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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.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

More about the "IBM and the Holocaust" fraud

In the introduction to "IBM and the Holocaust," author Edwin Black said that the display of IBM Hollerith machines at the US Holocaust Museum was what inspired him to write the book, which claimed that the machines were used to identify all the Jews of Europe. He wrote, "What made me demand answers to the unasked questions about IBM and the Holocaust? I confronted the reality of IBM's involvement one day in 1993 in Washington at the United States Holocaust Museum." According to an article in the Washington Jewish Week, Sybil Milton, a former senior historian at the museum, said that she recommended the Hollerith exhibit "to convey the unfeeling bureaucracies at work during the Holocaust" (indeed, the slogan "don't fold, bend, spindle, or mutilate" that was printed on IBM Hollerith cards was once a metaphor for unfeeling bureaucracies). But she also said, "We have no proof that the Hollerith was ever used to target individuals for deportation lists. It was a back-up system because it was too broad a system, providing aggregate counts of population groups." Another Washington Jewish Week article quoted her as saying, "We were never out to harass any corporation. The aim here was to tell a story of how people, companies and even foreign companies are made complicit for multiple reasons in a process that would have taken place, perhaps, more slowly, but certainly would have happened in Nazi Germany."

An introduction to an interview of Edwin Black concerning the book said of the controversy over the book,

The range of the controversy can be gleaned from the pages of BusinessWeek alone, which in a March review excoriated the "illogical, overstated, padded, and sloppy" book for fostering "a new myth -- the automated Holocaust," and in an April commentary said the "enlightening" book "should be required reading for every first-year MBA student."

Black said in the interview, "Much of what could do with a computer during the late 20th century could be done with Hollerith machines, but slower." But the Hollerith machines were just not capable of identifying all the Jews of Europe, regardless of how much time was allowed. The machines could just handle comparatively small batches of cards at a time and could not correlate data on the billions of cards scattered across Europe. I found some descriptions of Hollerith machines and their functions -- some of these machines were probably more advanced than those the Nazis had. The "Tabulating Machine," for example, described as the largest and most complex Hollerith machine, was not capable of correlating data on different cards -- it could just read the card data and add them, subtract them, print tabulated reports, etc.. One machine with the ability to correlate data on batches of cards, the "Collator," which could merge and match cards, was described as "the most cursed" of the Hollerith machines: "Card jams were a mechanical nightmare requiring partial disassembly to extract mutilated cards. Read brushes were often ruined." There were other problems with this scheme of Jew identification, like finding the data for the cards and finding the people connected with the cards, but I need not go into those problems here. Anyway, this description of the Hollerith machines is a far cry from what Black described in his book: "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." How come IBM did not defend itself by saying that the Hollerith machines were incapable of doing what the book says they did?

Black also said in the interview,

Remember, IBM custom-designed the machines, custom-designed the applications and custom-printed the punch cards. There were no universal punch cards or machine wiring. Programs to identify Jews, Jewish bank accounts, barrels of oil, Luftwaffe flights, welfare payments, train schedules into camps, and even the concentration camp information -- all these had to be tailored for each application.

Wrong. As I noted in a previous post, IBM introduced universal (general-purpose) cards around 1928. The machines had a limited number of functions -- described above -- and did not need and could not have used custom-designing. Some cards intended for special applications had custom printing on them, but this printing was not necessary -- the Hollerith machines read the holes, not the ink.

Nor were the Nazis necessarily dependent on IBM USA for technical assistance and/or parts. IBM USA's German subsidiary Dehomag was very experienced -- Dehomag's founder acquired licenses to all of IBM's patents in 1910 and IBM took over Dehomag in 1922. The Nazis had hundreds or even thousands of the Hollerith machines and broken-down machines could have been cannibalized for parts. For comparison, American cars from the 1950's are still being used in Cuba.

It is obvious that controversy over IBM's role in the holocaust has focused on the IBM USA's business relationships with the Nazis and has largely ignored questions of the Hollerith machines' technological capabilities.

And I am still wondering where Black got those 100 "volunteer" researchers who helped him write the book. This is not the kind of work most people would want to do for a hobby. And then Black gets all the publicity and all the income.

Edwin Black is a charlatan, not a historian.

So far as I know, this book is the only publication that has addressed the question of how the Nazis could have reliably distinguished Jews from non-Jews according to the Nazi definition of the word "Jew" -- and the book fell flat on its face.

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15 Comments:

Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

Another pointless post. It is a good thing for you that your aged parents are willing to support you so you can keep up your hobby.

> So far as I know, this book is the only publication that has addressed the question of how the Nazis could have reliably distinguished Jews from non-Jews according to the Nazi definition of the word "Jew" <

Possibly because the answer is too obvious to rate a book.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 8:38:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

> As I noted in a previous post, IBM introduced universal (general-purpose) cards around 1928. The machines had a limited number of functions -- described above -- and did not need and could not have used custom-designing. Some cards intended for special applications had custom printing on them ... <

Yes, Larry(?), the cards were "general-purpose", but their columns were application-specific. The "custom printing" was for the convenience of human readers, but reflected an underlying design that IBM engineers helped create.

This distinction is analogous to our current "general-purpose" computers (like the one I'm using) versus the database architecture and the software applications that actually make them useful.

Incidentally, I've ordered a copy of Black's book and plan to review it on Amazon after I read it.

The Business Week commentary link you provided really is quite extraordinary (I agree it should be "required reading"). I even bookmarked it, which I don't do very often.

Monday, September 11, 2006 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

BTW, I suggest you actually read the articles you link to, before titling or composing your posts.

I can believe that Black may have exaggerated some (TBD), but that does not justify the word "fraud" in your thread title.

Monday, September 11, 2006 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

>>>So far as I know, this book is the only publication that has addressed the question of how the Nazis could have reliably distinguished Jews from non-Jews according to the Nazi definition of the word "Jew"<<<

Gee, I did a quick survey over a week ago at my local Borders (they didn't have Black in stock). Quite a number of them went into how Jews were identified (note: "identity" has a very specific meaning in sociology and anthropology - trying to search Google with that in the criteria is basically useless). IEEE-Computing has several articles from the 90's that deal with the role of the Hollerith machine and how it (was/may have been) used to identify Jews.

Have you ever actually read the book? Refusal to answer this question WILL be taken as admission to not reading the book. I'm not talking reading the intro or some excerpts. I'm talking cover to cover.

(side note: my internet has been out at home for nearly two weeks, so it has been difficult to get online)

Monday, September 11, 2006 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

< I'm not talking reading the intro or some excerpts. I'm talking cover to cover. >

One of the customer reviews on Amazon says:

Mr. Black makes an even stronger statement. "So if you intend to skim, or rely on selected sections, do not read the book at all." I took him at his word, and did not even read the book quickly. I also arranged to read it in several sittings, so I could think about what I had read in between. I recommend that you do the same.

Monday, September 11, 2006 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said --

>>>>>the cards were "general-purpose", but their columns were application-specific.
<<<<<

Whaddya mean, the columns were "application-specific"? The cards had 80 columns with 12 punch locations each and could be used for any application. Originally the codes for 80 different characters were recognized. Also, the machines might have accepted unrecognized code combinations for purposes other than printed tabulations -- I don't know.

>>>>>>This distinction is analogous to our current "general-purpose" computers (like the one I'm using) versus the database architecture and the software applications that actually make them useful. <<<<<<

Some things -- like ASCII and EBCDIC binary codes for data -- are standardized among different computers and different software programs. 3½ inch floppy discs are standardized -- they can be used in both IBM PC's and Mac's. The cards used in the Hollerith machines were standardized.

>>>>> I can believe that Black may have exaggerated some (TBD), but that does not justify the word "fraud" in your thread title. <<<<<<

"Exaggerated some"? Here is how he described these prehistoric machines: "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." And the book's introduction does not minimally substantiate its serious charge that "IBM, primarily through its German subsidiary, made Hitler's program of Jewish destruction a technologic mission the company pursued with chilling success."

>>>>> Mr. Black makes an even stronger statement. "So if you intend to skim, or rely on selected sections, do not read the book at all." <<<<<

Why should I read the whole darn book when I am primarily interested in the technological capabilities of the machines? And why should I spend money on the book and read the main part of the book when the introduction does not make a good case for the book?

Kevin Vicklund said --
>>>>> Gee, I did a quick survey over a week ago at my local Borders (they didn't have Black in stock). Quite a number of them went into how Jews were identified <<<<<

Well, Kevin, it looks like you may be starting to take my holocaust revisionism seriously.

>>>>> IEEE-Computing has several articles from the 90's that deal with the role of the Hollerith machine and how it (was/may have been) used to identify Jews. <<<<<

Does Black's book cite any of those articles? Sybil Milton, a former senior historian at the national holocaust museum, said, "We have no proof that the Hollerith was ever used to target individuals for deportation lists." Does Black review any of her work?

Monday, September 11, 2006 3:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

Fake Larry(?) said...

> Also, the machines might have accepted unrecognized code combinations for purposes other than printed tabulations -- I don't know. <

It is quite obvious that you don't know. Then why try to comment on it out of ignorance.

> Why should I read the whole darn book ... <

Because then you would not appear to be such an idiot when you attempt to comment on it.

> Well, Kevin, it looks like you may be starting to take my holocaust revisionism seriously. <

His comment sounds like the opposite.

> Does Black's book cite any of those articles? <

Read it and find out.

> Does Black review any of her work? <

Perhaps he only read the introduction. As far as you are concerned, that is all that is necessary.

Monday, September 11, 2006 5:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

The History Channel has an interesting program today. It goes into how the Nazis collected Jews. It was diabolically simple.

In some cases the gestapo would go out and find someone who looked Jewish, like Larry(?) for example. They would then ask them their name: "Larry Fafarman", a Jewish name. Sometimes they would just shoot them on the spot but other times they would take them to a spot where a trench had already been dug and line them up there to shoot them. One Nazi claimed that he couldn't eat breakfast until he had killed a Jew Another took great interest in the patterns in which numbers of Jews fell into the trench.

Let's face it Larry(?). In another time and place you would have become a lampshade yet you are quibbling about exact numbers.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 7:44:00 AM  
Anonymous W. Kevin Vicklund said...

>>>Why should I read the whole darn book when I am primarily interested in the technological capabilities of the machines? And why should I spend money on the book and read the main part of the book when the introduction does not make a good case for the book?<<<

Because until you know exactly how he is claiming the Hollerith machines were used, how the heck do you know that the Hollerith machine is technologically incapable of doing what he claims it did? Given my knowledge of Hollerith machines and the online introduction, it appears quite possible that the Hollerith machines were technologically adequate to perform the tasks Black may be assigning to them. But that assumes certain conditions, and it's also not immediately apparent from the intro that IBM (New York office) was knowingly complicit.

>>>Well, Kevin, it looks like you may be starting to take my holocaust revisionism seriously.<<<

No, I was curious to see if your scholarship was its usual shoddy crap. Once again, it's immediately apparent that you are relying on the "I haven't bothered to actually research my complaints" meme. Your arguments have as much integrity as wet tissue paper. You're "questioning" the "establishment" while sticking you fingers in your ears, screwing your eyes closed, and shouting LALALALA at the top of your lungs.

>>>Does Black's book cite any of those articles? Sybil Milton, a former senior historian at the national holocaust museum, said, "We have no proof that the Hollerith was ever used to target individuals for deportation lists." Does Black review any of her work?<<<

Without a bibliography, I can't tell for sure. However, I do know that prior to the publication of "IBM and the Holocaust", Edwin Black was one of the translators for "The Nazi Census: Identification and Control in the Third Reich" (released for publication in 2004, first available un-corrected in 2000 to at least one researcher), and the untranslated 1984 German source was one of the primary documents used by the IEEE article.

(good news: my phone line has been repaired - I assume that means I have internet at home)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Kevin Vicklund said,

>>>>>Because until you know exactly how he is claiming the Hollerith machines were used, how the heck do you know that the Hollerith machine is technologically incapable of doing what he claims he claims it did? <<<<<

Here is how Black claims the machines were used:

One reviewer quoted the book as saying,

"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,"

Another reviewer said,

Struggling to force his evidence into a box in which it does not fit, Black ratchets up his rhetoric. We thus read a good many sentences in which punch cards bearing Jewish names are said to be ''clicking and rattling'' or ''thudding'' or whooshing ''faster and faster'' through ''the huffing machines of the Third Reich like tiny high-speed mechanized breaths rapidly inhaled and exhaled one time and one time only.'' Such overblown writing would cause even a techno-thriller to stall and crash to earth.

I have explained why it is obvious that the machines did not come anywhere near having the above capabilities that Black described. The machines could only perform simple operations on small batches of cards at a time -- adding, subtracting, and tabulating the data on the cards and sorting, matching and merging cards. Only some of the machines -- the sorting, matching and merging machines -- could correlate data on different cards. The machines were slow sequential-access machines, not random-access machines. These machines were as slow as molasses in a winter cold snap at the South Pole -- it's infinitely worse than trying to "surf" the Internet with a 300 bps modem. The collating machine, which could match and merge cards, was unreliable. The machines were apparently not programmable. The machines could not network with the thousands of other machines scattered across Europe. There is no way that the cards could have correlated data stored on billions of cards across Europe. And as I said, there are the additional problems that a lot of the data for the cards was not available or was too hard to find and that the people would often have been difficult to find. These facts are entirely consistent with the statement of a prominent holocaust historian that there was no evidence that the machines were used to identify individuals for deportation lists. Black has created the myth of a high-tech holocaust.

>>>>> Given my knowledge of Hollerith machines and the online introduction, it appears quite possible that the Hollerith machines were technologically adequate to perform the tasks Black may be assigning to them. >>>>>>

What knowledge of Hollerith machines? You have not even acknowledged that the cards did not have to be -- and could not be -- custom-designed for each application.

>>>>>Edwin Black was one of the translators for "The Nazi Census: Identification and Control in the Third Reich" (released for publication in 2004, first available un-corrected in 2000 to at least one researcher), <<<<<

This possibly came too late to be included in the book.

>>>>>> (good news: my phone line has been repaired - I assume that means I have internet at home) <<<<<<

Good news for you but bad news for me -- it means that I will again be bombarded by your often-ridiculous comments.

You said several months ago that you were going to counter all of my criticisms of the Kitzmiller v. Dover opinion -- but so far, nearly nothing.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 6:33:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

BTW, I should not have said or implied that none of the past criticisms of the book have concerned the Hollerith machines' technological capabilities. One review does raise this issue:

Black, in any case, never discusses whether I.B.M.'s trading relationship with the Nazis was thicker or thinner than that of other multinational companies. At the same time, he greatly exaggerates the significance of I.B.M.'s contribution, asserting that, as the war progressed, ''eventually, every Nazi combat order, bullet and troop movement was tracked on an I.B.M. punch card system.'' Every bullet? It is, moreover, simply not meaningful to declare, as Black does, that by 1939 or thereabouts, Germany, using Hollerith machines, ''had automated virtually its entire economy.'' One would not say such a thing even about our own highly computerized economy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 6:58:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice In The Wilderness said,

>>>>>In some cases the gestapo would go out and find someone who looked Jewish, like Larry(?) for example. They would then ask them their name: "Larry Fafarman", a Jewish name. <<<<<<

Yeah, along with names like Eichmann, Rosenberg, Koch, and the names of assorted other Nazi leaders listed here. Eichmann even looks Jewish.

Jesse Jackson thought that Nixon aides Haldeman and Ehrlichman were Jewish.

I didn't even know that former NYC mayor Edward Koch was Jewish until some Southern mayor called him a "Jew bastard" for describing a NYC racial incident as reminiscent of the South.

You are so full of crap it is coming out your ears, VIW.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 8:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

> Yeah, along with names like Eichmann, Rosenberg, Koch, and the names of assorted other Nazi leaders listed here. They may have gone to the Eichmann even looks Jewish. <

You look Jewish. By all standards except your own choice, you are Jewish. Perhaps that is because all of your ancestors are Jewish. The bottom line is that you would have been lampshade fodder by any standard the Nazis may have used.

> I didn't even know that former NYC mayor Edward Koch was Jewish until... <

There is a vast amount of information that is known by nearly everyone except you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 8:36:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Fafarman said...

I received my copy of Black's book the other day and have looked at it a bit. It's too soon to comment in detail, but I am now even more irritated at Larry(?)'s facile, handwaving dismissal of its extensive research (62 pages of endnotes and 12 pages of sources).

There are two rather telling illustrations. One, in the book, is a Dehomag advertising poster with a big eye and a punched card that says, "Übersicht mit Hollerith Lochkarten" ("Oversight with Hollerith punched cards"). The other, in a newspaper clipping, is a photo of a meeting between Hitler and Thomas Watson, and four Chamber of Commerce board members. Not bad for equipment that was as inept as Larry(?) contends.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006 5:00:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Fake Dave said --

>>>>>> I received my copy of Black's book the other day and have looked at it a bit. <<<<<

You're kidding. You wasted your money on that piece of garbage?

>>>>> It's too soon to comment in detail, but I am now even more irritated at Larry(?)'s facile, handwaving dismissal of its extensive research (62 pages of endnotes and 12 pages of sources). <<<<<<

I suppose that the book might be of interest to people who are interested in IBM's business dealings with Hitler. But as some critics of the book have pointed out, IBM was not necessarily more culpable than other companies that did business with Hitler.

>>>>> The other, in a newspaper clipping, is a photo of a meeting between Hitler and Thomas Watson, and four Chamber of Commerce board members. <<<<<<

Yes, I also saw a picture of Watson with Hitler.

>>>>> Not bad for equipment that was as inept as Larry(?) contends. <<<<<

It was the best technology available to Hitler, but that does not mean it was very effective. What Hitler really needed was DNA testing.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 4:49:00 AM  

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