IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation

EXPLOSIVE AND STUNNING. An explosive book… Backed by exhaustive research, Black’s case is simple and stunning: that IBM facilitated the identification and roundup of millions of Jews during the 12 years of the Third Reich… Black’s evidence may be the most damning to appear yet against a purported corporate accomplice.
– Michael Hirsh, Newsweek

BEYOND DISPUTE. Black clearly demonstrates that Nazi Germany employed IBM Hollerith punch-card machines to perform critical tasks in carrying out the Holocaust and the German war effort. He goes on to document that IBM managed to profit from Hitler’s state throughout its existence … Black establishes beyond dispute that IBM Hollerith machines significantly advanced Nazi efforts to exterminate Jewry … IBM and the Holocaust is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust.
– Christopher Simpson, Washington Post Book World

SHOCKING. Thomas Watson chose to tabulate the Nazi census, to accept Hitler’s medal, and to fight for control of Dehomag. And he made other equally indefensible choices in his years of doing a profitable business counting Jews for Hitler—choices that are described in IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black. This is a shocking book. With the help of more than a hundred researchers working in archives in the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, and Israel, Edwin Black has documented a sordid relationship between this great American company and the Third Reich, one that extended into the war years.
–Jack Beatty, The Atlantic

EXHAUSTIVE RESEARCH. With exhaustive research, Black makes the case that IBM and Watson conspired with Nazi Germany to help automate the genocide of Europe’s Jews … Black’s book is so enlightening [because] it paints a richly textured picture of how a man [Watson], and an entire company, can ignore all sense of morality while not once transgressing the lines of business ethics. If nothing else, this book should be required reading for every first-year MBA student.
–Sam Jaffe, Businessweek


IBM and the Holocaust is the stunning story of IBM’s strategic alliance with Nazi Germany—beginning in 1933, in the first weeks that Hitler came to power, and continuing throughout World War II. As the Third Reich embarked upon its plan of conquest and genocide, IBM and its subsidiaries helped create enabling technologies, step-by-step, from the identification and cataloging programs of the 1930s to the selections of the 1940s.

Only after Jews were identified—a massive and complex task that Hitler wanted done immediately—could they be targeted for efficient asset confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, enslaved labor, and, ultimately, annihilation. It was a cross-tabulation and organizational challenge so monumental, it called for a computer. Of course, in the 1930s no computer existed.

But IBM’s Hollerith punch card technology did exist. Aided by the company’s custom-designed and constantly updated Hollerith systems, Hitler was able to automate his persecution of the Jews. Historians have always been amazed at the speed and accuracy with which the Nazis were able to identify and locate European Jewry. Until now, the pieces of this puzzle have never been fully assembled. The fact is, IBM technology was used to organize nearly everything in Germany and then Nazi Europe, from the identification of the Jews in censuses, registrations, and ancestral tracing programs to the running of railroads and organizing of concentration camp slave labor.

IBM and its German subsidiary custom-designed complex solutions, one by one, anticipating the Reich’s needs. They did not merely sell the machines and walk away. Instead, IBM leased these machines for high fees and became the sole source of the billions of punch cards Hitler needed.

IBM and the Holocaust takes you through the carefully crafted corporate collusion with the Third Reich, as well as the structured deniability of oral agreements, undated letters, and the Geneva intermediaries—all undertaken as the newspapers blazed with accounts of persecution and destruction.

Just as compelling is the human drama of one of our century’s greatest minds, IBM founder Thomas Watson, who cooperated with the Nazis for the sake of profit.

Only with IBM’s technologic assistance was Hitler able to achieve the staggering numbers of the Holocaust. Edwin Black has now uncovered one of the last great mysteries of Germany’s war against the Jews—how did Hitler get the names?


IBM and the Holocaust is available from Amazon, Amazon-CA, Amazon-UK, B&N, and other fine booksellers worldwide. Investigative journalist and historian Edwin Black is the author of Banking on Baghdad, BP and the Redline Agreement, The Farhud, Financing the Flames, IBM and the Holocaust, Internal Combustion, Nazi Nexus, The Plan, The Transfer Agreement, War Against the Weak, and a 1999 novel, Format C: