- Hardcover: 528 pages
- Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (February 12, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0609607995
- ISBN-13: 978-0609607992
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 165 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #362,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation 1st Edition
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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
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
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Edwin Black has done and presented a huge amount of research in order to bring out the very disturbing facts about IBM's role in the Holocaust and the German war effort. Unfortunately he often gets carried away in presenting far more examples than are needed to make his points. He also has a tendency, when discussing some of the key figures and events, to make chronological leaps. In one paragraph you may be reading about an event in 1933 then jump to 1941 then back to 1933 making it hard to follow. For these reasons I have reduced the rating to 4 stars.
The strangely dubious part of this honor is that this statement could be made , by both the Allied and the Axis powers of IBM during the war. Of particular note, and as outlined in the book ,is that the Germans utilized this cutting edge technology to identify, classify,segregate, incarcerate , and finally exterminate the Jew
from Eastern Europe in an attempt to reach ' the final solution.
IBM facilities in Eastern Europe were churning out punch cards , by the millions which contained the data which allowed for the efficent implimentation of the final solution , with the allowing oversight of IBM headquarters .
IBM continued the do business with both sides , and became so strong a part of the war effort to them , that the favored status established with the diplomatic corps allowed them to work on both sides of the fence in knowing violation of existing U.S law at that time.
IBM's coffers were swelling as the furnaces in overseas concentration camps were blazing 24 hours a day , fueled by the information in those punchcards as the 6 million Jews and other innocents brutally became part of the final solution.
American enterprise at its peak efficiency , with" Big Blue"
watching as the smoke columns rose ever-higher .
Fascinating reading .