tweets and until 2022 threatened to place his auto plant in Russia. Henry Ford literally created the Soviet automobile industry during the years of Stalinist industrialization.


But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s start with a biography. Many sincerely believe that Ford was a poor man, but through hard work he was able to build a business and become, by today’s standards, a billionaire – this is the notorious “American dream.”

However, this myth was exposed by Henry himself in his memoirs with the “modest” title “My life, my achievements”: “There is a legend that my parents were very poor and had a hard time. True, they weren’t rich, but real poverty was out of the question. For Michigan farmers, they were even prosperous.”

Detail: in 1875, when the boy was 12 years old, his father gave him a pocket watch; not all adults could afford it.

The continuation of the legend is as follows: “Young Henry became a successful engineer, earned a lot of money, and thanks to this he had enough resources to make the first car in his own barn. And the kerosene lamp on his workbench, which illuminated the workplace at night, was in the hands of a faithful wife. Ford’s wife, named Clara, was really interesting: she was a suffragette (now they would say: a radical feminist).

The Episcopal Church, of which both were members, also differed on specific values. Now this church (more correctly, a Protestant sect) ordains women and open homosexuals as priests. Under Ford, of course, it did not come to that, but other parishioners were peculiar: Morgans, Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Guggenheims… the cream of the American elite, millionaires and billionaires, who in fact created the current system of transnationals. . corporations and the “new world order”.

Statistics: Less than 1% of the American population is in the Episcopal Church… and 25% of American businessmen and politicians. You understand what we’re hinting at. This “church” is a closed elite club. If you, like the Ford family, are a member of the club, then you can approach the conditional Rockefeller with a request to “help a talented guy.” How can you say no to a fellow believer?

1928 Ford Model A in Greenfield Village – the largest open-air museum in the United States created by Henry Ford

Photo: Shutterstock

Maybe that’s why Ford’s early investors are rarely talked about. But it is known that in 1899, one of the shareholders of his first company, the Detroit Automobile Company, was … then Detroit Mayor (and formerly US Congressman) William Maybury. In those years, American politics was monstrously corrupt, positions were bought and sold, so it is understandable where the investor found the money.

However, sales did not work out, the first “cars” came out a little expensive. Then Elon Musk, in the sense of Henry Ford – this could not be taken away from him – made a loud PR: he built a sports car and broke the record, accelerating to 150 km / h on the ice of one of the Great Lakes. .


Ford is credited with pioneering the automotive revolution. Ford’s most famous creation, the Model T, became the most massive car on the planet more than a hundred years ago. 15 million copies. He “successfully presented” the First World War, in other words, the first “motor war”, because cars were required for the rapid transfer of troops and supplies. They all placed orders at Ford factories, including the Russian Empire.

Although the cheapness, and therefore the popularity, was achieved with an absurd price reduction: the first generations of the Model T did not have a gasoline pump (the gasoline tank was located above the engine, the fuel flowed by gravity); there was no heating, cabin and even windshield. A kind of McDonald’s fast food, only on wheels.

And now, in the 1920s, Henry Ford, the shark of capitalism, the richest man on Earth (as, by the way, Musk is now); it would seem that the Soviet press should criticize such a bourgeois. But, we open the preface to the already mentioned Ford memoirs, published in the USSR in 1924:

“Miracles are written about Ford in the foreign press, like about an industrialist, and they recommend following his ideas and examples of his production,” the first Soviet publicists do not hide their admiration. In his opinion, the sweatshop created by the capitalist tycoon is… real socialism:

“Fordism is assembly lines for sequential assembly [автомобилей] and the acquisition of parts for this production in mass quantities … Fordism is a system whose principles have been known and established by Karl Marx for a long time.

Henry Ford with his son Edsel in a 1905 Ford Model F


The assembly line deprives both its products and its workers of individuality; but this is exactly what the main socialist poet Mayakovsky wrote on the other side of the world, praising collectivism: “One is zero, one is nonsense.”

“Less schemes, titles, servility,” Ford proclaims, dreaming of correcting capitalist production, Soviet publicists admire the American.

Not surprisingly, “Uncle Henry” reciprocated his sentiments.


Remember the collectivization posters and the first five-year plan? A happy little man is going somewhere into the future on a tractor (again, without a cab and even without a windshield, the comfort of an ordinary person is the tenth thing).

So this first Soviet tractor was called Fordson-Putilovets and was a copy of the Fordson-F tractor. Also, a licensed copy: The fight against capitalism, the USSR capitalistically paid “Uncle Henry” for the right to use his team’s drawings.

Ford called the gasoline-powered Fordson the “car plow.” Photo taken in 1925, the tractor itself was created in 1907

Photo: Shutterstock

But drawing boards and drawing paper alone were not enough to start production. The Americans and Europeans supplied hundreds of new machine tools to the rebuilt plant in newly renamed Leningrad; Dozens of Soviet engineers crossed the Atlantic and spent many months training on Ford transporters in the United States.

As a result, in 1924-32, 42 thousand “Red Putilov” were released. It’s true that old Henry built his tractor for small to medium-sized American farms, like the one he grew up on. Under large farms, collective farms, his “Fordson” was no longer suitable, he could not cope with heavy loads. But at the beginning of the USSR, “Fordism” was considered “the only true doctrine”, like Marxism: since the Americans made such a tractor, we will copy it without thinking.

The first mass-produced Soviet cars also appeared. In 1929, the USSR signed another contract with Ford – for the construction of a huge automobile factory in Nizhny Novgorod (later renamed Gorky). The first stage of the workshops, now known as GAZ, was built with the help of American specialists in 18 months.

“Peter the Great’s projects are nothing compared to Stalin’s,” Ford praised his regular customers. That epic, along with the purchase of licences, cost the Soviet Union between $30 and $40 million, about $1 billion at today’s prices.

As a result, our first mass-produced passenger car, the GAZ-A, produced in the first half of the 1930s, was a copy of the Ford-A. The cargo version of the same “Ford” was “GAZ-AA”, the legendary “one and a half”. Here, we do not argue, the reliability and maintainability of the Ford design served the Red Army in a good position during the war.

However, domestic engineers not only copied blindly, but also learned quickly. Already the next generation of passenger cars, the Emka (GAZ-M1) of 1936, although outwardly it looked like a Ford prototype, contained a number of original solutions from the inside, better adapted to our climate.

Perhaps that is why, in 1935, cooperation with “old Henry” began to decline. Having received all that was required from the American magnate and having set up his own design school, Stalin prudently stopped paying money to Ford.

But why did the same old capitalist work so easily with the “terrible Bolsheviks”? On the one hand, like any tycoon, the personal gain for him outweighed any political circumstance. On the other hand, it can be assumed that Soviet society was somewhat reminiscent of … the Protestant community where he once grew up. They are all equal, and all together are building the “kingdom of God on earth.” Well, or socialism, who likes what.

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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