m-a-c: PDE: American History (1900-2000)
"IBM and the Holocaust", by Edwin Black,
published by Crown Publishers, 2001.
On edge of our consciousness there are always
feelings of dread like there is some horrible
truth buried just beneath the surface, just
out of reach.
More info on the Card format
Exhaustively researched and documented, and
yet very readible and literate, this work
brings into the total light of day the exact
role that IBM played in helping the NAZI's
count and identify every Jew -- even down to
those that were 1/16 Jewish. Even if 130
years before the family had converted to
Christianity (Protestant or Catholic), the
records from every church, bank, public
records office -- all were encoded into the
literally BILLIONS of punched cards that were
fed into the thousands of sorting machines
that the NAZI's used to accomplish the holocaust.
And it wasn't as if Watson (the ruthless
entrepreneur and man personally in charge of
the United States' most powerful company)
was un-aware of this. He visited germany
several times each year in the 1930's to make
sure that IBM was receiving its profits. To
the point of fanaticism he excercised complete
and daily control over the carefully disguised
German company DEHOMAG -- there was much of
the boycotting of German products and imports.
And despite the fact that Watson & IBM owned
a 90% share of DEHOMAG the guise of an independent
German compnay was maintained. And yet, the
computer cards which had to be produced to
exacting standards could (and did) only come
from one place: The United States of America.
In the book and documentary film, The Ascent
of Man, Jacob Bronowski gathers up mud from
Auschwitz and says: "This is where people
were de-humanized, this was where people
were turned into numbers".
THE Hollerith Punched Card System supplied the numbers.
All that was needed then was to suspend the humanity
of people that allowed them-selves to believe in lies.
The American Century (1900 - 2000)
IBM, DEHOMAG, and Thomas J. Watson, Sr.
Links on the web
Edwin Black -- Intro to the book
Great pictures and info:
AusThink.Org's superb review of IBM's
involvement: INTERNATIONAL BLOODY MURDER
A some-what scathing review of the book:
by Tom Sullivan
(Mr. Sullivan some-what naively says:
"It is also unclear what would have happened
if the Germans had not had IBM technology
and equipment at their disposal. In Rwanda
not long ago, nearly a million people were
massacred with hoes and similar tools, so
probably some version of the Holocaust
would have taken place regardless of the
sophistication of available technology."
Hmm, in Rwanda the fight was between a darker
skinned and a lighter skinned tribe. It's easy
to descern such things (even in dim light).
To ascertain who is 1/16th Jewish. This takes
technology. It takes numbers. It took IBM.
A some-what more favorable review by Frederick E. Allen:
However in a seemingly appologist mode, Mr. Allen concludes
with this paragraph:
"Watson and IBM certainly did not behave in
exemplary fashion in the years leading to
war, but the evidence suggests that they
did no worse than countless other multinational
corporations. And once America was in the war,
they gave enormously to the Allied cause. What
was the role, ultimately, of IBMís punch-card
technology itself? It served both sides, of
course, and served them powerfully - which
illustrates a truth about technology that was
eloquently summed up by the historian
"Technology is neither good nor bad;
nor is it neutral."
The fruits of human inventiveness - whether
punch-card machines, miracle drugs, atom bombs,
or plowshares - contain no morality whatever
in themselves, but how they are used is
absolutely always a moral matter. It is a
tragedy that Watson didnít find a way to
prevent the immoral use of his companyís
machines, even if he was far from the active
collaborator Black tries to suggest he was.
Hmmm, I think its more of a travesty that Watson
participated at all since he was again and again
confronted with the fact that his machines were
being used to obliterate "un-desirables" -- this
is the point that Edwin Black makes by quoting
the New York Times - THE PAPER -- of New York
where Watson lived. Watson could hardly have
been blind to it. He just chose to care more
about his bottom line than his conscience. Or
perhaps like Henry Ford he was just a bigot.
[It will be recalled that it was Ford who paid
to have the encyclopedic work: The International
Jewish Conspiracy" published. Hitler had it
translated into German, and awarded Ford the
Iron Cross; they routinely exchanged Christmas
and birthday greetings.]
Perhaps some future biographer will clarify this
controversy concerning Thomas J. Watson, Sr's conscience.
For the present, I remain humbly yours,
(and still with hope for our small blue-green
Pizo (still your full-time hippy/tree-hugging liberal).
The One Shine-ing Moment in the Whole mess
(Without the IBM punched-card counters and sorter
the NAZI's would never have have been able to
identify all of the Jews. They even went so
far as to find those that were 1/16 Jewisth
-- ie, to the great, great grand mother/father
There was one hero in all of the things Rene
Carmille who was a French military commander in
Southern France (called the Vichie section) and
was essentially un-occupied since they surrendered
to Germany almost immediately. Rene was allowed to
keep the Hollerith (IBM) tabulators since he
"promised to deliver exact lists of all of the
Jews". Mean-while in northern France, almost
all of the tabulators had been shipped back to
Germany to help with war production, etc).
As it turned out Rene NEVER punched a single card
identifying the Jews!!! He was in fact working
for the French Underground and had programmed
the card sorters to help identify the soldiers
(some of whom were now shop keepers, day laborers,
etc) with the necessary skills for fighting back.
The first revolt came in French Algeria (which was
under NAZI occupation). This allowed the Allies
to win there, and from there begin the invasion
into southern Europe (freeing Italy, and then
later in 1944/1945 Southern France). Even though
he was torturted for two solid days by "The Butcher
of Lyon" --- Klause Barbie, he never cracked and
was sent to the concentration camp at Dauchau,
where he died just a few months before the allies
freed the remaining prisoners there.
In France, many of the churches (Protestant
& Catholic) continued preaching against the NAZI's,
and many non-jews went to register as Jews ---
trying to flood the NAZI prison's with so many
people that they couldn't handle them all.
The French philosopher Henri Bergson (an existentialist
and pre-cursor of Albert Camus (pronounced Camoo) &
Jean-Paul Sartre) registered as a Jew just 3 days
before he died and urged everyone in Paris to do
Mean-while, business as usual
All the time the head of IBM, Thomas R. Watson, Sr.
who was a ruthless American businessman living in
New York City, continued to make money by selling to
both the NAZI's and the Allies. He knew what was
happening, but didn't care as long as he made money.
The ironic thing was that at the time he was officially
on the Carnegie Foundation for Peace!
After America entered the War, Watson still played
both sides against each other, finally put-ing more
effort into the American side; apparently, playing the
winner, and hope-ing to retake control of all of the
European subsidiaries of IBM after the war.
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