This essay uncovers the systematic, intentional distortion of Holocaust history on the English-language Wikipedia, the world’s largest encyclopedia. In the last decade, a group of committed Wikipedia editors have been promoting a skewed version of history on Wikipedia, one touted by right-wing Polish nationalists, which whitewashes the role of Polish society in the Holocaust and bolsters stereotypes about Jews. Due to this group’s zealous handiwork, Wikipedia’s articles on the Holocaust in Poland minimize Polish antisemitism, exaggerate the Poles’ role in saving Jews, insinuate that most Jews supported Communism and conspired with Communists to betray Poles (Żydokomuna or Judeo–Bolshevism), blame Jews for their own persecution, and inflate Jewish collaboration with the Nazis. To explain how distortionist editors have succeeded in imposing this narrative, despite the efforts of opposing editors to correct it, we employ an innovative methodology. We examine 25 public-facing Wikipedia articles and nearly 300 of Wikipedia’s back pages, including talk pages, noticeboards, and arbitration cases. We complement these with interviews of editors in the field and statistical data gleaned through Wikipedia’s tool suites. This essay contributes to the study of Holocaust memory, revealing the digital mechanisms by which ideological zeal, prejudice, and bias trump reason and historical accuracy. More broadly, we break new ground in the field of the digital humanities, modelling an in-depth examination of how Wikipedia editors negotiate and manufacture information for the rest of the world to consume.
Jan Grabowski & Shira Klein (2023) Wikipedia’s Intentional Distortion of the History of the Holocaust, The Journal of Holocaust Research, https://doi.org/10.1080/25785648.2023.2168939
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Communication Technology and New Media Commons, Digital Humanities Commons, European History Commons, History of Religion Commons, Holocaust and Genocide Studies Commons, Jewish Studies Commons, Other History Commons, Political History Commons, Public History Commons, Social History Commons
This article was originally published in The Journal of Holocaust Research in 2023. https://doi.org/10.1080/25785648.2023.2168939