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University of Ottawa ignores its own standards on Responsible Conduct of Research

From: Polish Media Issues


Jan Grabowski’s myth about 200,000 fugitive WWII Jews apparently killed by Poles has been repeated on so many occasions by mainstream media and politicians that people who are not familiar with Poland’s history take it at face value. It was the case with Yair Lapid,  the Israeli leader of opposition party Yesh Atid and with the ‘Times of Israel’ journalist Amanda Borschel-Dan. The latter wrote on February 8, 2018 “According to a 1970 article, 200,000 Jews died at the hands of their Polish neighbors”, adding, “A new law in Poland could make it difficult to publish these findings today”.

Asked by the Polish Ambassador to Switzerland Jakub Kumoch what data the number was based on, Borschel-Dan admitted frankly: The citation of the number of Jews who died at the hands of Poles as 200,000 was attributed to Jewish-Polish historian Szymon Datner in conversations with two different, respected Holocaust historians. I do not, as you surmised, read Polish, but I understand from researchers that more information can be found here: Szymon Datner, Zbrodnie hitlerowskie na Żydach zbiegłych z gett. Groźby i zarządzenia „prawne” w stosunku do Żydów oraz udzielających im pomocy Polaków, „Biuletyn ŻIH” 1970, nr 75, s. 28–29. One of those “respected Holocaust historians” was Jan Grabowski, professor of history at the University of Ottawa.

The problem is that the number of 200,000 fugitive Jews supposedly killed by Poles during World War 2 has no historical basis. The article by Szymon Datner does NOT mention 200,000 fugitive Jews killed by Poles. Actually, Datner’s document quoted by Borschel-Dan, that was cited to her by Grabowski, states the following:

“…the Jews who either refused to enter ghettoes and went into hiding on the Aryan side, or had suffered ghetto conditions and tried to escape, or – last but not least – those who sought to flee extermination at the actual moment of slaughter sweeps or from death transports. Their total number was far from negligible. In one of my works,[1] I estimated the number of surviving Jews – chiefly thanks to assistance provided by Polish residents – at approximately 100,000. According to further estimates, another 100,000 people were seized by Nazi authorities and murdered.”

Datner’s findings are actually a complete reverse of what Grabowski sells to the media around the globe.

His unacceptable, fraudulent activity led Polish Media Issues to send a dozen of letters of protest to the University of Ottawa, requesting an investigation and explanation.

The Policy 115 – Responsible Conduct of Research of the Ottawa University (Approved Senate 2014-2015.61 and Board of Governors 2015.60) encompasses among others:

a) Fabrication: Making up data, source material, methodologies or findings, including graphs and images.

b) Falsification: Manipulating, changing, or omitting data, source material, methodologies or findings, including graphs and images, without acknowledgment and which results in inaccurate findings or conclusions.

Catherine Paquet, Director, Office of Research Ethics and Integrity answered to us on February 13, 2018:

“As per Article 15 of uOttawa Procedure 29-2, I will refer the Allegation to the Appropriate Authority for the Faculty of Arts (the Dean) for treatment, and he will be the one to communicate with you from this point onward.

A note that since Professor Grabowski is a member of the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO), as per Article 10a of Procedure 29-2, the complaint and investigation procedures described in the Association’s collective agreement will need to be followed.”

After several months of correspondence with uOttawa and Canadian organizations responsible for research ethics, the leaders of the university still protect the fraudulent scholar and reject PMI’s request to observe uOttawa’s own rules and to start a fair investigation.

Professor Sylvain Charbonneau, uOttawa’s vice president responsible for research answered on May 30, 2018, in a disparaging manner:

In response to Charbonneau’s letter, we asked uOttawa once again, ex bona fide, to abide by the appropriate university’s procedures regulating the dos and don’ts of research activities of uOttawa’s scholars. Charboneau hasn’t deigned to reply.

uOttawa is the nr. 11 ranked university in Canada and one could expect that ethical rules would be observed. Delivering fabricated data to mainstream media and misusing the good name of the Jewish scholar Szymon Datner (former president of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw) is not a peccadillo or a minor academic misdemeanor. It is of the utmost importance that information on the Holocaust is NOT distorted and academic ethical standards are NOT compromised. Unfortunately, uOttawa ignores the problem and tries to sweep it under the carpet.

PMI do not accept that a scholar like Jan Grabowski should be able to fabricate data and spread it to the media. It is “Fake History” making “Fake News”. We will never accept him making untrue, mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing and stereotypical allegations about Poles.  White-washing the Nazi German war atrocities, shifting the blame for the murder of fugitive Jews on to Poles and disseminating in the global media the historically unsupported number of 200,000 allegedly killed by Poles during WWII is nothing short of historical revisionism. The flagrant ignorance of this practice by uOttawa is abominable. They are covering up for their professor. Holocaust history is being revised.

It is worth mentioning that PMI haven’t yet received any support in this issue from Polish diplomats in Canada or from the president of the Canadian-Polish Congress. There are, however, other Polonia groups eager to help and we don’t give up. Our fight for justice for the millions of Poles killed and imprisoned by Nazi Germans and for those who risked their lives rescuing fugitive Jews goes on!


[1] Sz. Datner, Las sprawiedliwych (Forest of the Righteous), Warsaw 1968.


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1 comment

Chris Jezewski November 24, 2018 at 12:00 pm

I would mention that Grabowski seems to have altered his script, again. Originally he was quoting numbers based on “research” – as in the Aderat article and the one mentioned by Marek. He then [foolishly] stated on the Polish Ambassador’s (to Switzerland) Facebook page the “source” for his numbers. When challenged he had no answers apart from that he didn’t like Facebook. And despite subsequently saying that he never said that “200,000 Jews were killed by Poles” he NOW says that this is what he “thinks”. Or put another way, he just made it up!

Grabowski is suing RDI in Poland because their open letter with many signatories supposedly slandered him! Previously, he was quick to be quoted that the IPN legislation would stifle Holocaust research when in fact scientific and artistic endeavors were specifically excluded by that legislation.

Coincidentally, his changing scripts correlate to the challenges made by the Ambassador and PMI.

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