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Pietrasik, Zdzislaw

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Polityka - Poland | 16/05/2007

The Poles' ambivalent attitude toward the Czechs

Czech director Jiri Menzel's tragicomedy "I served the King of England" is starting its run in Polish cinemas. Zdzislaw Pietrasik takes this as an opportunity to explore with humour the Poles' attitude towards their Czech neighbours: "We continue to have an ambivalent attitude towards our southern neighbours. One example of this is the phrase 'Czech film' we use to describe a situation in which no one knows what's going on. But our slight sense of superiority comes from the conviction that Poland's heroic history is more valuable than that of its neighbours, who were more prone to compromise and calculation... Even regarding the collapse of communism, we have a certain problem with the Czechs. It was Lech Walesa's leap over the barriers of the shipyards in Danzig that presaged the fall of the Berlin Wall. But when Europe celebrated the 10th anniversary of the 'people's springtime' in 1999, the main celebrations were in Prague, not Danzig. Yet we were the ones who had Solidarnosc and martial law; the Czechs just had the Velvet Revolution... So why fight when the Czechs don't fight and still end up reaping all the rewards of the victory."

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