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April 3, 2012

Code 6 was for the gas chamber — New book by Edwin Black about IBM and Holocaust

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:14 am

An Op-Ed article entitled New Documents: IBM’s Pivotal Role in Helping the Nazis, which you can read here, tells about Edwin Black’s new book Nazi Nexus: America’s Corporate Connections to Hitler’s Holocaust (Dialog Press).  I have not read the new book, which has just been released, but I did purchase and read Edwin Black’s original book IBM and the Holocaust.

This is a very complicated subject that is hard to understand, so here is the gist of it in plain words: No IBM punch card was made for a prisoner in a concentration camp until that prisoner was registered in one of the camps and given a prisoner ID number.  Most of the Jews, who were gassed, were taken immediately to the gas chamber after they got off the transport train, before they could have been registered, so there was no punch card ever made for them.  So Code 6 was only coded on a punch card after a prisoner had been admitted to a camp. Code 6 was also used for prisoners who were “evacuated” from a camp after having been registered.  The purpose of using coded punch cards was to keep track of the prisoners and their work skills so that they could be transferred from one camp to another to work.  Code 6 meant that a prisoner had left a camp, by means of “special handling,” or by being “evacuated.”  The words “gassed to death” were never used by the Nazis.

This quote is from the Op-Ed article about the new book:

The new expanded edition contains 32 pages of never-before-published internal IBM correspondence, State Department and Justice Department memos, and concentration camp documents that graphically chronicle IBM’s actions and what they knew during the Hitler regime.

IBM and Thomas J. Watson committed genocide by any standard. It was never about the anti-Semitism. It was never about the National Socialism. It was always about the money. Business was their middle name.

Before there was Computer Science, there was Data Processing.  Before Computers, there was the Hollerith machine.  A Hollerith machine could be “programmed” by wiring a removable board in the machine, so as to sort punch cards according to what you were searching for.  Holes were punched in cards with a “keypunch” machine that looked something like a typewriter.  Keypunching was a hard job because one could not make a mistake: once the card was punched, you could not correct a mistake.  I know all this because, way back in the dark ages, I studied Data Processing in college and actually keypunched a set of punch cards many times. The cards were then fed into a Hollerith machine which I had personally wired.  This was in the 1960ies.  The Germans were very advanced because they were using this early technology in 1943; the Nazis leased equipment from IBM, starting before World War II began.

In his book IBM and the Holocaust, Edwin Black wrote that the code for “death in the gas chamber” was F-6.  Did the Nazis really punch a code for “death in the gas chamber” into punch cards that were sorted by a Hollerith machine?  No, of course not.  They weren’t that stupid.  The code F-6 was for  Sonderbehandlung which was abbreviated SB.

The Nazis always spoke in euphemisms: transportation to an extermination camp was called “transportation to the East.”  Shoving Jews into the gas chamber was called Sonderbehandlung which is translated as “special treatment.”  A Jewish helper who escorted the Jews into the gas chamber and then removed the bodies was called a Sonderkommando.

Did the Nazis ever worry about being caught?  No, they covered their tracks by destroying the evidence.

According to the Auschwitz Museum, no records of the number of prisoners who died at Auschwitz-Birkenau have ever been found.

In an article on the official Auschwitz website, Franciszek Piper, the former director of the Auschwitz Museum,  wrote the following:

When the Soviet army entered the camp on January 27, 1945, they did not find any German documents there giving the number of victims, or any that could be used as a basis for calculating this number. Such documents (transport lists, notifications of the arrival of transports, reports about the outcome of selection) had been destroyed before liberation. For this reason, the Soviet commission investigating the crimes committed in Auschwitz Concentration Camp had to make estimates.  […]

The absence of the most important of the statistical sources that the Germans kept in Auschwitz made it practically impossible for historians to research the issue of the number of victims. The reluctance to research this issue also resulted from a conviction of the impossibility of drawing up a full list of transports reflecting the total number of deportees, and above all of the people who were consumed by the gas chambers and crematoria with no registration or records.

According to Edwin Black’s original book IBM and the Holocaust, prisoners were not tracked with an IBM punch card until they were registered in a camp, so there are no records of those who arrived at Auschwitz, but were not registered.   The Jews who were gassed immediately upon arrival were not registered, so there is no way to know how many were gassed, except by counting the number of deaths that were coded F-6.  Of the millions of Hollerith punch cards used by the Nazis, only around 100,000 of these cards survived the war, according to Edwin Black’s book IBM and the Holocaust.

What happened to all the punch cards which documented the gassing of the Jews?  They were either destroyed by the Nazis, or confiscated by the Allies at the end of the war.

Richard Seaver wrote in the Introduction to  the book Auschwitz, a Doctor’s Eyewitness Account by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli that “in 1944 German authorities destroyed the transport lists of all Jews who had been sent to Auschwitz up to that point, and in the succeeding months ordered the destruction of all other incriminating documents.”

Today, the number of deaths at Auschwitz is estimated to be 1.1 million. This estimate of the number of deaths is based on an estimate of the number of arrivals, minus the number of prisoners transferred to other camps.  The exact number of arrivals is unknown because the IBM punch cards for the train records have never been found.  What happened to the train records?  They were either destroyed by the Nazis or confiscated by the Allies.

The generally accepted figure of 1.3 million who were deported to Auschwitz is not based on the train records kept by the Germans, but rather an estimate made by Franciszek Piper who wrote the following in his article on the official Auschwitz web site:

After an overall analysis of the original sources and findings on deportation to Auschwitz, I concluded that a total of at least 1,300,000 people were deported there, and that 1,100,000 of them perished. Approximately 200,000 people were deported from Auschwitz to other camps as part of the redistribution of labor resources and the final liquidation of the camp.

One of the most distinguished Holocaust researchers, Raul Hilberg, published a separate work (Auschwitz and the Final Solution) on the number of Auschwitz victims. His findings reaffirmed both the figure of 1,000,000 Jewish Auschwitz victims that he had arrived at as long ago as 1961, as well as my own conclusions.

According to Edwin Black, the IBM Hollerith punch cards kept by the Nazis for the Jews, Russians and Gypsies, who were registered in the camp and later killed in the gas chambers, were coded as F-6 for “special treatment” or as “evacuations.” The code for “execution” was D-4.

So the deaths of the Jews who were initially selected for work and later sent to the gas chamber were coded F-6, but prisoners who were later sent out of the camp were also coded as F-6 which also meant “evacuated” from the camp.

The complete records, compiled by the office of Richard Glücks for all the Nazi concentration camps in the years 1935 to 1944, are now stored on microfilm and kept in the Russian Central Archives in the Central State Archives No. 187603 on Rolls 281 through 286. These records give statistics on the number of Auschwitz deaths from execution, typhus and other natural causes, but not the statistics on the Jews who were gassed.

According to Wikipedia, Richard Glücks attained the rank of a SS-Gruppenführer and a Generalleutnant of the Waffen-SS and was, from 1939 until the end of World War II, the head of Amt D: Konzentrationslagerwesen of the WVHA and the highest-ranking “Inspector of Concentration Camps” in Nazi Germany. Close to Himmler, Glücks was directly responsible for the forced labor of the camp inmates; he was also the supervisor for the medical practices in the camps, ranging from human experimentation to the implementation of the Endlösung, in particular the mass murder of the inmates by gassing with Zyklon-B.

Endlösung is the German term for “The Final Solution,” which means the genocide of the Jews. Himmler and Glücks both escaped justice by committing suicide immediately after they were captured by the Allies in May 1945, before they could be interrogated.

According to the records kept by the office of Richard Glücks, there was a total of 121,453 inmates, including 100,743 Jews who were transferred out of Auschwitz-Birkenau to other camps. The same records show that there was a total of 334,785 prisoners who entered Auschwitz-Birkenau between May 1940 and December 1944, including 161,785 non-Jews.

The records kept by the office of Richard Glücks show that 103,429 inmates of Auschwitz-Birkenau died from typhus, including 58,240 Jews who died from typhus between 1942 and 1944. An additional 4,140 prisoners died of other natural causes between 1940 and 1944, including 2,064 Jews.

The number of people executed at Auschwitz, according to the records stored on microfilm in the Russian Archives, was 1,646 including 117 Jews, 1,485 Poles, 19 Russians, 5 Czechs and 20 Gypsies.

The German records kept by the office of Richard Glücks show that 173,000 Jews were brought to Auschwitz-Birkenau and that 100,743 were transferred to other camps; 58,240 Jews died of typhus; 2064 Jews died of natural causes and 117 Jews were executed, bringing the total number of Jewish deaths at Auschwitz-Birkenau to 60,421. At the end of October 1944, there were 11,836 Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau, plus a few that were admitted to the camp in November and December 1944, according to the records kept by the office of Richard Glücks.

The German records show that 161,785 non-Jews were brought to Auschwitz-Birkenau from May 1940 to December 1944 and that 45,189 of them died from typhus; 1,529 non-Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau were executed; 2,076 non-Jews died of natural causes, other than typhus. This makes a total of 48,794 non-Jewish deaths at Auschwitz-Birkenau in addition to the 60,421 Jewish deaths, for a combined total of 109,215. This does not include the deaths in January 1945 before Auschwitz was liberated on January 27, 1945.

According to information presented at the Auschwitz Museum, 405,222 prisoners were registered at Auschwitz-Birkenau; the Jews who were immediately sent to the gas chamber were not registered and no records of any kind were kept for them.

Out of the 405,222 prisoners who were registered at Auschwitz and Birkenau, around 340,000 died at Auschwitz and other camps to which they were transferred, according to a Museum guidebook, which I purchased in 2005. This figure includes the prisoners who were registered and then selected later for gassing because they were no longer able to work.

By subtracting the number of prisoners still in the camp the day before it was abandoned, the number of prisoners sent to other concentration camps, and the number of escapees from the number of prisoners that were registered, the remainder is a number that closely matches the figure of 135,000 deaths that was estimated by the Red Cross. According to Franciszek Piper, the director of the Auschwitz Museum, there were approximately 500 prisoners who escaped from Auschwitz.

The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust puts the total number of Hungarian Jews who died at Auschwitz-Birkenau between May and July 1944 at approximately 550,000, the majority of whom were gassed, but Lucy Dawidowicz wrote in her book entitled The War Against the Jews, published in 1975, that 450,000 Hungarian Jews were brought to Auschwitz between May 1944 and October 1944. Raul Hilberg stated in his book entitled The Destruction of the European Jews that the number of Hungarian Jews brought to Auschwitz was 180,000.

According to Franciszek Piper, the majority of the Hungarian Jews, who were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, were gassed immediately. A booklet, that I purchased from the Auschwitz Museum in 2005, stated that 434,351 of the Hungarian Jews were gassed upon arrival. If these figures are correct, only 3,051 Hungarian Jews, out of the 437,402 who were sent to Auschwitz, were registered in the camp. However, Franciszek Piper wrote that 28,000 Hungarian Jews were registered at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The records from the office of Richard Glücks show that only 23,117 Hungarian Jews were brought to Auschwitz-Birkenau and 21,527 Hungarian Jews were transferred out of the camp.

On July 12, 1944, there were 92,705 prisoners in the whole Auschwitz camp complex, according to the roll call taken that day. In the main camp, there were 14,386 men. At Birkenau, there were 19,711 men and 31,406 women. There were 26,705 men in Auschwitz III. This total did not include the Hungarian Jews who were not registered, according to Danuta Czech. They were held in section B III of Birkenau, called Mexico, while they waited to be gassed or sent to another camp.