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.