Racism in Poland
As in most countries racism has existed also in Poland in a variety of forms and to various extents over the course of its history. Poles were also victims of racism in their own country, see "Anti-Polish sentiment" for more details.
When part of Poland was under rule by German Empire, the Polish population was discriminated by policies influenced by racist thought that gained populartiy among German nationalists such as Volkisch movement, leading for example to "Expulsion of Poles by Germany".
In the early 20th century Poland was under the German and Soviet occupation. During this period Polish people were harshly discriminated against in their own country. The Nazi German regime had seen Poles as "subhumans" (untermenschen) that were fit only for slavery and extermination. Most of the Nazis considered Poles, like the majority of other Slavs, as non-Aryan and non-European "masses from the East" which should be either totally annihilated along with the Jews and Gypsies, or entirely expelled from the European continent. Poles were the victims of Nazi crimes against humanity, and also the main non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Approximately 2.5 million ethnic Poles were exterminated during the World War II. Polish slaves in Nazi Germany were forced to wear identifying red tags with "P"s sewn to their clothing; sexual relations with Germans (rassenschande or "racial defilement") were punishable by death. During the war, thousands of Polish men were executed for their relations with German women.
Poles were also the subject of ethnic cleansing during massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, then the territory of Poland.
The most common word in Polish for a black person is Murzyn. It is generally seen as a neutral word which was used for centuries to describe a person of Black African ancestry, but nowadays some consider it to have pejorative connotations.
One of the most high-profile events regarding blacks in Poland in recent years was the death of Maxwell Itoya in 2010. Itoya was a Nigerian killed in a police raid on a market in Warsaw. His death sparked a riot and the mass arrest of non-whites at the scene of Itoya's death. The event led to a widespread debate in the Polish media regarding policing and racism.
The Mława pogrom was a series of violent incidents in June 1991 when a rioting mob attacked Roma residents of the Polish town of Mława causing hundreds to flee in terror. The violence, described as motivated by racism and jealousy, was condemned by Polish and international media.
Attitudes towards minorities and level of tolerance
An analysis based on the European Values Survey (EVS) done in 2008 showed that compared to other European nations, Poland had very high levels of political tolerance (lack of extremist political attitudes), relatively high level of ethnic tolerance (based on attitudes towards Muslims, immigrants, people of another race, Roma, and Jews) and at the same time low levels of personal tolerance (based on attitudes towards people considered "deviant" or "threatening"). From 1998 to 2008, there was a marked increase in political and ethnic tolerance but a decrease in personal tolerance.
In terms of trends over time, at the beginning of the 1990s, due partly to the political euphoria accompanying the fall of Communism, Poland was the most tolerant nation in Central and Eastern Europe. Over the course of the nineties however, tolerance decreased so that by 1999 the country was recorded by the EVS as having one of the highest rates of xenophobia in Europe. Antisemitism increased during this time as well. The factors behind these decreases in tolerance and some of the radicalization in attitudes towards other ethnic groups during this time likely included the country's economic problems associated with a costly transition from communism (for example, high unemployment), ineffectual government, and possibly an increase in immigration from outside.
However, these attitudes began to change after 2000, possibly due to Poland's entry into the European Union, increased travel abroad and more frequent encounters with people of other races. By 2008 the EVS showed Poland as one of the least xenophobic countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The negative attitudes towards Jews have likewise returned to their lower 1990 level, although they do remain somewhat above the European average. During the same time period, ethnic tolerance and political tolerance increased in Southern Europe (Spain, Greece) and decreased in other parts of Northern Europe (Netherlands).
While the Roma were the group which was listed as most rejected, the level of exclusion was still lower than elsewhere in Europe, most likely due the long history of Roma (see Polska Roma) and their relatively low numbers in the country.
According to the European Jewish Congress while the number of anti-Semitic attacks and incidents of vandalism in Western Europe is on the rise, in Poland there has been a dramatic decrease in these.
- "Poles: Victims of the Nazi Era". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
- Helen Boak. "Nazi policies on German women during the Second World War - Lessons learned from the First World War?". pp. 4–5.
- Nazi Ideology and the Holocaust. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. January 2007. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-89604-712-9.
- "Murzynek Bambo w Afryce mieszka", czyli jak polska kultura stworzyła swojego "Murzyna", '"Murzyn", który zdaniem wielu Polaków, w tym także naukowców, nie jest obraźliwy, uznawany jest przez osoby czarnoskóre za dyskryminujący i uwłaczający.'
- Joanna, Podgorska. "Wdowa po Nigeryjczyku". Polityka.
W tym roku miał dostać polski paszport.
- "Poland: Reflections on the death of a street vendor". No Racism.net. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
- Emigh, Rebecca Jean; Szelényi, Iván (2001). Poverty, ethnicity, and gender in Eastern Europe during the market transition. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 101â102. ISBN 9780275968816. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
- "1,75478,3697767". wyborcza.pl. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
- "Poles Vent Their Economic Rage on Gypsies". The New York Times. July 25, 1991. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
- "Hooligans and the Neighbors' Cow". New York Times. July 29, 1991. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
- "No. 1 (29) 201128 Polish attitudes towards ethnic minorities and immigrants" (PDF). 16 April 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
- "Polska przyjazna Żydom, Świat, Społeczeństwo - rp.pl". rp.pl. Retrieved September 14, 2014.