IBM and the Holocaust, A Book Review by Nicholas Chan
Name: IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany And America's Most Powerful Corporation
Author: Black, Edwin
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Being an avid reader since the tender wee ages before Kindergarden, i've always had the notions (as a kid no less) that everything always ended with "happily ever after". Boy, was i wrong and foolish!
As I grew up, i've come to embrace reading as a passage of rite for myself in order to avail my intellect to the absorption of knowledge, no longer will my naive notion as a kid obsfuscate me to the realities of life. Thus, i will use this blog to help encourage people to open their minds and learn to critically assess perceived notions of reality.
Today's book review is very profound as it deals with an issue that has been dear to my heart, human atrocities and the enduring ignorance of man, please enjoy!
"This book will be profoundly uncomfortable to read; as it was profoundly uncomfortable to write" -Edwin Black
Edwin Black begins his book with the above quote, his book details the vivid story of how a legendary American company and its enigmatic owner contributed to the single most massive annihilation of human lives, mainly 6 million Jews. The enigmatic man was Thomas J. Watson and the company, International Business Machines or IBM.
It is an uncomfortable book to read as the author has exhumed evidence that IBM, aided Nazi Germany in decimating the Jewish population of Europe.
Existing literature on the Jewish holocaust tend to focus on the sheer detailed magnitude of human life loss is terms of methods, ideology and moral motivation. But most or all of these authors did not address on the most important question that we must ask in order to understand how this massive genocidal endeavor was undertaken,
How did Hitler manage to locate 6 million Jews and Undesirables in 5 - 6 years?
Back in 1933, when Hitler came to power and the dreams of his Thousand Year Third Reich emerged, and thus began the systematic coordinated drive to eliminate the undesirable threats to the Aryan genetic order, mainly Jews, dissidents, Gypsies, artists and thespians and many more. There was said that the estimated number of Jews in Europe numbered in millions. In order to organize and tabulate this vast statistical amount of information, logically would require a computer, but in the 1930s, there was no computer!
But there was the IBM Hollerith punch card and tabulation technology, IBM's involvement in the Jewish Holocaust came in the form of IBM's German subsidiary, Dehomag Gmbh. Dehomag made available to the government of the Third Reich, the tabulation machines that would enable it to create a census to catalogue the population of German citizens of Jewish descent. Thus, when the time came for the great culling, Hitler already had a master list of names and locations of which to start his genocidal ride of death, all tabulated and recorded with American ingenuity, Marketed by IBM.
The collusion between Nazi Germany and IBM runs deep and Black delves deep into the organizational and political culture of the protagonists, from corporate profit wrangling to managerial betrayals. The interesting fact that Black puts forward was that not only did IBM continue to trade with Dehomag, despite trade restrictions, but knew of the specific purpose of the IBM tabulation machines. Thus, amplifying the rallying banner of capitalism, which is 'The Business of Business is Business!'
The research of content for this book was thoroughly done by the author and his immense detailed bibliography of sources is evident of his efforts to enlighten the world of the monstrosity of unrestrained capitalism. The intentions of the author are noble and idealistic but somewhat irrelevant to the fact that businesses will inherently forgo social ethical and moral considerations to achieve profit and corporate market gain and this was the case of IBM in this book.
In the finality of the situation, it was evident that the American industrial might with its Fordist manufacturing philosophies won the war, for the allies and it is INDEED ironic that IBM, the blue gem of American hegemony contributed to the greatest human atrocities in history, all in the name of profits.