Wikipedia’s Intentional Distortion of the History of the Holocaust

Faculty of Arts
A railway
A new study co-led by Jan Grabowski, a history professor in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa and Shira Klein, associate professor of history at Chapman University in California, found that Wikipedia entries related to the history of the Holocaust in Poland are being manipulated by an ideologically motivated group of Wikipedians (people very active in writing or changing Wikipedia entries). Their goal is to distort and falsify the history of the Holocaust in a way which reflects the vision of history espoused by Polish nationalists.

“In the cases which we analysed in our article, the complicity of Poles in the Holocaust, or the participation of ethnic Poles in anti-Jewish acts, is being downplayed or denied,” says professor Grabowski, a recipient of the prestigious 2022 SSHRC Impact Insight Award. “Simultaneously, the role of Poles in rescuing the Jews during the Holocaust is being inflated to a great degree. At the same time, the nationalistic Wikipedians spread and propagate antisemitic cliches and stereotypes.”

The article contains two parts: the first one looked at what entries/facts/interpretations are being distorted and falsified and the second part looked at the behind-the-scenes processes and editorial mechanisms inside the Wikipedia which allow small groups of people with an ideological axe to grind to take control of the information consumed by millions of Wikipedia users.

“The entries which we looked at are read by hundreds of thousands of readers per month,” explains Jan Grabowski. “We also show how such a small group of Wikipedia insiders makes it practically impossible to restore the balance to the Wiki entries and to correct the distortions and falsifications.”

The study Wikipedia’s Intentional Distortion of the History of the Holocaust was published in The Journal of Holocaust Research.