Book Links IBM To Holocaust

U.S. computer giant IBM has alerted its employees about an upcoming book detailing the company's role in helping Nazis carry out the Holocaust, according to an internal company message.

The book, by Washington-based researcher Edwin Black, is titled IBM and the Holocaust. It claims that punch-card machines built by IBM were a key factor enabling the Nazis to make their killing operations more efficient.

The allegations are also the focus of a lawsuit reportedly filed against IBM in New York, but the company hasn't yet seen either the book or the lawsuit and isn't commenting in detail, Ian Colley, IBM's European spokesman in Paris, said Monday.

"If this book points to new and verifiable information that advances understanding of this tragic era, IBM will examine it and ask that appropriate scholars and historians do the same," the company said in its statement to employees last week.

IBM's German subsidiary during the Nazi era, Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen GmbH, was taken over by the Nazis. A machine made by the company - believed to have been used in the 1933 German census, the year the Nazis took power - is on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

The German division, which after the war became IBM Germany, has paid into Germany's government-industry initiative to compensate people forced to work for the Nazis during the war.

Colley said IBM itself has turned over all its information on the company's Nazi-era operations to universities.

"We obviously find anything to do with the Nazi regime abhorrent and will be the first to condemn the activities of anyone who was associated with the Nazi regime," Colley said.