Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. Although Ford did not invent the automobile, he developed and manufactured the first automobile that many middle class Americans could afford to buy. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. As owner of the Ford Motor Company, he became one of the richest and best-known people in the world. He is credited with “Fordism”, mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers. Ford had a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace. His intense commitment to systematically lowering costs resulted in many technical and business innovations, including a franchise system that put dealerships throughout most of North America and in major cities on six continents. Ford left most of his vast wealth to the Ford Foundation but arranged for his family to control the company permanently.
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Ford was also widely known for his pacifism during the first years of World War 1 and for being the publisher of anti-Semitic texts texts such as the book The International Jew. In 1924 Heinrich Himmler described Ford as "one of our most valuable, important, and witty fighters." Hitler praised him in Mein Kampf and, in 1931, described him as an “inspiration”, stating that was why he kept Ford’s lifesize portrait next to his desk. Although Ford declined requests to support the Nazi Party, he was nonetheless presented with the highest medal that Nazi Germany could give a foreigner, the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle, in 1938 on his 75th birthday.
Ford being awarded the Supreme Order of the German Eagle by the German Consul in Cleveland. Ford was the first American and the fourth person in the world to receive this medal.