Final Solutions: How IBM Helped Automate the Nazi Death Machine in Poland
by Edwin Black
Village Voice, March 27 - April 2, 2002
When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, most of the world saw a menace to humanity. But IBM saw Nazi Germany as a lucrative trading partner. Its president, Thomas J. Watson, engineered a strategic business alliance between IBM and the Reich, beginning in the first days of the Hitler regime and continuing right through World War II. This alliance catapulted Nazi Germany to become IBM's most important customer outside the U.S. IBM and the Nazis jointly designed, and IBM exclusively
produced, technological solutions that enabled Hitler to accelerate and in many ways automate key aspects of his persecution of Jews, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and others the Nazis considered enemies. Custom-designed, IBM-produced punch cards, sorted by IBM machines leased to the Nazis, helped organize and manage the initial
identification and social expulsion of Jews and others, the confiscation of their property, their ghettoization, their deportation, and, ultimately, even their extermination.
Recently discovered Nazi documents and Polish eyewitness testimony make clear that IBM's alliance with the Third Reich went far beyond its German subsidiary. A key factor in the Holocaust in Poland was IBM technology provided directly through a special wartime Polish subsidiary reporting to IBM New York, mainly to its headquarters at 590 Madison Avenue.
And that's how the trains to Auschwitz ran on time.
Thousands of IBM documents reviewed for the first edition of my book 'IBM and the Holocaust,' published early last year and focused mainly on IBM's German subsidiary, revealed vigorous efforts to preserve IBM's monopoly in the Nazi market and increase contracts to meet wartime sales quotas.
Since then, continued research and interviews have uncovered details, described here for the first time, of IBM's work for the Nazis in Poland through the separate subsidiary and of the Polish subsidiary's direct contact with IBM officials on Madison Avenue.
Documents were obtained from IBM files shipped to NYU for processing and from scores of other archival sources here and abroad. Not a single sentence written by IBM personnel has been discovered in any of the documents questioning the morality of automating the Third Reich, even when headlines proclaimed the mass murder of Jews.
IBM's German subsidiary was Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft, known by the acronym Dehomag. (Herman Hollerith was the German American who first automated U.S. census information in the late 19th century and founded the company which became IBM. Hollerith's name became synonymous with the machines and the Nazi "departments" that operated them.)
Link To Read the Entire Essay
The IBM Link to Auschwitz
How the U.S. 'Master Race' Helped Breed Selective Science: War Against the Weak by Edwin Black
For a Student Researching the Holocaust