Germans and Poles Trade Insults in ″Potato War″ | Current Affairs | DW | 07.11.2006
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Current Affairs

Germans and Poles Trade Insults in "Potato War"

A Polish newspaper has published a list of satiric suggestions on about how to make Germans happy. It was the latest salvo in a not always side-splitting battle of comedy between the two neighbors.

Title paid of Super Express

A Polish tabloid fired off a round of satire aimed at Berlin

How to help Germans feel better about themselves? The Polish tabloid Super Express on Monday proposed changing the rules of soccer so that matches can only end after Germany scores a goal, instituting potato salad as a type of dessert and issuing free pictures of Polish-born porn actress Teresa Orlowski to help Germans combat the problem of declining birth rates.

Poles have been the butt of the joke in a number of German publications. Last week, the online version of German daily Die Welt published a similar series of suggestions as to how Germany could improve its relations with its neighbor. They included supporting Poland's territorial claims to the North and South Poles, requiring Germans to leave newly purchased automobiles unlocked to ease the work of Polish car thieves and forcing writer Günter Grass to return politician Lech Walesa's moustache.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Kowal defended the Super Express article, saying Poles had the right to react satirically to "ridicule." Jokes featuring the stereotype of Poles as thieves are popular in Germany, while Polish humor often plays on ideas of Germans being humorless and emotionally frigid.

Vegetable obsession

A potato

This innocent legume has been at the center of German-Polish bickering

Super Express also proposed creating a contest to determine which sort of vegetable German Chancellor Angela Merkel most resembles -- a tit-for-tat response to an article this June in the left-wing German daily taz, entitled "The New Polish Potato," which attacked Polish President Lech Kaczynski as a half-pint dictator.

Kaczynski demanded an apology, and there were rumors he was so incensed that he cancelled a meeting with Merkel because of the insult. Kaczynski denied that that was the case.

The German press dubbed the diplomatic row resulting from the taz article the "potato war," and members of the foreign media noted with bemusement that German and Polish humor seemed to be obsessed with vegetables. With the article in Super Express, another legume has been slung.

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