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The World War and What Was Behind It or The Story of the Map of Europe

By L. P. Benezet



This volume is the result of the interest shown by pupils, teachers, and the general public in a series of talks on the causes of the great European war which were given by the author in the fall of 1914. The audiences were widely different in character. They included pupils of the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, students in high school and normal school, teachers in the public schools, an association of business men, and a convention of boards of education. In every case, the same sentiment was voiced: "If there were only some book which would give us these facts in simple language and illustrate them by maps and charts as you have done!" After searching the market for a book of this sort without success, the author determined to put the subject of his talks into manuscript form. It has been his aim to write in a style which is well within the comprehension of the children in the upper grades and yet is not too juvenile for adult readers. The book deals with the remarkable sequence of events in Europe which made the great war inevitable. Facts are revealed which, so far as the author knows, have not been published in any history to date; facts which had the strongest possible bearing on the outbreak of the war. The average American, whether child or adult, has little conception of conditions in Europe. In America all races mix. The children of the Polish Jew mingle with those of the Sicilian, and in the second generations both peoples have become Americans. Bohemians intermarry with Irish, Scotch with Norwegians. In Europe, on the other hand, Czech and Teuton, Bulgar and Serb may live side by side for centuries without mixing or losing their distinct racial characteristics. In order that the American reader may understand the complicated problem of European peace, a study of races and languages is given in the text, showing the relationship of Slav, Celt, Latin, and Teuton, and the various sub-divisions of these peoples. A knowledge of these facts is very essential to any understanding of the situation in Europe. The author has pointed out the fact that political boundaries are largely king-made, and that they have seldom been drawn with regard to the natural division of Europe by nationalities, or to the wishes of the mass of the population.

The chapter, entitled "Europe as it Should Be," with its accompanying map, shows the boundaries of the various nations as they would look if the bulk of the people of each nationality were included in a single political division. In many places, it is, of course, impossible to draw sharp lines. Greek shades off into Bulgar on one side and into Skipetar and Serb on the other. Prague, the capital of the Czechs, is one-third German in its population. There are large islands of Germans and Magyars in the midst of the Roumanians of Transylvania. These are a few examples out of many which could be cited. However, the general aim of the chapter has been to divide the continent into nations, in each of which the leading race would vastly predominate in population.

It is hoped that the study of this work will not only throw light upon the causes of war in general, but will also reveal its cruelty and its needlessness. It is shown that the history of Europe from the time of the great invasions by the Germanic tribes has been a continuous story of government without the consent of the governed.

A preventive for wars, such as statesmen and philanthropists in many countries have urged, is outlined in the closing chapter. It would seem as though after this terrible demonstration of the results of armed peace, the governments of the world would be ready to listen to some plan which would forever forbid the possibility of another war. Just as individuals in the majority of civilized countries discovered, a hundred years ago, that it was no longer necessary for them to carry weapons in order to insure their right to live and to enjoy protection, so nations may learn at last that peace and security are preferable to the fruits of brigandage and aggression. The colonies of America, after years of jealousy and small differences, followed by a tremendous war, at last learned this lesson. In the same way the states of Europe will have to learn it. The stumbling blocks in the way are the remains of feudal government in Europe and the ignorance and short-sightedness of the common people in many countries. Ignorance is rapidly waning with the advance of education, and we trust that feudalism will not long survive its last terrible crime, the world war of 1914.

Now that the United States has become a belligerent, it is very essential that our people understand the events that led up to our participation in the war. So many of our citizens are of a peace-loving nature, we are so far removed from the militarism of continental Europe, and the whole war seems so needless and so profitless to those who have not studied carefully its causes, that there is danger of a want of harmony with the program of the government if all are not taught the simple truth of the matter. There is no quicker channel through which to reach all the people than the public schools. With this in mind, two entire chapters and part of a third are devoted to demonstrating why no other course was open to this country than to accept the war which was forced upon her.

In the preparation of this work, the author has received many helpful suggestions from co-workers. His thanks are especially due to Professor A. G. Terry of Northwestern University and Professor A. H. Sanford of the Wisconsin State Normal School at La Crosse, who were kind enough to read through and correct the manuscript before its final revision. The author is especially indebted to the Committee on Public Information at Washington, D. C., for furnishing to him authoritative data on many phases of the war. Acknowledgment is also made to Row, Peterson and Company for kind permission to use illustrations from History Stories of Other Lands; also to the International Film Service, Inc., of New York City for the use of many valuable copyright illustrations of scenes relating to the great war.


Evansville, Indiana, January 2, 1918



List of Maps

List of Illustrations

The Great War

Rome and the Barbarian Tribes

From Chiefs to Kings

Master and Man

A Babel of Tongues

"The Terrible Turk"

The Rise of Modern Nations

The Fall of Two Kingdoms

The Little Man from the Common People

A King-Made Map and Its Trail of Wrongs

Italy a Nation at Last

The Man of Blood and Iron

The Balance of Power

The "Entente Cordiale"

The Sowing of the Dragon's Teeth

Who Profits?

The Spark that Exploded the Magazine

Why England Came In

Diplomacy and Kingly Ambition

Back to the Balkans

The War under the Sea

Another Crown Topples

The United States at War—Why?

Europe As It Should Be

The Cost of It All

What Germany Must Learn

Pronouncing Glossary


List of Maps

Distribution of Peoples According to Relationship

Distribution of Languages

Southeastern Europe in 600 B.C.

Southeastern Europe 975 A.D.

Southeastern Europe 1690

The Empire of Charlemagne

Europe in 1540

The Growth of Brandenburg-Prussia


Italy in 525

Italy in 650

Italy in 1175

Europe in 1796

Europe in 1810

Europe in 1815

Italy Made One Nation


Formation of the German Empire

Southeastern and Central Europe 1796

Losses of Turkey During the Nineteenth Century

Turkey As the Balkan Allies Planned to Divide It

Changes Resulting from Balkan Wars 1912-1913

The Two Routes from Germany into France

The Roumanian Campaign as the Allies Wished It

The Roumanian Campaign as It Turned Out

Europe as It Should Be

List of Illustrations

The Peace Palace at the Hague

Fleeing from Their Homes, Around which a Battle is Raging

A Drill Ground in Modern Europe

The Forum of Rome as It Was 1600 Years Ago

The Last Combat of the Gladiators

Germans Going into Battle

A Hun Warrior

Gaius Julius Caesar

A Prankish Chief

Movable Huts of Early Germans

Goths on the March

Franks Crossing the Rhine

Men of Normandy Landing in England

Alexander Defeating the Persians

A Knight in Armor

A Norman Castle in England

A Vassal Doing Homage to His Lord

William the Conqueror

A Typical Bulgarian Family

Mohammed II Before Constantinople

A Scene in Salonika

Louis XIV

John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough

The Great Elector of Brandenburg

Frederick the Great

Catharine II

Courtier of Time of Louis XIV

The Taking of the Bastille

The Palace of Versailles

The Reign of Terror

The First Singing of "The Marseillaise"

Charles the Fifth

The Emperor Napoleon in 1814

The Retreat from Moscow

Napoleon at Waterloo

The Congress of Vienna

Prince Metternich

The First Meeting of Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel


An Attack on a Convoy in the Franco-Prussian War

The Proclamation at Versailles of William I as Emperor of Germany

Peter the Great

Entrance to the Mosque of St. Sophia

The Congress of Berlin

An Arab Sheik and His Staff

A Scene in Constantinople


A Modern Dreadnaught


A Fort Ruined by the Big German Guns

Russian Peasants Fleeing Before the German Army

A Bomb-proof Trench in the Western War Front


The Deutschland in Chesapeake Bay

Crowd in Petrograd During the Revolution

Revolutionary Soldiers in the Duma

Kerensky Reviewing Russian Troops

Flight from a Torpedoed Liner

President Wilson Reading the War Message

American Grain Set on Fire by German Agents

Polish Children

The Price of War

Rendered Homeless by War

Charles XII of Sweden

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