More about the "IBM and the Holocaust" fraud
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.
Labels: Holocaust revisionism (2 of 2)