POLISH Jokesunknown|Tuesday, November 3, 2009
wise understand, dumb ... we don't care!
Q: How many Poles did it take to determine that the Earth is NOT the center of the Universe? A: Just one.
Nikolas Kopernik (AKA Copernicus) was Polish. Unfortunately he could not prove his theory -- which "heretically" contradicted the officially held "scientific" belief sanctioned by the "infallible" Catholic Church that the Earth was the center of the Universe -- a heresy punishable by death in Medieval Europe.
That proof wasn't secured until a hundred years later by Galileo, who had access to the newly invented telescope.
Poland was also a hundred years ahead of England with its own version of the Magna Carta (which granted ordinary citizens major legal rights of protection from the state) and a few hundred years ahead of America in being the first nation since ancient Greece to experiment with Democracy -- although a disastrously stilted form, limited to the nobility. (Sort of like the U.S. Senate, come to think of it.)
Q: How many WW2 Polish fighter pilots did it take to shoot down a Nazi plane?
Polish fighter pilots flying in all-Polish squadrons of the RAF averaged 9 Nazi planes for each one they lost. Polish pilots in mixed squadrons of the RAF didn't fare so well -- averaging only 4 Nazi planes for each of their losses.
Q: How long did it take the Nazis to overrun Poland?
A: About as long as it took them to overrun France and drive the first invading British army to the brink of disaster (before Hitler unwisely halted his attack, giving the Brits time to escape certain annihilation.)
Of course, the French and British had a hell of a lot more time than the Poles to prepare; were not taken by surprise; and their nations had not been recently restored to the map after a 125 year partitioning by three mighty empires, with little or no help from their allies to rebuild their economies.
Q: How do you save 90% of your people from the Black Plague while the rest of Europe loses half their populations?
A: Seal your borders to stop the incursion of it, like Poland (and Holland) did.
Q: Which vitamins are extra special to the Polish people?
A: All of them.
The very idea of vitamins and their effect on the human body was discovered by a Pole -- Casimir Funk.
Q: How many Polish women does it take to discover radium?
Maria Sklodowska (aka Madame Curie)
Q: How did the Poles save Europe from the Turks?
A: In 1683, the Turks had smashed their way northward through Europe and were about to capture Vienna -- the seat of the Holy Roman Empire.
Just like in the movies, the cavalry arrived in the nick of time -- in the form of Polish Hussars headed by King Jan Sobieski (the royal ancestor of beautiful and talented actress LeeLee Sobieski).
The massive army of Christian knights attempting to defend this key city of Christendom was being cut to ribbons by the fast-moving, scimitar-wielding Turks on their magnificent Arabian horses.
But the Polish Hussars were equipped with an ingenious special weapon -- a strange framework of long feathers jutting from their backs.
As they charged down the hill toward the battlefield, the wind whistled through the feathers -- creating a ghostly moan which spooked the Turkish horses, throwing their entire cavalry into a panic.
(Note: The Poles' horses had been specially trained to work with this sound effect.)
If the Poles had not arrived when they did, all of Europe from Greece up through Austria and beyond might be Moslem today. (Which might not be a bad thing, of course, depending on your POV.)
Q: How many Poles did it take to invent the coffeehouse?
After the Battle of Vienna in 1683, a Polish knight claimed the stores of coffee captured from the defeated Turkish army, which were about to be burned by other Europeans as useless. He set up the first coffee house in Europe (in Vienna) and it was an immediate success.
(This is debatable.)
Q: How many Poles did it take to secure the decisive victory of the American Revolution?
A: One. (With the help of many brave Americans, of course.)
In 1777, the British were in a frustrating position and on the verge of military embarrassment in America. Having more or less pushed Washington's ragtag army about at will with the help of their German mercenaries and their own rugged troops, they had not managed to secure the quick and easy victory they were sure of.
Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne, war hero and playwright, longing to sate his ego, concocted a plan to slice the New England "brain" of the rebels from its body in Pennsylvania and the lower Colonies.
While Washington's army was called to Philadelphia to defend Congress, a Northern Division was dispatched to the Canadian border to prevent Burgoyne from taking the Hudson Valley and claiming his goal.
Among those sent to the very Northern lines at Fort Ticonderoga was a recently arrived Polish freedom fighter named Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Kosciuszko, who was the first of a handful of European adventurers to contribute immensely to the American Cause.
Having proven his worth in designing ingenious defenses for Philadelphia, Kosciuszko was sent to help fortify Ticonderoga.
Unfortunately, his advise regarding the placement of cannon was dismissed as folly by chauvinistic glory-seeking incompetents in the American command -- which led to the humiliating rout of the American forces by Burgoyne's invading army from Canada.
The British victory was swift and effective -- and owed its success directly to the maneuver originally suggested by Kosciuszko.
While the Americans fled south with the British on their heels, Kosciuszko rallied a company of woodsmen to protect their retreat by sabotaging the landscape to slow the British pursuers.
His tactics were so successful that the British army was slowed to a mile-a-day advance, giving the fleeing Americans plenty of time to escape and regroup near Saratoga.
After the Americans reorganized their straggling Northern army and replaced the guilty General Schuyler with General Gates, who was more appreciative of Kosciuszko's talents and more open to his suggestions, Kosciuszko selected a new defensive position and designed new fortifications. (You can visit West Point to get the story in detail!)
The resulting Battle of Saratoga is considered the turning point of the American Revolution.
As soon as the news of this victory reached France, the formerly recalcitrant French officially joined in an alliance with America, sending thousands of soldiers and weapons to help the cause.
Kosciuszko's excellent performance at Saratoga (and earlier, in designing the defenses of Philadelphia) helped to open the door for LaFayette, Von Steuben, Pulaski and other foreign officers -- whose services had met resistance by the countless ambitious American officers jostling for positions of glory.
The Polish Count Pulaski organized the first American cavalry. Among his cavaliers was a sharp young officer named Lee -- whose grandson was to be the famous Confederate hero Robert E. Lee.
Pulaski is a bit more famous than Kosciuszko. First, because his name is easier to pronounce for the Anglo-American tongue. Second, because he was the first major European figure to die for the American Cause.
Q: How many Polish Jews did it take to finance the American Revolution?
Haym Salomon was an immigrant from Poland who spoke several languages and had a keen grasp of economics. When Robert Morris was appointed to raise money for the American cause -- which no one really believed was a viable investment until the Battle of Saratoga (see above) -- he went in desperation to Haym Salomon, who raised millions while taking only a fraction of the currently acceptable fee for such brokerage.
Morris, who initially distrusted Salomon because of his heritage, eventually relied more and more on him to "do the math" and get the job done. Able to wheel and deal with the many foreign traders arriving in Philadelphia in their native tongues, Salomon was virtually a one man international bank.
Ironically, Salomon died in debt after raising millions for America and donating his own fortune to the cause. (He'd also risked his life as a spy in the earlier part of the war and was condemned to be hanged by the British for arson, but that's another story.)
On ten separate occasions Congress met to determine how much his heirs were owed by the Committee of Revolutionary Claims.
In 1862, they determined the amount to be approximately $650,000.
They rounded this figure off to an "even" hundred thousand. But his heirs were never paid a penny.
Q: What is the difference between Polish and American Idealism?
A: Probably the difference between Tadeusz Kosciuszko and his friend Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson argued against slavery but kept slaves all his life.
Kosciuszko was given a slave as a gift while fighting for the American cause. To the horror of his American friends, he immediately freed the slave.
Later, Kosciuszko decreed in his Last Will and Testament that all the lands he'd been granted in Ohio for his service in the American revolution be sold and the money used to buy freedom and education for black slaves.
Jefferson, who was named executor of the will, bowed out of that duty due to "health problems."
Q: Why were so many Jews in "anti-Semitic" Poland at the start of WW2?
A: Because in the Middle Ages, two great Polish kings had issued Charters of Sanctity to the Jews, which led to Poland being considered "The Promised Land" -- until Swedish and German invaders arrived, bringing an influx of anti-Semitic beliefs traced back to certain anti-Jewish writings attributed to Martin Luther.
Q: Why didn't Communism spread throughout Europe when the Reds took Russia?
A: Just as the Turks were stopped at Vienna, the Polish army under Jozef Pilsudski squelched the Bolshevik drive into Europe at the battle known as "The Miracle of the Vistula."
After WW2, the Poles were "rewarded" by being tossed to the Soviet bear by their allies.
Q: Who started the end of Communism in modern Europe?
A: The Solidarity Movement starring Lech Walesa. The "Round Table" in Poland in 1989 helped establish a free Poland without bloodshed -- and preceded both "the Velvet Revolution" in Czechoslovakia and the "fall of the Berlin Wall."
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