Nazi Germany Requires Jews to Register all Property and Wealth Hot

Nazi Germany Requires Jews to Register all Property and Wealth

Deporting Polish Jews to Ghettos

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In Nazi Germany, Jews are required to register all property with the government worth more than 5,000 Reichsmarks (about $2,000).

This allows the Nazis to develop an accurate picture of how much wealth in Germany is controlled by Jews. IBM Hollerith machines with special IBM punch cards are used to tabulate the assets: who has what and where it can be found.

This will make it possible for the Nazis to quickly and efficiently confiscate all of the property when they begin deporting the Jews to extermination camps — through the use of these earliest computers, the Nazi government has all the information it needs.

The importance of IBM's German subsidiary Dehomag and the IBM machines in the Nazi persecution of Jews, as well as their later extermination efforts, probably cannot be underestimated. IBM's Hollerith machines and their punch cards allow the Nazis to figure out who was and was not Jewish, to trace people's racial lineage, to calculate how much they own, to track their movements, and much more.

By mid-1944, the Nazis will have Hollerith Departments (Hollerith Abteilung) "installed at the main concentration camps at Mauthausen, Ravensbrück, Flossenbürg and Buchenwald."

The SS Hollerith cards include codes for the grounds for confinement (Jehovah's Witness = 01, homosexuals = 02, Jews = 05), birth date, gender, ethnicity (Reich German = 0, Ethnic German = 1, Foreigner = 2), labor capacity, occupation, and reason for departure (i.e. execution = 3, escape = 4, special treatment = 6).

This information is sorted and tabulated to make the administration of the massive camp system possible. Dachau alone will be using 24 IBM machines by the end of the war. These machines are, in many ways, both the origin of the "surveillance society" and an example of everyone's fears about what happens when powerful authoritarians have too much access to too much information about us.

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IBM and the Nazis

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