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Szwab (pronunciation like " Schwab ") or Szkop (pronunciation like " Schkopp ") is a derogatory term used in Poland for the Germans.


A lot of stereotypical traits are ascribed to the Germans in Poland that Austrians also attribute to the Piefkes , i.e. loud, arrogant, rude demeanor, lack of sensitivity and flexibility. Furthermore, Szwaby or Szkopy (plural) are generally thought of as heavy, dull, with a certain typical appearance. The properties ascribed to them do not form a uniform stereotypical picture, because a property cannot always be assessed as clearly positive. Example: their typical hard work does not always have to be seen as positive, but also be a sign of greed or submissiveness. Further characteristics are: frugality (= avarice), lack of imagination, taste and tolerance, inhospitability, sense of duty, punctuality, obedience to authority and inability to rebel, which means that Szwaby are mentally paralyzed, so that they are often denied the ability to live a carefree life.

One often says: "Typowy szwab" , "Typowy szkop" , which means something like "Typically German" and expresses negative attitudes (often prejudices ) of the speaker towards the person referred to, whereby Szkop is significantly more negatively charged than Szwab . Szkop (y) was used as a term for German occupation soldiers , especially during World War II .

Origin and meaning of the words

The word Szwab is derived from the Polish name for Swabia . The Polish word oszwabić developed as a verb , which means “to cheat”. The origin of the word Szkop is difficult to prove. It is believed that it originates from the Czech "Skopčák", which means something like the one who comes from the mountains . For the Czechs, German traders came to them from the mountains (Czech: z kopců ).

Linguistic investigation against the historical and political background

In the Polish language, besides the two mentioned, there are a number of more or less aggressive terms for the Germans. Examples (plural): Fryce , Prusaki , Adolfki , Helmuty , Hitlerowcy , Goebelsi , Gestapowcy , Pierdoły saskie and many more. The richness and emotional intensity of the Polish-language names for the Germans can only be compared with those for the inhabitants of Russia (especially those of the former Soviet Union ). In the case of other nationalities, there is no long list of ethnophaulisms in Polish . Psychological overcompensation , as a blanket explanation for this, does not stand up to a scientific investigation: the ethnologist Maria Peisert from the University of Wroclaw explains this phenomenon in her work Nazwy narodowości i ras we współczesnej polszczyźnie potocznej ( designations of nationalities and ethnic groups in Polish colloquial language ) instead, with the effect of the historical experience in Poland. Since the beginning of the Polish statehood, mutual aggression, hatred, friction and often bloody conflicts, which have continued up to the present day, have shaped and consolidated the stereotypical image of Poland's western and eastern neighbors. The thousand-year history of Poland presents itself as an almost uninterrupted strip of confrontations with neighbors, who are often superior in terms of weapons or numbers. The negative image of the Germans (and generally also of the Russians) is not only the effect of past conflicts, but also of claims, reservations, mistrust or even hostility that have not yet been erased, fueled by further - actual or supposed - painful experiences in the mass media (see for example the extremely controversial discussion about Erika Steinbach ). Far-reaching stereotypes and resentments arise in problematic situations of contact and observation within society, especially if this is still fueled and exploited (e.g. for reasons of power politics) (this can actually or supposedly lead to envy / resentment, Lack of understanding, feeling of inferiority, arrogance, etc.).

The more positive assessment of the traditional stereotypes of Germans and Russians that has recently started in Poland is astonishing (especially the image of Russians has recently been enormously upgraded). This can again be explained by the current political changes in Europe , which are beginning to influence the historical-cultural awareness of Poles.


Since the collapse of the real existing socialism in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989, especially since Poland joined the European Union , the increased mutual encounters and the increasing tourism traffic of Germans (homesick tourists) to Poland, there has been a change in the perception of living out the (alleged) stereotypical characteristics of a Szwab to be observed. The experience of the Polish-speaking population in Germany (up to around two million depending on the source), who bring them on vacation to Poland, is also not insignificant. In general, people treat each other much more respectfully than ever before.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Bohemistyka, by Elżbieta Szczepańska (Polish)