Polish Jokes and Polenwitze: This is how they make fun of Poles in the West!

Poles are savages, dirty, drunkards and thieves? Yes. At least according to the bad jokes about us that have been repeated in the West for many years. “Polish Jokes” or “Polenwits” started to be made in the 19th century. Unfortunately, they still function today.

Jokes about other nations, peoples, people with different skin or even hair color are the norm. In our country, Poland, there is plenty of it. We mock black people, Jews, blondes. Most of us, however, may not realize that in many places around the world it is very popular to laugh at Poles. In particular the inhabitants of the United States and Germany excel in mocking us.

– What is the difference between the Polish wedding and Polish funeral?

– At a funeral there is one less drunk.

It all started over two centuries ago. In the nineteenth century, many families from the then partitioned Poland emigrated to the West.

These were, among others, participants of unsuccessful uprisings and political activists, but also ordinary, simple people leaving to earn their bread. Also after regaining independence and in the interwar period a great number of the rural population left, mainly for the United States, because of the difficult economic situation. World War II brought another large wave of Polish emigration.

Most of the Polish immigrants, not knowing a word of English and not being particularly educated, ended up as blue collar workers of the lowest level. It did not matter who they were in Poland. Polish communities in the West were rather closed. They did not want to get into relationships with other groups or improve their qualifications.

– Why is the floor in the new Polish warship made of glass?

– To see earlier Polish warships.

The large number of immigrants of German origin could also have done its part. Nazi propaganda ingrained in these people an aversion to the Poles. So they spread unflattering jokes.

This was the origin of the stereotype of the Pole in the West: an uneducated commoner and a bully, doing the simplest jobs. Alcohol, of course, was added to this.

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The image of the Pole in Western pop culture crystallized thanks to the production of “A Streetcar Named Desire”. In the famous movie from 1951, Marlon Brando plays a Polish worker, Stan Kowalski – an anti-hero, rude and ill-mannered boor.

“Polish Jokes” or “Polack Jokes” became particularly fashionable in the United States in the 1970s – according to them our countrymen were exceptionally stupid, sloppy and perpetually drunk.

– Four lies in eight words?

– An honest Pole drives sober in his own car to work.

Some time later, Nazi propaganda and anti-Polish sentiment in Germany once again bore fruit with a massive wave of Polish economic migrants. In West Germany, the image of the newcomer from the country on the Vistula was very similar to that overseas, although it was enriched by the biggest Polish vice according to the Germans: thievery.

Americans laugh at the Polish tank

In the 90s, our western neighbors became famous for their “Polenwitze” (Polish jokes, a joke about Poles). German satirist Harald Schmidt, the host of “Late Night Show” on Sat 1, had a big share in it. It was counted that in the first 20 episodes of the programs he told 18 gags, mocking Poles.

– Why wasn’t Jesus born in Poland?

– Because they couldn’t find three wise guys and a virgin.

This sparked a wave of criticism from German correspondents who live in our country every day. They issued an appeal both to Schmidt himself and to the German and Polish authorities. The comedian even received an official invitation from Polish officials to come and see what Poland was really like. He declined.

In later interviews, he explained that he had not realized that someone might feel offended by his sense of humor. Schmidt has been known to make a few crude jokes. He has taken a liking not only to Poles, but also to victims of World War II and concentration camp inmates.

The show “Pole sucht frau” (Pole looking for a wife) broke ratings records some time ago on the German television channel RTL2 – A parody of the well-known formula “Rolnik szuka żony”. It’s not a reality show, but a comedy “series” in which the protagonists, Poles, live in dugouts, sleep with animals and, of course, drink alcohol all the time. In one episode, we see a hilarious gag about something like a Polish talent show. The participant boasts that he can drink a bottle of vodka and quickly break into a car.

– How do you recognize the groom at a Polish wedding?

– He’s the only guy in a clean shirt.

Despite the efforts of the Polish community, such jokes are still very common. The Polish American Congress even created the Anti-Defamation League, which, among other things, takes action against mocking us in the American media. So far they have managed, among other things, to get the term “Polish Jokes” removed from the reality show “Simple Living”.

This is still not much and it is unlikely to make the West stop mocking us. All that remains is to keep your distance. It is also worth asking ourselves a question: are we better?

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