IBM and the Holocaust.

Where the Nazis learned the names of the Jews, which they then destroyed?


Imagine that you are — Thomas Watson, the founder of the Ah-Bee-Em, and you have a choice. Hitler had just come to power in Germany, and you decide whether your German subsidiary Dehomag fight for the government order on the tab of the census, which is going to the Nazi regime. While you ponder that question in his New York office, local newspapers are full of stories about Jewish pogroms committed by the regime.

March 18, 1933, The New York Times reported that the Nazis have fired all Jewish professionals — lawyers, broadcasters, teachers. The editorial entitled "The German refugees tell of atrocities by the Nazis" describes how Blackshirts were dragged Jews from Berlin restaurant and passed through the line up stormtroopers. The person last victim "looked like a steak." Other newspapers tells how Jews forced to clean the streets with toothbrushes, the burning of books, the ten of thousands of refugees from Germany and about thirty thousand Jews, political activists, homosexuals, and others thrown into concentration camps. March 27 from your window looking out onto Broadway, you see fifty thousand rally in Madison Square Garden, requiring American companies to boycott Germany. Will you, Thomas Watson, compete for the contract, knowing all this?

Now imagine yourself Thomas Watson in 1937. You know that the census and other work done by your branch in Germany, has been used not only to count the number of cars and cows, but also for the identification of the Jews. Maybe you've even read one comment Nazi statistics that "with these statistics, the government now has a roadmap to move from knowledge to action." Been Germany and were in Berlin in July 1935, when the storm troopers broke the windows of Jewish shops and your friends Wertheimer forced to sell for a pittance of their department store and flee to Sweden. You saw broken glass and drank tea in a beautiful house with a German officer who told you that before this house belonged to a Jew who fled Germany. Finally, Hitler is going to award you the Order as a sign of your service to the Third Reich. Will you accept this order?

Imagine that you are — Thomas Watson in 1940. Hitler invaded France. And you face a new choice. Control your German subsidiary want you to sell his controlling stake in the German owners. At the time, as Hitler was preparing to occupy the whole of Europe, you have the perfect chance to get rid of compromising your connection with the Nazis. It is true the U.S. is not at war with Germany, but German bombs are falling on London. Whatever you decide to do: Dehomag sell or continue to hold them.

Thomas Watson chose to tabulate the Nazi census, to take on Hitler's order and fight to keep control over Dehomagom. And for years, when Watson believed the Jews for Hitler, he made a number of other equally indefensible elections — elections described by Edwin Black in his book "Ai-Bi-Em and the Holocaust." This is a shocking book, even if it is subtitled "The strategic alliance between Nazi Germany and the largest American corporation" is an exaggeration, and can be misleading. (In the 1930s — 1940s, such was not the Ai-Bi-Em, and General Motors, which also did business with the Third Reich, although the book Black reader will never know about it). Ay-Bee-Em represented capitalism "New deal" and was known for trying to avoid layoffs during the Great Depression. Watson was a friend of President Roosevelt and his wife. Ay-Bee-Em helped crack the code shifrovochny German intelligence. The war was good business for the Ai-Bi-Em. But with the help of more than a hundred researchers working in the archives of the United States, Britain, Germany, France, and Israel, Edwin Black has found documentary evidence of dark connections between this great American company and the Third Reich, which lasted during the war.

Black believes that the Holocaust would have happened regardless of the computing machines and cards "Hollerith" who gave Ay-Bi-Em/Dehomag Liz Nazis. But it raises an important question: could organize Hitler holocaust so quickly and destroy so many of them already deadly harvest of information that employees have collected Ay-Bi-Em/Dehomag calculating machines "Holllerit" with kartogram Ai-Bi-Em for the Nazi bureaucracy of death?

Black reinforces this question mark contrast between Holland and France. The Nazis ordered a census of the population in these countries as soon as they occupied them. In the Netherlands, where there was already a well-developed "infrastructure Hollerith" of 140,000 Jews over 107,000 were deported. Of these, 102,000 were killed. That is, "Efficiency" of the Holocaust was about 73%. In France, where the infrastructure was in a state of disarray, of the 300 — 350 thousand Jews deported was 85,000, of whom about 3,000 were saved. Thus, in France, the "performance" does not exceed 25%.

However, Black gives the facts in good faith weaken his argument that the technology Hollerith was crucial to this contrast. In Holland, the Nazis put in charge of the census zealous bureaucrat. In France, this post was a man of moral heroism, who paid with his life for his opposition to the efforts of the Germans to find the Jews. The Netherlands has had a long tradition of a mark on the religious affiliation in all sorts of documents. In France, there was no such tradition. Black, therefore, passed the exam on the historical integrity of this episode. But his passion (Black's parents survived the Holocaust) is stronger than in other parts of the book. And his statement that "in the end, every battle order Nazis, every bullet and troop movements were traced system tabulyatsionnyh card Ai-Bi-Em," has made it vulnerable to a number of critics.

I have read four negative reviews of this book, and they are all similar in one amazing, in my opinion, respect. Their authors are more critical towards the author of this book, Edwin Black, than to Thomas Watson, who made a damning solutions described in this book. Several reviewers have shown a remarkably low level of requirements for the behavior of corporations. In the "Business Week," Holocaust historian Peter Hayes calls this book "damning." To mention just one of the reasons Haynes. "We Watson had no choice," — says Haynes, "even if he decided to write off the loss to their property in Germany, its branch would still remain in it and went to Hitler." But Black emphasizes that Hollerith machines could not operate without the unique paper I-Bee-Em. And control of the paper was at Watson. Hollerith also could not work without tabulyatsionnyh cards, which again were only at Watson. Hollerith system could not function without the machines and spare parts for them. Only Watson had both. And Hayes has in mind in 1940 when the Nazis have long depended on a single supplier — Ay-Bee-Em. But suppose that Hitler seized the German branch of the Watson years earlier. Is it in this case would not have to Watson simply write off their losses? He would be able to justify that decision to the shareholders moral considerations, the likes of which it would be difficult to find in history. And note that it is not selling trinkets to the Nazis, and the product that likely could help them achieve their goals racist. (No later than a few months after Hitler came to power, the magazine "Times" began to put on the front page of the anti-Semitic excerpts from "Mein Kampf"). The ideology of the Ai-Bi-Em has always been the idea that information equals power. Question posed to Black, "Where they had names?" Highlights the sinister purpose of using this power.

In the "Wall Street Journal" my friend Geoffrey Wheatcroft, author of "The Controversy of Zion," offers the logic of justification Watson, whose last and perhaps comforted himself. "The capitalist free market really is immoral," — he writes. "This is an effective system investments and production, which itself can not achieve any ethical purposes. Capitalism In this sense a material similar to the technique. Syringe may be used to introduce cyanide or penicillin. It lacks any independent moral self. " But the company, led by people is down to the market. And these people can not escape responsibility for their actions. First of all vehicles are those "independent moral self," which made this technique. Syringes and tabs do not fall from the sky. And above all there are the owners of the market and shareholders. Black said nothing about the shareholders Ai-Bi-Em, which bear a vague but inescapable responsibility for what Thomas Watson made on their behalf.

We now live in an atmosphere of some sort of market determinism present market trends in the same light in which Marxists are history, that is, as a force eliminates the question of personal choice and responsibility. But how well Peter Drucker said, no such thing as "business ethics" is not there. There is just ethics.

Jack Beatty (The Atlantic)

Like this post? Please share to your friends: