The map above shows what Europe’s borders looked on the eve of World War One in 1914, overlaid on top of the borders of European countries today. The first thing that jumps out at you is how many fewer countries there were.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russian Empires in particular controlled most of the today’s Central and Eastern European states. Moreover, Russia’s control also stretched north and included the Baltic states and Finland as well as south into the Caucasus.
Germany was also much larger than it is today and controlled what are now bits of Poland, France, Denmark, Belgium and Lithuania.
Borders in Western Europe have also changed a little since 1914. For example, the Republic Ireland is an independent country and no longer part of the United Kingdom. Also, France no longer controls the states of North Africa as it did in 1914.
Finally, by 1914, while the Ottoman Empire had largely retreated from Europe, it still had nominal control over most of the Middle East.
And what had been the European bits of the Ottoman Empire were just emerging as their own nation states following the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913.
World War One, World War Two and the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe repeatedly redrew the map of Europe to create today’s modern states, but at an extremely high human cost.
Thankfully, Europe today is far more peaceful than it was in the 20th century. This is due in no small part part to the fact that European leaders recognise that they have far more to gain from working together than they do trying to compete with one another.
Food for thought for those who see the EU as a failed project.
To learn more about Europe on the eve of World War One have a look at the following books:
- The Guns of August: The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic About the Outbreak of World War I
- The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
- Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War
- The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914
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“Food for thought for those who see the EU as a failed project.”
Stick to facts and keep the sanctimonious drivel to yourself.
Europe has maintained post war peace – with the exception of the Balkans and Soviet actions in Prague in 68 and Hungary in 56 – not because of the the European Coal and Steel community morphing into the EEC and then the EU. It is because of the spread of democracy and NATO securing against the Soviets. This underpinned by the US. Democratic states do not fight each other.
The EU project is intrinsically averse to democracy; it’s actually a war and conflict risk not a mitigating factor.
actually the European Coal and Steel Comunity nowadays EU has contributed:
France and the UK wanted to have knowledge about Germanies economy in detail which was done by them joining this Union.
Nato also contributed, by making all german Mil spending visible to France and the UK (which both countries viewed as crucial for the years following WW2)
These infos i have from a lecture a military historian put on YT (got filmed at the US War College)
Not because of a spread of democracy, how do you think the little angry dictator got into power: be an election.
Michael J. Lotus says
NATO and US (and British and French) nuclear weapons kept the peace, not the EU.
Jo kerr says
EU did very little in former Yougslavia. Fact.
George Boeree says
Some pretty nasty – and extreme right – comments. The EU’s only mistake was in expanding too quickly. Only if Russia and the US continue to play their games is there a danger of war within the EU!
Wrong. If only you know how wrong you were.
“Germany was also much larger than it is today and controlled what are now bits of Poland, France, Denmark, Belgium and Lithuania.”
And Russia (Kaliningrad).
And what will the ‘now’ map look like soon, as Putin’s War gathers pace. Will he aim for Warsaw?