Posted Sunday, February 11, 2001

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The Sunday Times

London, Sunday, February 11, 2001

IBM link to Final Solution revealed

Tom Rhodes,
New York

IBM, the American computer giant, faces detailed charges today that it collaborated in Hitler's persecution of the Jews.

More than half a century after the second world war, an American investigative writer, Edwin Black, says he has found extensive evidence that the Holocaust depended not on German efficiency but on American technology.

Black writes that IBM punch card-sorters, a precursor of computers, were used to facilitate all aspects of Nazi persecution - from the identification of Jews in censuses in Germany and occupied Europe to the running of concentration camp slave labour. His book, IBM and the Holocaust, is serialised today in The Sunday Times and published tomorrow in America and Britain.

"For the first time in history, an anti-semite had automation on his side. Hitler didn't do it alone. He had help."

WatsonBlack says Hitler's quest to destroy the Jews was "greatly enhanced and energised" by IBM and its creator and chairman, Thomas J Watson (right).

Watson expressed admiration for Hitler and was awarded the Merit Cross of the German Eagle with Star by the Führer. The Nazis regarded him as a powerful friend, but his interest was profit, not ideology. He micromanaged Dehomag, the company's German subsidiary, writes Black. "IBM NY understood - from 1933 - it was doing business with the upper echelon of the Nazi party."

IBM has long acknowledged that its German subsidiary used punch card technology in a 1933 census, soon after Hitler took power; but its role in subsequent events has not been suspected, let alone investigated. The firm has had good relations with organisations representing Holocaust survivors. Two months ago, it donated hardware to help the Jewish Claims Conference disburse German compensation payments.

Watson's son, Thomas J Watson Jr, who moved IBM into computers after the war, disagreed with his father's attitude to the Nazis. "Dad's optimism blinded him to what was going on in Germany," he once wrote.

According to IBM, its links with its Nazi-era German subsidiary were severed in 1940. Black, however, has produced letters that indicate the IBM chairman sent an emissary to Berlin to resolve problems in late 1941, when America was about to enter the conflict.

The charges made by Black, whose parents, Polish Jews, both escaped death during the Holocaust, arise from research into archives in America, Germany, Britain, Israel, Holland, Poland and France. With the help of more than 100 people, he assembled over 20,000 pages of documentation.

"Examined singly, none revealed the story," says Black. But put together, they showed "IBM's conscious involvement - directly and through its subsidiaries - in the Holocaust".

Black produces evidence that, although IBM protected its legal position by instructing its subsidiaries not to trade with enemy countries, "elaborate document trails were fabricated to demonstrate compliance when the opposite was true".

IBM first became involved with Nazism because of Hitler's desire to identify Germany's Jewish population before destroying it, Black says. "To search generations of records all across Germany - and later Europe - was a crossindexing task so monumental it called for a computer."

Equally, the mass movement of European Jews into ghettos and then into concentration camps also required the powers of a computer. None existed; but the IBM punch card and card-sorting system was available from its German subsidiary.

Nazi demand for IBM technology became so great that the firm built a factory near Berlin, vastly increasing its investment in the German subsidiary.

The book seems certain to cause a furore in America. It has been endorsed in advance of publication by several prominent Jewish figures.

"Edwin Black has put together an impressive array of facts which result in a shocking conclusion never realised before," said Simon Wiesenthal, the director of the Jewish Documentation Centre in Vienna.

Michael Whine, the director of defence and group relations division of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, called it a "vital book".

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Affidavit by Michael Whine's smears
Whine admits that he planted libellous document about David Irving in Canadian government files

Website inside info: The real reason why Edwin Black targets IBM?

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