IBM willingly contributed to Holocaust, new book charges
By Douglas Davis and News Agencies
(February 13) - LONDON - US-based computer conglomerate IBM has been exposed as a willing agent of the Holocaust by allowing its technology to be used to aid the Nazi destruction of European Jewry.
The revelations are made in a new book, IBM and the Holocaust, which was published yesterday in the US and Britain by Little, Brown.
Author Edwin Black, both of whose Polish-born parents survived the Holocaust, noted that the industrial task of mass-destruction required the highest level of technology available. IBM came closest to achieving such sophistication.
The firm first became involved with the Nazis because it was able to satisfy Hitler's need to identify Germany's Jewish population in anticipation of its destruction, noted Black.
Later, the mass transfer of Europe's Jews into ghettos and then into concentration camps also required the level of technological assistance that IBM was both willing and able to provide.
According to an internal company message, IBM has warned its employees about the book, but it hasn't yet seen it and isn't commenting in detail, Ian Colley, IBM's European spokesman in Paris, said yesterday.
Colley said IBM itself has turned over all its information on the company's Nazi-era operations to universities.
"If this book points to new and verifiable information that advances understanding of this tragic era, IBM will examine it and ask that appropriate scholars and historians do the same," the company said in its statement to employees last week.
"We obviously find anything to do with the Nazi regime abhorrent and will be the first to condemn the activities of anyone who was associated with the Nazi regime," Colley said.
"To search generations of records all across Germany - and later Europe - was a cross-indexing task so monumental it called for a computer," noted Black. Computers did not then exist, but IBM had produced punch-card and card-sorting systems which were made available to the Nazis through the company's German subsidiary.
Eventually, the demand by the Nazis for IBM technology became so great that the company built a factory near Berlin, which required a vast increase in investment in its German subsidiary.
The book alleges that IBM punch-card and card-sorting systems facilitated all aspects of Nazi persecution.
According to Black, Hitler's destruction of European Jewry was "greatly enhanced and energized" by IBM - and particularly by its creator and chairman, Thomas Watson.
Watson, who micromanaged Dehomag, IBM's German subsidiary, expressed admiration for Hitler, and his efforts were rewarded with the Merit Cross of the German Eagle with Star.
Black showed that while IBM protected its legal position by instructing its subsidiaries not to trade with enemy countries, "elaborate document trails were fabricated to demonstrate compliance when the opposite was true."
IBM has previously acknowledged that its German subsidiary used punch card technology in a census that was conducted soon after Hitler took power in 1933, but its role in subsequent events has never been suspected, let alone investigated.
Indeed, the firm has worked closely with organizations representing Holocaust survivors, and, just two months ago, it donated hardware to help the Jewish Claims Conference to disburse German compensation payments.
The firm itself has claimed that its links with its Nazi-era German subsidiary were severed in 1940, but Black has produced correspondence showing that Watson sent an emissary to Berlin to handle problems in late 1941.
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