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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Rate Research--Even a Widget has its Evil Side
Who would have anticipated that a speedy card-sorter, the Hollerith machine, would evolve into a tool of one of the most evil schemes of all time? Yet, this patented machine, devised by a little-known man of German descent, made it possible to conduct a census in a short time period, and turned counting into a tool useful on a mass scale. Black's book is a page-burner,...
Published on May 5 2003 by Dr. Victor S. Alpher

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This Case Not Proved
IBM may be guilty of what the author claims, but he doesn't prove it, and admits at the end that he can't. As far as this book shows, Thomas Watson was not a fascist (by the author's own admission) and his motive was making money, period. There is nothing to show his priorities included killing Jews and others, propagating a "master race", or making the world...
Published on March 18 2001 by lisatheratgirl


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Rate Research--Even a Widget has its Evil Side, May 5 2003
By 
Dr. Victor S. Alpher (Austin, Texas, U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Who would have anticipated that a speedy card-sorter, the Hollerith machine, would evolve into a tool of one of the most evil schemes of all time? Yet, this patented machine, devised by a little-known man of German descent, made it possible to conduct a census in a short time period, and turned counting into a tool useful on a mass scale. Black's book is a page-burner, containing information that will surprise the reader paragraph by paragraph. In my generation, the "Do Not Spindle, Fold, or Mutilate" written on each IBM punchcard was the introduction to the computer and information age (and often the butt of jokes). A scant 25 to 30 years earlier, similar punch cards became the currency on which the Holocaust was based. A truly groundbreaking piece of research that, fortunately, has already appeared in German translation. In the days where vast amounts of personal information are being reduced to a series of ones and zeros carried electronically and stored digitally, this saga may be the harbinger of horrors much worse than were conceived by the progenitors of the 1000-year Reich. We should pay close attention to the uses of such personal information, lest humans lose complete control of their humanity. Here we find a true fable (that's an oxymoron) with much more to teach than Aesop could have imagined.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black, Dec 3 2001
Edwin Black's book on IBM and the Holocaust is a monument to thorough, historical research and documented fact-finding. He left no stone unturned. I tried to get IBM to dispute any part of it and they did not do so. Investigative journalism at its best.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This Case Not Proved, March 18 2001
IBM may be guilty of what the author claims, but he doesn't prove it, and admits at the end that he can't. As far as this book shows, Thomas Watson was not a fascist (by the author's own admission) and his motive was making money, period. There is nothing to show his priorities included killing Jews and others, propagating a "master race", or making the world safe for National Socialism. The technology was in Germany long before Hitler came to power. Watson was certainly amoral and an arch-capitalist who played both sides against the middle to win, but this book did not convince me he was an advocate or an engineer of genocide.
The author also doesn't stick to the point. He retells everything that went on in the world from the 1860s to the 1940s. The point is not what the Nazis did (most people are aware of this), but what IBM did.
One of the biggest problems I had with this book is that so much is written with the benefit of hindsight. He seems to think the entire population of the U.S., all the Jews in Germany, everyone in Europe, and often the whole world "knew" what was going to happen. I can't believe that when Hitler published Mein Kampf in the 1920s (before he was even well known) that the whole world should have foreseen Auschwitz 20 years later. I have trouble with the idea that because a census of the population was taken in 1933 in Prussia that everyone should have envisioned the "final solution" first discussed at Wannsee in 1939.
IBM's relationship with the German company it bought was always adversary. Thomas Watson, after "insulting" Hitler by returning a medal he had earlier been awarded by the Third Reich, was in the author's words, "persona non grata" in Germany. He was certainly not privy to the Nazi government's top secret plans about the destruction of the Jews and the implementation of death camps in Eastern Europe. He may not have been disturbed about it if he had been, but the book doesn't show it. IBM was not IG Farben, at least not based on this material.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Sober, Courageous Look at IBM's Sordid WW II Past, Dec 14 2002
By 
John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
To what end should profit be more important than morality? This is the main question readers should ask after reading Edwin Black's thoughtful, thorough look at IBM's economic history with Nazi Germany before - and especially, during - World War II. Although Black is not the most lyrical of writers, he does make a very persuasive case for IBM's primary role in mechanizing Hitler's Holocaust agains the Jews, Gypsies and other racial, religious and sexual minorities in Nazi-occupied Europe. One important unanswered question from World War II has been the extent of IBM's involvement in Nazi genocide; judging from Black's evidence that involvement was substantial, to say the least. Indeed, it is Black's premise that IBM's counting machines made it possible for Germany to perfect the crime of genocide as a mere matter of industrial mechanization. Black shows how IBM's Hollerith counting machines were used to identify, round up, and then deport hundreds of thousands of Jews from Poland to Holland into the Nazi regime's nightmarish network of labor and death camps.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, Chilling Documentation IBM Complicity, July 15 2002
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 extermination, 1933 to 1945. Not until IBM and the Holocaust. Author Edwin Black has produced a powerful, gripping, chilling and magnificently documented volume. The correspondance of IBM officials juxtaposed against NYT headlines offers a horrid insight into their mindsets as they were designing applications to further oppress the Jews and help Hitler conquer Europe. The author's website is filled with worldwide praise for this work, and yet it stands alone. I can find no other follow-up volumes to this excellent book. ... I cannot recommend enough this important achievement.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Makes me UNproud to be former IBM employee, May 24 2002
By 
Spook "secretcity" (Las Vegas, Nv United States) - See all my reviews
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars IBM Should Come Clean, May 6 2002
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. If Edwin Black's masterpiece has given us this much without IBM's cooperation, imagine how much more the world could learn if IBM came clean and opened all its files as the author urges.
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4.0 out of 5 stars IBM and the Holocaust, April 9 2002
By A Customer
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 party for the mass executions is not a fair accusation. However, it has raised many questions in my mind, about the involvment of IBM in Nazi Germany. I'm sure this is raising some questions at IBM also. It seems unthinkable that corporate America could have been invovled in this genocide, but Edwin Black brings it to life. He has brought the Holocaust closer to home than any historian or history book ever has or ever will.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Banality of Evil Given a New Face, April 2 2002
By 
Katherine Keirns (North Carolina, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
For a scholar of Nazi Germany, there is an unending series disquieting relizations when yet another horrifying fact becomes crystal clear. I had thought that there was little that could truely shock me anymore, after seeing hours of footage from the camps, or walking through railroad cars which still reak of death more than a half century later.
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Crushing Indictment Against Corporate America, Jan. 20 2002
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While reading this book, I shared it with co-workers.
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.
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