ARMONK, NY - 14 Feb 2001: A recently published book, as well as a recently filed lawsuit* against the company, speculate on the uses of Hollerith equipment by the Nazi government and IBM's role.
IBM and its employees around the world find the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime abhorrent and categorically condemn any actions which aided their unspeakable acts.
It has been known for decades that the Nazis used Hollerith equipment and that IBM's German subsidiary during the 1930s -- Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen GmbH (Dehomag) -- supplied Hollerith equipment. As with hundreds of foreign-owned companies that did business in Germany at that time, Dehomag came under the control of Nazi authorities prior to and during World War II. It is also widely known that Thomas J. Watson, Sr., received and subsequently repudiated and returned a medal presented to him by the German government for his role in global economic relations. These well-known facts appear to be the primary underpinning for these recent allegations.
IBM does not have much information about this period or the operations of Dehomag. Most documents were destroyed or lost during the war. The documents that did exist were placed in the public domain some time ago to assist research and historical scholarship. The records were transferred from the company's New York and German operations to New York University and Hohenheim University in Stuttgart, Germany -- two highly respected institutions with the appropriate credentials to be custodians of these records. Independent academic experts at these universities now supervise access to the documents by researchers and historians.
The lawsuit was filed against IBM over the weekend, apparently timed to coincide with the publication of the book. The lawsuit appears largely to be based on the claims contained in the book. Based on everything the company has seen to date, there appear to be no new facts or findings that bear on this important issue and period.
IBM takes the allegations made by the author and the plaintiffs very seriously, and looks forward to and will fully cooperate with appropriate scholarly assessments of the historical record.
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*The lawsuit has been dismissed.