6 big Polish stereotypes that are kinda silly

6 big Polish stereotypes

You know what’s weird? Sometimes ignorance is informative. Case in point: I never knew any Polish stereotypes growing up. It was only years after I went to Poland that I heard a Polish joke for the first time, and before that, I didn’t even know there was such a thing. I was so ignorant of the stereotypes that I was incapable of stereotyping. Yay!

Krakow old town, Poland
“Why would you go to Poland? Isn’t it all grey and boring?” HA! Krakow’s old town votes no.

But then I found out there’s a massive treasure trove of, admittedly, hilarious Polish jokes. Few if any having anything to do with Polish people, of course, but that’s just how it works out. They somehow got stereotyped as being dumb, and people ran with it because they had fun coming up with clever jokes. And plenty of them are awesome.

But that just leads into another question. Are all the Polish stereotypes really true? Are they just a bunch of religious zealots who get blitzed off vodka all day every day? Are they all just unsmiling communist fanatics that want to destroy the bourgeoisie and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat? ARE THEY?!?!

Allow me to share a few points.

Polish stereotypes that aren’t (quite) true

1) Aren’t they all dumb?

Countries by IQ
IQ comparison by country, according to IQ and the Wealth of Nations.

This is a good place to get started, right? This is where all those Polish jokes come from, after all.

Well, turns out it’s bullshit. International IQ tests give varying numbers, with Poland scoring almost equal toor ahead of…the United States.

Sorry, guys. Turns out you’re just making fun of Poland because you’re dumb.

It probably has to do with the fact that most Poles in the US came over during times of horrible Hitler-related awkwardness and were poor, uneducated, and could barely speak English. Of course difficulties will ensue.

But this has nothing to do with smart or dumb, but simple language differences and socioeconomic challenges. Take anyone from anywhere on the planet in a similar position, and you’re likely to get the same result.

Oh, and they’re also responsible for Nicolaus Copernicus, Marie Curie, and Marian Rejewski. Take that.

2) Aren’t they all big drinkers?

Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka
Zubrowka, a must-try vodka, that’s pretty much ONLY found in Poland and nearby. Photo by Jojo.

So Polish people just guzzle vodka all day long and stumble around haphazardly all the time, right?

Kind of.

Poles make some absolutely spectacular vodka, so clearly they should be getting trashed all the time, but somehow they’re able to hold themselves back so much that they’re currently only the 20th biggest drinkers in the world.

They’re losing out to supposedly civilized countries like Denmark, the UK, France, and Ireland. And that’s to say nothing of their fellow Eastern European neighbors, like Hungary or the Czech Republic, who are totally leaving them behind in their sober dust.

It tends to be concentrated on the male side, though. As with many other countries, particularly those in Eastern Europe, the men (especially those with lower incomes) are doing most of the drinking, and as you might imagine, they can get pretty drunk. A small subsection of the population is doing all the heavy lifting.

But still, as a country, they’re more sober than the UK.

3) Aren’t they all religious zealots?

St. Mary's Basilica, Krakow, Poland
St. Mary’s Basilica, on the main square of Krakow. Spiky!

This one is a little nuanced. Yes, Poland is quite a religious country, with over 90% describing themselves as Catholic, and the former Pope, who was Polish, even has his own TV channel. Oh, and Poland built the world’s tallest statue of Jesus. How’s that for religious?

But on the other hand, it’s not entirely clear how “religious” they are, with one survey showing that only 7% of the population are “strong believers.” Much of the 90% Catholic statistic would thus have more to do with culture than belief.

Public opinion is also rather split on controversial issues such as abortion, with a pro-life majority and restrictive legislation, but nearly half the country expressing support for expanded legalization. So while it’s true that religion plays a significant role in society, it’s not quite as monolithic as you might expect. It’s not much different from Ireland or the US, for example.

4) Don’t they never smile?

Wieliczka Salt Mines, Poland
You’d be upset if you had to work in the salt mines and got turned to stone too.

This is something of an issue all over Eastern Europe. Stony-faced people never crack a smile no matter how adorable you think you are. In fact they’ll look at you being all smiley and think you’re ridiculous.

I’ve heard two competing theories on this one, perhaps both of which are true; first of all, in many Slavic countries, smiling doesn’t mean hello. Smiling means laughter. If someone’s smiling at you, it means he’s laughing at you.

This makes more than enough sense to me, but I’ve heard this about Eastern Europe in general (particularly in former Soviet countries, especially Russia), rather than Poland specifically, so I can only offer it as a potential explanation.

The other answer is that decades of communist rule put the country into a collective bad mood. Bureaucracy, foreign influence, food shortages, and other (un)fun stuff was quite a lot to handle, and it went on for over 50 years. And even after all that was over, with an open economy and eventual EU membership, life could still be difficult.

That’s probably the reason for the perceived grumpiness and pessimism as well. It’s tough to be happy-go-lucky all the time with all the Hitler they had to put up with.

I’ve only ever found that beneath whatever perceived stony exterior, most Eastern Europeans are happy to go out of their way to help, whether it’s to offer directions, recommend a restaurant, or give you a bottle of vodka. Perhaps several. Maybe it’s just my dashingly handsome good looks and charm, but I prefer to place my faith in humanity as well.

5) Aren’t they all communists?

Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw, Poland
Signs of communism remain, though. This used to be called the Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science. They took his name off, though.

Nope!

Stalin basically took over the country by installing loyal communist agents in major government positions, and rigged all the elections to get the rest. Not exactly a warm welcome with open arms.

And besides, Poland took down communism from the inside through the Solidarność movement, which led the way for other Eastern Bloc countries to do the same. There was even talk of banning the communist party altogether. How’that for communist?

Just to put it into perspective, the successor party of the former communists managed to get 8.24% of the vote in the 2011 election, whereas an American poll taken in the same year puts the approval of a communist takeover of the United States at 11%.

That’s right. America is more communist than Poland. HA!

6) Aren’t they all anti-Semitic?

Auschwitz, Poland
Visiting Auschwitz.

This is a major sticking point for me, because I’ve spent my whole life listening to people say “Many Poles aided the Nazis in the Holocaust.” You know what else they did? Saved Jews from the Holocaust. In numbers greater than any other country on the planet.

And that’s not all. Poland was the only country in Nazi-occupied Europe in which the penalty for helping Jews was capital punishment for the entire family. The whole family. And they did it anyway.

50,000 Poles were executed for helping Jews. And these were just the ones that got caught. All in all, Poles risked their lives to save at least 450,000 Jews from the Holocaust.

Doesn’t sound so anti-Semitic now, does it?

It’s quite a problem for me, because I’ve been exposed to some pretty harsh anti-Polish sentiment, including an older Jewish man that said he refused to visit Poland because it was “bathed in the blood of the Jews.” Well, yeah, but it was also bathed in the blood of Poles saving Jews. And not a single person ever mentioned this while I was growing up. Not once.

As for today? Well, there’s actually stronger anti-Semitic sentiment in Poland than other Western European countries, though it’s often mere stereotyping rather than acts of violence. In fact the desecration of Jewish cemeteries is statistically lower in Poland than other European countries.

And you know what? Of course anti-Semitic sentiment in Poland is alive. Remember what they did with the other ones?

Yeah. No wonder there are so few of them.

So what have we learned?

So hopefully this’ll clear up at least a few Polish stereotypes that might have gotten stuck in the minds of people way off on the other side of the planet that have never visited Poland, or at least give some perspectives on how they got started, or why they might be sorta true in some cases.

Lublin castle, Poland
The road to understanding is long and winding. Yay photo-assisted metaphors! Hanging out in Lublin.

It’s interesting to see things change, actually. Now that most Polish-American immigrants have all but assimilated, the jokes will likely disappear as soon as the older generation fades away, whereas blonde jokes will probably stick around forever. And Poland’s economy continues to improve, which means less and less Poles will feel the need to immigrate for better labor markets, like in the UK.

Chances are that in the future, Polish stereotypes will look quite a bit different than just the picture of the working-class immigrants that have provided most of the material. And since Poland is full of fun things to do (with a few quirky attractions worth seeking out) they’ll actually go have fun there and learn a thing or two first-hand.

Over vodka, of course. Na zdrowie!

About SnarkyNomad

Eytan is a pretentious English major whose rant-laden sarcastic tirades occasionally include budget travel tips and other international nonsense. You can follow his every narcissistic word on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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95 Comments on “6 big Polish stereotypes that are kinda silly”

  1. Now that you mention it, I actually didn’t hear many Polish stereotypes growing up, either. And I have a fair number of friends with Polish heritage. My main knowledge of the country revolved around pączkis for most of my life.

    But, there’ one stereotype I’m interested to know the ‘truth’ on…are most of the women ridiculously good looking? Every. Single. Polish woman I’ve ever met is gorgeous. Picture-perfect. It’s an amazing feat of genetics, or something.

    1. It’s all of Eastern Europe. I’ve only ever heard one reasonable theory, and it’s that Eastern Europe lost somewhere around 30 million people during World War II, and many of them were male soldiers. They obviously picked the pretty ones after the war was over, meaning those were the only ladies that passed on their DNA. Sounds pretty reasonable, though it’s also possible the situation was like that before, and WWII only pushed it further.

      1. OCDemon – some clarification – Poland lost nearly 6 million people in WW2. No other country lost a greater percenatge of its population. 3m of these Polish victims of Nazi Germany were Jewish but there were 1.9 million Polish CIVILANS killed during the brutal Nazi German occupation. The Germans were killing Poles for 2-3 years before they started on – an industrial scale – with Jews.
        We should also remember the 1.5 million that were deported by the Soviet NKVD to slave labour camps in Siberia.
        Poland was on the winning Allied side but the country lost the war as it was betrayed to another totalitarian OCCUPYING regime. 45 years of oppression and economic stagnation under the communists.
        If you knew WW2 you would also know the SIGNIFICANT contribution Polish forces made to the allied victory. Eg. Battle of BRITAIN.
        Please don’t make cheap, crass and ignorant gibes.

        1. Um, what? I don’t recall discussing the total number of Polish lives lost during the war, so I can’t see that it makes much sense to call non-existent comments “ignorant.” I was merely remarking on a demographic phenomenon that seems to be present throughout Eastern Europe, and commenting on its potential cause.

          1. Um, if I may add something I wanted to say that both sides of the discussion are true but mentioning the number of lives taken away during WW2 is very martyrish (btw. another quite an interesting Polish stereotype). True – the Polish were killed massively like Jews and the countries we relied on did nothing to help us but showing this sort of attitude or anything like that because it doesn’t lead anywhere and will make the picture of the Polish even worse. What’s done is done and let’s not return to the past. Let’s cherish the memory of our history but not use it to show anti-any-foreign-country attitude.
            All I can say that I was very happy to see the picture of my hometown, Lublin and to read the whole article. I feel very proud of my country, although sometimes it’s difficult to love it. All in all, the aforementioned synopsis reads very nice :) keep on writing even better articles. Fingers crossed.
            Should you need any further information about Poland and, perhaps, some information connected with some traditions or culture, feel free to contact me via e-mail address.
            Kindest regards ;)

          2. Snarky, Your post has appeared on some polish “reddit-like” site, expect dumb comments, yet, please don’t change Your opinion :)

            Nice article, though
            Thanks
            Michał

          3. Actually the traffic broke the site for a little while (hopefully fixed now!). Most comments have been nice, but thanks for the info.

          1. And alalalal just show how polish kids can be dumb (FYI i’m Polish). Hate when people write something in their native language, because they don’t know what to write. If you don’t know just keep dump shit to Your self.

          2. Co typ gimbus potrafi walnąć “konstruktywny” komentarz. Brawo.

            On the topic – really great article, I hope that people of the world will change their thinking about Poland at least a little. I’m a Pole myself, I work at the airport and it hurts a little when I hear whispers about me or my coleagues being dumb etc.

        2. @KrzykJasno

          Hi there, it would be nice if people finally stop playing the martyr card and stop lecturing others…and I say this as a Pole born and bread.

      2. Poland is not Eastern Europe. You guys are confused. Never tell a Pole they are from EE, you are influenced by American Media. Poland is actually Central European hence they are on the Central European timezone.

          1. But that does’t change the fact that Poland is in Central Europe (with Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and Slovenia according to The World Factbook and Encyclopedia Britannica). What’s more “the concept of Central Europe is based on a common historical, social and cultural identity” (Wikipedia). It means that Poles have more in common with Hungarian, German or Austrian people than with Russians or Bulgarians even though they have Slavic roots too.

    2. Not only beautiful but so bloody smart. I employed a polish young lady three years ago has been since she left. And not only I had a pleasure of looking at her but had the most interesting conversations with her. She is passionate and made my group working efficient. After she left I got another three polish people to my team and I’m not planning to look for anyone else. Unfortunately I witnessed her being offended by some English mainly because of jealousy of her work and possibly other qualities. She is making a killing now with some other lucky place.

  2. In Hawaii, all of the ‘Polish’ jokes or ‘blonde’ jokes turn into Portuguese jokes, or as we say in Hawaii Pidgin, Podagee jokes. Stereotypes are all over. Some of them are hilarious, but many of them just aren’t true. Great post, man.

  3. I’ve never heard a Polish joke in Australia (the stereotypical jokes seem to be targeted at the Irish over here for some reason). It is strange how these stereotypes run over any form of logic when people ascribe some characteristic to an entire country. Enjoyed your article.

    1. I think it’s because of the massive waves that came to the US after WWII. Each country probably has its own immigrant influx.

  4. I just want to mention, smiling in slavic countries does not nessesarily means laughter, it is also used to attract strangers, to flirt.
    So, if youre on a bus, and a stranger’s and your eyes meet, you don’t smile unless you want him to think that you’re interested in him.
    I did not find this to be the case in canada (which is where i live now). Here, a smile is just a smile, which releases a lot of social pressure, to be honest x)

    1. That makes sense. And yeah, a smile can just be a friendly hello, but if you smile a little too much, the guy might think you’re going after him.

      1. I’m Polish and that’s sort of true. Smiling is a sign of affection in here. BUT also, among younger people smilin isn’t that big of a deal like for older people.

        So I think we’ll begin to smile to strangers sooner than later.

          1. Yeah smiling at strangers is very awkward for me to do, even after spending half of my life in Ireland. When you sit in a bus in Poland and you just randomly smile, it will be probably taken sarcastically, because alot of jokes in poland and polish humour revolve around sarcasm and over-exaggeration. Polish people show kindess differently, the usual being helping you out. The only really acceptable time to smile is when the ice is broken – that is, after the conversation starts (unless you decide to crack a joke about WW2 or or something stupid like that). Otherwise your smile would be genreally taken offensively.
            I still can’t get used to smiling and being smiled at here in Ireland, its just really awkward in my opinion.

  5. As a 3rd gen Polish American (Polish grandparents on both sides) I grew up hearing a lot of Polish jokes, mostly told by my own family to poke fun at each other or themselves. But I’ve honestly never heard one from anyone else!

    I haven’t visited Poland yet, but I found the no-smiling thing a little disconcerting for me in Romania. After living in NYC for a couple of years I’m not the type of person to smile much while walking through the street or on public transportation, for fear of attracting unwanted attention. However, the contrast between Romania and Spain, where I’m living now, was so stark that I had a hard time getting used to it during the two weeks I spent there recently! I can now understand why someone would think Eastern Europeans are unfriendly.

    1. It can definitely be a weird experience for those who aren’t introduced to it ahead of time, but once you know what’s going on, it tends to make a lot of sense. I don’t think there’s a “correct” way, just a cultural difference to be understood.

  6. What a nice article! And what’s more, it’s actually true. Being a Pole (born, raised, living in Poland) I must say you got the Polish soul just right :) If I may add something to your paragraph about anti-semitism – that’s an extremely sensitive case in Poland. The concentration camps in Breslau (Brzezinka) and Auschwitz (Oświęcim) were preserved to serve as a memorial of the terrible crime comitted on Jews. Yet what did we get in result during the course of the history? Poland got ACCUSED of the crime. The camps were considered to be Polish. “Polish concentration camps”. That’s probably were the stereotype was coined first. It is true that many people, having to choose between poverty and i.e. watching over the camp , chose what was best for their families, but you have to remember – Poland was occupated by Hitler since 1939. People were dying on streets – diseased, hungry, injured. Having a job that would support a family was something worth considering.
    Also, because of the communism after the WWII, some part of history (i.e. taught in school) was changed just to fit the ruling party’s will. That’s why most of the people didn’t get the full picture of holocaust we’re getting now. Milions of victims, dehumanization, gruesome “medical” experiments on newborns, children, pregnant women…
    Both things, summed up, are the reason behind Polish reluctance to the topic in general. It’s not that Jews are generally hated, but we are a proud nation and such a dishonor is something we won’t forget easily, and bringing the topic up is not exactly the best thing to do.
    Of course it’s changing now – previous generations’ aversion to talk about this is fading and younger people are well-educated on the matter – most schools set up a trip to the museum held in Auschwitz (Oświęcim) for their students to experience the terror by themselves. And believe me, most of them becomes speechless as they walk through the very same rooms and corridors.
    I hope you’re going to understand my thoughts – English is obviously not my first language. Anyway, thank you for your article and sorry for this elaborate I wrote here. I’m kind of a history freak and I kind of can;t control myself when I see an opportunity to share my passion. :)

    1. Thank you for your perspective. Don’t worry, I can understand it perfectly. Your argument is the same as mine; that it was Hitler doing it, not Poland, and Poland didn’t have much of a choice. But somehow…people seem to forget that. I can understand how some Poles would avoid the issue, but I think it’s still fine for people to be proud of their country, while still understanding what happened. Realism doesn’t require shame.

    2. And Majdanek camp (Lublin), which is often neglected, but all in all was a second largest Nazi concentration camp in Europe.

    3. If I may: Breslau – Wrocław, Brzezinka – Birkenau. “Polish concentration camps” are often incorrectly referred to as “German camps”. You gotta remember that present-time Germans are quite ashamed of that part of their history. So mąkę sure you call them “Natzi camps”. Kisses from Kraków

      1. Aneta, It is absolutely correct to refer to them as “German concentration camps”. I am sure that you realize that it was a country called Germany that invaded Poland in 1939. The Nazis were a political party operating inside Germany. I agree with you that present-time Germans are ashamed (rightfully so) but things should be called as they are.

        1. Both terms are correct, but I think some people need to be reminded of the difference between Germans and Nazis. When people say “the Germans invaded Poland” or “the Germans started the war,” and so on, there are certain people out there…not many of them, but some people…who eventually start thinking that the problem exists within all Germans. Calling them German camps is certainly correct, but calling them Nazi camps places the blame specifically on the guilty ones.

          1. That distinction between Germans and Nazis is so funny. If you take a look at any WW2/post WW2 documentary, article etc. they do not mention any Nazis in there – they just call it Germany as it was and should be. Political correctness makes everybody call Third Reich Nazi though members of NSDAP party were at most 12% of citizens. And just the army of Third Reich in its best years had over 9 mln soldiers.

            But it was not the army which directed Gestapo, SS or at even lowest level – taken homes of people in occupied lands or force them to work like slaves (forced laborers).

            It was Germany who started World War II, there were Germans who killed Jews in industrial scale. Sure they’ve had help from other nations (Volksdeutsche – “ethnic Germans”, and Axis states), but it was Germany that pulled the strings. Let’s not forget that.

          2. Yes but saying just “Nazi” implies that there were German Nazis and Polish Nazis – especially If you put it together with a phrase “Polish concentration/death camps” – especially if you say that to the people who don’t know anything about WWII (I assume that is majority).

            You say, not all Germans embraced the Nazi movement, and that is true – but look at the scale. Hitler was dictator (as he pushed the laws that made his decisions above parliament’s) , but he also won DEMOCRATIC election – so majority of people were behind him.

            I can understand the Germans are trying to relativize the guilt, but from our perspective it is very sensitive subject.

            In the end the Germany got better off after losing the war, than us on the winning side. It is mostly because, western Germany was spared from Soviet occupations – and event today if you compare the western lands of Germany to the eastern ones, you will see the gap – even though billions of euros where pumped into the eastern lands economy.

            So in the end, any accusations or implications that we had anything to do with death camps – just pisses us off. Really.

          3. I definitely understand all that. I wasn’t trying to shift the blame onto Polish people, but rather to specify the active participants, most of whom were German, and most of whom were Nazis.

            But Hitler didn’t get a majority vote. He only got 36.8%, lost to someone else, but that guy gave up the position. Obviously 36.8% is still huge…but not everyone knew all of his plans.

          4. Germany is a strong nation and certainly will bear the term ‘German concentration camps’ which is compatible with the truth. You can not conceal the truth parts that just do not make them upset.

  7. Let me clarify the Jewish problem for you. I apologize for the typos and bad grammar. Hope you’ll understand me anyway ;).
    Yes, there was (and still is) a lot of antisemitism here in Poland. It is just based on a different foundation than the regular, nazi antisemitism you guys learn about in the Western countries (you know, the usual drill: Jews are some untermensch and sick stuff like that).
    Jews were present in PL ever since the medieval times. They fled from Western Europe, because the PL-Lithuanian Commonwealth (modern Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine etc.) happened to enjoy a vast religious freedom, at least compared to the rest of Europe. Jews were just another nation among many others. And since everyone believed in a different God, or worshipped Him in a different way, the Jewish religious views didn’t matter and were lost in the ocean of diversity.
    I am not claiming that there weren’t any counter-reformation movements, but overall no one got harmed by them (apart from Arians who were forced to leave the country).
    As an ethnic group, Jews used to keep close to one another, living in regular ghettos in smaller cities. They weren’t forced to. They just chose it and it was a part of their culture which they wanted to preserve by living in their own communities and marrying among them. It is totally understandable, as their only hope to survive as a nation was to avoid assimilation at all cost. The downside of that was that they just stood out, as there was no way to overlook a Jewish ghetto. They didn’t blend in like the others.
    They were also associated with some particular kinds of work — lawyers, doctors, journalists and merchants — well-paid jobs that required education. As you can imagine, in smaller cities Jews simply took over these occupations and that was the very core of Polish antisemitism — it was based on economic reasons, not on any racial hatred. No one in here gave a damn about their religion or ethnic origin, it was all about the fact that it was hard to compete against such a united group on the free market.
    A more serious presence of antisemitism can be dated back to the period just before the 1st World War, when Poland tried to regain its independence after over 120 years. A right-wing political party called ND (and the N in here stands for ‘national’) used this economical antisemitism to gain voters among the inhabitants of smaller towns, who had to compete for jobs with that powerful Jewish minority. The said political party also created the modern definition of ‘Polish nation’ (remember, that before losing our independence, we were a huge Commonwealth and only one of many nations inhabiting it), so their polital reflection is taught till today, just no one preaches any form of antisemitism. Just bear in mind, ND never wanted to kill or harm the Jews. They just wanted to strip them of their political rights (Poland was supposed to be Polish, not Jewish, German or Ukrainian) and make them leave the country.
    Between the World Wars, we got rid of democracy, and the guys who took over from ND (Sanacja) were supported by the minorities, at least at first. Their approach was different. Instead of trying to assimilate or banish the minorities, the new government proposed to allow them more freedom in exchange for their loyalty for the state.
    Jews were cruelly exterminated by the Nazis (!) during the 2WW. And here is where the history gets really complicated for Poland. Yes, some Poles helped the Nazis to hunt down the hiding Jews for an appropriate prize, in most cases their own survival or out of a twisted understanding of ND’s political message. However, the majority of Poles, as you may confirm with the Yad Vashem Institute data, actually helped to hide the Jews of their children, move them out of the country or generally survive. After all, we were all imprisoned in the camps. The Slavic people were considered to be untermensch as well.
    After the war, the communist regime took over. There are many reasons for it, and I won’t really enumerate them, as my list would be too long :). Just know that the Soviet Union, on which glorious ways our local commies were building the perfect state, was a totalitarian regime. Their propaganda had the ways of brainwashing the society. The history was repeatedly rewritten, depending on how the wind blew. I.e. after Stalin’s death, the glorious former leader was condemned in all soviet states. His portraits were burned, the monuments tore down, and he was deemed an evil man. You may observe something of a kind in modern North Korea, where the newest Kim executed his uncle a few weeks ago and had his face erased from all official photos. The NK people were told that the uncle was an evil man and a traitor, and that everyone should forget he existed. Well, this is what happens in commie states.
    Something like that happened to the Jewish survivors in Poland after World War 2. Initially, some of them cooperated with the new commie regime. In 1968, when Israel and its neighbors had a party, the winds changed. The US supported Israel, the CCCP supported the neighbors. A wave of propaganda was unleashed, and the Jews had to leave Poland. The Polish people were told that the Jews were the evil imperialist agents etc., and the way we were told that can probably be described as antisemitic.
    In the more modern times, many Polish people repeat things without realizing what they really mean and where they came from. The usual way of describing someone as a scrooge is to call them a Jew (as in: ‘I need 5 złotychs, gimme’, ‘I can’t, I’m too poor to share :(‘, ‘Oh you filthy Jew!’). Stereotypically, Jews are perceived as penny-pinchers, who don’t care for the truth and justice, as long as someone gives them more gold to clutch. Polish hooligans call the teams they dislike ‘Jewish’ (and it came from the fact that many Polish football teams were founded by Jewish money). There are many smaller things like that. Strangely, all somehow refer to the vast amounts of hidden gold that Jews have stashed somewhere :).
    It is however hard to hear that from the educated Poles, who realize that Jews are a vital part of our history and culture. Many writers and poets in the absolute canon of Polish literature were actually Jewish. Same goes for the Jewish-Polish army leaders, scientists, politicians.
    But all Poles have one thing in common. Everyone has visited a concentration camp (or plural) at least once in their lifetime. I only heard about a dumb 13 year old girl who took an inappropriate photo in Auschwitz (sort of a selfie for Facebook). The remaining 40kk of us cry when we enter the campsite. The place is just so powerfully paralyzing.
    We all mourn the 6kk of Jews who perished there.

    1. Thanks for a very thorough analysis. I can only comment on what I’ve seen from an American and Jewish perspective, so it’s nice to get some insight from the Polish side. I just hope more people can go over there, see what things are really like, or meet some people who have visited and know a thing or two.

  8. Very informative article, I had no idea that Poland was the only Nazi-invaded country that had entire families killed for helping Jews, or that Polish women being generally beautiful is most likely because of the situation after WWII (comments), which is a very interesting theory. While I lived in the US, I never heard even one joke about the Polish, and in fact there were a lot of people in my town with Polish surnames

    To be honest, ever since I’ve been living in Poland (in different cities scattered around the country), I very rarely encountered unattractive Polish women. Obesity in young women is also almost nonexistant. Pretty good genes, if I say so myself.

    1. Thanks. I actually have some ancestry from there, but it’s been several generations, so I don’t think I can claim that I’m culturally Polish at all.

  9. Snarky Nomad you report that these stereotypes will disappear. No, they will not, not as long as people talk about the Holocaust and World War Two. The Brute Polak steretoype is exploited by many in retellings of the WW II story. Concerned persons will read my book, “Bieganski, the Brute Polak Stereotype.”

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