Wikipedia has banned three editors from contributing to articles related to Jewish history in Poland during World War II. The decision was made by Wikipedia’s Arbitration Committee, which serves as the website’s highest authority for resolving editing disputes. The move aims to address concerns about the introduction of content that absolves Poland of blame for antisemitism and Jewish suffering during the Holocaust. While the Committee did not take a stance on the historical dispute regarding Polish antisemitism and complicity with the Nazis, it concluded that the editors in question violated the community’s code of conduct.
The decision followed an investigation triggered by an academic study conducted by history professors Shira Klein and Jan Grabowski, which raised concerns about the manipulation of Wikipedia’s rules by a group of editors. The study highlighted efforts to distort the historical truth and shift blame away from Poland. However, the focus of Wikipedia’s action was on maintaining the integrity and credibility of the platform rather than taking a position on the historical debate.
Klein expressed disappointment with the outcome, emphasizing that the decision prioritized civility over historical accuracy. She noted that the ruling sends a troubling message, suggesting that falsifying the past is acceptable as long as it is done politely.
This development comes amid heightened attention to Poland’s narrative of innocence during the Nazi occupation, particularly following remarks by Israeli pop star Noa Kirel, who highlighted the loss of her family in the Holocaust. Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski dismissed her comments, attributing such perspectives to a lack of knowledge and incomplete education. Notably, since 2018, it has been a criminal offense in Poland to accuse the country of complicity with the Nazi regime.
Klein and Grabowski’s study revealed a systemic problem beyond the distortion of Holocaust history, highlighting the ineffectiveness of Wikipedia’s safeguards against disinformation. As one of the most widely viewed websites globally, the potential impact of such inaccuracies is significant. The researchers emphasized the need for improved measures to combat disinformation, not only regarding the Holocaust but also in other areas that may be affected by similar manipulation. Photo by Mark Fosh from Watford, UK, Wikimedia commons.