Polish Foreign Ministry officials are complaining privately to U.S. officials that the often nasty and degrading "Polish jokes" circulating in the United States are hurting Polish-American relations.

There is, in fact, considerable good feeling among many people in this country for the United States, where there are about 6 million Americans of Polish descent. Those same ethnic and family ties, and a general respect for Polish culture and independent mindedness, also prevail in the United States.

Some officials here believe however, that making Poles the butt of ridicule in jokes hurts, in a subtle yet important way, the possibility of even better relations and understanding between the two countries.

On the other hand, the Poles themselves are the greatest producers of Polish jokes, although many of these are not the kind of humor that Americans would expect to hear.

For the most part, they are political jokes, a form of satire that has been highly refined as a means of expression throughout Eastern Europe where many people, particularly from an older generation, frequently use humor to express the kind of private sentiments for which there are few other outlets.

The Poles may be the masters as these examples show:

On the lingering shortage of meat: "What is 50 yards long and eats potatoes?" Answer: "Poles lining up to buy meat."

Man waiting in line at meat shop: "I've had enough of this line. It hasn't move in three hours. I'm going off to murder the prime minister." A few hours later he returns to the line, looking dejected, and says: "No luck. There was a line."

On the black market purchase of dollars for Polish Zlotys: "Comrade, why are Poland and America exactly alike?" Answer: "Because in neither country can you buy anything with Zlotys.

The average Pole, the saying goes here, "earns [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] zlotys a week, spends 7,000 and saves the rest."