IBM involvement w/ Germany during WWII (was Re: Christie's auction...)

From: Tom Jennings <>
Date: Sun Feb 20 16:10:58 2005

On Sun, 20 Feb 2005, Eric Smith wrote:

> So the US Government allowed IBM to lease equipment and sell cards
> to the Axis powers during the war? This seems hard to believe.
> I wouldn't have thought that the US would have exported *anything* to
> the Axis (other than munitions), even things as mundane as pencils or
> paperclips.
> Since IBM Deutchland manufactured equipment locally, I would have
> thought that it was operating autonomously during the war, without
> support from IBM headquarters.

I'd like to add -- at utterly no defense to IBM or the nationalist
gov't -- that it's not like there was a bright line between "nazi"
and non- germany.

Also, both entities are large and multifacted, with many sub-orgs
with various degrees of autonomy (obviously german govt bigger).
Some IBM offices merely fronts for IBM-US, some totally
autonomous, most likely in-between.

Sales to some innocuous and obscure German office, say... 1930,
1935, 1938, ... OK at some point -- especially in hind-sight --
you can say "OK I refuse to do business with this government" but
(1) going forward it's not so easy and (2) businesses are almost
universally structured to isolate decision-making from such
meaninless trivia such as that (sarcasm, no flames please). In
1935, OK, you "didn't know", 1940, ahem, are you in a coma?

Somebody's selling computer gear, 12V batteries, dog-handling
gear, etc to the secretive fascist creeps running Abu Graib and
Guantanemo, but I suppose that's OK because it's us.
Received on Sun Feb 20 2005 - 16:10:58 GMT

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