Description

This 1916 map illustrates the ethnographic make-up of Central Europe for a high-level strategic audience such as the War Committee. It identifies ethnicities through spoken native language and represents them by colour, with the aid of an explanatory key. 

The map gives a good indication of the complex cultural intersections in Europe, and how incongruously they sat within the internal borders of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Ethnic tensions within Austria-Hungary had provided one of the sparks for war. 

The War Committee required such information to assess current and future situations arising in the turbulent central region, and maps such as this one influenced the American president Woodrow Wilson, when in 1917 he formulated his 14 points. These prioritised the right to ‘national self-determination’, which led to the break-up of the Habsburg Empire, and appeared to legitimate the national conflicts which continue to this day.

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