Gypsies, IBM face Swiss ruling on Holocaust claim

Substantial compensation and the reputation of a U.S. industry icon may hinge on the decision of a Swiss judge, due March 20, to either accept or reject requests to proceed with a lawsuit against IBM.

Last month, the 7th Chamber of the First Instance Court in Geneva formally registered a preliminary hearing in the year-old process.

When the parties meet in just over three weeks, the Gypsy International Recognition and Compensation Action (GIRCA) group will ask the judge to accept two motions, said Henri-Philippe Sambuc, a lawyer representing GIRCA. "We will ask the court to accept that Geneva is a place of jurisdiction and that there are no statutory time limitations on crimes against humanity," he said. "The judge must accept both of our pleas for the process to go ahead."

Sambuc, who commissioned a group to research IBM's links to Geneva and Nazi Germany, claims to have sufficient arguments for the case to be tried in Switzerland. "Our research has revealed traces of IBM's European headquarters in Geneva from 1936 to 1956," he said.

As for collaboration with Nazi Germany, Sambuc points to claims published in the book "IBM and the Holocaust; The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation" by Edwin Black. The author argues that IBM and its subsidiaries provided the punch-card data-processing systems, known as Hollerith machines, that allowed Nazis to categorize and track concentration camp victims and that the U.S. company was aware of how its equipment was being used.

Around 600,000 Gypsies, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe, are believed to have been killed by the Nazis during the Second World War.

"IBM was fully informed about the Holocaust because they knew the location of the machines they leased to the Nazis," said May Bittel, president of GIRCA. "Their engineers had to go to the concentration camps to repair and maintain the equipment."

IBM isn't saying much before the March 20 hearing. "We don't comment pending litigation," said Brain Doyle, a spokesman for IBM. "However, we feel the case is without merit."

According to Sambuc, the judge will make a decision on the motions filed by GIRCA and IBM by April or May. If GIRCA's motions are rejected, Sambuc said the group will appeal to the next higher court, the High Swiss Federal Court.

Whether GIRCA would take its case to the U.S. in the case of a defeat before Swiss courts appears doubtful. "I wouldn't say no to such a move," Bittel said, "but everything over there is very different."

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Blau

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?