How IBM Helped the Holocaust: A Discussion at SMU on Wednesday

Any discussion of the Holocaust is a necessarily sensitive one, with the capacity to get tense. Toss in the possibility of an American technology giant working in collusion with the Nazis to track the inhabitants of the death camps, and you've got the makings for one intriguing and possibly uncomfortable discussion.

That's the premise of investigative journalist Edwin Black's 2001 book IBM and the Holocuast, which he will be discussing at 7 p.m. Wednesday at SMU's Hughes-Triggs Student Center, as part of the school's Embrey Human Rights Program. (News broke this fall that Brad Pitt is developing a movie based on the book.)

Black's book traces the early history of IBM as a provider of census-taking technology, and reconstructs how that technology was used by the Germans during World War II, despite other corporation's worldwide boycotts of the Nazi regime.

As you might imagine, IBM is none too happy about being linked to a genocide, and has done everything from sternly question Black's research to having the German branch of their company quietly pay into the Germany-based Holocaust victims compensation fund.

It should be fascinating to hear Black explain his research, methodology and conclusions on the whole thing plus the event is free and open to the public. It might make a Mac person out of you yet.

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