|On the "eve" of The Great War in 1914, the "great powers" of Europe divided themselves up into two opposing "armed camps," the Triple Entente (Britain, France, Rusia) and the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy)|
|Threatened by the "two front war," Germany prepared a military strategy designed to fight it and win it. General von Schlieffen's master strategy included a lightning strke against France with seven-eighths of the army sweeping through neutral Belgium, seizing Paris, and defeating the French in six weeks. Having secured the victory, von Schlieffen's plan called for the army then to board the trains and zoom East to the Russian front, there to aid the one-eighth of the German army against Russia.|
|While explosive tensions existed in various parts of the world in 1914, many expected the conflict to originate in the Balkans, as indeed it did. The Balkan Peninsula was a "tinderbox" ready to explode; the area comprised various conflicting religions, languages, cultures, traditions, and nationalities. By 1913, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Greece, Albania had all achieved their independence; Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, fell under Austro-Hungarian rule in 1908. Serbia, lacking an outlet to the Adriatic, coveted these two provinces, as well as Croatia, which also lay inside the Hapsburg domains. Bosnia's capital, Sarajevo, is not shown on the map, right.|
|When war erupted in August, 1914, the sides more or less conformed to the two pre-war alliances (Triple Entente--Britain, France, Russia v. Triple Alliance--Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy.) However, Italy declared its neutrality and then joined the Allies in 1915, as did Romania and Greece; Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers. Bulgaria over-ran Serbia, and Germany occupied neutral Belgium. While history tells the end of the story, that the Allies defeated the Central Powers, a glance at the map indicates how deeply into Russia Germany penetrated in 1917-1918. It did not seem clear to the combatants in The Great War that the Allies, necessarily, would triumph.|
Please note on the map above two errors: Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire are portrayed as neutral, as not the case as both joined on the side of the Central Powers. British and Anzac troops fought the Turks in the Gallipoli Campaign at the Strait of the Dardenelles. The map is, however, complete in that it shows the Italian and Balkan campaigns which Duiker and Spielvogel (below) does not.
(Duiker and Spielvogel, map set 26.2)
For perhaps a clearer view of the two "sides," Central Powers and Allies, see the map from Hammond's below:
|When the bloodbath of The Great War ended, on the "11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" of 1918, the victorious Allies met in Paris to redraw the map of Europe (and the world,) In the five treaties (Neuilly, Trianon, St. Germain, Sevres, Versailles) that comprised the Peace of Paris, the losers lost and the winners won. See the various maps right and below for the new "look" of Europe in 1919. Look at all of them|
(Kagan, et. al. "Transperency Set" 948)
For another view of the territorial transfers following
The Great War,
that will help you complete your "Between the Wars" map, see below
(Duiker and Spielvogel, map set 26.3)
|Compare the two maps from Hammond's; they will help you do your "Europe Between the Wars" map. Look carefully at the borders, as they existed in 1914 (pre-war) immediately to your left. Note in the Pre-War/1914 the inflated size of the Russian/Romanov Empire, Austro-Hungarian/Hapsburg Empire, and the German/Hohenzollern Empire.|
|Now look carefully at the map, "Europe 1919-1929," to your right.. Note that the inflated empires from above have disappeared altogether: Russia (not designated as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) is considerable smaller than the former Russian Empire and has granted independence to the new nations of Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland; Romania (one of the Allies) is enlarged while Bulgaria (one of the Central Powers) is diminished. Former Austria-Hungary has been literally pulverized and has given up land to Italy (Tyrol, Fiume, Trieste,) Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Yugoslavia (comprising Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro) are states which have never existed before as independent, sovereign nations.|
|Here is another map of Europe after the Peace of Paris/Treaty of Versailles that might be easier for you to read. Be sure to take note of the newly independent nations of Central and Eastern Europe! Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia; Hungary is a new nation; Austria (in its smaller incarnation) is a new nation; Turkey is a new nation. Romania is bigger; Bulgaria is smaller.|
(Kagan, et al. The Western Heritage, map 25-8 865)
|And finally, the map to your right will help you identify territories seized or annexed by Germany (and USSR, 1938-1939. Do you think that Denmark (Schleswig) and France (Alsace-Lorraine) are in any danger?|
|In 1938, Hitler annexed Austria in what was known as the Anschluss, step #2 in his absorption of what he considered "ethnic Germans" into the Reich. He cast his eye next on the Sudetenland of Czecholsovakia where more "ethnic Germans" lived. The Sudetenland also contained rich mineral resources and industries. If you look at the map above, you will note that the Sudetenland looks like an "arrow pointing at the heart of Germany."|
image source--courtesy Philip Zelikow
|Although Hitler pledged to honor the territorial integrity of the rest of Czechoslovakia, such was not the case, as you can see by its division and absorption in 1939. Who's next? It might be Poland!|
image source: courtesy Philip Zelikow
Duiker, Jackson and William Spielvogel. "Map Acetates." World History. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co., 1994.
"Hammond's Historical Atlas of the World." Maplewood, NJ: Hammond, Inc., 1990.
Kagan, Donald, et al. The Western Heritage, volume C, 9th edition. Upper Saddle River: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2007.
Kagan, Donald, et al. "Transperancy Package." The Western Heritage. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1998.