That IBM-Holocaust Book

ArsTechnica recently linked to one of the better (though short) reviews of Edwin Black’s IBM and the Holocaust. Reviewing the book for The New York Times‘s, Gabriel Schoenfeld wwrites of the book,

The key question, in any case, is not whether I.B.M. sold Germany its equipment but whether, as alleged, it made the Final Solution part of its ”mission” and whether its relationship with Germany in any way ”energized” or significantly ”enhanced” Hitler’s efforts to destroy world Jewry. On the first point, Black never even attempts to substantiate his accusation — a scandalous omission considering the gravity of the charge. As for the second, his shaky evidence leads him to oscillate between two completely irreconcilable positions.

On the one hand, Black argues that I.B.M., through its German subsidiary, ”designed, executed and supplied the indispensable technological assistance Hitler’s Third Reich needed to accomplish what had never been done before — the automation of human destruction.” On the other hand, he maladroitly hedges, noting that even if Germany had completely lacked I.B.M.’s efficiency-enhancing tools, ”the Holocaust would have proceeded — and often did proceed — with simple bullets, death marches and massacres based on pen and paper persecution.” But if that is so, in what sense were the punch cards and the tabulating machines ”indispensable”?

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One thought on “That IBM-Holocaust Book”

  1. What was “indispensable?” The breadth and depth of the research and the collation of all the information. Killing goes on, unfortunately – that is a fact. How much more killing was enabled by the technology and how much did IBM cover its eyes and ears in the name of profit?

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