Thursday, December 6, 2012

Polish & Lithuanian Cleaning Women and Men in Iceland

Piotr cleaning at a university in Iceland. Source

Wisconsin University Folklore Professor James P. Leary is a great scholar and a generous friend of Polonia. He sent in a webpage devoted to folklore about work and workers. One of the pages is devoted to Polish and Lithuanian cleaning women and men in Iceland.

I have never been to Iceland and I wonder what conditions are like there for Polish workers.

The Bieganski, Brute Polak stereotype mines disdain we feel for common laborers in order to fuel the placement of blame on Poles for the Holocaust, and, indeed, for all hate. "Primitive, backward" people – people who clean others' houses and do other manual labor – are easy to hate and blame. "Superior, advanced, evolved" people – like the Germans – are all too often depicted as Sexy Nazis.

Are there Polak jokes in Iceland? How are the Polish and Lithuanian cleaning women and men getting along in Iceland?

I would love to hear from anyone in the know. Please do write in if you have insight into conditions for Polish and Lithuanian laborers in Iceland.

The webpage devoted to Polish and Lithuanian cleaners in Iceland is here.

A piece by me, "Green Vase," about my own time as a cleaning woman, is at this link here.


  1. I dont have anything on Poles in Iceland but in Germany, it seems that the phrase "I have a Polish woman" has the meaning of "I have s.o who care for my elderly parents I can totally exploit with the blessing of the German lawgiver (as minium wage conditions are defined as doing "mainly" caregiving-if f.e washing clothes is not "caregiving"-thus a loop-hole was created which allows for not paying minimum wage,that is 8,XX Euros-there is a joke in Poland connected to this-How does a Pole murder s.o? He/She kills the person.How does a German do it? He/she makes a law that makes killing that person lawful, than robs this person before murdering him/her XD). Funny thing, do- Germans are going en masse to Switzerland to do menial work (and take their higher earnings back to Germany). Im wondering what Swiss are thinking of them...

  2. I always point out the conditions of Polish workers in EU and how they're being referred to by western conservatives as an example that hatred of the Poles is alive today.

  3. The issues are more fundamental. I think of the EU as the Fourth Reich, at least in embryonic form. This means that Poland, if not becoming the target of outright German revanchist claims against the Recovered territories, progressively loses her sovereignity, and increasingly becomes a colony of Germany and the other EU nations. Consistent with this, Poles become a source of cheap labor for western Europeans.

  4. Dear Danusha,

    Thanks for the link to Green Vase. That was a very brave story to write.


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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