Poland

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    "Poland is a major exporter of great Americans, great Israelis, and great Russians."
    Anonymous
    "For centuries, Poland has been known specifically for two things: badass spicy sausages, and getting epically fucked over by every other European nation in every possible way."
    "And now we're gonna play a trick on the Poles and put them between Russia and Germany."

    Poland. The picked-on kid with glasses of the European school playground, but it hasn't always been.

    History

    Poland arose when the West Slavic tribes of the region were united by the Polans around about 1000. Perhaps the most globally notable event of first two or three centuries of Poland's existence was when one of Polish princes invited The Teutonic Knights to help him against the pagan Prussians. It later became quite a nuisance, so to say. Poland, looking for allies, became associated with Lithuania (also having a problem with the Knights) and together they broke the power of the Order. Over time Lithuania eventually merged with Poland, forming the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (a kind of The Federation and The Kingdom at once). Together, Poland and Lithuania ruled over an enormous empire and were immensely powerful. Above all, this period is remembered for "Golden Liberty", when kings were elected and one in ten people could vote, more than anywhere else in Europe at the time. The King had to share power with the Sejm, or senate. The Commonwealth was also known for its religious tolerance (letting, for instance, Jews live more or less in peace when most countries reveled in senseless persecution), at a time when religious wars were consuming the rest of Europe. At its height, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the largest country by land area in Europe. The Commonwealth in this period is also known for fielding the completely Badass winged hussars.

    Golden Liberty was a great inspiration for the American Revolution, but it had a flaw, to which we owe the existence of a strong US Presidency: any one noble could block laws (the Liberum Veto with which Europa Universalis players may be familiar), so as soon as one person got bribed by Russia, Prussia, or Austria, the country was in their hands. The Poles got tired of this at about the time of Washington and passed a new constitution, very progressive for the day (the second written constitution in history, inspired by the American constitution). Russia, Prussia, and Austria, the "three black eagles", decided that enough was enough and abolished the country.

    Poles in Austria generally enjoyed the right to speak their language and quite a bit of self-rule, and were fairly supportive of the Habsburgs (even today, Emperor Franz Josef is remembered fondly in southern Poland, while praising other rulers of the "three black eagles" would make Poles twitch). Poles in Prussia were originally well-treated (Frederick the Great required the heir to the throne to be fluent in Polish, although this was never really implemented). After the Napoleonic War, borders were shuffled and the smaller number of Poles left in Prussia were mostly in ethnically-mixed areas such as Upper Silesia and found their circumstances hard, especially after the abolition of their autonomy in 1848. Political hardship only led to a strengthening of Polish national spirit, but economic hardship compelled many Polish Germans (or German Poles) to move to the thriving Rhineland or over the Atlantic.

    Poles in Russia had it bad. Not surprising, then, that they tried to change the situation twice (twice-and-a-half including the rioting during the Revolution of 1905). The first time, the November Uprising, they actually had the means to change the situation, as the Russian part of Poland was technically autonomous and in personal union with Russia, and as such had a rather manageable army. Not surprisingly, the second uprising, the January Uprising, was restricted to guerilla warfare and ended in tragedy, the abolition of Polish autonomy, and many Poles being sent to Siberia. [1]

    So during WW 1, many Poles, including future leaders such as Pilsudski and Sikorski, joined Austro-Hungarian forces (though there was a Russian-loyal faction, led by a Nationalist leader Roman Dmowski) and helped the Central Powers to establish a puppet Polish Kingdom in former Russian territory, as the lesser of two evils. If sent to the western front, they usually deserted to join the French Foreign Legion. After the war, a new independent Poland was created, and had its moment of glory saving the world from Reds with Rockets against really, really bad odds.

    Things then started taking turns for the worse. Immediately after the collapse of the Russian Empire resulted in the renewed independence of most of the former Commonwealth, Poland laid claim to the Lithuanian city of Vilnius,[2] leading to a war between the former allies. The Ukrainians who had invited the Poles in to rescue them from the Reds found that Warsaw had none of their best interests at heart (Piłsudski personally was very ashamed by this). Their German minority were also treated in a rather nasty way. Poland was making powerful and numerous enemies, its industrialization was slow and faltering, and its internal tensions came to the fore when the military staged a coup and established the "Government of Moral Sanitation".

    Hard as it might have been to imagine, in 1939, things got even worse.

    During the War, Poland suffered possibly the most brutal occupation in the world. The Holocaust was carried out there, and it was the official intention of the Nazis to plunder Poland and starve it to death. Contrary to popular wisdom, the Poles fought brilliantly against overwhelming odds, never surrendered, and even when stabbed in the back by the Commies, escaped to fight another day. The cavalry charging tanks was a myth; the incident that inspired this story involved a Polish cavalry division (actually mounted infantry, like most cavalry of the time, though with traditions and training) which routed a German infantry division but was counter-attacked by armoured cars. Additionally, while some Polish cavalry units did deliberately engage German armor, they did so dismounted while wielding anti-tank rifles.

    The Poles didn't take occupation lying down. As well as organising a resistance movement, tens of thousands of Polish men escaped from the country and made their way to Britain and France to continue the fight, forming entire squadrons of airmen and divisions of ground troops. By the end of the war, there were ~250 thousand Poles fighting alongside the Western Allies, with another ~200 thousand aiding the Soviets. Suffice it to say that Poland had more than its fair share of Awesome Moments during the period.

    Poland lost a fifth of its population in the war- seven million people in all, mostly civilians. Out of a pre-war Jewish population of 3.3 million, only 300,000 survived (Poland's Jewish population were Polish citizens; Israel did not exist until after the war.)

    After the war, the country was taken over by the Reds with Rockets, who kicked millions of Poles out of their ancestral homes, depositing them in former Eastern Germany, where they in turn kicked millions of Germans out of their ancestral homes, thus accounting for the country's suspiciously straight borders (the western border follows the line of the Oder and Neisse rivers) and the fact that Warsaw, originally chosen as the capital for its central location, is no longer especially central. Stalin was not a nice guy. Poland suffered long and hard under deeply incompetent Communist rule, and eventually Polish people were instrumental in its downfall.

    Post-1989, Poland joined NATO and the European Union. The latter led to a large movement of Poles to the UK.

    Home of the trade unionist with the impressive moustache (who became President) and formerly had identical twins as its President and Prime Minister. Also home of a very famous and popular former pontiff.

    Polish language[edit | hide | hide all]

    Polish language

    Polish is a West Slavic language, a group which also includes Czech and Slovak and a number of minority languages. [3] It is the most spoken member of the group and the second-most spoken Slavic language, with 40 million native speakers (38 million in Poland itself) and over a million second language speakers (no exact figure exists).

    Brace yourself now, 'cause you're in for a hell of a ride.

    Polish language is hard, meaning it is both hard to learn and pronounce. It has many "hard" consonants like:

    • s (snow; sizzle)
    • ś (similar to 'sz', but softer; bullshit)
    • z (zoo)
    • ź (like 'z', but soft; leisure)
    • ż (mirage, like 'dż', but longer; also, it's transcribed from Cyrillic as "zh")
    • sz (shampoo)
    • cz (touch)
    • t (tone)
    • c (cent; schnitzel)
    • ć (chicken, often transliterated as 'ti')
    • dż (journal)
    • dź (jingle)
    • k (kite)
    • g (gun)

    The vowels are read like in Spanish. Sample words:

    • strzelać (pronounced: [s t sz e l a ć]) - to shoot
    • bezwzględny (notice 5 consonants in a row) - ruthless (if describing a person) or absolute
    • Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz - [g ż e g o ż, b ż en cz y sz cz y ki e vi cz] a Polish name (the first name meaning: Gregory, last name means something similar to 'buzzing')
      • To clarify, this isn't actually a popular name; it was used as a gag in a Polish comedy movie and became somewhat of a meme since then.
        • In this gag the protagonist uses the name to confuse a Nazi officer who tries to write down his personal data (along with birth place: Chrząszczyżewoszczyce, powiat Łękołody). Hitlerity ensues.


    Polish language uses several additional letters:

    • ć, ś, ż, ź (described above)
    • ą ("ow" not as in cow; won't)
    • ę ("ew" not as in screw; you rang?)
    • ł ("w"; bowl, why)
    • ó (like "oo", only short; hoot)
    • ń (sort of soft "Ni"; senior)

    This means that when you see a Polish word in a generally English text, you can't be sure if it is really written like that, or just the Polish signs were left out. We'll try to make this article consistent, except for the links. The ą's and ę's tend to mess with namespaces, so they have to be omitted there.

    By the way, ż and rz are pronounced the same way, except when "rz" is just "r"-"z". And ó the same as u and h same as ch. They, however, make a difference in how the word is inflected.

    Many Polish words are impossible to pronounce by non-native speakers. Very few non-natives can speak Polish so fluently that their foreign accent will not be noticed. Polish is considered to be the most difficult of the Slavic languages for English speakers to learn, which is saying something.

    Polish children are taught the poem: Chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie w Szczebrzeszynie i Szczebrzeszyn z tego słynie. (The beetle sings in reeds in the city Szczebrzeszyn, which is famous for it.) Making foreigners pronounce the poem is a favourite sadistic pastime of Polish people. The other is making them pronounce the word pchła (flea). [4]

    Polish grammar is even harder than the pronunciation. There are thousands of rules, each with thousands of exceptions. Some (irregular) words do not obey any rule at all. Most meaningful words undergo inflection.

    Example

    • wycierać - to wipe
    • wycieram - I wipe
    • wycierasz - you wipe
    • wyciera - he/she/it wipes
    • wycieramy - we wipe
    • wycieracie - You wipe (plural)
    • wycierają - they wipe
    • wycierałem - I (a man) was wiping
    • wycierałam - I (a woman) was wiping
    • wycierałeś - you (a man) were wiping
    • wycierałaś - you (a woman) were wiping
    • wycierał - he was wiping
    • wycierała - she was wiping
    • wycierało - it was wiping
    • wycieraliśmy - we (men) were wiping
    • wycierałyśmy - we (women) were wiping
    • wycieraliście - You (men) were wiping (plural)
    • wycierałyście - You (women) were wiping (plural)
    • wycierali - they (men) were wiping
    • wycierały - they (women) were wiping
    • wycieraj - wipe!
    • wycierajmy - let's wipe!
    • wycierajcie - wipe! (plural)
    • wycierałbym - I (a man) would wipe
    • wycierałabym - I (a woman) would wipe
    • wycierałbyś - you (a man) would wipe
    • wycierałabyś - you (a woman) would wipe
    • wycierałby - he would wipe
    • wycierałaby - she would wipe
    • wycierałoby - it would wipe
    • wycieralibyśmy - we (men) would wipe
    • wycierałybyśmy - we (women) would wipe
    • wycieralibyście - you (men) would wipe
    • wycierałybyście - you (women) would wipe
    • wycieraliby - they (men) would wipe
    • wycierałyby - they (women) would wipe
    • wycierający - a wiping man
    • wycierająca - a wiping woman
    • wycierające - wiping something
    • wycierająco - impossible to translate, something like: 'wipingly' [5]
    • wycierając - while wiping
    • wycierany - a man being wiped
    • wycierana - a woman being wiped
    • wycierane - something being wiped
    • wycierano - something was being wiped

    The word wycierać belongs to classes: imperfect, transitive. Other classes may have different forms. For example, when one wants to say 'I have wiped', he must use the word wytrzeć (perfect counterpart of wycierać) - the past form: wytarłem. Note that we didn't include the archaic forms of Polish, which are even worse than the modern language.

    In short, Polish language runs on For the Evulz.

    ...On the other hand however, Polish spelling is quite simple (almost phonetic) as compared to English (or traditional Chinese).

    Trivia

    Where the Brits would make jokes about the stupid Irish, Americans used to make jokes about stupid Poles (Polacks, if you're being really offensive; Jerkass journalist Giles Coren recently brought richly-deserved criticism upon himself for using it in an article in which he suggested that Polish expats had no business in Britain because of what their ancestors actually didn't do to his), but this seems to have died off sometime in The Seventies, or transferred over to the Brits, since many migrants go to the UK nowadays.

    Polish gamers infested Dawn of War (and several other online games) for a long time, filling it with servers apparently devoted to nationalism (PL PL PL POLSKA, similar to BR) and being really bad at the game. Two things which don't mix very well, by the way - if you're so proud of your nationality, it's best not to spam that nationality out while you're getting your rear handed to you.

    Notes on Poland: On the subject of "things you must know about X country before writing about it":

    • Poles' stereotype of their history tends to be one part Glory Days, one part Doomed Moral Victor. And history is Serious Business. This is at least partial reason why they're pissy about forgetting that...
      • It's not part of Russia. Even though at least two Polish actors are members of the Lzherusskie Club.
        • By the way, it's not part of Germany either.
      • As it's not part of Russia, people usually don't speak Russian as a first language or have Russian names. Use Russian in Poland and you might actually offend people.
        • Likewise German and Czech, though they're less likely to cause outright offense.
        • On the other hand, most Poles will at least understand one if not all of the above, but won't admit to it.
          • To be more precise, most Poles can more or less understand the meaning of the simple sentences (many words stem from the common Slavic roots) but don't expect comprehension of complex ideas and two-way communication in Czech or Russian from people who never learned these languages.
        • English is now the most widespread foreign language, and the one which young Poles learn in school - perhaps one reason why so many young Poles choose UK or Ireland to work abroad.
      • There hasn't been a Communist government since 1989.
        • Although post-communist leftist parties had held power for ten years, they were democratically elected.
          • They are no different that your average social democratic Western party, though. Advocating true communism (or any totalitarian government) is, in fact, forbidden by law.
      • The Teutonic Knights are bad. Ronald Reagan is good.
      • It's not Eastern Europe, but Central. In fact, depending on how you measure, Europe's center is in Poland or very close.
    • It's not cold there, except in the winter.
      • However, a winter without snow is extremely rare. Poland has a climate in between the temperate maritime climate of Britain and France and the temperate continental climate of European Russia, meaning that compared to the UK the summers are hotter (temperatures in the 30s are common and in the low 40s not unheard of) and the winters are colder (sometimes down to -20, the interior temperature of a domestic freezer).
      • Conversely, Polish autumn is either absolutely ugly (if it's wet), or one of the most gorgeous sights on this Lord's good red-golden earth.
    • Alcoholic drinks other than vodka are available. The most popular drink is beer, which includes several brands of very good lager that have lately become popular in the UK.
    • Poles' consumption of alcohol is rather unremarkable, compared to other European nations. Be wary, though, if you've made Polish friends. They may want to test your strength, If You Know What I Mean.
    • In the first US Presidential debate of 2004, Sen. John Kerry did, indeed, forget Poland. Poland had about 200 troops in Iraq when the invasion started.
      • There was a quite sizable Polish force in Iraq. Another one is serving in Afghan province of Ghazni.
    • Poland is the most religious country in Europe, even more so than (fellow Catholic countries) Ireland and Italy.
      • Altough recent polls have shown that more and more people are simply getting by without thinking about religion at all. While most admit they're Catholic, they do it out of force of habit, or because they have been brought up that way. Fewer and fewer people are attending masses. There is a growing anti-clerical movement which has gotten 10% of the vote during the 2011 parliamentary elections, echoing that trend.
    • Poland also has a long, close relationship with Hungary dating back to the Middle Ages. Today, both nations celebrate a Polish-Hungarian Friendship Day.

    See also:

    Famous Real Life Poles:

    • Lech Wałęsa
    • Pope John Paul II
    • Roman Polanski
    • Marie Curie - nee Maria Skłodowska.
    • Nicolaus Copernicus - quite probably he was ethnically German, but was a loyal subject of the Polish king.
    • Fryderyk Chopin - his father was a Frenchman, but he was very much a Pole.
    • Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's advisor.
    • Stanislaw Lem - SF author, suspected by Philip K. Dick not to exist.
      • Philip K. Dick suspected him of being a group of KGB agents, to be accurate.
    • Pawel Edmund Strzelecki - an explorer of large swaths of Australia and a person who named the continent's tallest mountain after...
    • Tadeusz Kosciuszko - A revolutionary and Badass enough to be a national hero in four countries - Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and USA (he founded West Point).
    • Joseph Conrad, whose given name was Jozef Korzeniowski. Wrote in English.
    • Zdzisław Beksiński - Surrealist painter
    • Ernest Malinowski - An engineer. Constructed at that time the world's highest railway Ferrocarril Central Andino in the Peruvian Andes in 1871-1876.


    the polish flag[edit | hide]

    ...yes, it's white on top.[edit | hide]

    125px-Flag of Poland svg.png

    Notes

    1. Interestingly enough, many of these Poles became great explorers of Siberia -- as commemorated by Chersky Range, though it actually wasn't discovered by Jan Czerski himself.
    2. both a home city of many Poles (among them Piłsudski's himself) and the long-standing Lithuanian capital
    3. Sorbian, Silesian and Kashubian, not counting the extinct.
    4. The rest of Polish sadism towards foreigners consists of bureaucratic activities and as such does not belong here.
    5. As opposed to other examples, it's here to show how grammar works. Don't expect anyone to describe anything as "wipingly".