I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The absurd book "IBM and the Holocaust"

A recent book titled "IBM and the Holocaust", which I discussed in a previous post titled "Holocaust mythologies", makes the absurd claim that the Nazis were able to identify all the Jews of Europe by using primitive Hollerith card reading and card sorting machines to cross-correlate data stored on billions of IBM Hollerith punched cards. The book was generally panned by reviewers, but not for the reasons that I mentioned. Surprisingly, though, the book won an award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors as a work of general non-fiction.

One reviewer said,

Is Mr. Black really correct in his assumption that without I.B.M.'s technology, which consisted mainly of punch cards and the machines to tabulate them, the Germans wouldn't have figured out a way to do what they did anyway? Would the country that devised the Messerschmitt and the V-2 missile have been unable to devise the necessary means to slaughter millions of victims without I.B.M. at its disposal?

BTW, the above review incorrectly states that Herman Hollerith
was a German immigrant. He was born in the USA to German immigrant parents.

Also, another reviewer said,

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.

The first point above refers to the following statement in the book's introduction:

IBM, primarily through its German subsidiary, made Hitler's program of Jewish destruction a technologic mission the company pursued with chilling success. (emphasis added)

This book is a blood libel against IBM USA.

An article titled "A Secret, Not Too Secret" discusses the unusual secrecy about the book prior to release for sale.

The introduction to the book said,

With few exceptions (see Bibliographical Note), the Holocaust literature is virtually devoid of mention of the Hollerith machines—in spite of its high profile display at the United States Holocaust Museum.

However, I found an article titled "Counted for Persecution, IBM's Role in the Holocaust" that predates release of the book and that contradicts the book's claims. The article quotes Sybil Milton, former senior historian of the research institute of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, as saying, "We have no proof that the Hollerith was ever used to target individuals for deportation lists."

How could something that seems so central to the Holocaust -- the question of how the Nazis identified the Jews -- have been virtually ignored for decades? The holocaust is usually defined as being "systematic," but to have a "systematic" holocaust of Jews, there's got to be a reliable way of distinguishing Jews from non-Jews -- there are no two ways about it.

Also, none of the book's reviewers seem to have any understanding of how primitive the IBM Hollerith machines were as data-processing devices. All the machines could do was just read and sort a few punched cards at a time. The machines were not programmable, they could not store data, they could not search large databases, they could not network with other IBM machines, and by the standards of modern computers the machines were as slow as molasses at the South Pole in the dead of winter. The data storage medium, punched cards, was extremely bulky. In summary, these machines were completely incapable of doing what the book claims they did. The book says, "Jews could not hide from millions of punch cards thudding through Hollerith machines, comparing names across generations, address changes across regions, family trees and personal data across unending registries." LOL What a joke. The Hollerith machines were a tremendous improvement over hand methods but were nonetheless prehistoric so far as modern data processing is concerned.

Also, the book's claims that the IBM cards had to be custom-designed for the Nazis' purposes and that the cards "could only be designed, printed, and purchased from one source: IBM" are utterly false. A standard general-purpose Hollerith card -- with 80 columns and 12 rows of punch locations --- was introduced in 1928 and can be used for any data recording purpose. The Nazis did not need IBM's assistance or permission to use the Hollerith machines for any purpose. IBM USA had a German subsidiary that was perfectly capable of handling any details. And census-taking is a legitimate function for any government, though the Nazis overemphasized the Jewish data thing. It is not as though IBM had sold Zyklon B poison gas to the Nazis, for example.

I will not concede that the Nazis could have carried out a "systematic" Jewish holocaust even with modern electronic technology like modern computers and the Internet. A great deal of the data that the Nazis needed was simply either not available or was too hard to find. In many cases, the fact that many people had the same names would have created confusion. It was simply a case of GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) --- the quality of the output cannot be better than the quality of the input. I will concede that with DNA testing the Nazis would have been able to identify people with a common ancestry (DNA testing is used to test for American Indian ancestry to determine eligibility for tribal membership and associated benefits), but that issue is moot because DNA testing was not available to the Nazis. Also, I cannot understand why the Nazis did not immediately tattoo all Jews that they found so that those Jews would need to be identified only once --- apparently only concentration camp inmates were tattooed. There is an awful lot about official holocaust history that does not make any sense at all.

Here is the one book that claims to have solved the great mystery of how the Nazis identified the Jews -- and it fell flat on its face.

Labels:

13 Comments:

Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

> There is an awful lot about official holocaust history that does not make any sense at all. <

This thread does not make any sense at all.

You seem to be saying that since the number of Jews who were slaughtered can't be determined exactly, since some of the people slaughtered may not have been Jews, and some Jews may have escaped, there was no crime at all.

I ask again what is your point?

Why do you hate your ancestors that much, and is this a cause or effect of your current mania?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 7:47:00 AM  
Blogger jujuquisp said...

Larry is an antisemite and should be reported to the Dept. of Homeland Security.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 5:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> Larry is an antisemite <

He is an antisemite who is also a semite. This shows some of the conflict that is going on in what is claimed to be his brain.

This subject, which he is now running away from, has opened a window into his madness.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 9:47:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

jujuquisp said...

>>>>>Larry is an antisemite and should be reported to the Dept. of Homeland Security. <<<<<

You are full of crap, juju. Cite one anti-semitic statement I made -- just one.

Thursday, August 31, 2006 2:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

> Cite one anti-semitic statement I made -- just one. <

It is your position that is clearly anti-semitic.

Thursday, August 31, 2006 7:54:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

I agree with ViW's comment:

< This thread does not make any sense at all. >

It looks like Larry(?) has not only not read Mr. Black's book, he hasn't even read the accessible excerpts at Amazon or at the author's website.

Larry(?) also asserts:

> The book was generally panned by reviewers <

It's not clear what "reviewers" he is referring to. Amazon has two categories of reviewers -- "editorial" and "customer". The editorial reviews are favorable, and the customer reviews have an average score of 4.4 (approx.) out of 5, which is very good. Larry(?) seems to be relying on the New York Times' reviewers; but the NY Times lost its moral compass decades ago.

The book does not claim, BTW, that IBM had any interest in persecution per se, but only the banality of making sales quotas and helping their customer towards that end. IBM did however know enough about what was going on that they were obliged to halt their cooperation.

IBM's Watson was given Germany's second-highest award for his efforts.

Saturday, September 02, 2006 4:29:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said --

>>>>> It looks like Larry(?) has not only not read Mr. Black's book, he hasn't even read the accessible excerpts at Amazon or at the author's website. <<<<<

I read the book's introduction, and that was enough. If the introduction of the book cannot make a good case, then the rest of the book is not worth reading.

The author's website would of course not have any unfavorable reviews.

>>>>>It's not clear what "reviewers" he is referring to. Amazon has two categories of reviewers -- "editorial" and "customer". The editorial reviews are favorable, and the customer reviews have an average score of 4.4 <<<<<<

The "editorial" reviews on Amazon consist mostly of excerpts from the book itself.

As for the customers, they obviously did not know very much about data processing. As I discuss in my opening posts , the machines simply did not have the necessary data-processing capability, and a lot of the necessary data must have been unavailable or too hard to find. Also, even after the data is processed, the real people must be found. It was no big surprise that the former senior historian of the national holocaust museum said that there was no evidence that the machines were ever used to target individual Jews for deportation lists. People were just rounded up en masse -- there was neither the time nor the means for individual identification.

Another thing I am wondering about is why non-Jews were apparently unafraid of being mistaken for Jews.

>>>>> NY Times lost its moral compass decades ago. <<<<<

It's not a matter of moral compass. It's a matter of common sense. And IMO, the NY Times reviewers were much too charitable in their assessments of the book.

>>>>>> The book does not claim, BTW, that IBM had any interest in persecution per se, <<<<<

Here again is part of my opening post --

Also, another reviewer said,


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.

The "first point" above refers to the following statement in the book's introduction:


IBM, primarily through its German subsidiary, made Hitler's program of Jewish destruction a technologic mission the company pursued with chilling success. (emphasis added)



>>>>> IBM's Watson was given Germany's second-highest award for his efforts. <<<<<<

The Nazis found the IBM technology useful, but that doesn't mean that the technology was capable of doing what the book claimed it did.

Watson returned the award in 1940.

Saturday, September 02, 2006 7:36:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

Fake Larry(?):

You posted an article with the title, The absurd book "IBM and the Holocaust".

< I read the book's introduction, and that was enough. >

I would not try to write a book review based on reading part of the introduction. How superficial can you get?

< The "editorial" reviews on Amazon consist mostly of excerpts from the book itself. >

The word counts are as follows: Amazon's editorial reviews, 2170 words. Amazon's partial excerpt of the introduction, 1557 words. (No comment.)

< The author's website would of course not have any unfavorable reviews. >

The above is interesting. Although Black does cite reviews from leftist newspapers like the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, he in fact does not mention any reviews from the New York Times. Thank you again(!) for corroborating my point! (Or, as ViW might say, finding an acorn.)

Hey, Larry(?), I would like to offer you a deal: Stop referring to me as "Fake Dave", and I will stop addressing you as "Fake Larry(?)". OK?

Sunday, September 03, 2006 11:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

> Hey, Larry(?), I would like to offer you a deal: Stop referring to me as "Fake Dave", and I will stop addressing you as "Fake Larry(?)". OK? <

Come on Real Dave. You can't be that naive. Perhaps this was posted by Fake Larry(?) just to make you look like a fool?

Monday, September 04, 2006 7:25:00 AM  
Blogger Sophia Sadek said...

Thanks for the posting.

I realize that your primary issue lies with Black's conclusions on the use of the proto-computer in identifying victims for the holocaust. However, Black does provide a significant amount of detail on the internal business practices of IBM under Watson. Whether or not you agree with the conclusions of the study, the study does contain valuable historic information.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 1:45:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Sophia Sadek said...

>>>>> I realize that your primary issue lies with Black's conclusions on the use of the proto-computer in identifying victims for the holocaust. However, Black does provide a significant amount of detail on the internal business practices of IBM under Watson. Whether or not you agree with the conclusions of the study, the study does contain valuable historic information. <<<<<<<

Almost all of the criticism of the book has concerned IBM USA's business dealings with the Nazis, but Black's wild claims of the technological capabilities of the IBM Hollerith machines are actually much easier to attack. I also have some concerns about the book's claims about IBM USA's business relationships with the Nazis, particularly IBM USA's willingness and/or ability to continue doing business with the Nazis during WW2. It seems that even before the US officially entered WW2, Watson's 1940 return of the medal that Hitler gave him in 1937 would have effectively ended their business relationship.

I will soon write another article concerning the capabilities of the Hollerith machines.

Saturday, September 09, 2006 4:37:00 PM  
Blogger Sophia Sadek said...

The book goes into great detail on what transpired over the return of the medal. It wasn't practical for the Nazis to terminate their business with IBM, though they would have like to do so. Nor was it in the interest of IBM to close up shop in Nazi territory.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 3:17:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Sophia Sadek said...
>>>>>>> It wasn't practical for the Nazis to terminate their business with IBM, though they would have like to do so. Nor was it in the interest of IBM to close up shop in Nazi territory. <<<<<<<

It's easy to see why IBM USA didn't want to break off the relationship -- IBM USA had leased the machines rather than sold them and did not want to lose them. But it is easy to see why the Nazis wanted to break off the relationship -- IBM USA was no longer a dependable supplier. And IBM's German subsidiary Dehomag certainly seemed capable of carrying on independently. Dehomag was very experienced -- it acquired licenses to all the IBM patents in 1910 and became an IBM subsidiary in 1922. Germany was as technologically sophisticated as any country in the world -- for example, Germany was a pioneer in jet engines and rockets. Dehomag might have been dependent on IBM USA for some parts, probably parts that infrequently required replacement, but the Nazis had hundreds or thousands of the machines and any of the machines that could not be repaired could have been cannibalized for parts.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 4:32:00 PM  

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