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

From: Lyle Bickley <>
Date: Sun Feb 20 16:49:30 2005

Eric is correct - IBM Germany was independent - and this is a well documented

However, before the U.S. entered WW II (1937), Watson Sr. was invited to visit
Berlin for the Internation Chamber of Commerce. Watson was awarded the Cross
of Merit, Germany's second highest honor for foreigners. The medal was a
gold and white enamel cross adorned in each corner by a German Eagle resting
on a swastika. The award was given "In your work for the International
Chamber of Commerce, you have also worked for Germany". The medal came to
haunt both IBM and Watson Sr. as the true goals of the Nazis came to be

During in the War, Willy Heidinger, the head of IBM's German subsidiary, and
Watson, Sr. became bitter adversaries.

For an excellent (non-biased) look at IBM during the War years you might want
to read "The Maverick and his Machine" by Kevin Maney - a history of Thomas
Watson, Sr. and the making of IBM. Of the several books I've read on the
history of IBM, I consider it the best.


On Sunday 20 February 2005 11:00, Eric Smith wrote:
> James Cosper wrote:
> > Basically it's saying that IBM had contracts with the US Gov for
> > advanced computing equipment during the war.
> >
> > That they leased the same or similar equipment to Germany, and to each
> > country that Germany took over, specifically for doing the Census,
> > Banking, controlling industrial inventory and computing train schedules.
> 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.
> Eric

Lyle Bickley
Bickley Consulting West Inc.
"Black holes are where God is dividing by zero"
Received on Sun Feb 20 2005 - 16:49:30 GMT

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