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By Smallbones, Indy beetle, and 3family6

A fake Nazi death camp in Warsaw

On 4 October, Haaretz published "The Fake Nazi Death Camp: Wikipedia's Longest Hoax, Exposed", with later coverage in The Times of Israel, The Week, and at least nine other news sources in several languages.

For fifteen years, the article for Warsaw concentration camp, also known as KL Warschau, contained the misinformation that the camp was an extermination camp with the majority of its victims non-Jewish Poles. Although there were numerous revisions to the article in time, and disputes as to the veracity of the claims to it being an extermination camp, the misinformation persisted from the creation of the article by the now deceased Halibutt in August 2004 until interventions by K.e.coffman on 5 and 6 May 2019 and Icewhiz on 27 and 28 August 2019. The misinformation (called a "hoax" by Icewhiz and Haaretz) largely originated from research by the judge and author Maria Trzcińska, whose obscure hypothesis about the camp being an extermination camp that targeted non-Jewish Poles was officially discredited in 2007 (three years after the date that the Wikipedia article was created). Icewhiz reported to Haaretz that they investigated the claims in the Wikipedia article after they read a May 2019 article by Christian Davies in London Review of Books which mentioned "Wikipedia entries amended". They posted an essay on their user page documenting the existing problems found on Wikipedia, both in the article itself and mentions of Warsaw concentration camp elsewhere on Wikipedia, as well as the state of the article prior to K.e.coffman's edits. User:François Robere approached the Signpost in September with an edited version of Icewhiz's essay prepared for publication, but the Signpost declined to publish.

Icewhiz was involved in several content disputes about antisemitism and misinformation related to Poland in World War II, and is subject to sanctions per Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Antisemitism in Poland. They have now been banned indefinitely for off-wiki harassment pertaining to the Antisemitism in Poland content dispute, see Arbitration report. Icewhiz states that they brought the story to Haaretz as an attempt to generate reliable coverage of the facts regarding KL Warschau which could then support their arguments on Wikipedia. Both Icewhiz and Haaretz writer Omer Benjakob claim that this case was just one out of many instances of intentional misinformation added by Polish nationalist editors. Benjakob writes that there "seems to be a systematic effort by Polish nationalists to whitewash hundreds of Wikipedia articles relating to Poland and the Holocaust." Benjakob links this effort on the English Wikipedia with current Polish nationalist political efforts, which he accuses of promoting Holocaust distortion and attempting to minimize the documented complicity of Poles in the Holocaust and promoting Poles as equal or worse victims of the Holocaust. The historian and Haaretz contributor Daniel Blatman countered in a 17 October 2019 opinion piece that the false claims in the article persisted through several Polish governments, including those which acknowledge the complicity of Poles in the Holocaust, and thus cannot accurately be described as an attempt by Poland to falsify Holocaust narrative. The blame for the faulty article lies, Blatman argues, entirely with Wikipedia. User:Poeticbent, who was the most prolific Wikipedia editor of Polish-related articles, including those about Jewish-Polish history, until he retired from Wikipedia in May 2018, is named by Icewhiz as one of the Polish editors intentionally spreading misinformation on Wikipedia. He responded to the accusations with an essay posted on his user page. User:Piotrus, another prolific editor of Polish content, is also named in the article, and was interviewed by Haaretz for the piece. However, Piotrus states that the interview was never authorized for publication, and so they posted a response on the Polish Wikipedia. In this response, Piotrus says there are inaccuracies and false statements from Icewhiz that were not corrected by Haaretz.

As a remedy in the Antisemitism in Poland arbitration case, all articles pertaining to Poland in World War II (1933-1945), including those pertaining to the Holocaust, are subject to the guidance applied to the Collaboration in German-occupied Poland article: "Only high quality sources may be used, specifically peer-reviewed scholarly journals, academically focused books by reputable publishers, and/or articles published by reputable institutions. English-language sources are preferred over non-English ones when available and of equal quality and relevance. Editors repeatedly failing to meet this standard may be topic-banned as an arbitration enforcement action."
- 3family6

Swedish embassies lead edit-a-thons

The Swedish government's gender equality foreign policy is shown by WikiGap edit-a-thons held in Swedish embassies in Japan and Pakistan this month. Previously about 60 other WikiGap events have been held. (32 events are shown here).

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Story tells ARBCOM banned the guy who corrected it. It ist awful Wikipedia presented Holocaust denial for long time. Gunter888 (talk) 18:15, 31 October 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Of course it's not something that should have happened, but for the media to "catch" a major Wikipedia mistake shows, on the other hand, that the encyclopedia is so reliable that one blemish glaringly stands out amongst the fine editing and accuracy of the projects' millions of pages. Randy Kryn (talk) 18:25, 31 October 2019 (UTC)[reply]
I think such errors are more common; just recently I removed claims about World War II starting at bombing of Wielun (present in high profile articles like [1]), or battle of Westerplatte, plus inflated casualties counts and some other errors in those articles and several others. A lot of articles, mostly, but not only, from early years of Wikipedia, are still underreferenced, and I sure tens of thousands of such errors remain to be fixed. Setting the ludicrous conspiracy story aside (never attribute malice to simple stupidity, or in wiki case, simple lack of experience among most editors who, particularly 10-15 years ago, had trouble distinguishing reliable from unreliable sources), the story is right that such errors, in this and other topics, may be more common. I mean, KLW camp is a footnote in Holocaust history, but just look at Warsaw Ghetto Uprising - that's a big topic yet there is a lot of unreferenced content to verify, and some dubious references. In 2013 Poeticbent got Treblinka extermination camp to GA status, and several others users (Dianaa, Khazar2) got Auschwitz concentration camp to GA around the same time, but most other articles are still C-class or so. Who knows what kind of errors lurk int he ghetto uprising, or in Majdanek concentration camp, or Chełmno extermination camp. Even The Holocaust in Poland is just C/B class, as is The Holocaust itself. Like everything else in Wikipedia, this area (be it Polish-Jewish history or The Holocaust) desperately needs active editors, but unfortunately, the most active editor in this area, Poeticbent, had given up and retired (see User:Poeticbent for his goodbye essay, already linked in the piece here anyway). Until we learn to treasure such editors and help them instead of letting them be harassed into retirement, the ratio of 1% good/featured articles to 99% poorly referenced ones where fringe theories or worse may lurk, will remain. This a big problem for Wikipedia ([2], free mirror at Library Genesis).--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 02:15, 1 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Haaretz writes:

In another case that shows how Trzcinska’s work supplied revisionists with the citations they needed, an editor called “Poeticbent” insinuated the 200,000 death toll figure from the Warsaw article to the one about Nazi crimes against the Polish nation. The claim was attributed to a press release from the IPN, which in turn quoted the “Association of the Committee for the Construction of the Monument to the Victims of the KL Warschau Extermination Camp,” a local group that is a proponent of Trzcinska’s book – the same dubious source repackaged as a legitimate reference.


A famous example of Polish violence against Jews is the July 1941 pogrom at Radzilow. There, local Poles rounded up hundreds of their Jewish neighbors, barricaded them in a barn and set it on fire. However, the article Tylman wrote, with the help of some IPN sources, claimed that these Jews were in fact killed by Nazi Einsatzgruppen paramilitary forces. The error persisted in English on Wikipedia for over a decade. The same edit also indirectly denied the most notorious case of Polish violence against Jews – the massacre at Jedwabne, also in July 1941. Though the historical truth is that Poles were behind the killing of more than 300 Jews, in Poeticbent’s falsified version, it was claimed that the Nazis used “similar methods” in Radzilow as they did Jedwabne – an indirect denial of Polish complicity in both massacres.

Writing on Piotrus too:

That was the case in the article on the Nowy Sacz Ghetto, where the two reworked the article together so that almost half of it would focus on Holocaust rescue. The two also “rescued” the articles for the Sosnowiec Ghetto and the Radom Ghetto.

Newspaper ist direct.Gunter888 (talk) 07:38, 1 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]
Newspaper "ist" full of errors. "Reworked" is a funny way of saying "wrote". Because for example article on Radom Ghetto was created, from scratch, by me in 2009 ([3]), as was Sosnowiec Ghetto ([4]); on Nowy Sącz Ghetto by Poeticbent in 2016 ([5]). Spinning stories is unfortunate, but facts are facts. I and Poeticbent created (not "reworked") and wrote most of the content in those articles, using reliable sources (for example my Radom Ghetto article in 2009 was primarily based on Yad Vashem's web page and Sosnowiec Ghetto on a book published by Syracuse University Press), and we also DYKed them (ex. Template:Did you know nominations/Nowy Sącz Ghetto) in our efforts to educate the world about the tragedy of The Holocaust. As I said, it is sad when instead of "thank you for your hard work", editors are faced with harassment, libel and slander. PS. Thank you for your ~20 edit to English Wikipedia.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 08:48, 1 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Will someone please ban "Gunter888" as the obvious Icewhiz sock that he is, thanks. (talk) 04:10, 2 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]

  • Signpost says that Maria Trzcińska's hypothesis "about the camp being an extermination camp that targeted non-Jewish Poles was officially discredited in 2007." That year the historian Bogusław Kopka published a book under the aegis of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), which is described by Christian Davies in his London Review of Books article as "a state body with prosecutorial powers established after the fall of communism to conduct research, administer state archives and adjudicate on important historical debates." The Haaretz article quotes Professor Jan Grabowski's opinion on the book: it "completely blew Trzcinska’s theory out of the water." In his LRB article, Davies uses much more careful language: Kopka "criticised Trzcińska’s thesis and estimated the number of victims of Gęsiówka at twenty thousand." Davies then goes on to describe the meticulous work carried out by Zygmunt Walkowski on behalf of the IPN, which lasted for seven years and was completed in 2017 and which, among other things, "demolished Trzcińska’s thesis about the Józef Bem Street tunnel." In light of that, I would say that the Signpost statement that Trzcińska's hypothesis "was officially discredited in 2007" is, at best, misleading.
  • Signpost: "Icewhiz reported to Haaretz that they investigated the claims in the Wikipedia article after they read a May 2019 article by Christian Davies in [the] London Review of Books which mentioned 'Wikipedia entries amended'." It's clear from the KL Warsaw article's talkpage and the KL Warschau conspiracy theory user-space page that Icewhiz's attention was directed to the mainspace article by Davies's LRB article. However, the Haaretz article doesn't explicitly make that connection and nor does Icewhiz's user-space page say that he stated such to Haaretz. A bit bizarrely, Haaretz describes Davies's article as "brief", implying a lack of length and detail which it does not have.
  • Signpost: "They have now been banned indefinitely for off-wiki harassment pertaining to the Antisemitism in Poland content dispute, see Arbitration report." The Arbitration Committee announcement stated that it had "received convincing evidence that Icewhiz has engaged in off-wiki harassment of multiple editors", but it did not say that that harassment "pertained" to the Antisemitism in Poland case. Having seen the harassment, I can say that, although that may have been true of some of it, it was not true of all.
  • It's worth reading the history of the KL Warsaw article given on Poeticbent's userpage.

    ←   ZScarpia   14:19, 2 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]

  • I don't know what "officially discredited" means, but I do know there were materials available at least as early as 2003 that cast serious doubt on her invention.
  • PB's piece is mostly off-topic - most of it is dedicated to tracing one false claim in external sources - and the rest doesn't really contradict any of the main points made in the Haaretz piece... François Robere (talk) 22:28, 2 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • Framing is important (I concur that it is hard to be sure when this was "officially discredited"). The 2003 sources (IPN press releases and some German article that AFAIK had no impact since it was in German) can be said to have cast it in doubt (IPN); I don't read German so I have no comments on what that article might have said. Whether the 2007 source is the one that 'officially discredited it' or did this only happen in 2017, I am honestly not prepared to say without looking at specific quotes that I think nobody actually brought to the talk pages that I recall. This is something that would be good to clarify in the article; again, I suggest that people with access to those sources provide direct quotations on talk. The crucial take way from this is that when the article was created on English in 2004, her theory wasn't widely discredited, and to imply, as Haaretz did, that the editor who created it acted in bad faith or to blame him for missing a press release/foreign language article that he might have not even speak is very unfair. And no editor can be blamed for not correcting the issues in 2007 or 2017, since we can't expect that every published book or article are read by Wikipedian(s) or motivate them to fact check our content. Which is my issue with Blatman's piece, which blames Wikipedia - yeah, sorry, our fault for not having enough volunteers to fact check 99% of our content...
  • As for PB essay, I personally find it quite relevant to this entire issue. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 03:34, 3 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • I don't read that as an accusation of the original poster, and I certainly don't think that he's alone to blame (but then, you already know my opinion).
  • Quotes were already provided in several of the talk pages that discuss this. The IPN wrote in 2003, after an 18 month investigation, that they couldn't find any evidence to support any of her claims ("but will continue looking"). This certainly places Tr's theory in deep WP:FRINGE territory (which outside of Wikipedia was pushed as a full-fledged conspiracy theory by various individuals).
  • Google Scholar has been around since 2004. Google Translate has been around 2006. Let's raise our standards, shall we? François Robere (talk) 13:01, 3 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • Raising standards is fine, but foreign language sources are tough to find. Or are you suggesting that one should google translate the query into various languages, and then translate the list of search results to see if any might be relevant? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 03:15, 4 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • Why would you need to translate the query? Any book review will give the book's and author's name in the original. François Robere (talk) 13:17, 4 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • The point is you cannot expect people to find works about a topic in other languages that they search in. For example, maybe there are some good works about KLW in French or Spanish, but we don't know about them since we didn't search for them in those languages. Or did you? Can you confirm that there are no works about KLW in those languages? How about Chinese? Or Swahili? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 05:56, 5 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]
  • The banality of point-of-view pushing: I suspect WP:NOENG would have been applied to opposing viewpoints, but gone out of the window for "highly reliable" supporting sources.     ←   ZScarpia   12:59, 5 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]

Haaretz - Daniel Blatman - Israel, it's time to call off the anti-Polish hunt, 18 October 2019: "If there is a guilty side regarding the lie of the annihilation by gas in the Warsaw concentration camp – it's Wikipedia, not Poland."
    ←   ZScarpia   12:40, 5 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]
This is included in the write-up.--3family6 (Talk to me | See what I have done) 15:53, 7 November 2019 (UTC)[reply]


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