Heinz Nawratil - deutsch Heinz Nawratil - english Heinz Nawratil

How objective is Wikipedia?

1. Claim and Reality

„Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia“ is based on the idea that everybody should be enabled to transfer his knowledge into the net and complete or vary existing texts freely, so that balanced information is the final result. This system works quite well with neutral areas like music, medicine or geography. As soon as a head-word comes in contact with politics, objectivity suffers very often. Apparently, some ideologists have found out that Wikipedia can be a playing field where you can raise persons and institutions you are sympathizing with, or denounce people of different opinion. The person mentioned is enabled to correct unobjective informations, but frequently this correction is deleted one or two days later. The individual who has got more comrades-in-arms, more leisure time and more aggressive impulse will come to his intended results in the long run. In extreme, so-called administrators , i.e. experienced Wikipedia users can intervene to mediate. But what happens, when like-minded persons have made a career as administrators?

So it occurs that internationally respected scientists like the American historian, lawyer and former secretary of the UN Human Rights Commission, Prof. Alfred de Zayas is criticized, whilst the left-wing "antifascist" Anton Maegerie alias Gernot Modery is pictured as an impassable shining light.

In German Wikipedia imbalance ist striking. Primarily leftist habe discovered the advantages of the "Free Encyclopedia": Firstly, they can agitate here anonymously without revealing their ieological background such as Marxist media and clubs.
Secoundly, you cannot prosecute them like with print media (the Wiki headquarters are in San Francisco, and because of bizarre US laws it is hardly impossible to be successful), and thirdly, the majority of users tends to think that an Encyclopedia must be objective.

2. My own case

In my own case, the mentioning of the fact that more than a million copies of my books have been sold was deleted.

But on the other hand Anton Maegerle´s private archive with 550.000 entries was mentioned. The positive media echo to my contemporary history books in leading newspapers, in radio and in literature (partly voices of highly respected experts like Prof. Gotthold Rhode was wiped out - 13 out of 14 positive reviews were deleted. Instead, three critical commentaries, in a quibbling style were reported.

For instance, Wikipedia mentioned a critical statment of the historian Martin Broszat of the Munich Institute of Contempoary History, but did not mention that he was rebuked because of his "polemic and scientific dubious agitation by the Bavarian State Governmant which is supervisory authority of this institute, see the following document.

The critic Ingo Haar did not even know that bloody ethnic cleansing means genocide according to national and international law (German International Criminal Code an the UN Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Genocide) and that the German Federal Supreme Court and the International Criminal Tribunal in Den Haag have made judgements according to that conception of legality. Beside that, Haar tries to minimize the number of the victims of the expulsion, acknowledging only those as victims who died by direct killing, but not those who ended by hunger, epidemic, overextension, maltreatment etc.

The authors Eva and Hans Henning Hahn put insults in the place of verifiable evidence: "link to right wing radicals" or "whitewashing of Nazism" (but my historical books deal with the time after, not before 1945). Charmingly, they suggest that I am planing a "revision of the whole public life in Germany, including the German foreign policy". Wow!

Apparently, most critics do not like the fact that I reminded the readers that the frequently mentioned number of the inhabitants of the areas where the German population was expelled (16,5 millions), does not include the Russian Germans and the West Germans who moved into the east (aerial warfare evacuees,evacuated industry staff, administration personal etc.), see Statistisches Bundesamt: Die deutschen Vertreibungsverluste, page 5 and 13. Their lifes, too, were in danger; their losses were losses caused by expulsion.

But you have to keep in mind, permanently, that statistics are only approximate values subject to potential correction. The Yugolav German, for instance, habe found out that the number of their casualities was only half of what they had estimated in the past. In Auschwitz, Dr. Franciszek Piper, the diredtor of the State Museum, had to remove the number of the concentration camp casualitiesfrom 19 memorial stones in different languages in 1990 becouse they were too high. "My" numbers, too, are not a digma and can be corrected ant any time ... if I can see reliable evidence.

3. Some more details

In addition, Wikipedia spreads a number of false reports. Here are a few examples:
  • I am said to write for the (right wing) US "Journal of Historical Review". Not true! About two years ago, this has been said already; it was corrected, and here it comes again.
  • I am said to have given an lecture during the readers meeting of the right wing editor Munier in Pommersfelden. Again, this is the repetition of an already corrected false report. The audience of my lecture in Pommersfelden was a association for the promotion of schools for the Russian Germans.
  • I am said to be member of the (Sudeten German) Witiko society which Iam not.
  • I am said to have given a lecture to the "Verein Gedenkstätte" (associaton for the commemoration of German civil losses during and after World War II). Wrong again. I was invited by the Silesian youth organisation which had chosen the rooms of the "Gedenkstätte" for reasons I do not know.
I have hesitated for some time: Should I fill my homepage with trivialities like those? But since my corrections have been wiped out even in "Wikipedia Discussions" I have to renew them here.

4. On Balance

My Wikipedia page does not make me think of a serious encyclopedia but of a collection of material, formerly used in the "German Democratic Republic" to control civil rights campaigners.

24 German an Swiss journalists have published a critical open letter to Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales in 2012, saying among other things “German Wikipedia is a source of ideologically camouflaged disinformation.”

And the American internet pioneer Jaron Lanier sees a "Wiki lynch law", for "with Wikipedia those people are defining thruth who are most possessed.

Heinz Nawratil
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