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IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation Paperback – Feb 16 2012
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Was IBM, "The Solutions Company," partly responsible for the Final Solution? That's the question raised by Edwin Black's IBM and the Holocaust, the most controversial book on the subject since Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners. Black, a son of Holocaust survivors, is less tendentiously simplistic than Goldhagen, but his thesis is no less provocative: he argues that IBM founder Thomas Watson deserved the Merit Cross (Germany's second-highest honor) awarded him by Hitler, his second-biggest customer on earth. "IBM, primarily through its German subsidiary, made Hitler's program of Jewish destruction a technologic mission the company pursued with chilling success," writes Black. "IBM had almost single-handedly brought modern warfare into the information age [and] virtually put the 'blitz' in the krieg."
The crucial technology was a precursor to the computer, the IBM Hollerith punch card machine, which Black glimpsed on exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, inspiring his five-year, top-secret book project. The Hollerith was used to tabulate and alphabetize census data. Black says the Hollerith and its punch card data ("hole 3 signified homosexual ... hole 8 designated a Jew") was indispensable in rounding up prisoners, keeping the trains fully packed and on time, tallying the deaths, and organizing the entire war effort. Hitler's regime was fantastically, suicidally chaotic; could IBM have been the cause of its sole competence: mass-murdering civilians? Better scholars than I must sift through and appraise Black's mountainous evidence, but clearly the assessment is overdue.
The moral argument turns on one question: How much did IBM New York know about IBM Germany's work, and when? Black documents a scary game of brinksmanship orchestrated by IBM chief Watson, who walked a fine line between enraging U.S. officials and infuriating Hitler. He shamefully delayed returning the Nazi medal until forced to--and when he did return it, the Nazis almost kicked IBM and its crucial machines out of Germany. (Hitler was prone to self-defeating decisions, as demonstrated in How Hitler Could Have Won World War II.)
Black has created a must-read work of history. But it's also a fascinating business book examining the colliding influences of personality, morality, and cold strategic calculation. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The publisher has ordered a print run of 100,000 copies, indicating that they expect high demand for this contentious expose. The author asserts that a collusion existed between IBM Corporation and the government of the Third Reich, wherein IBM supplied the technology enabling Nazi authorities to systematize their persecution of European Jews. Expect much discussion in the press and on the street about this very controversial book. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Black's book is also a fascinating look into corporate politics. One wonders how much IBM's New York office knew of its German affiliate's activities. Without gaining access to IBM's archives, Black shows that IBM was aware and choose not to know, concerning itself only with the profits earned by Dehomag, its German affiliate, throughout Nazi-occupied Europe.
Nothing can compare however, to what this book forces one to see.
No one is claiming, not even the author, that the holocaust would not have happened without the efforts of IBM's German branches, but the facts remain. The transport and tracking of millions of people across Europe is normally attributed to tutonic efficiency. The tatooing of numbers is similarly attributed to simple dehumanization. It is Black who paints a picture of the wonderously nerdish enthusastic joy for solving a problem which I have always associated with Big Blue as the true face of evil.
The bureaucray of the Final Solution ran on IBM punch cards. Just as a tatooed number is seen as a universal symbol of the concentration camps, it is the punch card that can and should be viewed with new eyes, not only as harbinger of a new computer age, but convayer of death.
I'm amazed that two people's first reaction was to ask me
"Sure, IBM helped Hitler build his Nazi war machine, but IBM didn't really know what he was doing to the Jews, did they?"
It angers me when this generation actually makes excuses for America's past financial plundering of the world. What's even harder for people to accept today, is that IBM got help from the U.S. State Department. This book is a tour de force of research. If you've never opened your eyes to the reality of financial exploitation that war brings, this will snap you out of your slumber. "Plausible Deniability" is the term used by bureaucrats to describe the lengths taken to cover up government, corporate and personal wrong doing. Relating to this book, I flatly call it wholesale murder. Hitler never would have achieved the numbers he did while decimating not only Jews, but Europe itself. IBM's technology was THE sole driving force that allowed Nazi Germany to build, organize and maintain it's war machine. The sad reality is, an unknowing American public thought IBM's president and owner was a hero. Quite simply, IBM prostituted it's technology to Germany, 6 million Jews perished, and an American corporation made millions of dollars in profit. The author is the son of Holocaust survivors. This book deserves nothing less than top shelf treatment in your collection.
Most recent customer reviews
I am astonished that Holocaust research has advanced so far and no one has yet detailed or even mentioned the involvement of IBM in organizing the Holocaust--from identification to... Read morePublished on July 15 2002 by Harry Churchill
The book is very well written and the author obviously did his homework. I think it is a bit wordy and describes events and conversations contributing little to the overall story.Published on May 24 2002 by Spook
The bottom line here is simple. After reading this book, I will never purchase or have any part of an IBM product.
This book is not the best I have ever read. Read more
Edwin Black's book has unveiled a whole new understanding of the Holocaust era. I was alternately driven to rage, tears and appreciation as I read his book. Read morePublished on May 6 2002 by Leona Hyde
This book is one of the most interesting factual books I have ever read. It is worth the read, but not for the assumptions made in it, to say that IBM can be held as a responsible... Read morePublished on April 9 2002
"It was an irony of the war that IBM equipment was used to encode and decode for both sides of the conflict" (p. 344). Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2002 by The BPR Reference Guide
IBM and the Holocaust is not the first Holocaust book I have read--but what an eye-opener. Why has this topic not been covered in any of the thousands of books or papers presented... Read morePublished on Jan. 18 2002 by Sally Ferster
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