Subject Nationalities of the German Alliance. From the Allies’ Peace Terms as Stated in their Reply to President Wilson's Note of 19th December 1916


In December 1916, President Woodrow Wilson of the United States, as the leader of the world’s most important neutral power, put forward a plan to end World War I with a “peace without victory.” Wilson asked the Allied and Central powers to state their terms for peace. In their reply to Wilson’s note, the Allied powers declared: “The civilized world knows that the aims of the Allies include the reorganization of Europe, guaranteed by a stable settlement, based alike upon the principle of nationalities on the right which all peoples, whether small or great, have to the enjoyment of full security and free economic development.” The French and British had no interest in negotiating a peace without victory or in granting what Wilson called self-determination to their own subject peoples. They were, however, keen to use the nationality issue as part of their propaganda campaign against their enemies. This map of 1917, published in Britain but based on prewar German sources, highlights the ethnic diversity of and the large number of subject peoples in the populations of the powers of the German alliance. Imperial Germany itself was relatively homogeneous, with 92 percent of its population composed of ethnic Germans. Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire were a different story, however. As shown in the tables in the upper-right hand corner of the map, the Austrian-ruled part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was only 35 percent German, while the Hungarian-ruled parts of the dual monarchy were only 48 percent Magyar. Ethnic Turks comprised only 35 percent of the population of the Ottoman Empire. Shading on the map is used to show the regions inhabited by the different peoples, which included Slavs of various nationalities, Romanians, Italians, and, in the Ottoman Empire, Arabs, Armenians, Kurds, and others. After World War I, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires were dissolved in accordance with the principle of national self-determination and replaced by smaller states. Germany became even more ethnically homogeneous, as it lost most of its territories inhabited by Poles, Alsatians, Danes, and other minority peoples. The scale of the map is approximately 1:4,300,000.

Last updated: September 22, 2015