Read IBM and the Holocaust Online

Authors: Edwin Black

Tags: #History, #Holocaust

IBM and the Holocaust

What Reviewers Have Said About


"An explosive new book. . . . Backed by exhaustive research, Black's case is simple and stunning."

—Michael Hirsh,

"Black's book is most interesting when he is dealing with Watson's stubborn and unsuccessful determination to continue in control of IBM's German operation without appearing to be doing so. He was able to cut off direct relations between IBM in the U.S. and the Germans while continuing to deal with them indirectly. He was a master of subterfuge and made a fine art of being in a position to deny collaboration with the Nazis while operating through subsidiaries who were responsive to his every wish. . . . And he never forbade them to supply IBM machines that were used in sending people to camps, which they did."

—Gordon A. Craig,
New York Review of Books

"Black establishes beyond dispute that IBM Hollerith machines significantly ad vanced Nazi efforts to exterminate Jewry. . . .
IBM and the Holocaust
is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust."

—Christopher Simpson,
Washington Post Book World

"Black's study . . . contains a wealth of unknown or little-known details. The author convincingly shows the relentless efforts made by IBM to maximize profit by selling its machines and its punch cards to a country whose criminal record would soon be widely recognized."

—Saul Friedlander,
Los Angeles Times

IBM and the Holocaust
is a disturbing book—all the more so because its author doesn't prescribe what should be done about sins committed more than half a century ago. It is left to readers to decide."

—Ron Grossman,
Chicago Tribune

"Black's book is shocking. Its contents go against the grain of all that is dear to naive images of corporate America. . . . This book will be a case study in corporate ethics for years to come."

—Robert Urekew,

IBM and the Holocaust
is an ambitious book . . . an important contribution to Holocaust studies."

—John Friedman,
The Nation

"The book adds much to our knowledge of the Holocaust and World War II. Black convincingly demonstrates the extent to which it [IBM technology], was central to the operation of the Third Reich."

—Terry W. Hartle,
Christian Science Monitor

"Black makes a case that shames the IBM of the mid-20th century. . . . There will be no question . . . in the minds of readers that IBM officials had the ability to understand the task their machines were performing. The book succeeds as a piece of excruciatingly documented journalism."

—Karen Sandstrom,
Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Black's book is so enlightening [because] it paints a richly textured picture of how a man [Watson], and an entire company, can ignore all sense of morality while not once transgressing the lines of business ethics. If nothing else, this book should be required reading for every first-year MBA student."

—Sam Jaffe,

"Black's argument that IBM made millions from its association with the Nazis seems almost impossible to refute."

—John Mark Eberhart,
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Black's book . . . is an ugly story, hidden for years, told by a master craftsman in a compelling way. More than just another Holocaust tale . . . it's a chilling lesson."

—Richard Pachter,
Miami Herald

"More than 15 million people have visited the Holocaust Museum and seen the IBM machine there. Surely some have raised the question: How could this prestigious corporation possibly be linked to such a heinous stain on human history? With empirical evidence, Edwin Black has supplied the answer.
IBM and the Holocaust
makes an empirical statement. Edwin Black has made his case."

Louisville Courier-Journal

"This damning chronicle of IBM's collusion with the Nazis exposes, in horrific detail, the corporation's opportunistic ride on Hitler's tail."

—Charles Winecoff,
Entertainment Weekly

"This is the stuff of corporate nightmare. IBM, one of the world's richest companies, is about to be confronted with evidence of a truly shameful history. Edwin Black reveals Big Blue's vital role in the Holocaust."

Sunday Times,
Great Britain

"Black . . . shows, in compelling detail, that IBM, 'the solutions company', was also the company of the Final Solution. . . . It is a distinctive contribution to the history of the time. It wholly justifies Black's years of toil . . . a terrible warning from this brilliantly excavated past."

—Peter Preston,
The Guardian,
Great Britain

"The computer group IBM is haunted by its past. Edwin Black's book now reveals the company's involvement in the Holocaust. . . . Previously the Nazi past of 'Big Blue' " was hardly ever a topic. . . . But now IBM is in the dock. Black's meticulous research documents just how precisely IBM managers were kept informed about the whereabouts of their machines."

—Christian Habbe,
Der Spiegel,

"Black's . . . book is the first to give the general public a detailed account of how an American corporation profited from intimate ties with the Nazis. It strips the veneer from the cherished myth of the purity and patriotism of American business."

—Marilyn Henry,
Jerusalem Post

IBM and the Holocaust
raises startling questions about the technology giant's involvement with Nazi government officials—and throws the company's wartime ethics into serious doubt."

—Jessica Reaves,

"Black . . . documents IBM's sins with chilling discipline. . . .
IBM and the Holocaust
lays out in numbing detail the terrible deeds of bureaucrats and business leaders. . . . In the end, though, this book has a subtler story to tell, one frighteningly relevant to our lives today.
IBM and the Holocaust
isn't about evil men at a particularly bloody point in recent history so much as it's about the dawn of the modern information age."

—Douglas Perry,
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Edwin Black has put together an impressive array of facts which result in a shocking conclusion never realized before: IBM collaborated with the Third Reich. This book should be read by everyone interested in the 'under history' of the Second World War."

—Simon Wiesenthal, director, Jewish Documentation Center, Vienna

"Black's great contribution is that he has tenaciously collected a lot of information and combined it in an original way. Few others have thought to place this information in the same context, to see what inferences can be drawn. Black's history makes two chilling observations. The first is that the Holocaust was possible because the Nazis had access not only to guns and gas but also to cutting-edge census technology. The second is that the Nazis had access to this technology because IBM, in its paranoid zeal, worked very hard to maintain its market dominance of the global market in data processing."

—Anthony Sebok,

"A shocking account of IBM's complicity with the Nazis is a reminder that people bear moral responsibility for the actions of the corporation—a point that critics have failed to grasp."

—Jack Beatty,
The Atlantic Online

IBM and the Holocaust
is a story that must be read if one is to understand how Hitler and the Nazis were able to implement their Final Solution to exterminate European Jewry. . . . Once again, Edwin Black has hit the mark."

—Abraham H. Foxman, national director, Anti-Defamation League

"A tremendous, timely work. Neglected for more than 50 years, the sordid records dis closing IBM's collaboration with the Nazi regime have now been exhumed by Edwin Black."

—Robert Wolfe, former chief National Archives expert for
captured German records and Nuremberg documentation

"Leaves no room for deniability."

—Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman,
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

"Edwin Black's groundbreaking book,
IBM and the Holocaust,
made a great impression on me. It documents, for the first time, that an American company, IBM, bears a good deal of the moral responsibility for the preparation of the persecution of the Nazi victims.
IBM and the Holocaust
confirms the belief that the Holocaust was not only a cruel, unprecedented crime, but also an enormous bureaucratic undertaking.

—Franclszek Piper, historian, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum


who will read this book,


who will not.

Copyright © 2001, 2002, 2009 by Edwin Black

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Published by Dialog Press, Washington, DC

Originally published in hardcover by Crown Publishers in 2001

Printed in the United States of America


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Black, Edwin.

IBM and the Holocaust: the strategic alliance between Nazi Germany and America's most powerful corporation / Edwin Black.—1st ed.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

1. International Business Machines Corporation—History. 2. Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft m.b.H.—History. 3. Germany—Statistical services—History—20th century. 4. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)—Germany—Data processing. 5. Jews—Germany—History—1933-1945. I. Title.

HD9696.2.U64 I253 2001

ISBN 9780914153108

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

Second Paperback Edition


who were so important. But this one does.

Because this investigation involved documents in so many countries and in so many languages, I relied on a network of researchers and translators, many of them volunteers. The team consisted of Holocaust survivors, children of survivors, retirees, and students with no connec tion to the Holocaust—as well as professional researchers, distinguished archivists and historians, and even former Nuremberg Trial investigators.

Ultimately, more than 100 people in seven countries participated, some for months at a time, many for a few weeks between jobs or during school breaks, and some for just a few hours when we needed specific documents translated. For most, their mission was simply to scour record groups or newspaper microfilm looking for certain key words or topics, knowing little about the implications of what they were finding. Once documents were located, they were copied and sent to me for review and analysis. When we discovered a lead, we would ask for follow-up research on a targeted theme or name.

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