The Full Wiki

Anti-Polish sentiment: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The terms Polonophobia, anti-Polonism, antipolonism and anti-Polish sentiment refer to a spectrum of hostile attitudes toward Polish people. These terms apply to racial prejudice against Poles and people of Polish descent, including ethnicity-based discrimination and state-sponsored mistreatment of Poles. These led to genocide during World War II, notably by the German Nazis, the Soviets and Ukrainian nationalists.

Anti-Polish sentiment often entails modern-day derogatory stereotyping.


Use of the term

The term "anti-Polonism" (a loanword from the Polish: antypolonizm) was coined in Poland before 1919. It was used by progressive Polish thinkers such as Jan Józef Lipski during the Solidarity years,[1] in connection with allegations of Polish antisemitism. It reappeared in Polish nationalist circles in the 1990s and eventually entered mainstream use, reflected in leading Polish newspapers such as Gazeta Wyborcza.[2] In recent years, anti-Polonism, or Polonophobia, has been studied at length in scholarly works by Polish, German, American and Russian researchers.[3][4]


Forms of hostility toward Poles and Polish culture include:

  • false and inaccurate allegations of anti-Semitism; theories of hereditary or genetic Polish anti-Semitism
  • organized persecution of the Poles as a nation or as an ethnic group, often based on the belief that Polish interests are a threat to one's own national aspirations;
  • racist anti-Polonism, a variety of xenophobia;
  • cultural anti-Polonism: a prejudice against Poles and Polish-speaking persons—their customs, language and education;
  • Stereotypes about Poland and Polish people in the media and popular culture;
  • belittling of the moral effort of ethnic Poles during World War II, such as the assistance that they rendered to Polish Jews.[5].

A historic example of Polonophobia was polakożerstwo (in English, "the devouring of Poles") — a Polish term introduced during the 19th century in relation to the annexed areas of Poland. It described the forcible suppression of Polish culture, education and religion, and the elimination of Poles from public life and from landed property in Eastern Germany under Otto von Bismarck, especially during the Kulturkampf and up to the end of World War I.[6] Similar policies were implemented, mainly under Tsar Nicholas II,[7] in the Polish territories that had been annexed by the Russian Empire.[8]

Historic actions inspired by anti-Polonism ranged from felonious acts motivated by hatred, to physical extermination of the Polish nation, the goal of which was to eradicate the Polish state. During World War II, when most of Polish society became the object of Nazi genocidal policies, German anti-Polonism led to a campaign of mass murder.[9]

At present, among those who most often express their hostile attitude towards the Polish people are various Russian politicians and their far-right political parties who search for a new imperial identity.[10]

Persecution (to 1918)

Anti-Polish rhetoric combined with the condemnation of Polish culture was most prominent in the 18th century Prussia during the partitions of Poland. For instance Johann Georg Forster in his letters dismissed the idea that the Poles were a part of European culture, comparing them to primitive tribes and portraying Poland as an underdeveloped, uncivilized land awaiting the importation of Kultur from "truly civilized countries". Such views were later repeated in the German ideas of Lebensraum and exploited by the Nazis.[11] German academics in the 18th – 20th century attempted to project, in the difference between Germany and Poland, a boundary between civilization and barbarism; high German Kultur, and "primitive Slavdom".[12] Prussian officials encouraged the view that the Poles were culturally inferior and in need of Prussian tutelage.[13] Not surprisingly, such racist texts published from the 18th century on were republished by the German Reich prior to and after its Invasion of Poland.

Frederick the Great nourished a particular hatred and contempt for Polish people. He spoke of the Poles as "slovenly Polish trash", "the Iroquois of Europe" and "a barbarous people sunk in ignorance and stupidity".[13][14] His all-encompassing anti-Polish campaign was exemplified in that even the nobility of Polish background living in Prussia were obliged to pay higher taxes than that of German heritage. Polish monasteries were viewed as "lairs of idleness" and their property often seized by Prussian authorities. The prevalent Catholicism among Poles was stigmatized. The Polish language was persecuted on all levels.

When Poland lost the last vestiges of its independence in 1795 and remained partitioned for 123 years, ethnic Poles were subjected to discrimination on two separate fronts: the Germanization under Prussian and later German rule, and Russification in the territories annexed by the Imperial Russia.

In Russia, being a Polish person was in itself almost culpable. "Practically all of the Russian government, bureaucracy, and society were united in one outburst against the Poles... Rumor mongers informed the population about an order that had supposedly been given to kill... and take away their land."[8] Polish culture and religion were seen as threats to Russian imperial ambitions. Tsarist Namestniks suppressed them on Polish lands by force.[3] Their anti-Polish campaign, which included confiscation of Polish nobles' property,[15] was being waged in the arenas of education, religion as well as language.[3] Polish schools and universities were being closed in a stepped up campaign of russification. In addition to executions and mass deportations of Poles to Katorga camps, Tsar Nicholas I established an occupation army at Poland's expense.[7] At the same time, with the emergence of Panslavist ideology, Russian writers accused the Polish nation of betraying their "Slavic family", because of their armed efforts aimed at regaining independence.[16] Hostility toward Poles was present in many of Russia's literary works and media of the time.[17] The fact that Poles were overwhelmingly of Catholic (and not Orthodox) faith, likewise gave impetus to religious persecution.

In Prussia, and later in Germany, Poles were forbidden to build homes, and their properties were targeted for forced buy-outs financed by the Prussian and German governments. Otto von Bismarck described Poles, as animals (wolves), that "one shoots if one can" and implemented several harsh laws aiming at their expulsion from traditionally Polish lands. The Polish language was banned from public, and ethnically Polish children tortured at schools,[18] just for speaking Polish (see: Września). Poles were subjected to a wave of forceful evictions (Rugi Pruskie). German government financed and encouraged settlement of ethnic Germans into those areas aiming at their geopolitical germanisation.[19] The Prussian Landtag passed laws against Catholics.[20]

During World War I, Imperial Germany made plans to take control over the territories of Congress Poland and impose a population transfer of Polish and Jewish people followed by a new wave of settlement by ethnic Germans.[21][22][23]

Persecution (1918–39)

After Poland regained her independence as the Second Republic at the end of World War I, the question of new Polish borders could not have been easily settled against the will of her former long-term occupiers. Poles continued to be persecuted in the disputed territories, especially in Silesia. The German campaign of discrimination contributed to the Silesian Uprisings, with the Polish workers openly threatened with losing their jobs and pensions if they voted for Poland in Upper Silesia plebiscite.[24]

In inter-war Germany, anti-Polish feelings ran high.[25] The American historian Gerhard Weinberg observed that for many Germans in the Weimar Republic, Poland was an abomination, whose people were seen as "an East European species of cockroach".[25] Poland was usually described as a Saisonstaat (a state for a season).[25] In inter-war Germany, the phrase polnische Wirtschaft (Polish economy) was the expression Germans used to describe any situation that was a hopeless muddle.[25] Weinberg noted that in the 1920s–30s, every leading German politician refused to accept Poland as a legitimate nation, and hoped instead to partition Poland with the Soviet Union.[25]

The British historian A. J. P. Taylor wrote in 1945 that National Socialism was inevitable because the Germans wanted "to repudiate the equality with the peoples of eastern Europe which had then been forced upon them" after 1918[26]. Taylor wrote that:

"During the preceding eighty years the Germans had sacrificed to the Reich all their liberties; they demanded as a reward the enslavement of others. No German recognized the Czechs or Poles as equals. Therefore, every German desired the achievement which only total war could give. By no other means could the Reich be held together. It had been made by conquest and for conquest; if it ever gave up its career of conquest, it would dissolve.[27]"

World War II

Germans execute Poles against a prison wall, Leszno, Poland, October 1939

Hostility toward Polish people reached a particular peak during World War II, when Poles became the subject of ethnic cleansing on unprecedented scale, including: Nazi German genocide in General Government, Soviet executions and mass deportations to Siberia from Kresy, as well as massacres of Poles in Volhynia, a campaign of ethnic cleansing carried out in today Western Ukraine by Ukrainian nationalists. Millions of citizens of Poland, both ethnic Poles and Jews, died in German concentration camps such as Auschwitz. Unspecified number perished in Soviet "gulags" and its political prisons.

Soviet policy following their 1939 invasion of Poland in World War II was ruthless, and sometimes coordinated with the Nazis (see: Gestapo-NKVD Conferences). Elements of ethnic cleansing included Soviet mass executions of Polish prisoners of war in the Katyn Massacre and at other sites, and the exile of up to 1.5 million Polish citizens, including intelligentsia, academics and priests, to forced-labor camps in Siberia.

In the German and Soviet war propaganda, Poles were being mocked as inept for their military techniques of fighting the war. Nazi fake newsreels and forged pseudo-documentaries claimed that the Polish cavalry "bravely but futilely" charged the German tanks in 1939, and that the Polish Air Force was wiped out on the ground on the opening day of the war. Neither tale was true (see: Myths of the Polish September Campaign). German propaganda staged the Polish cavalry charge in their 1941 reel called "Geschwader Lützow".[28]

Poland's relationship with the USSR during WWII was tricky. The main Western Powers, US and UK, understood the importance of the USSR to defeating Germany to the point of allowing Soviet propaganda to vilify their Polish ally.[29] During World War II, E. H. Carr, the assistant editor of the Times was well known for his leaders (editorials) taking the Soviet side in Polish-Soviet disputes. In a leader of February 10, 1945, Carr questioned whatever the Polish government in exile even had the right to speak on behalf of Poland[30] Carr wrote that it was extremely doubtful about whatever the Polish government had “an exclusive title to speak for the people of Poland and a liberutum veto on any move towards a settlement of Polish affairs” and that “The legal credentials of this Government are certainly not beyond challenge if it were relevant to examine them: the obscure and tenuous thread of continuity leads back at best to a constitution deriving from a quasi-Fascist coup de Etat[30] Carr ended his leader with the claim that “What Marshal Stalin desires to see in Warsaw is not a puppet government acting under Russian orders, but a friendly government which fully conscious of the supreme impotence of Russo-Polish concord, will frame its independent policies in that context” [30]. The western Allies were even willing to help cover up the Soviet massacre at Katyn.[31] Even today Katyn is not accepted in the West as a war crime.[32]


With the conclusion of the Second World War, Nazi atrocities perforce ended. However, Soviet oppression of the Poles continued. Under Stalin, thousands of soldiers of Poland's Home Army (Armia Krajowa) and returning veterans of the Polish Armed Forces that had served with the Western Allies were imprisoned, tortured by NKWD agents (see: W. Pilecki, Ł. Ciepliński) and murdered following staged trials like the infamous Trial of the Sixteen in Moscow. Similar fate awaited the Cursed soldiers. At least 40,000 members of Poland’s Home Army were deported to Russia.[33]

In Britain after 1945, the British people initially accepted the Polish servicemen resident in Britain or during the war had served under British command who chose not to return to a Poland ruled by the Communists[34] but as the Soviet started to make gains on the Eastern Front both public opinion and the Government of the UK turned against them.[34] Supporters of the socialists made the Poles out to be “warmongers”, “anti-Semites” and “fascists”.[35] After the war, the trade unions and Labour party played on the fears of there not being enough jobs, food and housing. There were even anti-Polish rallies.[35]

In 1961, a book was published in Germany entitled Der Erzwungene Krieg (The Forced War) by the American historical writer and Holocaust denier David Hoggan which argued that Germany did not commit aggression against Poland in 1939, but was instead the victim of an Anglo-Polish conspiracy against the Reich.[36] Reviewers have often noted that Hoggan seems to have an obsessive hostility towards the Poles. His lies include claims such as that the Polish government treated Poland's German minority far worse than the German government under Adolf Hitler treated its Jewish minority.[37] In 1964, much controversy was created when two German right-wing extremist groups awarded Hoggan prizes.[38] In the 1980s, the German philosopher and historian Ernst Nolte claimed that in 1939 Poland was engaged in a campaign of genocide against its ethnic German minority, and that has strongly implied that the German invasion in 1939, and all of the subsequent German atrocities in Poland during World War II were in essence justified acts of retaliation[39] Critics of Nolte such as the British historian Richard J. Evans have accused Nolte of distorting the facts, and have argued that in no way was Poland committing genocide against its German minority[39]

During the political transformations of the Soviet controlled Eastern block in the 1980s, the traditional German anti-Polish feeling was again blatantly exploited in the GDR against Solidarność. This tactic had become especially apparent in the "rejuvenation of 'Polish jokes,' some of which reminded listeners of the spread of such jokes under the Nazis."[40]

Nazi death camps in occupied Poland

German concentration camp patch with the letter "P": required wear for Polish inmates

Anti-Polish sentiment is attributed to a number of expressions used by non-Polish media in relation to World War II. The most prominent is continued reference by Western media to "Polish death camps" and "Polish concentration camps".[41][42][43]

These phrases refer to the network of German concentration camps that were operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland. A large percentage of the millions of victims of these camps were Poles. The confusing media references, however, tend to suggest Polish responsibility for the camps.

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Polish organizations around the world and all Polish governments since 1989 condemned the usage of such expressions often originating in carelessness. The American Jewish Committee stated in its January 30, 2005 press release: "This is not a mere semantic matter. Historical integrity and accuracy hang in the balance.... Any misrepresentation of Poland's role in the Second World War, whether intentional or accidental, would be most regrettable and therefore should not be left unchallenged."[44]

Most notable examples of an ongoing controversy include the April 30, 2004 CTV News report making references to "the Polish camp in Treblinka". The Polish embassy in Canada lodged a complaint with CTV. Robert Hurst of CTV, however, argued that the expression, "Polish death camp", is common usage in news organizations including those in the United States, and declined to issue a correction.[45]

The Polish Ambassador to Ottawa then complained to the National Specialty Services Panel of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. The Council did not accept Hurst's argument and ruled against CTV stating that the word ""Polish"—similarly to such adjectives as "English", "French" and "German"—had connotations that clearly extended beyond geographic context. Its use with reference to Nazi extermination camps was misleading and improper". CTV broadcasted the decision during prime time.[46]

The Polish Ministry of Foreign affairs has stated. "That example of a successful campaign against the distortion of historic truth by the media—and in defense of the good name of Poland—will hopefully reduce the number of similar incidents in the future". Also cited as a similar example of anti-Polish sentiment, is the phrase "Polish Nazis" used in relation to non-Polish paramilitary groups operating on Polish soil during World War II,[47] disseminated by Norwegian State Broadcasting Corporation, NRK.[48] The Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem officially considered this claim by NRK a falsification "offensive to historical truth".[47]

The Polish American Congress has written to New York Times about it regularly refers to Auschwitz as Polish rather than German and their failure to include Poles as victims of the Holocaust[49].

Hostility today


On 24 April 2009, Adam Michnik, the editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, wrote an essay on the French Left and its views on Katyn massacre, as well as Polish anti-Semitism.[50] He wrote:

"Katyń" is the first film about the Soviet crimes and its aggression against Poland, committed in alliance with Hitler. This issue has been a taboo for the French Left. For years they were silent about the Soviet aggression against Poland and about Soviet atrocities; they were also silent about Katyń. This massacre is still the skeleton in the cupboard of the French Left that has shown such understanding for Stalin, the Great Linguist. This is not the only dogma of left-wing hypocrisy. The other one is the conviction that all Poles have soaked up anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk and that Jews were the only victims of the German occupation. I learned from "Le Monde" that "Wajda presents a strange confusion of the Katyń crime with the extermination of the Jews". And by contrast, the film "includes scenes of hunting and persecution of Polish officers presenting them as if they were deportations of Jews to death camps".[51]


Continued attacks on Poles in Moscow prompted the Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski to call on the Russian government to stop them. "In my capacity as president of the Polish Republic—Kwaśniewski said in an official statement—I address, to the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, an appeal calling on the Russian authorities to undertake energetic action to identify and punish the organizers and perpetrators of the assaults."[52] An employee with the Polish embassy in Moscow was hospitalized in serious condition after being beaten in broad daylight near the embassy by unidentified men. Three days later, another Polish diplomat was beaten up near the embassy. The following day the Moscow correspondent for the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita was attacked and beaten by a group of Russians.[52]

United Kingdom

Since EU enlargement in 2004, the UK has experienced mass immigration from Poland, possibly the largest migration wave in British history. It is estimated that the Polish British community has doubled in size since 2004. The process has been remarkably friendly and successful, though there have been some instances of anti-Polish sentiment, particularly in the media.

Polish people living in Britain reported 42 racially motivated attacks against them in 2007, compared with 28 in 2004. The Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski said the increase in violence towards Poles is in part "a result of the media coverage by the BBC" whose reporters "won't dare refer to controversial immigration from other countries."[53] Kawczynski voiced his criticism of the BBC in the House of Commons for "using the Polish community as a cat's paw to try to tackle the thorny issue of mass, unchecked immigration" only because against Poles "it's politically correct to do so."[53]

The Daily Mail ran articles which the Federation of Poles in Great Britain felt defamed Poles. In the end they raised a formal complaint with Press Complaints Commission. The PCC arranged a deal between the Federation and the Daily Mail.[54]

On July 26, 2008, The Times published a comment piece by restaurant reviewer Giles Coren known for his profanity-strewn complaints to subeditors.[55] The article contained general anti-Polish sentiment.[56][57] Coren used the racial slur 'Polack' to describe Polish immigrants, who "can clear off". He claimed Poland was complicit in the 6 million deaths of the Jewish Holocaust, a fringe revisionist viewpoint contested by historians, (see: Rescue of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust). The piece prompted a letter of complaint to The Times from the Polish ambassador to the UK, Barbara Tuge-Erecinska, who said Coren's article was "unsupported by any basic historic or geographic knowledge." She writes that "the issue of Polish-Jewish relations has been unfairly and deeply falsified" by his "aggressive remarks" and "contempt".[58] Coren's comments led to a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission,[59] an early day motion in the UK parliament,[60] and an editorial in The Economist.[61] Coren responded: "I wrote in passing that the Poles remain in denial about their responsibility for the Holocaust. How gratifying, then, to see so many letters in The Times in the subsequent days from Poles denying their responsibility for the Holocaust."[62] He also told The Jewish Chronicle: "F*** the Poles".[63] The case has been referred to the European Court of Human Rights.[64]

On 5 March 2009 The Guardian reported: "A film starring Daniel Craig about a Jewish underground resistance movement that took on the Nazis has prompted a storm of protest in Poland. [It] has been booed at cinemas across the country and banned from others".[65] On 11 March 2009, the Polish Embassy in London disputed the accuracy of the report, stating: "This embassy has been in touch with [the film's] only distributor in Poland, Monolith Plus, and we have been told that this film has not experienced any form of booing, let alone been banned by any cinemas."[66]

On August 6, 2009, Stephen Pollard, editor of The Jewish Chronicle, spoke out about what he stated was a false allegation of Polish anti-Semitism. He wrote: "There are few things more despicable than anti-Semitism, but here's one of them: using a false charge of anti-Semitism for political gain."[67]

On 1 September 2009, writing in The Guardian about the abuse of history on the anniversary of World War Two, Sir Simon Jenkins accused Poles of "the most romantic and idiotic act of suicide of modern war."[68] On 21 September 2009, The Guardian was forced to publish an admission that the article "repeated a myth fostered by Nazi propagandists, when it said that Polish lancers turned their horses to face Hitler's panzers. There is no evidence that this occurred."[69]

On October 6, 2009, Stephen Fry was interviewed by Jon Snow on Channel 4 News[70] as a signatory of a letter to British Conservative Party leader David Cameron expressing concern about the party's relationship with the right-wing Polish Law and Justice Party in the European Parliament.[71] During the interview, he stated:

There has been a history, let's face it, in Poland of a right-wing Catholicism which has been deeply disturbing for those of us who know a little history, and remember which side of the border Auschwitz was on, and know the stories, and know much of the anti-Semitic, and homophobic and nationalistic elements in countries like Poland.

The remark prompted a complaint from the Polish Embassy in London, an editorial in The Economist and criticism from British Jewish historian David Cesarani.[72][73][74][75]

Fry has since posted an apology on his personal weblog, in which he stated:

I offer no excuse. I seemed to imply that the Polish people had been responsible for the most infamous of all the death factories of the Third Reich. I didn’t even really at the time notice the import of what I had said, so gave myself no opportunity instantly to retract the statement. It was a rubbishy, cheap and offensive remark that I have been regretting ever since.[76]

I take this opportunity to apologise now. I said a stupid, thoughtless and fatuous thing. It detracted from and devalued my argument, such as it was, and it outraged and offended a large group of people for no very good reason. I am sorry in all directions, and all the more sorry because it is no one’s fault but my own, which always makes it so much worse.[76]

On October 9th, 2009, The Daily Telegraph's Gerald Warner complained about the "demonising of our gallant Polish allies from the Second World War" and "an insulting attack on Catholics and Poles which grotesquely misrepresents historical fact and which, if levelled at almost any other targets, would probably be characterised as a “hate crime”."[77]

On October 11th, 2009, writing in The Guardian, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband described Poland's conservative Law and Justice party as "far right".[78]

On October 14th, 2009, writing in The Guardian, Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff said of Poland: "the second world war narrative accepted by the overwhelming majority of the civilised world – victors as well as losers, perpetrators as well as victims – has been distorted since independence and the transition to democracy to make it more palatable to their electorate and to minimise the role of local collaborators in Holocaust crimes."[79]

On October 20th, 2009 The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland said: "It's become bad form to mention it, because we are meant to be friendly towards the newest members of the European Union. But the truth is that several of these "emerging democracies" have reverted to a brand of ultra-nationalistic politics that would repel most voters in western Europe. It exists in Poland".

On October 29th, 2009 The Daily Telegraph's Daniel Hannan MEP said British Foreign Secretary David Miliband should apologise to the people of Poland. Hannan wrote that Miliband's "increasingly unhinged allegations have been greeted with horror in Poland... Poles feel, with reason, that he is tarring them as a nation of anti-Semites."[80]

On October 30th, 2009 Michael Schudrich, the Chief Rabbi of Poland, complained about a British political row playing on a "'false and painful stereotype that all Poles are antisemitic', whereas the truth was that the problem was around the same there as elsewhere in Europe."[81]

On November 13th, 2009 The Daily Telegraph's Julian Kossoff wrote of "the anti-Semitism embedded in Polish history," an "episode of Polish bloodlust and nightmarish slaughter" and "the unspeakable guilt of the Polish collaborators with the Final Solution (how the Nazis must have chortled as some Poles eagerly did their dirty work, ignorant of their own fate to come as the Slavic slaves of the ‘Thousand-year Reich’)." He described Poland as a "sad nation" whose artists are "filling the void of their parents and grandparents silence and sin."[82]

On December 23rd, 2009, writing in The Guardian, Timothy Garton Ash said: "In my experience, the automatic equation of Poland with Catholicism, nationalism and antisemitism – and thence a slide to guilt by association with the Holocaust – is still widespread. This collective stereotyping does no justice to the historical record."[83]

United States

Sign in Germany, prohibiting overnight stays in cars in a public parking lot - note that the sign is only in Polish, not in German.

Once overwhelming anti-Polish sentiment can still be found in the West, even though it has become less prevalent in the early 21st century.

On November 14, 2007, FOX aired the episode of Back to You, "Something's Up There", which contained a controversial Polish slur. The slur involved Marsh trying to convince the show's lone Polish-American character, Gary, to go bowling after work by saying: "Come on, it's in your blood, like kielbasa and collaborating with the Nazis." FOX later apologized on November 20, 2007. They vowed never to air the line of dialogue again in repeats and/or syndicated broadcasts. FOX stated that, "The line was delivered by a character known for being ignorant, clueless, and for saying outlandish things. Allowing the line to remain in the show, however, demonstrated poor judgment, and we apologize to anyone who was offended."[84]

"Polish jokes"

"Polish jokes" belong to a category of conditional jokes, meaning that their understanding requires knowledge of "what a Polish joke is." Conditional jokes depend on the audience's affective preference—on their likes and dislikes. Though these jokes might be understood by many, their success depends entirely on the negative disposition of the listener.[85]

Presumably the first Polish jokes by German DPs (displaced persons) fleeing war-torn Europe were brought to America in the late 1940s. These jokes were fueled by ethnic slurs disseminated by German National Socialist propaganda, which attempted to justify the Nazis' murdering of Poles by presenting them as "dreck"—dirty, stupid and inferior.[86] It is also possible that some early American Polack jokes from Germany were originally told before World War II in disputed border regions such as Silesia.[87]

There is debate as to whether the early "Polish jokes" brought to states such as Wisconsin by German immigrants relate directly to the wave of American jokes of the early 1960s. Some of the most "provocative critique of previous scholarship on the subject"[88] has been made by British writer Christie Davies in The Mirth of Nations, which suggests that "Polish jokes" did not originate in Nazi Germany but much earlier, as an outgrowth of regional jokes rooted in "social class differences reaching back to the nineteenth century." According to Davies, American versions of Polish jokes are an unrelated "purely American phenomenon" and do not express the "historical Old World hatreds of the Germans for the Poles. However Hollywood in the 1960's and 70's imported the subhuman-intelligence jokes about Poles from old Nazi propaganda."[89]

For decades, Polish Americans have been the subject of derogatory jokes originating in anti-immigrant stereotypes that had developed in the U.S. before the 1920s. During the Partitions of Poland, Polish immigrants came to America in considerable numbers, fleeing mass persecution at home. They were taking the only jobs available to them, usually requiring physical labor. The same ethnic and job-related stereotypes persisted even as Polish Americans joined the middle class in the mid-20th century. "These degrading stereotypes were far from harmless. The constant derision, often publicly disseminated through the mass media, caused serious identity crises, feeling of inadequacy, and low self-esteem for many Polish Americans." In spite of the heroic plight of Polish people under Cold War communism, negative stereotypes about Polish Americans endured.[90]

Since the late 1960s, Polish American organizations have made continuous effort to challenge the negative stereotyping of the Polish people once prevalent in American media. 1960s and 70s TV shows like All in the Family, The Tonight Show, and Laugh-In constantly demeaned Poles with hateful jokes.[90] The Polish American Guardian Society has argued that NBC-TV used the tremendous power of TV to introduce and push subhuman intelligence jokes about Poles (that were worse than prior simple anti-immigrant jokes) using the repetitive big lie technique to degrade Poles. The play called “Polish Joke” by David Ives has resulted in a number of complaints by the Polonia in the US.[91] The "Polish jokes" heard in the 1970s were particularly offensive, so much so that the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs approached the U.S. State Department about that, however unsuccessfully. The syndrome receded only after Cardinal Karol Wojtyła was elected pope, and Polish jokes became passé.[92] Gradually, Americans have developed a more positive image of their Polish neighbors in the following decades.[90]

Political use of the term

The term "anti-Polonism" is said to have been used for campaign purposes by political parties such as the League of Polish Families (Polish: Liga Polskich Rodzin) or Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland (Polish: Samoobrona Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej)[93] as well as by Polish far-right organizations such as Association against Anti-Polonism led by former presidential candidate and leader of extremist Polish National Party Leszek Bubel.[94] Bubel was taken to court by a group of ten well-known Polish intellectuals who filed a lawsuit against him for "violating the public good". Among the signatories were: former Foreign Minister Władysław Bartoszewski and filmmaker Kazimierz Kutz.[95]

According to writer Joanna Michlic the term is used in Poland also as an argument against the self-critical intellectuals who discuss Polish-Jewish relations, accusing them of "anti-Polish positions and interests". In her view, the charge is "not limited to arguments that can objectively be classified as anti-Polish—such as equating the Poles with the Nazis—but rather applied to any critical inquiry into the collective past. Moreover, anti-Polonism is equated with anti-Semitism."[96] Historian Jan T. Gross has been accused of being anti-Polish when he wrote about crimes such as the Jedwabne massacre.^ Publisher Adam Michnik wrote for the New York Times that "almost all Poles react very sharply when confronted with the charge that Poles get their anti-Semitism with their mothers' milk." Such attacks are interpreted by anti-Semites as "proof of the international anti-Polish Jewish conspiracy".[97] For the 1994 anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, a Polish Gazeta Wyborcza journalist, Michał Cichy, wrote a review of a collection of 1943 memoirs entitled Czy ja jestem mordercą? (Am I a murderer?) by Calek Perechodnik,[98] a Jewish ghetto policeman from Otwock and member of NSZ „Chrobry II”,[99] alleging (as hearsay) that about 40 Jews were killed by a group of Polish insurgents during the 1944 Uprising.[100] Unlike the book (later reprinted with factual corrections), the actual review by Cichy elicited a fury of protests,[99] while selected fragments of his article were confirmed by three Polish historians.[101] Prof. Tomasz Strzembosz accused Cichy of practicing a 'distinct type of racism,' and charged Gazeta Wyborcza editor Adam Michnik with 'cultivating a species of tolerance that is absolutely intolerant of antisemitism yet regards anti-Polonism and anti-goyism as something altogether natural'."[102] Michnik responded to the controversy by praising the heroism of the AK, while asking "Is it an attack on Polish people when the past is being explored to seek the truth?"[103] Cichy later apologized for the tone of his article,[104] but regrettably, not for the erroneous facts.[99]

The notion of anti-Polonism" has been used in some instances as a justification for Polish antisemitism. Cardinal Józef Glemp in his controversial and widely criticized speech delivered in August 26, 1989 argued that the outbursts of antisemitism are a "legitimate form of national self-defence against Jewish 'Anti-Polonism'."[105] He "asked Jews who 'have great power over the mass media in many countries' to rein in their anti-Polonism because 'if there won't be anti-Polonism, there won't be such antisemitism among us'."[106] Similar concerns, but with less display, were echoed in Rethinking Poles and Jews by Robert Cherry and Annamaria Orla-Bukowska who noted that anti-Polonism and anti-Semitism remain "grotesquely twinned into our own time. We cannot combat the one without combating the other."[107]

See also


  1. ^ (Polish) Jan Józef Lipski, "Dwie ojczyzny - dwa patriotyzmy" (Two fatherlands - two types of patriotism), NOWA (144), June 1981, reprinted in Gazeta Wyborcza, 2006-09-24. Access date: July 16, 2009.
  2. ^ (Polish) Jacek Pawlicki, "Brytyjska Polonia walczy z antypolonizmem" (British Polonia to combat anti-Polonism) Gazeta Wyborcza 2009-01-10. Access date: July 16, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Mikhail Dolbilov, "The Civic Identity of Russifying Officials in the Empire’s Northwestern Region after 1863"PDF (119 KB) Harvard seminars and conferences.
  4. ^ Bozena Shallcross, Polish Studies Center, Bloomington IN, September 2000, "Polonophilia and Polonophobia of the Russians" stored at the Internet Archive. Access date: July 16, 2009.
  5. ^ Robert Cherry, Annamaria Orla-Bukowska, Rethinking Poles and Jews Published 2007 by Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0742546667
  6. ^ Ośrodek Myśli Politycznej::
  7. ^ a b Matthew F. Jacobson, Special Sorrows: The Diasporic Imagination of Irish, Polish, and Jewish ... Page 34, Social Science, Publisher: University of California Press, + 2002. 340 pages
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ Hitler's War; Hitler's Plans for Eastern Europe
  10. ^ Tomasz Bielecki. "Russia in search of the lost greatness" (Rosja w poszukiwaniu zaginionej wielkości), Gazeta Wyborcza, 2005-11-03. in Polish, (Russian translation)
  11. ^ H-Net Review: Susan Parman <> on Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ Frederick's "the Iroquois of Europe"
  15. ^ New Page 1
  16. ^ ACLS American Council of Learned Societies |
  17. ^
  18. ^ Ogólnopolski Konkurs Internetowy - Historia Strajku Dzieci Wrzesińskich
  19. ^ Komisja Kolonizacyjna - Encyklopedia PWN
  20. ^ “The Origins of the Final Solution” by Christopher Browning ISBN 0 09 945482 3 Page 7
  21. ^ Volker R. Berghahn, Germany and Eastern Europe: Cultural Identities
  22. ^ The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War: "Frontier strip"
  23. ^ A History of Modern Germany By Hajo Holborn
  24. ^ Anna M. Cienciala, THE REBIRTH OF POLAND at
  25. ^ a b c d e Gerhard L. Weinberg, Germany, Hitler, and World War II: essays in modern German and world history Cambridge University Press, 1995, page 42.
  26. ^ Taylor, A.J.P. The Course of German History, Hamish Hamilton 1945 pages 213-214.
  27. ^ Taylor, A.J.P. The Course of German History, Hamish Hamilton 1945 pages 213-214
  28. ^ Polish Cavalry in World War 2
  29. ^ Europe at War 1939-1945 by Norman Davies ISBN 978-0-330-35212-3 Page 182
  30. ^ a b c Haslam, Jonathan The Vices of Integrity, London: Verso, 1999 page 110
  31. ^ Peter D. Stachura, Poland, 1918-1945: an interpretive and documentary history of the Second Republic, ISBN 0-415-34358-5 Page 166
  32. ^ Europe at War 1939-1945 by Norman Davies ISBN 978-0-330-35212-3 Page 6
  33. ^ , Stanislaw Mikolajczyk The Pattern of Soviet Domination, Sampson Low, Marston & Co 1948, Page 2
  34. ^ a b The Poles in Britain 1940-2000 by Peter D. Stachura ISBN 0-71146-8444-9 Page 50
  35. ^ a b The Poles in Britain 1940-2000 by Peter D. Stachura, ISBN 0-71146-8444-9 Page 52
  36. ^ Lipstadt, Deborah Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, New York : Free Press ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York ; Oxford : Maxwell Macmillan International, 1993 page 73.
  37. ^ Dawidowicz, Lucy "Lies About the Holocaust" pages 31-37 from Commentary, Volume 70, Issue # 6, page 32.
  38. ^ Gordon Alexander Craig, "The Germans", Meridian, 1991, pg. 71
  39. ^ a b Evans, Richard J. In Hitler's Shadow New York: Pantheon Books, 1989 pages 56–57
  40. ^ John C. Torpey, Intellectuals, Socialism, and Dissent Published 1995 by U of Minnesota Press. Page 82.
  41. ^
  42. ^ Latest News
  43. ^ Przeglad Polski on-line (nowojorski tygodnik kulturalny)
  44. ^ Press Releases - American Jewish Committee
  45. ^ Latest News
  46. ^ Canadian CTV Television censured
  47. ^ a b - Home
  48. ^ Jødehatet, sort flekk i polsk historie - Utenriks - NRK Nyheter
  49. ^
  50. ^,
  51. ^ Adam Michnik, "What was the nationality of the stuffed teddy bear?" Translation: Julia Sherwood, Salon Projekt Fórum, 2009. See also: "Michnik: Narodowość pluszowego misia", Gazeta Wyborcza, 2009-04-14 (Polish); TheFreeDictionary: "a skeleton in the/your cupboard (British & Australian), closet (American)
  52. ^ a b AFP, August, 2005, Polish president calls on Putin to stop attacks on Poles in Moscow 2008 CNET Networks, Inc., a CBS Company.
  53. ^ a b BBC denies MP's anti-Polish claim BBC News, 4 June 2008.
  54. ^ Daily Mail makes up with Poles over negative coverage | Media | The Guardian
  55. ^ Matthew Moore, Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2009, Restaurant reviewer Giles Coren abuses colleagues in leaked email 11 Sep 2008
  56. ^ 'I have never ended on an unstressed syllable!' | Media | The Guardian
  57. ^ Two waves of immigration, Poles apart - Times Online
  58. ^ Poland’s role in the Holocaust -Times Online
  59. ^ Conlan, Tara (2008-08-08). "Giles Coren Times article prompts Polish complaints to PCC". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-09-30.  
  60. ^ [1]
  61. ^ "Unacceptable prejudice". The Economist. 2008-08-14. Retrieved 2009-01-06.  
  62. ^ Coren, Giles. "The winner's version of history. That's original". The Times. Retrieved 2009-02-25.  
  63. ^
  64. ^ Coren, Giles. "The Duke of Cumberland". The Times. Retrieved 2009-05-28.  
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^ "Fry's fears over Tories' anti-gay links". Channel 4. Retrieved 2009-10-09.  
  71. ^ Charter, David. "Right-wing Polish MEP Michal Kaminski becomes Tories controversial EU leader". Times Newspapers Ltd.. Retrieved 2009-10-09.  
  72. ^ Europe.view: Unoccupied Britain | The Economist
  73. ^ Stephen Fry's Auschwitz blunder | David Cesarani | Comment is free |
  74. ^ Day, Matthew. "Stephen Fry provokes Polish fury over Auschwitz remark". Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 2009-10-09.  
  75. ^ "Complaints: Fry 'slandered' Poland over Auschwitz". Channel 4. Retrieved 2009-10-09.  
  76. ^ a b "Poles, Politeness and Politics in the age of Twitter". Retrieved 2009-10-19.  
  77. ^
  78. ^
  79. ^
  80. ^
  81. ^
  82. ^
  83. ^
  84. ^ Huff, Richard (2007-11-21). "Shamed Fox apologizes for Polish slur on 'Back to You'". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2007-11-28.  
  85. ^ Ted Cohen, Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters - Page 21 1999, 112 pages. Page 21.
  86. ^ Tomasz Szarota, Goebbels: 1982 (1939-41): 16, 36-7, 274; 1978. Also: Tomasz Szarota: Stereotyp Polski i Polaków w oczach Niemców podczas II wojny światowej; Bibliografia historii polskiej - 1981. Page 162.
  87. ^ Christie Davies, The Mirth of Nations. Page 176.
  88. ^ Alan Dundes, professor of anthropology and folklore from University of California in Berkeley on The Mirth of Nations by Christie Davies
  89. ^ Christie Davies. ibidem. Page 177.
  90. ^ a b c Dominic Pulera, Sharing the Dream: White Males in Multicultural America Published 2004 by Continuum International Publishing Group, 448 pages. ISBN 0826416438. Page 99.
  91. ^ Commentary on "Polish Joke"
  92. ^ Yale Richmond, From Da to Yes: Understanding the East Europeans Intercultural Press, 1995 - 343 pages. Page 65.
  93. ^
  94. ^ Cas Mudde (2005). Racist Extremism in Central and Eastern Europe. London: Routledge. p. 167. ISBN 0415355931. OCLC 55228719.  
  95. ^ The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism, Poland - Poles sue publisher of anti-Semitic texts based on a report in the daily Gazeta Wyborcza.
  96. ^ see: pg. 6.
  97. ^ Adam Michnik, Poles and the Jews: How Deep the Guilt? The New York Times, March 17, 2001.
  98. ^ KSIĄŻKI I PUBLIKACJE, 2008, Instytut Pamięci Narodowej
  99. ^ a b c (Polish) Romuald Bury, JAKA „GAZETA”, TAKIE PRZEPROSINY..., PolskieJutro, Numer 243 [1.1.2007]
  100. ^ (Polish) Tomasz Strzembosz, "Polacy - Żydzi. Czarna karta 'Gazety Wyborczej'" also available at the Internet Archive, without diacritics
  101. ^ Antony Polonsky, Joanna B. Michlic. The Neighbors Respond: The Controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland. Princeton University Press, 2003.
  102. ^ Johnson's Russia List #5129 - March 4, 2001
  103. ^ American Association for Polish Jewish Studies. Gazeta Vol 3, No 2, 1994. Page 4
  104. ^ Foxx News w S24 -
  105. ^ Robert S. Wistrich, Terms of Survival: The Jewish World Since 1945, Routledge, 1995 p. 281.
  106. ^ Joshua D. Zimmerman (2003) Contested Memories: Poles and Jews During the Holocaust and Its Aftermath, Rutgers University Press, P.276
  107. ^ Robert Cherry and Annamaria Orla-Bukowska, ibidem Page 25.
  • ^ "Jacek Kurczewski, Joanna Tokarska-Bakir, and David Warszawski contributed a number of commentaries and essays on the Jedwabne massacre and its moral implications and on a wide variety of social and ethical problems raised by the event. Halina Bortnowska wrote a poem, "Psalm dla pielgrzymów do Jedwabnego" (Psalm for the pilgrims to Jedwabne), which appeared in Gazeta Wyborcza a month before the official commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the massacre. The nationalist press labelled this group of authors "flagellators" (biczownicy) who represent an anti-Polish position."
    Joanna Michlic, "The Polish Debate about the Jedwabne Massacre." See: pg. 14.


  • Koźmian, Stanisław "O działaniach i dziełach Bismarcka" ("On Bismarck's Acts and Deeds"), Przegląd Polski (Polish Review), September 1875, pp. 356-88, and October 1875, pp. 110-23
  • Lukas, Richard C. and Norman Davies (foreword), Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation 1939-1944, 2001
  • Lukas, Richard C.: Forgotten Survivors: Polish Christians Remember The Nazi Occupation
  • Lukas, Richard C.: Did the Children Cry: Hitler's War Against Jewish and Polish Children, 1939-1945
  • Mikołaj Teres: Ethnic Cleansing of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, Alliance of the Polish Eastern Provinces, Toronto, 1993, ISBN 0-9698020-0-5.
  • Ryszard Torzecki: Polacy i Ukraińcy; Sprawa ukraińska w czasie II wojny światowej na terenie II Rzeczypospolitej; Warsaw, 1993.
  • Wiktor Poliszczuk: Bitter Truth. Legal and Political Assessment of the OUN and UPA, Toronto-Warsaw-Kiev, 1995.
  • Władysław & Ewa Siemaszko: Ludobojstwo na ludności polskiej Wołynia 1939-1945 (eng: The Genocide Carried Out by Ukrainian Nationalists on the Polish Population of the Volhynia Region 1939-1945., Warsaw, 2000.
  • Filip Ozarowski: Wolyn Aflame, Publishing House WICI, 1977, ISBN 0-9655488-1-3.
  • Tadeusz Piotrowski: Genocide and Rescue in Wolyn: Recollections of the Ukrainian Nationalist, Ethnic Cleansing Campaign Against the Poles During World War II, McFarland & Company, 2000, ISBN 0-7864-0773-5.
  • Tadeusz Piotrowski: Vengeance of the Swallows: Memoir of a Polish Family's Ordeal Under Soviet Aggression, Ukrainian Ethnic Cleansing and Nazi Enslavement, and Their Emigration to America, McFarland & Company, 1995, ISBN 0-7864-0001-3.
  • Dr. Bronislaw Kusnierz: Stalin and the Poles, Hollis & Carter, 1949.
  • Dr. Dariusz Łukasiewicz: Czarna legenda Polski: Obraz Polski i Polaków w Prusach 1772-1815 (The black legend of Poland: the image of Poland and Poles in Prussia between 1772-1815) Wydawnictwo Poznanskiego Towarzystwa Przyjaciól Nauk, 1995. Vol. 51 of the history and social sciences series. ISBN 83-7063-148-7. Paper. In Polish with English and German summaries.
  • Eduard v. Hartmanns Schlagwort vom "Ausrotten der Polen" : Antipolonismus und Antikatholizismus im Kaiserreich / Helmut Neubach.
  • 'Erbfeindschaften': Antipolonismus, Preußen- und Deutschlandhaß, deutsche Ostforschung und polnische Westforschung, [w:] Deutschland und Polen im 20. Jahrhundert, red. U. A. J. Bechner, W. Borodziej, t. Maier, Hannover 2001

Further reading

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address