IBM and the Holocaust Banner


Rarely does a book of history involve so many dozens of people who were so important. But this one does.

Because this investigation involved documents in so many countries and in so many languages, I relied on a network of researchers and translators, many of them volunteers. The team consisted of Holocaust survivors, children of survivors, retirees, and students with no connection to the Holocaust-as well as professional researchers, distinguished archivists and historians, and even former Nuremberg Trial investigators.

Ultimately, more than 100 people in seven countries participated, some for months at a time, many for a few weeks between jobs or during school breaks, and some for just a few hours when we needed specific documents translated. For most, their mission was simply to scour record groups or newspaper microfilm looking for certain key words or topics, knowing little about the implications of what they were finding. Once documents were located, they were copied and sent to me for review and analysis. When we discovered a lead, we would ask for follow-up research on a targeted theme or name.

Researchers and translators were recruited through Internet sites, university bulletin boards, Holocaust survivor organizations, archivists, historians, translator-researcher associations, and friends of friends of friends. Invariably, researchers were sorry to leave the project because of other commitments, and so they generally replaced themselves with trusted friends who could carry on their work.

Obviously, space does not permit me to list all those who helped in so many ways. But I would like to highlight a few. Gaylon Finklea and Mary Jo Osgood in Austin, Texas organized a team of volunteers to screen the New York Times from 1933 to 1945. They worked lunch periods, evenings, and weekends in front of microfilm readers to create a unique newspaper history of the evolving business and persecution aspects of the Holocaust-era. The Texas group was joined by about a dozen researchers in several other cities. More than 1,500 hours of reviewing was required. Terra York in Washington, D.C., monitored the team's progress, and like a traffic manager broadcast the continuously changing microfilm reading assignments.

I personally labored in the archives of England, Israel, Germany, and America. But I was indispensably assisted in Britain by Jane Booth, Andy Farenden, Matt Martinson, and others. My efforts in Israel were advanced by several people, including Ariel Szczupak and Yitzhak Kerem; Kerem also worked in the archives in Paris, Washington, and New York. In Germany, I was at first helped by Barbara Haas, Katrin Reiser, and others, but then for many months by Thomas Kremer.

In America, I was assisted by the accomplished Holocaust author Gerald Schwab, former Nuremberg trial investigator Fred Thieberger, former Allied occupation intelligence officer Werner Michel, business ethics professor Robert Urekew, and researchers Vanessa van der Linde and Kathleen Dyer-Williams, among many others.

In Holland, research depended upon two doggedly determined university students, Willemijn Ruberg and Martijn Kraaij. In Poland, we were helped enormously by the devoted assistance of Zbig Kanski and others. In France, Diane Goertz and several others undertook research.

Many translators were kind enough to help, and of course always on a rush basis. In German, two of the most important were Susan Steiner and Inge Wolfe, both of whom leapt into complex technical papers. Aldona Szostek-Pontchek tackled Polish. Especially diligent was the French translation team, including Jackie Holland, Virginia Rinaldi, and the French team leader, Terra York; when these fine people weren't translating, they were doing double duty with English language documentation. On the Labor Day weekend before publication, four French translators in four cities worked day and night to help unmask the facts in France.

A team of extraordinary researchers worked closely with me, often from 8 A.M. to midnight, as we searched through stacks of documents seeking clues and connecting dots. There was no rest for these hard working, profoundly idealistic people, who often scrutinized hundreds of documents each day as we checked and triple-checked every granule of the story. These include Erica Ashton, Sally Murek, and Derek Kulnis during the day. Volunteer David Keleti, a genetic engineer, helped bolster the nightshift and weekend efforts. Keleti in particular helped us assemble the murky facts about IBM in Sweden and Switzerland. Susan Cooke Anastasi, our tireless copy editor, often worked the overnight shift; whatever text errors we made at night, she would fix by morning.

Although many labored hard, without two heroic individuals this book simply could not have been completed. The first is Niels Cordes, formerly of the National Archives microfilm room. Cordes is one of the most methodical, intuitive, and knowledgeable historians and archivists I have ever met. We worked together in archives in New York, Washington, and London, and later he did research with a team in Berlin. Cordes translated many pages of German documents. He never failed to display the sharpest insights into the smallest details.

The second heroic figure is Kai Gloystein. Gloystein first worked on the project in archives and libraries in Bonn, Cologne and Berlin, and then flew to America to help finalize the project working 15-hour days with every line of the manuscript and thousands of footnotes. He also translated voluminous documents, contemporary newspapers and technical journals. Gloystein's indefatigable commitment to excellence, precision eye for detail and sharp intellect cast a profound benefit across every page of the manuscript. He was a warrior for perfection.

A number of leading historians and archivists bestowed great contributions to my effort through their advice, searches of their records, assistance in recruiting others and special accommodations. These men and women are the stalwarts of history. In some cases, they selflessly offered their support, talent, and insights for more than a year. In Israel, this includes Gilad Livne at Israel State Archives who gave me full access to the Eichmann papers, and Rochelle Rubinstein at Central Zionist Archives helped during my visit there. In Britain, John Klier from the University of London and the entire team at the Public Record Office rendered continuing assistance. In France, Agnes d'Angio and Herve Vernon of the French Economic Ministry Archive were always responsive. In Holland, Erik Somers of the Institute for War Documentation assisted for many months, recruiting interns and facilitating research.

In Germany, warm friendship and assistance was extended by Ulrich Soenius at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Wirtschaftsarchiv in Cologne, Peter Grupp of Politisches Archiv in Bonn, Gerhard Hirschfeld of Stuttgart's Library of Contemporary History, Johannes Tuchel of the Memorial for German Resistance in Berlin, as well as Karola Wagner, Anette Meiburg, Siegfried Büttner, and the entire staff at Bundesarchiv in Lichterfelde. In Poland, Jan Jagielski at Warsaw's Jewish Historical Institute and Franciszek Piper at the Auschwitz Museum both found time in their overworked schedule to locate materials.

In the United States, Marek Web helped me at YIVO archives. Michael Nash at Hagley Museum extended scholar-in-residence privileges that were most helpful. Henry Mayer and Aaron Kornblum at the United States Holocaust Museum made a big difference to our demanding research. At the National Archives, I was blessed to encounter a group of irreplaceable archivists and other staffers, including John Taylor (OSS), Milt Gustafson (State Department), Fred Romanski (Justice), Greg Bradsher (Holocaust-Era Assets), Louis Holland (captured Nazi microfilms), Marie Carpenti, and many others in the reading room; these men and women worked with me for a year. They are the precious vanguard of America's effort to preserve its history.

All who read this book will see the influence of my pre-publication reader reviewers, each with their own broad or niche expertise. Each read the entire manuscript and most proffered extensive marginal notes. The reviewers included Robert Wolfe (Nazi documentation), Abraham Peck (Holocaust history), Henry Mayer (Holocaust documentation), Greg Bradsher (trading with the enemy), Werner Michel (Allied intelligence and Nazi technology), Fred Thieberger (Nuremberg war crimes investigation), Gerhard Hirschfeld (Holocaust in Holland), Erik Somers (Holocaust in Holland), Bob Moore (Holocaust in Holland), Esther Finder (survivor issues), Robert Urekew (business ethics), Bradley Kliewer (technology), Shlomo Aronson (Reich security and Nazi methodology), John Klier (Holocaust studies and Russian history), Byron Sherwin (ethics during the Holocaust), and many others in the fields of history, financial crimes, accountancy and business practices, who gave me the gift of their time and counsel.

All readers and reviewers helped me achieve greater precision. But a special mention must go to four of the finest minds on the period: Robert Paxton (Vichy France), William Seltzer (Holocaust census and statistics technology), Niels Cordes (German history and Nazi documentation), and Erik Somers (Holland). They influenced the manuscript in profound ways, immeasurably sharpening its precision.

I received telephonic assistance from Radu Ioanid (Holocaust in Romania), Henry Friedlander (sterilization and euthanasia), and many others.

Although dozens worked hard to advance my work, two eminent scholars made a towering contribution. The first is Sybil Milton, who helped initialize my research. Milton, former historian with the United States Holocaust Museum, had crusaded for years to discover the connections between IBM, its Holleriths, and the Holocaust. She warned me the road would not be easy. Her original guiding efforts launched me along the correct path. Unfortunately, Sybil passed away before the project was completed. This book is a testament to the pillar of Holocaust expertise she has represented for decades.

The other is Robert Wolfe, rightly at the very pinnacle of the world's respected experts in Holocaust and captured Nazi documents. Wolfe granted me his time and unparalleled expertise for over a year, constantly guiding me, prodding me, and assisting me in pursuit of the most complete and precisely documented story possible. Wolfe is a tireless warrior for truth in Holocaust documentation and accountability. His legendary reputation among the world's archivists and historians is richly deserved. His stamp on this book and my efforts is unmistakable.

History also recognizes that without a small group committed to uncovering the truth, this book would have never been written. These people made the difference: Aron Hirt-Manheimer, Arthur Herzberg, and Lawrence Schiffman, as well as Wolfe and Milton. Without their courage and stamina, it simply could not have been done.

Assembling the facts was ironically only half the struggle. Publishing those facts took a historic bravery and literary fearlessness that many lacked. At the head of the line is Philip Turner, formerly of Times Books, who acquired IBM and the Holocaust for Random House. Then, for almost eight months, I was closely supported-hour-to-hour--by Crown vice president and senior editor Douglas Pepper, who bonded with the text and the mission to boldly tell this unknown story to the world. During the past thirty years of investigative reporting and publishing, I have learned to quickly identify the genuine pros. Pepper and the entire team at Random House, all under the baton of Crown editorial director Steve Ross, never shirked. Others, such as William Adams, Whitney Cookman, and Tina Constable worked for precision and excellence. From the first moment, they mobilized the commitment and courage to place the full weight of Random House behind the project.

Crown's commitment was equaled overseas by some of the most distinguished editors and publishers of Europe and Latin America. All of them embarked upon the year-long process of chapter-by-chapter translation. They extended their support to me as an author and collectively joined to see this book become a worldwide phenomenon. Many became friends. These include Margit Ketterle and Christian Seeger of Germany's Propyläen Verlag (Econ/Ullstein/List); Abel Gerschenfeld of France's Editions Robert Laffont; Paolo Zaninoni of Italy's RCS Libri/Rizzoli; Liesbeth de Vries of Holland's Kosmos Z&K; Zbig Kanski of Poland's Graal Agency and Ewelina Osinska of Muza; Claudio Rothmuller and Paul Christoph of Brazil's Editora Campus for the Portuguese speaking countries, and Jorge Naveiro of Argentina's Atlantida for the Spanish-speaking countries. British publisher Little, Brown & Company UK., and its distinguished editorial director, Alan Samson, completed the book's global reach.

My book received the attention of the world's great publishers only because of the untiring efforts of one person, my agent Lynne Rabinoff. Lynne's confidence in me and the project was the dominant force behind the book assuming a global scope. She fought valiantly-hour to hour-to preserve the quality and integrity of the final product. She was tireless in her efforts to bring this story to light in the most powerful fashion, and to ensure that it would reach not only the halls of academia, but readers in the some fifty countries the book will appear in. These few words cannot express my respect for her as the best agent any author could ever have. As a result of Lynne's energies and faith, this book became a reality.

Although I was always surrounded by researchers and translators, crafting the product required the continuous and highly amplified creative assistance of Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, BT, Moby, Tangerine Dream, David Arnold, Christopher Franke, Trevor Rabin, Trevor Jones, and many others.

Working virtually 15 hours per day for a year, often never leaving my basement for days at a time, eating at my computer screen, imposed a profound hardship on my loving family, Elizabeth, Rachel, and my parents. They sustained, encouraged me, and mostly, allowed me to detach from daily family life into the obsessive quest for this story.

I have seen many acknowledgement sections in many Holocaust histories. But one group always seems to be overlooked. Yet during my labors, they were never out of sight or out of mind. I acknowledge the six million Jews, including my grandparents, and millions of other Europeans who perished. Their memory and the image of their punch cards are with me always.

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Postscript: Research continues throughout the world with additional volunteers translating and assisting in the analysis of newly discovered documents. Much of this effort has not yet been published. For example, a group of French translators has graciously provided verbatim translations of hundreds of pages of French materials. Among them is: Brad Ayers, J.V. Guy-Bray, Carolyn Denoncourt, Mark Gimson, and Terra York. German translators on both sides of the Atlantic have helped. Andre Zmudski has been of invaluable assistance in tackling Polish materials. New documents and new volunteers continue to make the difference.

Edwin Black
Washington D.C.
July 4, 2002