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This past week, one hundred years ago, World War I began as Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and drew the other nations and empires of Europe into the conflict.  The war drastically changed the course of the twentieth century, and the peace that was negotiated at the end unwittingly set the stage for World War II just two decades later.  In particular, it radically changed the borders of Europe, such that the map of Europe in 1919, after the Treaty of Versailles, was vastly different from the map in 1914.

The Economist recently published an article commemorating the anniversary of the start of the war, including a fascinating graphic that lets you “slide” between the maps and see just how each corner of the continent changed from the start of the war until the peace treaties had been signed.  You can check out the slider for yourself here: http://infographics.economist.com/2014/1914-19Swiper/1914.19.html

I took screenshots from the Economist post and have reproduced them below:

Border changes over the space of those five years were both great and small.  France and Denmark gained some territory at the expense of Germany.  The Austro-Hungarian Empire disappeared completely, succeeded by various smaller states (some of which would break up further later on in the century).  States which had previously not been independent, such as Poland, were able to reassert their independence.

The map shows how Germany in particular was punished by the allied powers at the end of the war.  What it does not show, of course, is the level of economic reparations levied against Germany, and the level of wounded pride the nation suffered, which laid the seeds for the rise of Hitler in the 1930s.

For more background on this, check out the source of these maps at the Economist magazine’s website: http://www.economist.com/news/international/21610243-redrawing-map

 

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