Origin of the “Polish Joke”

Don’t ask why but I was reading something or other and got to wondering of the origin of Polish jokes. The answer I found was that they are a by-product of Nazi German propaganda. In fact, this is what I read (source):

The Origin of the “Polish Joke”

Polish “jokes” came from Nazi German propaganda that was then pushed ironically by Soviet communist sympathizers in Hollywood.

The racist stereotype that Poles are intellectually inferior or have subhuman intelligence, originated from Nazi German propaganda and Soviet propaganda.

For example, the myth that Polish horses were used to attack German tanks in World War II was total Nazi German propaganda that the Nazi Germans repeated over and over until it took a life of its own using the “Big Lie” technique. (Click on link for more on the Nazi propaganda on Polish Calvary attacks). The Big Lie is defined as “the intentional distortion of the truth, especially for political or official purposes.” This tactic of trying to deceive a country’s citizens was written about by Adolph Hitler. [“The great mass of people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.” Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), Mein Kampf, Vol. 1, Chapter 10, 1925].

The Soviet Communists saw the value of this myth and the racist notion that Polish people have subhuman intelligence, so they had their Left-Wing sympathizers in Hollywood push it to the American public using Anti-Polish Television and Movie imagery.

The image of Polish people having subhuman intelligence was useful to the Soviet Communists too, since then, people would not mind too much if Poland is occupied by the Soviet Union if Poles are portrayed as having a Slavic culture that is inferior and less then human.

Nazi German Hatred of Polish People

As for the German Nazis (and even the Soviets) they killed off the educated class of Poland first to make their racist stereotype of “Poland having inferior intelligence” a reality. The Nazi Germans also felt “Poles only had the intelligence for Nazi slave labor”.

Polish “jokes” were in Hitler’s two speeches after he invaded Poland.

Hitler ridiculed Poles in his Sept. 19, 1939 speech in Danzig (today called Gdansk) and in his Berlin speech in Oct. 6, 1939 with these hate-through-humor anti-Polish “jokes” and references.

Nazi Anti-Polish propaganda/Polish “jokes” in Nazi Death Camps

Michael Preisler who was a Polish-Catholic survivor of the German Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz (Auschwitz prisoner #22213), has stated on many occasions how the Nazis ridiculed the Polish people as having less then human intelligence. Polish jokes were quite popular among Nazi guards in the parts of the Nazi death camps where there were Polish Catholic prisoners being tortured and killed.

Ironically, Left-wing Hollywood and the TV Networks (like NBC-TV) pushed these racist Polish “jokes” even though Hollywood claimed to hate Nazis. Hollywood and NBC-TV evidently hate Nazi propaganda but not when its applied to Poles. Hollywood and Network-TV (NBC) have a deep hatred for Anti-communist, Pro-American, Pro-Catholic Poland. The Polish American Guardian Society has documented NBC-TV’s attacks on Poland with racist Polish “jokes”.

The recent movie “Katyn” shows the German Nazis and Soviets killing the educated Polish class in Poland in order to make Poland “intellectually inferior” and easier to rule. This was during the time Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were Allies, and were collaborating with each other to destroy Poland as per their Molotov-Ribbentrop pact to destroy Poland together.

Although there were degrading jokes about all ethnic groups in the United States due to assimilation problems when they arrived, the jokes that portray Poles as having subhuman intelligence, did not predate the 20th Century in America, since it was introduced by left-wing bigots in Hollywood and TV networks like NBC-TV in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Many Polish Americans who lived before this time have reported that they never heard these racist subhuman intelligence jokes about Poles, until after they were introduced by Left-Wing networks like NBC-TV in conjunction with Hollywood. NBC-TV launched Polish-bashing shows such as “Laugh In” which ridiculed Polish people constantly. Polish Americans felt the producer of “Laugh In,” George Schlatter, was an Anti-Polish bigot. In addition late night bigots were encouraged to bash Poles with “jokes” that portrayed the Polish people as having subhuman intelligence. Therefore the power of Television and motion pictures was used to demean and dehumanize Polish people with repetitive Big Lie type propaganda.

Anti-Polish movies such as “The End” were some of the earliest movies meant to degrade Poles with racist humor. In addition other anti-Polish shows such as “All in the Family” were used to degrade the Polish people even though the left-wing producer claimed the ruse that the show was suppose to be “against bigotry”. “All in the family” was filled with racist anti-Polish sound bites such as “Dumb Polak” in an attempt to influence its viewers to have the same anti-Polish prejudice, that the Left-wing producer of the show (Norman Lear) had.

So basically, Polish “jokes” were part of a Hollywood/TV media hate campaign against Polish people.

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10 thoughts on “Origin of the “Polish Joke”

  1. I am mostly polish I have never looked into it until now, but I have always thoght it started with worldwar II ! And further more I really do think it to be humerous that some people evan think that way. Who are the idiots anyway!

  2. The article from the Polish American Journal that the origin of subhuman intelligence jokes came from Nazi propaganda is correct. They are in Hitlers two speeches after he invaded Poland and were always in the radio Berlin broadcasts prior to WWII. Hitler had to condition his soldiers to see the Poles as having subhuman intelligence and culture so they would have the necessary anti-Polish hatred to think nothing of killing the millions of Poles that they eventually did.

    Also, Polish cavalry never attempted to “ram” German tanks. That’s just anti-Polish Nazi propaganda. Horses were used to transport Polish soldiers in positions where they then would use shoulder anti-tank missiles (RPG’s) to hit the tanks. Also lets not forget that these early German tanks were garbage in comparison to today’s tanks. Nazi German propaganda never talked about how German tank drivers most of the time had to drive with the hatch open because of crappy ventilation and how they kept getting stuck in muddy ditches. This made them vulnerable when they got stuck in muddy ditches to Polish soldiers dropping grenades down the hatches on them.

    Another huge historical fact that is glossed over by Polish-haters is the TREMENDOUS help Soviet Russia gave Nazi Germany as per the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact including Soviet bases in Minsk and Murmansk directing German bombers to the most vulnerable targets in Poland. Not too mention the MILLIONS OF TONS of war aid Soviet Russia gave Nazi Germany for its attack on Poland and other countries. This is all documentented in the recent movie the “Soviet Story”.

    Soviet Story”

  3. Another good thing to come out of Nazi Germany is Fanta. There was a great story about this recently on NPR.

  4. The fact that Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 — this was when World War II began — and conquered it so easily is probably an important reason for Polish jokes.

    Going back even further in history, Poland was literally “wiped of the map” by Russia, Germany, and Austria in the 18th century.

  5. So…is telling Polish jokes off limits or not in regards to this blog entry? Ethnic is always funny to me, no matter who we’re making fun of. You know, you can always tell a Serb, but you can’t tell him much. LOL.

  6. To me, as a second generation 100% Polish American born and raised in Chicago, and growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, I dunno, it seems to me that there were always ‘Polish jokes’. I’m sure I heard them in junior high, but of course, that would’ve been in the early 60’s. I never felt them to be degrading or malicious, myself, and I remember telling “Slovak jokes” and “Ukrainian jokes” to get even.

    As for the story of Polish cavalry units charging German tanks, if that was just propaganda, we never knew it. To this very day, my dear old Dad in his mid-80’s still tells any willing listeners that his cousins in Poland charged the German tanks with their horses. When challenged, he just says, “You weren’t alive then, so be quiet!” I also learned to take with a grain of salt his affirmations that his mother’s family who were landowners in Austrian Galicia were salughtered by the Bolsheviks, after which she escaped and came to America. “Dad! Grandma immigrated before World War I, and the family estates were in Rzeszow!” No matter, Dad always knows best!

  7. Vladislav, thanks for the comment. The article was taken from the Polish American Journal so it’s definitely their side of the story. I’m sure their logic is a little questionable. I posted it because I thought it was an interesting take on it.

  8. Highly dubious source. and info. There’s always “dumb neighbor” jokes – in France it’s about Belgians, in Sweden – about Norwegians, in Spain (and Latin America) – about Galicians (Spanish Galicia, not Ukrainian one), etc. In Soviet culture there were two small nations on the extreme ends of the USSR that were subject to such jokes – Chukchi and Moldavians. Never heard a single joke about Poles and their supposed mental inferiority as claimed by this article.
    I understand that Poles were highly sensitive about Polish jokes in American media even in Cold War times, but I suspect that it is based on a safe cliche (joking about some nation, which is somewhat familiar to American viewers) rather than any communist or anti-Catholic sentiments. Hey, were there any Croatian jokes on NBC? Same principle can be applied there as well.
    Another source of origin of those jokes, in my opinion, is the humor of shtetles. Highly likely they were joking about their neighbors (as their neighbors joked about them, as usual) and many of them brought this attitude to the New World. The large number of Jewish comedians is not a secret so I’d look in this direction as well.

    Sorry, father, just didn’t like the lousy logic and factology of this article 🙂

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