Providing referenced knowledge on minorities is the basis for future research progress and consequently for a successful, substantial cultural preservation – notably in the internet, where a considerable or even the biggest part of information is procured. Relying on the Wikipedia is not a viable solution: it is a huge platform for information with a strong mobilisation for crowdsourcing, but it still has many gaps and several flaws and is due to the lack of a scientific quality control not quotable. Especially regarding minorities the quality problem is quite severe: the Wikipedia articles on them are either written by authors who have limited knowledge of the culture and history of the respective minorities – mistakes or outdated theses are a common occurrence – or they are part of these and therefore influencing in a subjective, sometimes manipulative way the presented theses and perspectives. For solving this issue there are two possibilities: 1) digitizing older printed publications with referenced knowledge; 2) compose new ones.
The composition of an online lexicon on the rich and long history of the Germans in Eastern Europe is for several reasons a highly welcomed project: due to the collaboration of many Germans from the region in the offensive war effort and crimes of National Socialist Germany against their home states, their historical role in these countries as well as their later displacement and discrimination are subject to many controversial, revanchist debates – which should not be fueled by deficient arguments delivered by dubious internet publications. The OME-Lexicon project under the guidance of the Institute for German Philology at the University of Oldenburg and the Federal Institute for Culture and History of the Germans in Eastern Europe gathered therefore since 2011 a collective of qualified scientists for providing a solid, reliable and up-to-date knowledge basis (which can of course serve as a reference for Wikipedia):
The project, financed by the Federal Government Comissioner for Culture and the Media, is presently not finished yet (about 100 articles are available, making up for approximately 50 % of the entire corpus). Interested researchers are asked to contribute with own articles which can be proposed to the editorial staff. The current articles clearly show at the moment a formal lack of uniformity but are in general of high scientific quality and have little consideration for inappropriate political correctness. A demonstration for the project’s aim of not avoiding controversies is the article on the Association of Expellees (Bund der Vertriebenen). The articles, which offer also useful bibliographical data and links, are indexed in the following categories:
Places and Cities
Definitions, Concepts and Institutions
The coordinators fortunately decided against the use of a Wiki-software; using it would have diminished the overall impression, degrading the OME-Lexicon to some clone of Wikipedia. Nevertheless one can expect that in the final version the lexicon will be searchable in the metadata and full text, thus making the extensive content easier accessible. In general it can be predicted that this lexicon will be an important reference for information on German-language minorities in Eastern Europe and certainly serve as a model for similar projects for other minority populations.