American civilians looking at a new Map of Europe after WW1, 1918

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People gathered around a map of Europe to look at the new borders following the end of WW1
The people of Philadelphia looking at a new map of Europe following World War I, 1918.

World War I caused significant changes in the borders in Europe. Empires collapsed and countries became independent after many years as subjects. When the Russian Empire collapsed in 1917, countries including Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine were added to the map. The German Empire was also weakened with some of their land given to bordering countries. Czechoslovakia was also formed at the end of World War 1.

This photograph shows the people of Philadelphia looking at a map of Europe with the new border changes. It was taken around November 1918 by B. Wallace of the Underwood and Underwood Photograph company for us in the Evening Bulletin. The map was put on the side of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This version of the map was also shared around other parts of the United States including Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C..

It is very interesting to wonder what some of these citizens would have been thinking. Philadelphia has a large immigrant population that had migrated from Southern and Eastern Europe, such as Italy and Poland, in the late 19th and early 20th century. Many of these people could be first-generation immigrants who have just looked at the map and seen the new borders of their country of birth. These people were probably more invested in the changes going on in Europe. Many likely still had family in the countries featured on the map.

Unknown to those that were looking at this map, the borders were to change a lot over the next 30 years. The nations of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany claimed large amounts of territory, taking away the sovereignty of many countries that had only just regained independence.

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