West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher held talks here tonight with senior Polish officials, hoping to smooth Polish-German ties, strained by months of tense exchanges over border and emigration issues.

Arriving late in the afternoon for a short working visit that was announced suddenly last weekend, Genscher went immediately into a session with Polish Foreign Minister Stefan Olszowski. Emerging three hours later, he called the discussions "friendly and intense" as he left for a dinner and more talks with Polish leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski.

The West German official was also to pay a courtesy call on the head of Poland's Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, before flying on to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, tonight.

"One shouldn't think relations between the Federal Republic [of Germany] and Poland are as bad as they sometimes seem," Genscher remarked to reporters waiting outside the government guest house in central Warsaw where the two foreign ministers met.

Little was disclosed by West German aides or Polish officials about the substance of the discussions. An informed West German source said beforehand that the talks were likely to focus on Polish requests for new financial credits and on German concerns about a decrease in the number of Poles of German origin who have been allowed to emigrate to West Germany.

The brief nature of Genscher's stopover was seen as a way for the Bonn and Warsaw governments to avoid several politically charged disputes over protocol that prompted Genscher last November to cancel an official visit at the last minute. No new date has been set for a formal trip by the West German foreign minister.

Western officials noted that Genscher's flash visit to Warsaw, which follows an equally unexpected overnight stay in Moscow earlier this week, may have been partly timed with West German elections in mind. Genscher's struggling Free Democratic Party is facing important votes this month in provincial contests in the Saarland and West Berlin.

Relations between West Germany and Poland, whose mutual animosities date back centuries, have again deteriorated in recent months. Poland has led a chorus of communist bloc attacks on the outspoken aims of Germans expelled from Poland at the end of World War II who seek to regain their former Silesian homelands, which are now part of Poland. The German claims have been supported by some right-wing members of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democratic Party, and have been given at least a semblance of legitimacy by the chancellor's ambiguous remarks and appearances before groups of those resettled in West Germany.

But in a state of the nation address last week, Kohl reaffirmed Bonn's commitment to a 1970 Polish-German treaty, in which West Germany recognized Poland's western borders and disavowed any territorial claims on Poland.

Genscher told reporters that Olszowski had told him the chancellor's speech was received positively in Warsaw. A Polish-German economic commission is expected to meet later this month to review a range of trade and financial matters. It will be the first meeting of the joint group since Poland's declaration of martial law in December 1981 prompted Bonn to suspend the talks