Sunday, August 25, 2019

IBM and the Holocaust Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1500 words

IBM and the Holocaust - Essay Example IBM’s German subsidiary, called Dehomag, once put up a poster in German whose translation to English meant â€Å"see everything with Hollerith punch cards.† This poster, while at the time simply advertising the importance of punch cards in capturing individuals’ information, have been found to have been the reason why the Nazis found it easy to carry out mass murders of the minority groups in Germany. Dehomag is the acronym for the company Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft (German Hollerith Machine Corporation); a company established in 1910 by Willy Heidinger. Heidinger later sold the company to American industrialist Charles Flint. Through various stages of acquisitions, Dehomag eventually became a direct subsidiary of CTR which was later renamed to International Business Machines in 1924 (Jeffery, 2001). The idea of punch cards had been conceived by Herman Hollerith about the year 1880. Hollerith was working for the US Census Bureau. The punch cards were basically readable cards with perforations in a standardized pattern. Every perforation represented a given piece of information about the individual such as their nationality, occupation, gender, and so on. The traits could be easily sorted out to give the desired picture of a given population. For example, gender could be used to divide the country into males and females (Hayes, 2000). Adolf Hitler and the chief executive officer of IBM Thomas J. Watson are two of the people most famously accused of the genocide in Nazi Germany. While Hitler broadcasted his hate messages against the Jews (and other races), he found fanatics among great men such as Henry Ford and Thomas Watson. With IBM’s presence in Germany and with Hitler at the helm, it was not by chance that Watson fueled Hitler’s aims. While, in my opinion, Watson and IBM are victims of circumstances, their role in the holocaust shall remain significant. If they had turned down Germany’s use of punch cards, they would not have prevented the holocaust since Germany would have obtained the technology anyway.

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