Now like several other major German corporations, Siemens has — shall we say — a checkered past regarding the Jews. From Wikipedia:
Preceding World War II Siemens was involved in funding the rise of the Nazi Party and the secret rearmament of Germany. During the second World War, Siemens supported the Hitler regime, contributed to the war effort and participated in the “Nazification” of the economy. Siemens had many factories in and around notorious concentration camps to build electric switches for military uses. In one example, almost 100,000 men and women from Auschwitz worked in a Siemens factory inside the camp, supplying the electricity to the camp.
With that history, what was Siemens doing making deals with the Holocaust-denying Iranian regime? Good question. In fact, their dealings with the regime went way above and beyond the call of duty or anything else. With Nokia, the Finnish cellular phone giant, they aided and abetted the mullahs in the regime’s brutal repression of the democracy demonstrators in 2009. Indeed, the technology from the joint venture of the two telcom companies was used to track down dissidents, some of whom ended up in Evin Prison and were undoubtedly tortured. This disgusting behavior on the part of the companies was documented all over the Internet, as many of you will recall, particularly on Twitter and Facebook.
Now Siemens was not unaware of this (to put it mildly) embarrassment. Quite recently, June 2, 2010, in fact, they admitted their culpability. From Business Week:
Nokia-Siemens Networks on Wednesday (2 June) admitted its share of the blame for Iran’s brutal crackdown on anti-government demonstrators last year after selling mobile phone surveillance to the authoritarian regime.
“We absolutely do find ourselves in a tricky situation and need the help of people in this room to help us navigate in these challenging times,” Barry French, head of marketing and corporate affairs with Nokia-Siemens Networks, a joint venture of Nokia (NOK) and Siemens (SI), told MEPs [members of the European Parliament] during a hearing on human rights and new information technologies.
I guess you see where I’m going here. Did someone at Siemens, or some group of people, somewhere between Auschwitz and Teheran, finally start to choose the most obvious moral good over corporate greed? Anything’s possible, isn’t it, especially given the light shown on their behavior by the Internet. Did they want to be recorded in history as the company that created the software controlling Iranian nuclear weapons?
In order not to be, they didn’t have to do anything too complicated. They would just have to give some people a few lines of code or a “certificate” (two were reportedly involved here).
Of course, I could be all wrong and Siemens did not reform. Someone just stole the information from them. But I am an optimist and choose to believe that Siemens — or people within it — are capable of change. In fact, I rather suspect they are.
So there is a lesson from this, not only for the execrable mullahs (who now must be circling their wagons in panic) but also to the other companies that still make deals with them. When you consort with true evil just for the bottom line, someone may come to get you. And if you have a computer, they can come to get you just about anywhere. And they will be justified in doing it. And they will not stop.