How IBM helped automate the nazi death machine

March 15th, 2012   |   No Comments   |   1930 – 1950

IBM’s strategic alliance with Nazi Germany started in 1933 when Hitler came to power and continuing well into 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.

IBM poster "See everything with Hollerith punchcards" 1934

IBM poster "See everything with Hollerith punchcards" 1934

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