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The Nazi Census: Identification And Control In The Third Reich (Politics History & Social Chan) Hardcover – May 28, 2004
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"There can be few complaints about The Nazi Census as a history of the Nazi period. It is regularly cited in published works for facts about dates of registration programs and change in citizenship policy. As part of Alys attempt to augment the complicity of silence with the complicity of science, it is also an important work in an evolving historiography on Nazi world-making and unmaking. The book is also fascinating as a revelation of the recent pedigree of many everyday practices of the state. H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences "The Nazi Census is a book of great historical originality and considerable topical urgency. The authors provide a chilling historical perspective to contemporary preoccupations with the logics and limits of identity registration and documentation. Unrivalled as a political history of population statistics and identity documentation in Nazi Germany, the book is also not afraid of controversy. Not everyone will accept the authors' grim message about the inherently dehumanizing effects of the statistical process, but their readable and quirkily original book makes a powerful case for seeing data collection as a threat to individual safety rather than a solution to problems of security in the modern world." --Jane Caplan, Marjorie Walter Goodhart Professor of European History, Bryn Mawr College and Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford "Originally published in 1984, this controversial study challenges census-taking by examining how the Hitlerian regime pioneered both the concepts and the processes of modern statistics-gathering about populations. No reader of this fascinating study can fail to be moved by the coldly bureaucratic thoroughness and mechanical efficiency with which the Nazis went about their business of targeting Jews, Gypsies, and other socially or biologically unwanted segments of German society." --Michael R. Marrus, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies, University of Toronto
From the Publisher
The historyand legacyof the Nazi Census System --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
The information processing technology of today would have been completely unimaginable in the 1930's and 1940's, a time when the Germans used the burgeoning field of bureaucracy and new information technologies to isolate constituencies in their populations in support of the vast and terrifying social engineering experiment of the NSDAP.
The book includes a list of organizations, individuals, technologies and in particular, the low level data models used to register, analyze, classify and ultimately murder millions of people. This book removes some of the fog around how the atrocities could have been committed. It should stand as a warning to the future (or perhaps, our present) about how we collect and use information about people, and the possible consequences of reducing individuals to bureaucratic abstractions. The book also documents ostensibly neutral German institutions, particularly statistics and economics departments at universities, and medical schools and hospitals that contributed techniques and identity profiles to the party for sorting and classification.
For those of us who design information systems for institutions, there are indeed warning signs in requirements and specifications that the system is vulnerable to future (or even planned) political abuse. Unclear accountability, shadowy oversight, overzealous political sensitivity, un-tracked interfaces with complete administrative control should give practitioners a better understanding of how the systems they design affect political power. This book is a valuable technical resource with transparent and original sources about a period in political and technological history that most would rather forget.
Every solution architect, privacy and IT security professional should read this book to understand some 20th century precedents and consequences of building powerful information systems that collect and use information about people without their consent.
Most would argue that today, Google, Facebook, and every advertising site out there has created more detailed and readily accessible profiles than the NSDAP ever could have dreamed of, and yet they have not been used for ethnic of social cleansing; any comparison of the present day to the second world war is just paranoid and hyperbolic and not a part of a constructive discussion about mature democratic institutions.
One hopes they are right. The book lays out the technology and processes used by the NSDAP and their collaborators to commit their atrocities. If more technologists are aware of how these systems were created abused, perhaps we can contribute to ensuring that it will never happen again.