IBM and the Holocaust

IBM and the Holocaust

Investigative journalist and author Edwin Black was Wednesday referring all inquiries about reports that Brad Pitt plans to make a movie of his 2001 bestseller “IBM and the Holocaust” to his agents at William Morris. But in a telephone interview with The Times of Israel, Black said his meticulously documented tale of the computer giant’s key role in enabling the Holocaust holds vital lessons for today about the dangers of corporate complicity in genocide.

Specifically, as the Iranian regime speeds toward a nuclear bomb, Black said, corporations complicit with Tehran included Nokia Siemens, “which provided the cellphone tracking codes to the Iranian regime” as it suppressed the Green Revolution in 2009, as well as “the multi-national banks financing the acquisition of nuclear equipment, and the manufacturers providing the technology to produce a nuclear bomb.”

Brad Pit at Cannes in May, 2012 (photo credit: CC-BY Georges Biard/Wikipedia Commons)

Brad Pitt at Cannes in May 2012 (photo credit: CC-BY Georges Biard/Wikipedia Commons)

Pitt has reportedly held the film option for the “IBM and the Holocaust” for some years, and it was in development at HBO. Now, though, it is said to be back with Pitt, for possible development as a feature film.

Black said all of his projects would make good movies because of his insistence on factual integrity. “IBM and the Holocaust,” he said, exposed what had been “the overlooked saga of how an American corporation became a central player in the Holocaust in all six phases.” He listed these as “the identification of the Jews; their exclusion from society; the confiscation of their assets; their ghettoization; their deportation; and even many parts of the extermination of the Jews.”

IBM, he noted, “had a customer site, known as the Hollerith Department, in almost every concentration camp” to sort or process punch cards and track prisoners. IBM also “opened subsidiaries in Europe in cadence with the Nazis.”

Edwin Black (photo credit: Courtesy)

Edwin Black (photo credit: Courtesy)

Black’s book details IBM’s strategic alliance with the Nazis starting from 1933, soon after Adolf Hitler came to power, and continuing deep into World War II. “As the Third Reich embarked upon its plan of conquest and genocide, IBM and its subsidiaries helped create enabling technologies, step-by-step,” according to the book’s official website. “IBM technology was used to organize nearly everything in Germany and then Nazi Europe, from the identification of the Jews in censuses, registrations, and ancestral tracing programs to the running of railroads and organizing of concentration camp slave labor.”

Reports in recent days have suggested that Pitt might star in the movie as well as producing it, and it has been reported that various A-list directors and actors are being contacted over possible roles in the production.