IBM and the Holocaust Banner

Reviews - North America

EXPLOSIVE AND STUNNING. An explosive book... Backed by exhaustive research, Black's case is simple and stunning: that IBM facilitated the identification and roundup of millions of Jews during the 12 years of the Third Reich ... Black's evidence may be the most damning to appear yet against a purported corporate accomplice.
BEYOND DISPUTE. Black clearly demonstrates that Nazi Germany employed IBM Hollerith punch-card machines to perform critical tasks in carrying out the Holocaust and the German war effort. He goes on to document that IBM managed to profit from Hitler's state throughout its existence. ...Black establishes beyond dispute that IBM Hollerith machines significantly advanced Nazi efforts to exterminate Jewry. ...IBM and the Holocaust is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust.
SHOCKING. Thomas Watson chose to tabulate the Nazi census, to accept Hitler's medal, and to fight for control of Dehomag. And he made other equally indefensible choices in his years of doing a profitable business counting Jews for Hitler-choices that are described in IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black. This is a shocking book with the help of more than a hundred researchers working in archives in the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, and Israel, Edwin Black has documented a sordid relationship between this great American company and the Third Reich, one that extended into the war years.
WATSON A MASTER OF SUBTERFUGE. Black's book is most interesting when he is dealing with Watson's stubborn, and unsuccessful determination to continue in control of IBM's German operation without appearing to be doing so. He was able to cut off direct relations between IBM in the US and the Germans while continuing to deal with them indirectly. He was a master of subterfuge and made a fine art of being in a position to deny collaboration with the Nazis while operating through subsidiaries who were responsive to his every wish ... and he never forbade them to supply IBM machine that were used in sending people to camps, which they did.
A WEALTH OF UNKNOWN DETAILS. Black's study contains a wealth of unknown or little-known details. The author convincingly shows the relentless efforts made by IBM to maximize profit by selling its machines and its punch cards to a country whose criminal record would soon be widely recognized. Indeed, Black demonstrates with great precision that the godlike owner of the corporation, Thomas Watson, was impervious to the moral dimension of his dealings with Hitler's Germany and for years even had a soft spot for the Nazi regime. He didn't desist even when it became clear that IBM's tabulation system was helping the regime to register its victims.
DISTURBING. Black has tracked down document after document witnessing that Holleriths inventoried prisoners for death at Bergen-Belsen and other concentration camps. ...IBM and the Holocaust is a disturbing book -- all the more so because its author doesn't prescribe what should be done about sins committed more than half a century ago. It is left to readers to decide.
FORMIDABLE. Black's book is shocking. Its contents go against the grain of all that is dear to naive images of corporate America. Black has amassed a formidable mountain of coherent evidence that argues convincingly for IBM's complicity in the Holocaust. This book will be a case study in corporate ethics for years to come.
ARDUOUS RESEARCH. IBM and the Holocaust is an ambitious book. The result of arduous research, it reveals in detail how IBM's Hollerith machines facilitated and hastened the Holocaust. IBM and the Holocaust is an important contribution to Holocaust studies.
CONVINCING. Black's book is carefully researched and documented. An army of assistants gathered, compiled, and analyzed data from a huge range of sources ... Black convincingly demonstrates the extent to which it [IBM technology], was central to the operation of the Third Reich.
CHILLING. NUMBING. Black ... documents IBM's sins with chilling discipline, only rarely peeling off into melodrama. ... IBM and the Holocaust lays out in numbing detail the terrible deeds of bureaucrats and business leaders, especially Watson, a handsome and utterly mercenary salesman who doled out charitable donations from his Madison Avenue perch at the same time he was providing the Nazis with the wherewithal to commit mass murder. In the end, though, this book has a subtler story to tell, one frighteningly relevant to our lives today. IBM and the Holocaust isn't about evil men at a particularly bloody point in recent history so much as it's about the dawn of the modern information age.
PRODIGIOUS. Black was moved to write this important book to answer questions that have eluded historians of the Nazi genocide. How are we to account for the methodical manner in which the Nazis implemented the Holocaust? Black's account of IBM's complicity in the "Final Solution" provides a perspective departs from most other accounts of the Holocaust. Whereas much of the scholarship on the Holocaust focuses on anti-Semitism ... Black argues the efficient manner in which Hitler's Germany was able to bring about the Holocaust was due to technical support provided by IBM. This prodigious research helps us understand a previously ignored factor in comprehending the Holocaust, the profit motive.
EXCRUCIATING. Black makes a case that shames the IBM of the mid-20th Century. ...There will be no question... in the minds of readers that IBM officials had the ability to understand the task their machines were performing. The book succeeds as a piece of excruciatingly documented journalism.
EXHAUSTIVE. An exhaustively researched, highly detailed look at IBM, its history and business dealings. . . . Black’s book . . . is an ugly story, hidden for years, told by a master craftsman in a compelling way. More than just another Holocaust tale . . . it’s a chilling lesson.
CONVINCING. Edwin Black's IBM and the Holocaust...convincingly argues that the machines were among Adolf Hitler's most powerful weapons in his campaign to exterminate Europe's Jews. ... To be sure, mass murders were possible without the help of IBM equipment, but the equipment made the killing machine far more lethal.
THE ANSWER. More than 15 million people have visited the Holocaust Museum and seen the IBM machine there. Surely some have raised the question: How could this prestigious corporation possibly be linked to such a heinous stain on human history? With empirical evidence, Edwin Black has supplied the answer. IBM and the Holocaust makes an empirical statement. Edwin Black has made his case.
DAMNING. IBM and the Holocaust is a damning indictment of IBM's conduct before and during the Second World War and a provocative exploration of boardroom savagery ... Black presents a thoroughly convincing case against IBM's conscious collaboration. Routing orders through its Geneva office and using cryptic references for its activities, senior managers in New York deliberately strove to obscure their involvement. But IBM and the Holocaust lucidly hacks through the corporate tangle. Tracing IBM's alliance with Hitler was a prodigious effort in historical detection...Black's achievement is to reveal how deep runs the guilt--if not the shame--for murder committed on the scale of the Holocaust.
MOST IMPORTANT. Edwin Black's IBM and the Holocaust may very well be the most important work that I have come across regarding ethics and computer science, military informatics, and technology. While it is not focused directly on either ethical theory or analysis, it is very much about the consequences of pragmatic business and technology decisions made without consideration for their very human consequences; plausible deniability is certainly presented as a key theme. Evil is not only perpetrated by those with blood literally and directly on their hands; it can be facilitated by those championing their business interests above human tolls. Albert Camus said, "If I can not lessen evil, at least let me not add to evil."
DAMNING. A-Rating. This damning chronicle of IBM's collusion with the Nazis exposes, in horrific detail, the corporation's opportunistic ride on Hitler's tail.
IMPOSSIBLE TO REFUTE. Black's argument that IBM made millions from its association with the Nazis seems almost impossible to refute.
DEMONIC. Black's carefully researched study examines how Dehomag's technology was extended to all parts of Nazi-conquered Europe. Dehomag's demonic achievement reached its zenith with the extraordinary efficiency in rounding up and transporting Jews to Auschwitz. This study contributes to understanding the Holocaust trauma-pointing out technology and profit-seeking, when unguided by moral or ethical considerations, can help destroy peoples and civilizations.
WITHERING. Edwin Black's IBM and the Holocaust provides a stark tutorial. The book can be read as a withering indictment of Thomas J. Watson, painted as a profit-crazed monopolist who makes Bill Gates look like Mr. Rogers. It's also a red flag, a warning about corporate responsibility and information technology for our wired, global economy. IBM and the Holocaust should instruct corporate chieftains as they scour the planet for profits. It's tough reading, but Black manages a forceful argument against business-as-usual.
A STUNNER. What a stunner: IBM in cahoots with Nazi Germany. Beginning in 1933, in the first weeks of Hitler's rise to power, and continuing well into the Third Reich's plan of conquest and genocide, IBM and its subsidiaries helped create enabling technologies so that Jews could be identified -- a massive and complex task that Hitler wanted done immediately -- and targeted for efficient asset confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, enslaved labor, and, ultimately, annihilation. Black takes you through the carefully crafted corporate collusion with the Third Reich, as well as the structured deniability of oral agreements, undated letters, and the Geneva intermediaries -- all undertaken as the newspapers blazed with accounts of persecution and destruction. Just as compelling is the human drama of one of our century's greatest minds, IBM founder Thomas Watson, who cooperated with the Nazis for the sake of profit.
NO STONE UNTURNED. Black's argument that IBM's shady dealings with Nazi Germany accelerated the Holocaust is strengthened by the archival information that the author uncovered that IBM did not just sell a technology that fell into the wrong hands, but leased the machines, trained personnel, maintained the machines at their sites (which were often located within concentration camps), and sold millions of punch cards per month. Black convincingly contends that Watson sustained a relationship with Hitler in order to keep his IBM Germany going. In the face of daily reports of Jewish persecution prior to the war Watson continued to make public statements in favor of Hitler's Fascist beliefs, so much so that Hitler conferred the second highest Nazi honor on Watson. Meticulously researched and exhaustively documented, Black leaves no stone unturned.
UNDENIABLY BAD NEWS. Black has unearthed undeniably bad news for the official IBM version of its role in World War II. Black clearly demonstrates that Nazi Germany employed IBM Hollerith punch-card machines to perform critical tasks in carrying out the Holocaust and the German war effort.
REQUIRED READING IBM and the Holocaust should be required reading not only for all Holocaust scholars but also for those contemporary celebrants of computerized access to information as a virtue in itself, little short of technological utopia.
EXHAUSTIVE RESEARCH. With exhaustive research, Black makes the case that IBM and Watson conspired with Nazi Germany to help automate the genocide of Europe's Jews . . . Black's book is so enlightening [because] it paints a richly textured picture of how a man [Watson], and an entire company, can ignore all sense of morality while not once transgressing the lines of business ethics. If nothing else, this book should be required reading for every first-year MBA student. As you might imagine, IBM has strongly disputed many of Black's allegations. And one very simple argument in IBM's favor is that "punch cards didn't commit genocide in Europe; people did." That is absolutely true. People following orders activated the showers at Auschwitz, pulled the triggers at Babi Yar, and operated IBM punch-card tabulators in Dachau.
NEW IMAGE ADDED. Images of past genocides have often been shaped by the means most commonly used to accomplish the destruction...The Holocaust is portrayed as an industrial genocide involving complex train schedules, gas chambers, and assembly-line oven cremetoria. Black adds the new image of mass killing through use of data processing and statistics, with IBM's German subsidiary Dehomag enabling the Nazi authorities to systematize the persecution of European Jews...One employee of Dehomag using these machines for the Nazi Government to tabulate the population censuses of 1933 and 1939 declared, 'We are very much like physicians, in that we dissect, cell by cell, the German cultural body...these are not dead little cards; quite to the contrary, they prove later on that they come to life when they are sorted at 24,000 an hour according to certain characteristics.'
GENOCIDE BUSINESS. Watson did business with Nazi Germany because it was profitable. Hitler may have burned books, but he invested heavily in information technology. As "Greater Germany" expanded, so did the Hollerith market. Persecution, conquest, and genocide were good for business.
SHOCKING. More than a half-century after the Holocaust, brings the shocking disclosure in Edwin Black's IBM and the Holocaust that the jewel in America's industrial crown [IBM] provided the technology that fueled Hitler's plan for the destruction of European Jewry.
EXTRAORDINARY. Amidst all the fear and horror, the question rarely asked or answered is: How did they know? How were they able to target, with such brutal accuracy, the homes of all people of Jewish decent? And what about the skillful coordination with which trains were ensured the rapid transportation of the thousands of men, women, and children to concentration camps? ... How did they do it? How were they able to keep track of the thousands of people uprooted, dispossessed, transported long distances? How did they always know? The question has at long last been both asked and answered by Edwin Black in IBM and the Holocaust, the unlikely bestseller which charts with extraordinary detail the unholy wartime alliance between Nazi Germany and IBM.
UNCOMFORTABLE. This is the story of IBM's conscious involvement in the Holocaust. To this very day, people ask "How could it happen? Why did it happen?" How did the Nazis get the names? How did the Germans transport people to Treblinka in precise timing? It was a challenge only a computer could handle in an age before computers were used. But IBM's punch card technology did exist. This company was headed by founder Thomas Watson whose need for profit was well known. He collaborated with Hitler. This book will be uncomfortable to read, and as the author states, "It was uncomfortable to write."
A BLOWN WHISTLE. Now--60 years later--Edwin Black and his 100 researchers have blown the whistle. The book offers documentation that would be the envy of any trial lawyer. Watson had to know what the Nazis were doing with IBM's technology.
MIND-NUMBING. In IBM and the Holocaust, Edwin Black's exposé of IBM's, or rather founder Tom Watson's, relationship to Nazi Germany and Hitler is indeed shocking and mind-numbing in its scope and detail.
PAINFUL. No one can say that author Edwin Black didn't do his homework for his book, IBM and the Holocaust. More than 100 people in seven countries participated in the research of his book. Its more than 500 pages are a painful, but imperative read for friends of Israel, for it details the conscious involvement of IBM in America and its German subsidiary in the Holocaust. A single American company with an autocratic, greedy chairman, Thomas J. Watson, head of IBM during WWII, provided what no previous Jew-haters ever had. Watson gave the Nazis an early form of technology.