- Historic Sites
The American Dreyfus
There was no evidence that Captain Rosenbluth was a murderer—but Henry Ford set out to prove him one
November 1994 | Volume 45, Issue 7
Ford’s paper offered no consistent motive for what it said Captain Rosenbluth had done. Perhaps he was a “dirty German Jew spy” seeking to immobilize the major’s father, then commanding his division in France. When after leaving the Army Rosenbluth worked for Herbert Hoover’s American Relief Administration fighting starvation in war-devastated Europe and in the course of his duties was sent to Russia, the paper speculated that he had committed the murder in his capacity of Bolshevist Jew agitator. Or there might have been other, hidden motives. The “Secret Empire” had its reasons.
Rosenbluth before the war had been in forestry work. That the Yale Forestry School News came to his defense, its board members pointing out they were “uniformly of colonial ancestry, without Semitic blood,” only proved to the Independent the sinister power of the “Invisible Government.” The same held true for Herbert Hoover’s Statement on behalf of his aide. As regards the claim that like Alfred Dreyfus, another Jewish captain was being unjustly hounded, Dreyfus had been guilty too.
Under pressure from Ford, President Harding’s none-toosavory Justice Department finally felt compelled to act.
Under intense pressure from Ford’s paper, President Harding’s none-toosavory Justice Department finally felt compelled to act. The ex-sergeant, a railroad trackman after leaving the Army, was worked over in ungentle fashion by Ford private detectives who led Department of Justice investigators. In short order the ex-sergeant signed, and then quickly repudiated, five separate and mutually conflicting confessions. They variously said that Rosenbluth made the ex-sergeant shoot the major or that Rosenbluth did it himself. There was no explanation offered for why the deed was done.
But now there were confessions—plenty of them. The ex-sergeant and ex-captain were to be individually brought to trial for murder in Tacoma. The ex-sergeant’s case was considered first. Six years had passed since Buddy Cronkhite’s burial at West Point; there was a stone monument to his memory at Camp Lewis.
More than eighty reporters from all over the country listened as several government investigators testified they didn’t believe a word of the five confessions. On the first ballot the jury unanimously brought in a verdict of not guilty. After a telephone conversation with Washington, the government withdrew the charge against Rosenbluth.
During his pre-war forestry service in upstate New York, Rosenbluth had conceived the idea of teaching Dannemora Prison inmates woodcraft and from the experience derived an interest in social work. He now pursued a career in that field in Chicago. He showed no bitterness over his ordeal, saying of his designation as the American Dreyfus, “This I never said or believed.” He married, had two sons, and lived to a ripe old age.
Henry Ford never wavered in his beliefs. Months after Hitler’s conquest of Poland and the commencement of the Second World War he told an acquaintance there really wasn’t any war at all going on. “There hasn’t been a shot fired. The whole thing has just been made up by the Jew bankers.”
In the spring of 1945 soldiers under the command of Buddy Cronkhite’s old classmates of the West Point class of 1915, Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley, liberated Hitler’s concentration camps. The founder of the Ford Motor Company sat with one of Ford’s first woman executives, Josephine Gomon, to view newsreels of what the soldiers discovered. When he saw the piles of corpses and the few walking skeletons of what would be called the Holocaust, he was then and there taken by one of several massive strokes he suffered. “He never recovered his mind or physical strength,” she wrote, and in a little while Henry Ford was dead.