The Nazi Census: Identification and Control in the Third Reich
A controversial book when originally published in Germany, The Nazi Census documents the origins of the census in modern Germany, along with the parallel development of machines that helped first collect data on Germans, then specifically Jews. The authors begin by examining the history of statistical technology in Germany, from the Hollerith machine in the 1890s through the development and licensing of IBM punch-card technology. From its general use in collecting data on all German people, the methods employed by the Nazis developed into compulsory registration to establish information on individuals' racial designation. The authors argue that this information was collected first because of demands based on questions of security and the tracking of racial groups, including Jews and Gypsies. disastrous results for these and other peoples. Ultimately, as the authors point out in this short, rigorously researched book, the system the Nazis employed to track, gather information, and control populations initiated the modern system of citizen registration. Aly and Roth argue that what led to the devastating effects of the Nazi census was the ends to which they put their data, not their means. In short, it is the employment of normal methods of collection that lies at the heart of the problem, a problem worth examining historically as it applies to the Nazi regime, but also to the way contemporary methods of classification and control still affect the modern world.
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