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IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  893 ratings  ·  123 reviews
IBM and the Holocaust sparked a media frenzy and became an immediate New York Times bestseller when it appeared on bookshelves in hardcover (more than 100,000 copies sold). Now in paperback, here is the shocking, impeccably researched, and incredibly detailed story of IBM's strategic alliance with Nazi Germany. Edwin Black's chilling investigation into corporate complicity ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published March 26th 2002 by Three Rivers Press (first published January 1st 2001)
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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
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
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,
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
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
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
Jul 27, 2011 Jessie added it
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
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
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
It took me almost a year to go through about 500 (e-)pages.

Topic of the book got my attention straight away. How one of the biggest IT services companies indirectly helped Nazis in exterminating the Jews through World War I I. What's even more interesting is how Holleriths machines helped to form and grow early use of machines in statistics and analytics.

While this is interesting and indeed discussed in the book, 95% content of the book is dedicated to business operations of Watson's and Hitle
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
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
Overall a very good book. I found Edwin Black's research to be thorough and very detailed. I did have some issues with the fact that he sometimes used the same facts/quotes to support different (although parallel) conclusions and statements but other than that he did an amazing job.

The book is pretty damning about IBM. It's clear that Thomas Watson was a Capitalist through and through. Nothing stood in his way of making money and a profit. I feel, given the information in the book, that he was a
Dan Harvey
I thought this book might never end. Don't get me wrong, the information was interesting and meticulously researched and presented. I just thought as a book for the general public the authour could have gotten the message across in a book about one-quarter of the size. The writing style was also pretty annoying - sensationalized when I would have thought a more sombre tone to be appropriate. It probably says something about my low opinion of corporate ethics that I'm not all that surprised that ...more
S newman
Excellent! I can't think of one person who doesn't need to read this important, revealing book!

The author carefully documented the light he shined on the infuriating dark past of certain players of our country. When I think of the sacrifices of my Dad drafted at 18 to fight in Germany--and indeed all good hearted Americans be they soldiers or family left behind--to find out that life sucking greed and to some extent US government complicity made much of the Nazi horrors a reality and enabled the
I’ve always heard all the accounts of those famous corporate behemoths that have been around forever, and that have profited from the Holocaust—companies like BMW, Kodak, IG Farben/Bayer, and our own American company, Ford. To this day, there are still many people who boycott those companies for their part in what is probably the most heinous chapter in the history of humanity.

One company, though, that I’ve never associated with that list was IBM. Reading this book was, therefore, quite the eye
Very sad true about how the most powerful American corporation contributed to the plans of a sicko only for a profit....
I am finally, finally, *finally* done reading this darn book. After years of it sitting on my "currently reading" shelf, half read, I decided to make a big push and finish it. And I did. And boy, did I remember why I put it down in the first place. I firmly believe that the only way you can read this book is to read it for a few hours every single day until you're done. Otherwise you'll put it down and never pick it up again.

This author completely lost the forest for the trees. I mean, he decide
Paul Bailey
One of the top five most important books i have ever read along with the bible, speeches of martin luther king, writings of martin luther, and rules for radicals by alinsky and definately the most timely. I've only read the first few chapters so far, my mind is blown. How did something this big get covered up for so long? how is this not taught in every history class?

Although the text of this is only historical in nature the modern parallels are stunning and earthshaking. All the major laws we
This is a big book. Commit to the time it will take to read, understand and process it, as it is worth it.

Through in depth research and evidence gathering the author has laid out a clear timeline of IBMs decisions, intentions and values when it consciously chose to assist the nazis. This was not just a business decision it was a moral choice to put profit before people.

Where other companies (Hugo Boss, Estée Lauder and others) were in the war zone and continued working and abetting the regime -
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
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
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
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
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,

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
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
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
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.
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Is an American syndicated columnist and journalist. He specializes in human rights, the historical interplay between economics and politics in the Middle East, petroleum policy, the abuses practiced by corporations, and the financial underpinnings of Nazi Germany.
More about Edwin Black...
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