General Question

fremen_warrior's avatar

Anything you ever wanted to know about Poland, but were too (fill out truthfully) to ask?

Asked by fremen_warrior (5461 points ) February 18th, 2013

Jellies, Humans (et al.) lend me your ears!

Being the self-proclaimed ambassador of all things white-red to Fluther, that I am, I have decided to open up a Polish thread just for you. To promote a better understanding of my home country, to bash some negative stereotypes, and to rehash some of the overly positive ones too. Most of all this thread aims to help you all better understand this ancient nation, and give you one particular Polak’s perspective on all of it.

If you have any questions about (The Republic of) Poland, the Polish people, our customs, traditions, history; if you heard some polish stereotypes you would like me to elaborate on, ask away. I will do my best to explain, clarify, and point you at some good sources (or read up on a specific topic and give you my perspective on it).

I will try and answer all your questions as quickly, and as thoroughly as my time allows. Nota bene:
A modicum of sillyness is always welcome in my threads, this is the general section though, mind you.

Thank you for visiting the Polish thread, and have a nice day!

Cheers!

the fremen

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

61 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

How many German cars do the Poles steal every year?

Seek's avatar

To be honest, I know little about Poland. My husband grew up in an (American) city with a large Polish immigrant population, so he probably has some idea of the country’s history.

I do know that Poland was (is?) the home of Lech Walesa, who is the personal hero of my father in law, who was heavily involved in the UAW (might have been its president at one time. I can’t remember)

FutureMemory's avatar

@fremen_warrior Hmmm, I can’t think of anything to ask. All the average American might know about Poland is that the invasion of Poland by Germany in 1939 is considered the start of WW2.

The other thing I know about Poland is that the communist version of NATO was named after a city in Poland called Warsaw. (The Warsaw Pact)

What can you tell us about your country that is interesting?

LostInParadise's avatar

Are the Poles still blaming their problems on Jews? Last I heard, the Poles have no problems doing this despite the absence of Jews since WW II.

wildpotato's avatar

Things I know about Poland: pierogies are fantastic, they once used cavalry against tanks for some reason, and by and large the Poles were pretty nasty to my peeps, the Ashkenazi, before, during, and for a little while following the Holocaust. My primary impression of Poland has been that it takes top shelf among the countries that were only too glad to hand us over, and that my grandma and her family had to flee it when she was three. Oh, I also read in the news that they opened a Jewish/Holocaust museum somewhere recently, which was seen as a healing sort of thing. I suppose my “insert blank here” word would be “negative,” which I probably ought to correct since a quarter of my ancestors hail from the place.

To be clear: I have no interest in pursuing the collective guilt line of reasoning, as I think it is moronic, and I am aware that antisemitism in modern Polish society is at a far, far lower level than it was back then. So I don’t think I have a question for you other than, in what ways are my highly negative impressions about the intertwined history of our peoples mistaken?

Shippy's avatar

Loll, loved your links particularly the ears. Since this thread will be active for a while I will think of some questions! I have a polish friend. She is beautiful at 51 so I assume all Polish are? Plus the clothes she buys when going over there are divine I must say. She has such style. In fact she reminds me of our old Miss Universe here She told me polish men really look after women? They open doors, buy you dinner and treat you like a queen. Is this so? As men here don’t!! I ate at her home once I was so full I couldn’t move for a day. The food is very heavy on the stomach but lovely.

jca's avatar

I am interested in learning about the Polish language.

ucme's avatar

Pole dancers, how come they’re all such sexy movers?
I remember watching the 1982 football World Cup as a schoolkid & saw Poland finish in 3rd place with great players like Boniek & Lato.

janbb's avatar

What role does Catholicism play in the country post the fall of Communism?

(BTW, my daughter-in-law is first generation American born of Polish immigrants.)

Earthgirl's avatar

@fremen_warrior Considering the historically fluid borders of Poland and it’s varied ethnographic mix, how has Poland retained a national identity? What do Polish people consider as quintessentially Polish? What do they consider Polish culture?

submariner's avatar

I’ve been considering going to Poland to teach English—and if I come home with a cute busty blond Catholic gal like the one on Big Bang Theory, that would be a bonus.

Do you have any tips concerning
—teaching English in Poland
—dating Polish women, or
—Polish language study programs?

Thanks!

mattbrowne's avatar

Great offer!

1) Have Poles age 70 and older forgiven the Germans?

2) Do young Poles know about about Willy Brandt’s Warsaw Genuflection?

3) How do Poles feel about the Ukraine joining the EU?

janbb's avatar

(Methinks @fremen_warrior has let himself in for a lot of writing!)

wundayatta's avatar

Why were the scrambled eggs I had in a Warsaw hotel in 1972 so undercooked? Is that a Polish style, or was that the effect of communist management? You can see that this is my strongest memory of Poland. People should be careful about such things. They create lasting impressions.

ragingloli's avatar

When will you give us back Königsberg and Danzig and all the other German lands that you stole from us after WW2?

burntbonez's avatar

What’s with the railroad tracks? Why aren’t they Russian sized?

fremen_warrior's avatar

@ragingloli I don’t know the numbers, but here is an article exploring just that issue. This stereotype does have roots in reality, we are working however with the German side to curb this problem, crime is crime after all.

@Seek_Kolinahr Mr Lech Walesa was our first president after the transformation (from the People’s Republic of Poland into the Republic of Poland in 1989 after the communists left). To some he is a hero, to some he is a hack. Personally I respect the man for his patriotism, even though I do not consider him to be one of the smartest people out there. Former leader of Solidarity, now he is mostly forgotten, marginalized even.

@FutureMemory interesting… hmm. Did you know the Chinese-US diplomatic talks between 1958 and 1971 were mostly held in Warsaw? (Henry Kissinger On China)

@LostInParadise no. Anti-semitism exists, of course but not like you describe it. Certainly there are far-right extremists who believe, amongst other things that Jews are somehow involved in everything that is wrong with our country. It is a tradition of craziness that has existed even before the war.

The relationship between Poles and Jews is… complicated. Let me start off with a bit of history.Before Poland started to get partitioned (there were 3 partitions in all) by Prussia, Austria and Russia, the Commonwealth was a multicultural, multi-religious state – having witnessed much religious upheval in the rest of Europe, Poland was mostly inclusive of everyone.

Here is a good summary of this.

After the final partition of Poland by its neighbours, after 123 years of non-exixtance, Poland reemerged after the I WW – devastated, impoverished, and immediately had to fend for itself, first against the Ukrainians, and then against the soviets.

During the Interlude between WW I and WW II Poland tried to rebuild its economy (hyperinflation, underdevelopment, poverty), all the while trying to protect its borders from outside influence – having just regained independence from foreign occupation this was all too apparent. All of this gave rise to a new wave of nationalism, as a reaction to the situation Poland found itself in, Poles “rallied arond the flag” so to speak. As I understand it, this intensified any feelings of religious intolerance that have already been around for some time by then.

The second world war came just as Poland was regaining its strength. Poland was prepared for a defensive war, to hold off the German invasion (which was seen as only a matter of time) for as long as it took for France and England (with whom we had had a mutual protection pact) to enter the war, strike Hitler’s backside, and relieve us.

What we were not prepared for was a German-Russian pact. At first our soldiers at the eastern front were told not to engage russian troops in hopes that they were perhaps marching on the Germans. All in all we were not prepared to fight a war on two fronts.

After the war we were handed over to the soviets, at the conference in Yalta (commonly referred to by Poles as the Yalta betrayal). During the soviet occupation anti-semitism prevailed.

Before the war Poland had the biggest population of Jews in the world. The extermination of Polish soldiers, scientists, teachers, scholars, thinkers, artists, poets, writers, police officers, civilians… Of the 6 milion murdered Poles, roughly 3 milion were Jews.

After the war Poland emerged from the ashes mostly a single nation-state… under Russian rule.

If there is anti-semitism left in Poland, it is mostly fuelled by radicalism, fundamental catholicism (sorry Christians, but this is the sad truth about the polish “Church”), and a general ignorance. A “regular” pole has probably never so much as seen a Jewish person in their lives. The anti-semitism they might have is inherited bigotry at best. This is a complicated issue, and I am no authority on this. All I can tell you is Poland is changing for the better in regard to tolerance – it has to learn to be a diversity-friendly state once again. This will take time.

@wildpotato once used cavalry against tanks for some reason

I cannot tell you how often I hear this one, and it amuses me people still believe this. True Poland had some great cavalry units during the war (for lack of better armaments – we were simply not done rearming before the nazis… and the soviets attacked), but this is simply not true. This is nazi propaganda – the nazis even made make-believe movies depicting this to convince the rest of the world we were a nation of imbeciles.

The truth of the matter is polish cavalry units were under strict orders not to engage enemy armor – no commander in their right mind sent their troops to their deaths just to rattle sabres. We were desperate, but not (entirely) stupid. This rumour was started after a Polish cavalry unit got ambushed by German APC machine gun fire, having earlier dispersed german infantry. Read about it here and please stop spreading this myth…

As for Jews in Poland… what more can I say. There were collaborators who worked with the nazis, who handed Jews over to the murderers, there were those who actively participated in those crimes, true. There were however plenty more people who risked their lives to save Jews from the slaughter. When polish intelligence cells reported back to the allies what was happening at the German concentration camps, nobody believed them initially. And yes, people actually risked their lives.

Nowadays Jews are giving themselves a bad rep for what many Poles see as ungrateful behaviour towards us. A lot of good people died, and a lot more risked their lives to help Jews escape. Saying that it takes top shelf among the countries that were only too glad to hand us over is unfair, to say the least. It is a pity they ignore the good and focus almost entirely on the bad.

For this treatment alone a lot of Poles today feel a strong resentment towards the Jews.

Glad you’re not part of this at least. I wouldn’t say that that negativity is wrong, just… misplaced.

@Shippy Glad you liked the links. All generalizations are bad though, mmkay? ;) Nah we have a lot of ugly people here too. They’re called “normal people” and make up 99,95% of the population. As far as men go I wouldn’t really know. Poland is pretty conservative in a lot of ways, so yeah a sizeable portion of men might still consider it normal to open doors for women, and generally put them on a pedestal. Given however how women nowadays like to abuse this, this kind of behaviour should die out within the next 10 to 20 years. I still do it though ;)

@ucme good question, if I come up with an answer to that one I’ll let you know ;-)

Football is still a relatively big thing over here, despite the times you talk about being a distant past, with our national team never actually achieving anything significant nowadays (it’s become a national joke that: _first we will give it all ve’ve got, then will be the “last-chance match” after losing which we will absolutely devastate a rival in a match, that we know will give us absolutely nothing” :D

@Earthgirl good question. The White Eagle present in our coat of arms. Then there is our national anthem, the flag – the colours of which (as I was taught still in grade school) represent innocence and/or peace (white) and the blood of countless generations who fought to keep the nation alive (red).

Then we look to history. Famous medieval battles, lost cities, historical landmarks. Those sorts of things. WW II is still pretty much alive over here. We may have forgiven but we have not forgotten. (Then again I am 28 now, the new generations might already have a slightly different view of all of this).

Then there is music, science, the arts… all the things that make up a national identity ;-) Globalization is eating away at this of course. Nowadays we are a blend of conservative historical revisionism and modern post-communist re-connection to the world, if that makes any sense. Right now we are trying to reestablish our place in the world.

@submariner can’t guarantee the blonde, but you’re welcome to come and visit anytime, by all means ;) Poles tend to have terrible English… As far as teaching goes, pick a city, pick a language school (or a private university) and you shouldn’t have a problem finding work. Dating: women are women, treat them with respect and don’t let them walk all over you – if I come up with a better tactic myself I will let you know ;) Language study… hmm my first question would be “why on earth would you want to do this to yourself?!” :D If you’re serious though, look to universities for those, like the Jagiellonian University‘s Polish for Foreigners.

Good luck! ;)

@mattbrowne 1. I dare say there is not a single family in Poland that has not lost a relative or relatives because of WW II. My grandparents were kids mostly, during the war. I guess it depends on who you ask. Some people didn’t lose all that much, some people lost everything. I’m afraid there are still a lot of old people who will never forget the atrocities of that time.

The younger generations however are ok with Germans, Polish-German relations are really good right now, I’d say. The only thing that ruins this image is Germans with bad attitudes towards us. There is a general feeling that despite Germany having lost the war, we are the actual losers. We got handed over to the soviets, while Germany flourished thanks to the Marshall Plan (at least the “Wessies” did ;). It is not pleasant when you hear German people downplaying us, giving us bad press and all the while driving better cars, leading overall better lives – it’s as if they “got away with murder” and are laughing at our naivete now.

It’s not like that I know, but that how it feels like sometimes. That we were attacked, abandonned by allies, devastated by war, forgotten again at the end of the war, and after finally we’re free from under communist rule we come out as the loser, better yet – mocked by the children of the people who got us into this mess.

Normally we have no beef with Germans, though – they make for some fine drinking company ;)

2. I can’t speak for most of us, but my history education ended at the end of WWII, officially because we ran out of time to cover the rest, most probably the real reason was the teacher had no idea how to teach us about modern history. I must say I was ignorant of this, and have even more respect for the man now. I have learned some german in high school and that also gave me some basic info on German modern history, interesting times by all means…

3) We’d love Ukraine to join the EU! Ukraine has some serious internal problems it needs to sort out first and we seem powerless to help. On the one hand they took Lwow (Lviv) from us, and made several hostile gestures towards us over the years (like giving Stephan Bandera – deceased leader of a radical anti-polish terrorist organization responsible for massacring Polish civilians in the 1940s the title of “Hero of Ukraine…), on the other hand Ukrainians, like Russians, Czechs, Slovaks, Croatians, Serbs, Slovenians – they’re all our Slavic brothers no matter what animosities might come between us, so it’s always nice to have more of us in one organization, heh.

Interestingly enough Poland has a rather “brotherly” relationship with Hungary – we even have two versions of the same poem, commemorating just that :D

@janbb you wouldn’t freaking believe how long it’s taking xD)

@wundayatta hey, not everything the commies did was bad, though a lot of people can’t seem to make peace with that idea. There as many scrambled eggs’ recipes as there are people in Poland, so I really don’t know ;) Good point though, Polish food is really rather good ;)

@ragingloli they were “given” to us by the soviets, who in turn took our eastern lands. And Koenigsberg, trad. Polish “Krolewiec” – was land taken from us by you people, and is now in the RUSSIAN enclave called Kaliningrad. Danzig is a Polish city called Gdansk, formerly a FREE CITY. And as far as I remember Berlin was initially a Slavic settlement, so perhaps let’s not start the who owes what to whom game, eh?

@burntbonez the tracks are a remnant of the partitions of Poland – each partition had its own railroad system, each with different track width. Why aren’t the tracks russian-sized? Well perhaps because this isn’t Russia? Here’s a history of railroad tracks in Poland. Enjoy ;)

Phew. That was a long post (another colossal squid here I come! yaay :D)!

Keep’em coming guys ;)

Regards,

the fremen

janbb's avatar

@fremen_warrior That was incredible! You are amazing!

zensky's avatar

When will the Anti-Semitism ever subside? They were worse than the Nazis and seem to have progressed little since.

janbb's avatar

@zensky Did you read his comments above? He discusses that.

zensky's avatar

I didn’t. WoT’s make me nervous and bored. But for you… BRB

Okay. Read it. No answer. But the kid makes an effort.

jca's avatar

@fremen_warrior: Did I overlook it or did you not post anything related to my earlier response, that I’d like to learn about the Polish language?

wildpotato's avatar

@zensky Read the bits to Paradise and me. And I know you spoke lightly, but it’s not really fair to characterize it as a wall of text: he used paragraphs, transition statements, lists, and links. Was he supposed to break it up into individual replies? That would have been annoying.

@fremen_warrior Thanks for the detailed reply. I’ll start spreading the facts now, about the tank thing. Not that I was going around making sure to drop that tidbit into conversation before or anything (lol), but now I know what to say if it comes up. Also, I feel a bit better about the Jewish thing after reading your reply. I think it was mostly just festering a bit because I’d never had a conversation about it before, with a Pole. So, thanks for that as well.

@zensky, againsky: Anti-semitism in Poland is decreasing: Antipathy was at 45% in ‘05; down to 27% in ‘10. I know, still kind of an eek, I probably wouldn’t head over there for a vacation kind of thing, but you have to admit that’s a lot better in a very short period of time.

gailcalled's avatar

Why three of my grandparents lived in Lithuania, the Ukraine and Russia most of the time but occasionally, at the same physical address, in Poland during the quarter of the nineteenth century.

They all spoke Polish as a third or fourth language.

ucme's avatar

@fremen_warrior Lech Poznan fans turn their back on the match, jumping in unison in a unique “celebration” at least it was until Manchester City fans copied it over here.

bolwerk's avatar

@zensky also wants you to know that Poland fell so easily because the German troops marched in backwards and pretended to be leaving.

Sunny2's avatar

Food favorites? If I were to give a Polish themed party, what would I serve? Holiday menus? In fact, holiday customs?
Thanks for doing this. I had a Polish grandfather, but he died when my mother was in her teens, so I don’t know much about him or his side of the family.

flutherother's avatar

We grew up with the children of Polish exiles who fled Poland during WW2 and settled in Scotland. There weren’t many of them and they were only distinguishable by their unusual surnames. I remember their fathers as being austere quiet types who kept themselves to themselves.

There has been a second wave of immigration from Eastern Europe and lots of young Poles have come over here looking for work. There is now a direct bus route from Glasgow to Poznan but I have never been to Poland.

If I went to Warsaw what would you recommend that I should see?

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

“Do you tell American jokes?”

Q: How many Americans does it take to change a light bulb?

A: None. They get an undocumented alien to do the job, and then they demand that he leave their country.

submariner's avatar

@fremen_warrior “Women are women”? That is a tautology, yet, paradoxically, it is false. ;-)

I’ll try some more specific questions:
Do many Polish women under 40 years of age smoke?
Do many of them get tattoos and piercings?

I’ve got more, but I’ll give them to you small doses so you don’t get too many Colossal Squids.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@jca you’re right overlooked it in all the fervor of replying to the myriad questions that popped up almost instantaneously ;) It’s nice you’re interested in learning Polish, though as I’ve mentioned to @submariner there are many other, less severe versions of masochsm :P I can’t really recommend any sources on the net, as all my foreigner-friends learned their Polish basics at the Jagiellonian University over here in Krakow. Google for it I suppose. If you have any particular questions about the language you can always drop me a line ;)

@janbb I see I missed your question as well ;) Catholicism is still pretty big over here, though it’s losing support recently. During the soviet era it used to be a rally point for oppositionists, as the soviets tried to make the society an atheist one. Turns out fighting the catholic church led ultimately to their downfall in Poland.

@gailcalled if not the language itself, it’s good to know a Polack or two, we’re very crafty ;)

@zensky what else do you want me to say?

@wildpotato glad I could be of service then ;) And thank you for your structured defense of my post, that saves me some explaining as per @zensky ‘s questions :P

@ucme that’s globalization for ya ;) Many peope notice that after the job migrations of the early 2000s a lot of Poles have a better “driving etiquette” – apparently we imported better driving habits and manners from the Isles. Good we’re paying it forward by exporting some positive behaviour back ;P

@bolwerk haha :D good one ;)

@Sunny2 Polish food… hmm. Here goes:

- golonka – a meat eater’s dream – serve with beer and horseradish

- ruskie pierogi – for the vegetarian within

- ... actually I’ve just found a site that might be perfect for your needs (Blueberry pierogi – highly recommended, culinary miracle :P)

@flutherother quite frankly I don’t know. I don’t quite like Warsaw (Warsaw and Krakow have this sort of minor animosity thing going on ;) The few things I can recommend:

- the Warsaw Upising Museum “interactive”, really well done, quite unlike your regular museum,
– the Krakowskie Przedmiescie (literally “Krakow suburb”) area – has some nice cafes, old architecture and even houses the Presidential Palace
– the Royal Baths park developed by the last king of Poland
Other than that you probably ought to visit this site for more information. It’s kind of embarassing but I neve rgot to know my own capital all that well ;) Maybe it’s because Krakow historically has been the place of coronation, and burial, of Polish Kings, and feels more like the rightful capital. Or maybe I’m just lazy :)

@SadieMartinPaul the typical joke, when I was growing up went like this “There’s a Russian, a German, and a Pole…” – guess who always ended up being the most clever ;P Sure we tell american jokes, just like we tell blond jokes, police jokes and priest jokes. Pking fun at others is great… that is until they decide to poke back, in which case those b*stards have gone TOO far!!! xD Like I said, we’re the same as everyone else in this respect :P

@submariner it was my way of diplomatically skirting (pun intended) your question ;) What I meant was when it comes to women you can’t generalize too much, even Polish women. I don’t get them practically as much as I don’t get women of other nationalities. I’ve noticed personality types are transnational, look for those instead of nation-specific ones!

Smoking was still popular at the turn of the century, but now I rarely see anyone smoking, especially women. That said you still might find a few here and there with a cig. As for tatoos, a few of them might have small to medium ones, mostly polish women imo are not tattooed enough, but that’s a matter of personal taste I guess. Most of the hundreds of gorgeous women I’ve dated were tatoo-free :P

Fire away with the questions, I can take it! ;-)

G’nite all y’all!

the fremen

LostInParadise's avatar

Thank you for your thoughtful answers.

Sunny2's avatar

@fremen_warrior Thank you! I’ve had pierogi, but not blueberry. Sounds wonderful. I’ll explore the Polish Journal when I have more time. I appreciate your research.

jaytkay's avatar

@fremen_warrior I have some Polish news for YOU from Chicago!

Here in Chicago we like to brag we have more Poles than any city on Earth except Warsaw.

In 1990, twenty thousand Chicago Poles participated. in Poland’s 1st post-communist election

Pulaski Day is a holiday in Illinois and Chicago. Schools and government offices are closed.

Pączki Day is a big deal in Chicago and Detroit (I lived in Detroit, too).

fremen_warrior's avatar

@LostInParadise, and @Sunny2 you are most welcome, I am enjoying this as well ;)

@jaytkay hence beginneth the glorious Polish invasion of the rest of the world ;-) Glad to know Chicago’s still ours heh. At least now if someone decides to erase us Poles from the face of the world, they’ll have to nuke an American city to do it too (in a way, this is the key to understanding the sudden Polish-American rather than Polish-European tendency in international relations post 1989: if a trilateral mutual protection pact didn’t save us, perhaps the threat of nuclear war – however faint – might, if push comes to shove). Like I said before, the experiences of WW II are still pretty much alive in our minds, even if it’s not apparent at first.

G’nite (seriously this time) all ;-)

filmfann's avatar

My step daughter is engaged to a man who was born in Poland, and came to America when he was 3 years old. His name is Jacek, and he still has family in Poland. His father, who was a lawyer, was asked to leave by anti-solidarity factions.
He goes and visits there every couple years. My step daughter is now trying to learn Polish, so she can talk to his family when they travel there.

flutherother's avatar

@fremen_warrior Thanks for taking the time to provide that information. I must try to visit Poland some day. Germany on one side, Russia on the other. You have my sympathy.

mattbrowne's avatar

@fremen_warrior – Thanks for taking the time to answer in such great detail !

I was born in 1962 and raised in Germany. My father was born in Lodz in Poland in 1930 and went to a German school till 1944. When the Red Army was approaching, the German company in Lodz my grandfather worked for transferred him to Ulm, which was later almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing.

I’m glad that there are still a lot of old people who will never forget the atrocities of that time. In fact, we taught our children to never forget and asked them to teach their children and keep the memory alive. I was asking about forgiveness. That’s different.

It’s true that there are still Germans with bad attitudes towards Poland, like there are still Dutch people with bad attitudes towards Germany, but their numbers keep shrinking. Stupid cliches are hard to get rid of. Educated Germans know that we have to thank Poland for our reunification. And Hungary. This encouraged East Germans to risk everything and demand an end to the totalitarian system. Yes, without Gorbashev it would not have been possible. Still, what got started in Poland made a big difference. A lot of heroes were born in Poland at the time.

West Germany did flourish thanks to the Marshall Plan, but that was not the only reason. Strong traditions in excellent education, administration, engineering, science, work ethic, self-criticism capability and so forth played an important role too. East Germany without any Marshall Plan did far better than all other Soviet controlled states. Poland has long suffered from a too strong influence of anti-progress conservative Catholicism which is thankfully eroding. Why did Marie Curie born Skłodowska have to go to Paris at the time? The Polish mindset at the time was almost a century behind other European countries. But this all changed. Today Poland is doing far better than most ex-communist countries. Investors speak highly of great opportunities in Poland.

zensky's avatar

I think @fremen_warrior is a great part of Fluther.

janbb's avatar

@zensky I think @fremen_warrior is a great part of Poland!

gailcalled's avatar

When the 1930 census taker came to my paternal grandfather’s house in the Bronx (how thrilling it was to see the facsimile online) he wrote down that my grandfather had been born in Russia and then crossed it out and wrote Poland.

It was Lithuania, according to gramps.

ragingloli's avatar

@janbb
I think he is going to be a great part of the new german empire in the future.

gailcalled's avatar

PS. In 1940 census, gramps was still listed, incorrectly, as having been born in Poland.

wildpotato's avatar

@ragingloli That’s by far I think that might be the creepiest thing I have ever seen you write.

lifeflame's avatar

I’d like an update on how the Poles think about Asia and Asians…
(you say “perogies”, I say “dumplings”)

Kropotkin's avatar

Why do people say “pierogies” when pierogi is already the plural form? Pierog being singular.

jaytkay's avatar

A question just occured to me.

Do you encounter many Poles who returned home after working in the US?

I ask this because my job involves real estate and locating all the people associated with a property in the past 10 years.

And sometimes I find people overseas, because they moved here for work and returned home after the recession removed the jobs.

Also, the local newspaper had a story recently about people who moved here in the 1990s and they are returning to Poland.

In Poland, is it well-known that people are returning from the US?

mattbrowne's avatar

From what I’ve heard there were many Poles returning home after having worked in the UK when the financial crisis hit in 2008.

lifeflame's avatar

@Kropotkin – I stand corrected. (Have pity on us poor sods – Polish is a really hard language to learn)

fremen_warrior's avatar

@filmfann it’s always fun to be able to talk to a foreigner in your own language, and Poles appreciate it when you take the time to learn it, especially since we are aware, to some degree, that our language is somewhat messed up, and a bit of a minefield of unexplainable spellings, twisted declinations and the like (for instance: we have two plural forms, depending on whether you are talking about 2–9 things or 10 and more things).

@flutherother come one, come all, there’s really a lot to see here (maybe that’s the reason for all the invasions? xD)

@zensky, @janbb glad to be here, glad you are all enjoying my contributions ;-)

@gailcalled due to some bureaucrat’s mistake, my great grandmother was registered as a Ukrainian, because he substituted one “o” in her surname with an “i” making it sound more Ukrainian. That was around the time they were being forecefully resettled from Lwow, “repatriated” (more like kicked out of their home) to Poland, which the city had been declared no longer a part of. They all got a quota of “20 or 40 kg of belongings per person” that they could take with them btw. A lot of family “heirlooms”, memorabilia, the“non-essential” things were lost back then.

@ragingloli what @wildpotato said.

@lifeflame I’d say we’re surprisingly quite positive. Historically speaking, whatever contact we had with that Continent, happened mostly via arrow to the head. Hell one of Krakow’s longest and most endearing traditions revolves around a Mongol siege. Read about it (and listen to the tune) here – and yes, whenever I visit the city centre, every full hour, of every day, the trumpet plays the same tune 4 times (N, W, E, S), and always abruptly ends when the trumpeteer supposedly recieves the arrow to the knee neck. For the lazy jellies:

”...The legend of the hejnal bugle call dates back from the Middle Ages, when the Mongols invaded Poland, including Krakow. It is said that the distinct conclusion to the call is an echo of the siege of Krakow during the 13th century, when a Mongol arrow shot Krakow’s bugle caller through the neck, bringing the warning call to an abrupt end…”

Today our knowledge of Asia revolves mostly around the Indians coming over en-masse, buying out our steel industry, Japanese technology, Vietnamese food, Chinese food to a similar extent… oh and the human rights’ issues in Tibet (which is mostly a fad in my opinion, since we don’t seem to care for the rest of the world the same way if you get my meaning).

Honestly though most Poles have a cloudy perception of Asia at best, and like I said earlier, the stereotypes we have are mostly positive, if a bit “poking fun at ‘typical’ Indian or Chinese ‘characteristics’ popularized by western movies”. The latter are due to us probably having very low exposure to foreigners in general, Asians especially.

Luckilly enough we never tried to colonize or abuse anybody (too much – nobody’s 100% innocent :P), much less anywhere in Asia, so we have no imperialistic longings like the British for their beloved Raj, or the French for Indochina might still have. Actually I think given a lot of Poles were sent to Syberia while under Russian occupation (one or the other) – and their written accounts of their travel back, sometimes through China even, describing the kind treatment they recieved, the amazing landscapes they saw along the way, I think that too helped paint an overall positive if not somewhat poetic image of Asia. Also during the years of the People’s Republic of Poland we had a few good travel writers who went to far away places like Azerbeijan, Mongolia, Georgia and wrote about their experiences. Back then travel outside of Poland was restricted to a lucky few, so at least people read about those places and I think that adds to the positivity.

Most Asians that come over here have a good rep for being nice, hard working people. Other than that I think we really just don’t know much about Asia. Then again this is only my perspective ;-)

@Kropotkin‘s right the “i” at the end is the equivalent of the English plural “s”. And a good example of what I said earlier about the 2 plurals:

1 pierog, 2 pierogi, 10 pierogow.

If that doesn’t convince you Polish is crazy, I don’t know what will… oh I know! xD

@jaytkay not yet, at least not me. There was a wave returning from Ireland and the UK a while back, like @mattbrowne says, but I haven’t noticed an upsurge in those returning from the US – once you get a Polak, he won’t go back :P

@lifeflame shame on you for giving up so easilly <shakes finger @ @lifeflame :P>

gailcalled's avatar

@fremen_warrior: Have you seen a movie, based on a true story of Jews in Lvov, who ended up living in the sewers for 14 months, having been befriended by a Catholic Pole who worked down there? He braved the wrath of the Nazis who occupied the city.

An extraordinary movie. In Darkness

”“In Darkness” does not have the narrative drive and clear characterisation of “Schindler’s List” but, like Spielberg’s film, it is powerful movie-making and heart-wrenching storytelling.”

fremen_warrior's avatar

@mattbrowne sorry, overlooked your post there. Forgiveness is a tough topic. One of my grandfathers I think never really forgave. The rest of my family moved on I think, the times after the war were tough as they were without holding on to grudges. One of my great grandfathers never returned from the front lines – either died fighting the Germans, or got “liberated” by the Red Army (they were executing captured Polish soldiers that they considered might want to resist the soviet takeover), my grandmother lost a sister to disease, and she barely survived herself, hunger and poverty being rampant back then. – the other side of the family was a bit more fortunate, they lived in the countryside and had more food, could literally “head for the hills” when the germans came – though a nearby village wasn’t so lucky. I’ll spare you the drastic details, suffice it to say nobody survived. Personally I like to think that most people that took part in all of this are dead, and the new generations had nothing to do with all this history. Blank slate, fresh start. Nothing was done to me directly, so I have nothing to forgive, but I cannot speak for my relatives who lost their loved ones. I think we should leave this question for now.

At the moment I’m happy Poland is contributing to building a stable Europe, to peacekeeping operations in many of the world’s hotspots, and has nice, freindly realtions with all of its neighbours (okay, maybe not Lithuania, but that’s mostly a mystery to us as to why they don’t like us so much nowadays).

@gailcalled I read about it. And while I understand the need for these kinds of movies, I have seen enough of them already, I don’t want to add any more to the gloom and darkness. Most of my later grade school literature classes (along with a large chunk of those in high school) revolved around the pain and suffering of WWII – that and the documentaries, trips to the German camp in Auschwitz and watching movies like The Pianist, Schindler’s list… forgive me if I sound blunt, but this Jelly has had his share of WWII education for one lifetime…

Cheers!

Kropotkin's avatar

@fremen_warrior Doesn’t pierogów start at pięć? I’m reasonably fluent in Polish, by the way. It’s my second language I learned from my parents and relatives.

DaphneT's avatar

@fremen_warrior, this has been a great question. According to our family records, my great-grandfather came from Makowarsko, Prussia. My sister had a chance to visit Poland some years ago and discovered that this place was in the Poznan region. Do you know of any digital sites with good maps of the many boundaries of Poland?

Seek's avatar

OK, the only question I’ve ever had _ specifically_ about Poland:

What happened to Chava and Fyedka (in Fiddler on the Roof) after they moved to Krakow?

…You don’t have to answer this. I’ve always thought it one of the saddest parts of the play.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@Kropotkin you’re more Polish than I am it would appear ;-) yeah that is correct, my brain skipped some neurons while thinking of a response to post there. Pozdrowienia z zakopanego… Krakowa xD

@DaphneT glad I could actually contribute something with value, to Fluther :) Some cities have virtual walk sites, just google the city name preceded by the phrase “wirtualny spacer”. As for maps, Google Street View is your best bet. In the end though to really get the feel for those places you actually need to come and visit them yourself ;)

@Seek_Kolinahr Krakow was becoming a great city once again in those times, so who knows ;)

lg's avatar

Hello, I came across a Polish proverb and would like to know any history behind it and is it a very popular saying in Poland? “You become who you befriend.” Thanks for your help.

Kropotkin's avatar

@lg I’m not sure I’ve heard that. Do you know what it is in Polish?

fremen_warrior's avatar

@lg and @Kropotkin I think it’s “Z kim przestajesz tym się stajesz” basically means “You become who you spend time with” . An old one, still in use albeit infrequently. It rhymes so there probably is less story behind it than convenience of the phrase. It’s definitely not new. “Przestawać z kimś” to spend time with someone is most definitely “pre-war” Polish, an anachronism if you will, although we still understand it and it can be used to create a pun for instance. Frankly though I’m not really big on sayings or quotes.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@fremen_warrior Having grown up just outside Chicago, I knew a lot of folks who were of Polish descent, but up until several years ago, I had never met anyone from Poland. That changed when I was working an assignment through a temp agency. We instantly had a bond when I shared an old recording of Mad Man Michaels doing his Dragnet parody, The Czarnina Kid.

One thing he mentioned during our conversations was that many young Poles consider themselves to be more “European” than “Polish”. Is this your experience, and how do you think this will affect the rich cultural heritage of Poland?

fremen_warrior's avatar

@Yetanotheruser hey, never heard of that play/skit, thanks for the link.

As for the Poles and Europe… we have a saying “Two Poles, three opinions”. It’s like that. Some will say they are Polish first, others will balk at any and all hints they might be patriots (whatever that even means nowadays). It really depends on who you talk to. Nations are becoming irrelevant, and I hope they will go extinct at some point, in a “we are the world” sense I mean ;-)

how do you think this will affect the rich cultural heritage of Poland?

I hope Poland will open up more, and leave the bouts of (religious) conservatism in the past where it belongs. In that sense it would be great if we’d all consider ourselves more European than Polish. Less arguing, more getting along with others as equal sentients.

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