IBM and the Holocaust Banner

Reviews - Europe

BEYOND DISPUTE. Edwin Black's study of IBM's wartime business relations with the Third Reich has touched off a firestorm of publicity, and the new information Black has unearthed is 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. He goes on to document that IBM World Headquarters in New York managed to profit from Hitler's state throughout its existence . . . Some of the evidence is vivid and unsettling. At Auschwitz, for example, the SS tattooed the forearms of prisoners kept for labor with a five-digit IBM Hollerith-machine identification number. IBM's Hollerith tabulators significantly improved the efficiency of racial censuses in much of the Greater Reich and in some Nazi-occupied territories. IBM machines cranked out lists of Jews, which were turned over to the SS to streamline deportations, Black reports. IBM's European subsidiaries also helped modernize the logistics of the German army and the operation of concentration camps while upgrading the efficiency of the Reichsbahn system of railroads . . . Black establishes beyond dispute that IBM Hollerith machines significantly advanced Nazi efforts to exterminate Jewry.
A CORPORATE NIGHTMARE. This is the stuff of corporate nightmare. IBM, one of the world's richest companies, has been confronted with evidence of a truly shameful history. In his book, IBM and the Holocaust, Edwin Black reveals Big Blue's vital role in the Holocaust.
METICULOUS. IBM is haunted by its past. Edwin Black's book now reveals the company's involvement in the Holocaust … Previously, the Nazi past of "Big Blue" was hardly ever a topic … But now IBM is in the dock. Black's meticulous research documents just how precisely IBM managers were kept informed about the whereabouts of their machines.
UNDENIABLE. Black's meticulous documentation constructs an undeniable fact: after the outbreak of WWII, IBM knew where each of its leased (not sold) machines was in Europe, and what revenues it could expect from them. Each machine was insured and serviced monthly. Even though Watson, under public pressure, returned his medal to Hitler, he continued to "micromanage" the German and European operations. Further, he fought to keep control of his German subsidiary, knowing full well the profits that would accrue to IBM as a result. He did this with the knowledge, fuller than most, of the purposes for which his machines were deployed...Remarkably, instead of indicting IBM, the Allies saw in these machines and their data a great opportunity to conduct a more efficient occupation of Germany and a rebuilding of Europe. Instead of evidence of crimes against humanity, the machines became an essential tool in the implementation of the Marshall Plan. In this way, IBM evaded any hint of complicity in the Holocaust--at least, until the publication of Edwin Black's book.
ALARMING. UNSETTLING. Black's book possesses three qualities. It points out the underlying creed of the American corporate world—"business as usual"—which for quite some time boasted about its contributions to the Allied war effort; yet IBM deciphered codes for the Wehrmacht. Today IBM will have to answer the question whether they couldn't have denied the opponent's access to strategically important technologies a lot sooner. Secondly, Black presents the Nazi terror-machine as a product of the modern age, in which dangers are not purely of a Germanic nature: the collective internment of Japanese in the U.S. was based on the same technology as the deportations into German camps. Third and decisive is his argument about the seemingly harmless setting-up of census, statistics as science, and computing and sorting-systems like those of IBM … Above all, the book's central thesis is highly alarming and unsettling in this age of the (IBM) computer.
FOUND THE CONNECTION. The pursuit of history invariably begins with questions that really concern the present. Black, who gawped at an IBM sorting machine in the Washington holocaust museum, sought to find the connection between the shiny modern computing brand of today and yesterdays horrors in Auschwitz, Dachau, Belsen. By assembling the data he answers the question that has bothered so many historians: 'How' was the Holocaust so efficient? Answer: just like today's corporate criminals, Hitler had IBM computers and IBM software tailor-made to carry out the task.
RELENTLESS. You thought, perhaps, that there was nothing fresh left to write about the Holocaust. Think, sadly, again. Edwin Black, a dedicated, even driven, researcher, has a new charge sheet to present. It shows, in compelling detail, that IBM, 'the solutions company', was also the company of the final solution ... There is no scope for doubt. Black has a relentless flow of memos, letters and speeches ... It is a distinctive contribution to the history of the time. It wholly justifies Black's years of toil. ... a terrible warning from this brilliantly excavated past.
EXTRAORDINARY. Black’s study extensively and in great detail proves that IBM is a true master of elimination, deception, and cover-up action … Even if at the present time, Edwin Black is the only one with an overview of these relevant and specific sources, one has to come to the conclusion that his argumentation and reasoning is convincing. He has written an extraordinarily instructive and reliable book.
DEVESTATING. It's scientifically proven, and there is broad evidence for the fact, that technology, especially computer technology, is not as innocent as it is made out to be. Black's IBM and the Holocaust is a devastating document revealing just how much blood was shed in the course of its development …Technology is just as inhuman as the ruling balance of power and the global flow of money.
DARK SIDE REVEALED. The Hollerith method was the world’s first data processing "killer application," using the aforementioned Hollerith machines, which made up International Business Machines’ (IBM) main business segment … Hollerith technology’s triumphal procession undoubtedly had its dark, "brown" side. Black’s research reveals these details in their true and—until now—neglected light …
INCONTROVERTIBLE. An expert on the commercial aspects of the Third Reich, Black here presents the evidence for IBM's involvement in hastening the aims of Hitler; not for any moral stance but purely for the profit. Deeply researched and at times painful … the stark and incontrovertible facts speak for themselves.
SOLVED MYSTERY. The punch cards tell a grisly tale—they reveal IBM’s history and its involvement with the Third Reich. The American researcher Edwin Black in his book IBM and the Holocaust has followed the paper trail and solved the mystery.
A LESSON FOR ALL TIME. The most interesting aspect of the book is the description of the indifference and complicity of the IBM executives to the rise of Nazism (IBM's boss was decorated by Hitler, in Berlin, in 1937) ... This indifference to history ... is a lesson for all time.
GIGANTIC. For five consecutive years, Black conducted his research with a group of many assistants. He accumulated 20,000 documents in the basement of his home in Rockville, Maryland, only to piece together a puzzle of gigantic proportions.
STUNNING. Edwin Black's discoveries are stunning … IBM, under the guidance of the company's founder and powerful head manager, Thomas Watson, had joined an intense alliance with the Nazis.
HARDLY ROOM FOR DOUBT. All business transactions with Nazi Germany have always been strongly denied by IBM's management. From now on this will be more difficult … Black's research hardly leaves room for doubt.
SPECTACULAR. A pioneering book ... this spectacular 600-page strong study presents IBM as a perfectionist in separating morals and profit.
ALL EVIDENCE AGREES. Did IBM collaborate with Hitler's Germany? Did it provide the punch-card machines that allowed the Nazis to file the Jews and set up the 'final solution?' These are the main questions in Edwin Black's IBM and the Holocaust, which has immediately provoked controversy ... But in the final analysis, all evidence agrees: Dehomag, the German subsidiary of IBM, played an important role in the organization of war industry and train schedules, including those towards Auschwitz. A fruitful collaboration arose that a satisfied Watson, the president of IBM, could only express with these words: 'Hitler is a precious trading partner.'
THE CRIME OF CRIMES. Here is the clash of two symbols of the 20th Century. On one side, the crime of crimes, the annihilation of the European Jews by the repressive Nazi machine. On the other, a prestigious American corporation, IBM that by itself incarnates the history of Anglo-Saxon capitalism. Today, thanks to the research of Edwin Black, these two legendary images collide…Business is business—with the Nazis. The American company…kept intense relations with the German government. Worse still, these relations continued, officially and then unofficially, until 1945. The IBM machines advanced the German war effort … And IBM punch-cards served to count the deportees and follow them administratively to their death.
SPLENDID. In IBM and the Holocaust, Edwin Black has pointed out with splendid documentation that the implementation of certain technologies and procedures enabled the Nazis to more effectively execute the genocide. …this aspect has indeed been underexposed in the past.
TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. The portrayal of IBM deserves to be taken seriously…Obviously, Black does not imply that the Holocaust would not have happened without Hollerith. Instead, his book points out a hardly discussed aspect of this crime against humanity: he shows an immensely diverse organizational task assisted to a great degree by IBM’s technological possibilities.
A TERRIBLE SECRET. Edwin Black has confronted the American giant IBM with a terrible secret from its past … in Germany, in the years when Hitler led the country on its manic path to destruction, IBM developed tools to aid governmental control of citizens … [P]unch-cards were made available to Hitler’s Nazi regime to classify and categorize the system’s “undesirables” for future “processing” in concentration camps … It was the first program of mass classification ever used in the world. So long as Hitler’s Nazi regime paid, IBM was ready to offer its services … IBM was ruthlessly effective in every contract that was offered to it in Nazi Germany, be it classification of election results, preparation of lists for deportment to concentration camps, or handling of prisoners within concentration camps. The link between an American multi-national company to the Hitler regime may come as a surprise to some, but not to those who know how to read a history book.