How IBM Helped Hitler
what was Prescott Bush's cut?
were IBM Numbers
The prisoner was registered in the
Labor Assignment Office and assigned a characteristic
five-digit IBM Hollerith number, 44673.
The five-digit Hollerith number was part of a custom punch card system
devised by IBM
to track prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, including the slave
labor at Auschwitz.
The Polish timber merchant's punch card number would follow him from
to labor assignment as Hollerith systems tracked him and his
availability for work, and reported
the data to the central inmate file. Department DII of the SS Economics
Oranienburg oversaw all camp slave labor assignments, utilizing
elaborate IBM systems.
Later in the summer of 1943, the Polish timber merchant's same
five-digit Hollerith number,
44673, was tattooed on his forearm. Eventually, during the summer of
1943, all non-Germans
at Auschwitz were similarly tattooed.
Tattoo numbering schemes ultimately took on a chaotic incongruity all
its own as an internal
Auschwitz-specific identification system. However, Hollerith
numbers remained the chief method
Berlin employed to centrally identify and track prisoners at
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