IBM and the Holocaust
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IBM and the Holocaust

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  695 ratings  ·  108 reviews
IBM & the Holocaust tells of IBM's strategic alliance with Nazi Germany--beginning in 1933 in the 1st weeks that Hitler came to power & continuing well into WWII. As the 3rd Reich embarked upon its plan of conquest & genocide, IBM & its subsidiaries helped create enabling technologies, step-by-step, from the identification & cataloging programs of the 3...more
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Little, Brown (London)
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Erik Graff
Sep 13, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone!
Recommended to Erik by: Erik Flindt Badger
Shelves: history
This was not a fun book. Following the substantiation of the claim that IBM and subsidiaries knowingly facilitated the murder of millions of Jews, Socialists, Communists, pacifists, prisoners of war, gypsies, homosexuals and other "deviants" as part of their normal business practices is almost too much to take--not because it is difficult or because the proofs are obscure--they are not, but because this is too much the way of the corporate world, our American world. Similar practices are going o...more
Natalie Zarowny
This book is incredibly important as the first comprehensive work on the subject of IBM and its unfortunate involvement in the Holocaust.
In the introduction to the novel, Black warns us that, “Skipping around in this book will only lead to flawed and erroneous conclusions. So if you intend to skim, or rely on selected sections, please do not read the book at all.” (11) This is good advice in an ideal world. However, it would take a normal person such a very long time to read this, and that’s get...more
BirdBrian
It all started with a contest. In 1884, the U.S. Census Bureau wanted to streamline its operations in preparation for the 1890 census. They held a contest, offering prize money for the method or device which could best improve their efficiency. Twenty-four year old Herman Hollerith had been at the Bureau for a few years already, and had been thinking about this for some time. He observed that once data came to the bureau from its door-to-door census takers, it was subject to a slow and error-pro...more
Siobhan
The first time I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, I was struck by an IBM tabulating machine. So that's how they did it, I thought. That's how they kept track of everyone.

Edwin Black visited the same museum, stood before the display of the same machine, and did a very different thing: he used that incident to write this book. As the son of Holocoaust survivors, it's not surprising that Black's reaction was strong. He recalled standing in front of the display for quite a long time,...more
Bree
Jul 13, 2008 Bree rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone especially those with an interest in the holocaust
omg i might never buy another IBM product again...truely terrifying and appalling.

This book actually made me physically ill. The thought that the Nazi extermination machine was powered by one of the most influential men of that era, not only in the US but abroad, by a man who not just communicated and recieved a medal from Hilter but also supported the Nazi (German ppl)regime and knew what was going on to the Jewish people, played both sides of the ocean (American being his number 1 customer and...more
Niklas Pivic
From the beginning of this book, two paragraphs spring to mind to not only contrast the mind of what I deem as the psychopathology behind major corporations, but what also separates murderous decisions from having to be the one at the end of the whip, so to speak:

Quickly, Cheim learned the method. Every day, transports of slave laborers were received. Prisoners were identified by descriptive Hollerith cards, each with columns and punched holes detailing nationality, date of birth, marital status
...more
Jessie
How did the Nazis know where to go to find the Jews? It wasn’t luck—it was technology. IBM provided the technology that enabled the Nazi regime to slaughter millions of people. Would the Holocaust still have happened if IBM hadn’t provided their tabulators to the Third Reich? Certainly. But to such a massive scale? Maybe. If the trains had not been so impeccably scheduled, and the minorities so rapidly censused and processed, the Nazis might have been slowed down a bit. This was a heavy read for...more
Erwin
IBM and the Hollocast

Very interesting story. I would not typically choose to read something that sounds so sensationalized, and though there are some overly dramatic sections, it is a very interesting read.

IBMs first large customer was the US census - IBM supplied "Hollerith" punch card reading/sorting machines to the census bureau.

During the holocaust, the Nazi's would walk into a town and know the names of all the Jewish people they were supposed to intern. The names came from various versions...more
Dan Sharber
this book was written for skeptics. because of that it is meticulously documented and everything down to personal correspondence is painstakingly recreated. and if you are a skeptic, you should be convinced. if you already believed though and were not at all surprised that corporations made money with the nazis then this book can become tedious. to me what was most interesting was not that ibm colluded with the nazis but rather that high tech was used in the total destruction of a people. the sh...more
David Bales
A rather chilling and exahaustingly-researched book about how I.B.M. aided the Nazi regime in Germany from 1933 on, reaping gigantic profits from its sale of tabulation machines and cardboard punch cards that were used in everything from racial censuses to coordinating the movements and whereabouts of millions of prisoners in the concentration camp system. After 1941, I.B.M.'s German subsidiaries funnelled the proftis to the corporation via Switzerland, all the while I.B.M.'s chairman served as...more
aaron
Another fun one. Amazing amount of research, and while it certainly criticizes IBM, the presentation is more historical than political or emotional.

I *did* leave this book convinced that IBM had a dark, dirty beginning, which only played into my generally negative view of most multinational corporations, and my disappointment and the crap people will do for money. Nevertheless, it's a really fascinating book; one way in particular being just getting a really detailed description of the machinat...more
Gabriel Schoenfeld
Edwin Black greatly exaggerates the significance of I.B.M.'s contribution to the Holocaust. A case in point: he asserts that, as World War II progressed, "eventually, every Nazi combat order, bullet and troop movement was tracked on an I.B.M. punch card system." Every bullet? It is, moreover, simply not meaningful to declare, as Black does, that by 1939 or thereabouts, Germany, using IBM's Hollerith machines, ''had automated virtually its entire economy.'' One would not say such a thing even abo...more
Nerio
Very sad true about how the most powerful American corporation contributed to the plans of a sicko only for a profit....
Jill
The author and his massive research team compile extraordinary records on how computer behemoth IBM pursued business as business developing tools to track ethnic profiles for its German government client. Black stays very focused on the material and the consequences of this type of data collection with no responsibility on the part of International Business Machines for the outcome of such an enterprise. Prior to IBM involvement, the German record keeping system was on cards, where individuals w...more
Erwin
IBM and the Hollocast

Very interesting story. I would not typically choose to read something that sounds so sensationalized, and though there are some overly dramatic sections, it is a very interesting read.

IBMs first large customer was the US census - IBM supplied "Hollerith" punch card reading/sorting machines to the census bureau.

During the holocaust, the Nazi's would walk into a town and know the names of all the Jewish people they were supposed to intern. The names came from various versions...more
Karen
This is another hard read from Edwin Black, but it is a very important topic. It is a troubling topic in so many ways. First and formost, to know that corporations you grew up with aided the Nazi extermination of Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, Gypsies, and others borders on the unfathomable. To see such raw greed, with a complete lack of any moral fiber, is alarming.
Thomas Watson was such a person. He was the president of IBM, and continued operations in Nazi Germany, throughout the war, using decep...more
Nick
Whilst at time dry due to the author quoting (important) numbers and statistics, this book is an unparalleled look at the entire second world war from a previously unexplored point of view - that of Thomas J. Watson and his company, IBM.

Watson wore many hats over the course of the war - Industrialist, Peace Activist, War-monger, Decorated Nazi hero, American Patriot and, potentially, un-charged war criminal. His company, under his careful and precise micro management, provided the technology, t...more
David Buccola
This is a fascinating book on so many levels. It has long been known that IBM and many other American companies did business with the NAZIS. But I had no idea they were so instrumental in providing the technology needed to carry out the Holocaust. Edwin Black does a superb job of weaving this tale.

My biggest problem with the book is Black's naiveté. At one point he writes, "Ironically, Hitler's fascism resonated with men of great vision, such as Henry Ford." There was nothing ironic here. Ford,...more
Héctor
HOLLERITH

Casi todos los campos de concentración nazis tenían un departamento para el sistema Hollerith conocido como el Hollerith Abteilung. En algunos campos, como Dachau y Storkow, se instalaron hasta dos docenas de clasificadoras, tabuladoras e impresoras de IBM. En otros sólo trabajaban con perforadoras y sometían a sus tarjetas a sedes centrales, como Mauthausen o Berlín. Casi siempre el equipo de IBM estaba localizado dentro del campo mismo, consignado a un departamento especial llamado Of...more
Jim
Fucking IBM

Edwin Black, an expert on the 3rd Reichs finances brings us a chilling expose of the alliance between IBM and the Reich. Telling of IBM's rise under the helm of Thomas Watson, the protege of Robber Barons, thanks to "Hollerith Punch Card Technology". Holleriths were precursors to modern day computers, and where vital in orginization and planning for large orginizations as well as mobilizing statistics for practical purpose. With the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party in 1933, Wa...more
Garth
This book describes IBM's connivance with the Third Reich's extensive use of IBM Hollerith machine technology, not only in the planning and and execution of the second world war, but more horrifyingly with the running of census programmes which efficiently identified Jews, facilitated their shipment to death and labour camps, and managed the allocation of slave labour.

"IBM's business was never about Nazism. It was never about anti-Semitism. It was always about the money." Regardless, it's hard t...more
Steele Dimmock
This is written with a lot of hyperbole and impassioned prose when the actual mechanics behind IBMs involvement with Nazi Germany, even to the casual observer, seem stoic and indifferent.

It does help answer a rather important question regarding the holocaust, how did the Nazis know who were Jewish and who weren't?

An interesting story with the facts far too compelling to be merely conspiracy theory.
Erin
considering it has the word holocaust in the title, you should know up front that this book is fairly horrifying. "exhaustively researched" is definitely an apt description - sometimes to the story's detriment because you get bogged down in correspondence and statistics which, while important, get dry.

after i had gotten about 200 some pages in, i just wanted to finish it. what i found most chilling was the occasional inclusion of some kind of detailed account of an atrocity within the bigger st...more
Rick
This is a very interesting book that shows an American Company driven by profits at the expense of a set of values to drive the decisions of the CEO and company leadership. With that said I don't think today's IBM is reflective in any way of the company that was run in the 30's and 40's. The book does bring to light how the German's were so efficient at identifying and tracking down Jews throughout the roundup to the Jewish Ghetto's and ultimately to the Concentration and Work Camps. The answer...more
Gary Patton
Sep 11, 2012 Gary Patton rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: people concerned that bigotry & hatred again is sweeping the world through radical Islam.
Recommended to Gary by: Web review
This is another disturbing book which complements and expands on the most horrible dimension of "Mein Kampf: Hitler's Blueprint for Aryan Supremacy (Words That Changed History)" by Duane Damon at http://is.gd/JuMrnO .

Mr. Black clearly documents how the advanced Hollerith punch-card technology supplied by IBM and its European subsidiaries, through the knowing complicity of Thomas J. Watson Sr. and IBM's senior management even after the war began, enabled the holocaust.

Hitler actually awarded Wat...more
Elizabeth
Thanks Paul for the recommendation, I only got through the introduction but that was enough for me. This book is a shocking revelation about how IBM was behind the "organizing" of the Holocaust. I always wondered how this system of oppression and violence actually worked. It seemed to me that there was a level of sophistication at work since so so many people were victimized. The fact that IBM was a way to get information processed and filed makes perfect sense. Very, very frightening and appall...more
Scott
Great book. It’s sad to see what people/companies are willing to do to make money. Black has many researched, documented facts that paint a very clear picture of IBM’s involvement with the Nazi party. IBM made a fortune from the extermination of Jews.

The simplest fact is that the Hollerith machines were critical to the Nazi regime, and it’s execution of The Final Solution. The machines were provided and serviced by IBM. More importantly, the specific card stock (which only IBM had the specifica...more
Muhammad al-Khwarizmi
I really hate to say this but this book is extremely tedious. I understand the need to document the Holocaust in exacting detail, and, indeed, Black documents this aspect of the Holocaust in exacting detail, but I just couldn't read it all the way through. If it's any consolation, I walked away in Chapter 5 thoroughly sold on the notion that IBM acted with mens rea in supplying the Third Reich with the computational resources necessary to execute their plans. Read this book if you are a historia...more
HuhWhat
I read this when I was 15/16 and it gave me nightmares. It was one of the first books on the Holocaust that I had read at the time and I picked it up because of the title. IBM is a recognizable brand and the Holocaust a well-known historic event...so what on earth would they have to do with each other ?

The author goes into detail about the nature of the relationship between IBM and the Nazis, the people involved, the scale of the operation and fact that something so horrendous could have been ex...more
Sue
It was pretty unnerving to realize just how systematic the Nazis were in keeping track of people - both foreign workers and their backgrounds/skills and the Jews and "unfit" they shipped to concentration camps. It's simply amazing that the old punch cards could do so much, and the way IBM catered to what the Nazi customers wanted machines and cards to be able to do really makes me glad I don't own any IBM computers. I'm uncertain how much a company should be held responsible today for things the...more
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