History is full of some fantastic “what ifs,” collections of good intentions, bad ideas, and unfulfilled possibilities that could have potentially changed history. Some of these are well known, while others languish in obscurity, like a 1920 radial map of Europe that was actually part of a strange European Union plan from long before the EU formed. This bizarre plan for post-World War I Europe might not be easy on the eyes, but it’s a revolutionary idea that is well worth examining.
The mysterious map was never widely circulated, and its author attempted anonymity; however, most scholars are quite sure of who it was. While the map was never seriously considered by anyone with the power to enact it, it does raise some interesting questions as to just how effective such a radical plan would have been. Given that the map’s intention was to prevent future European wars, and given that World War II erupted less than two decades after its publication, there’s every chance this wild plan would have sent European history in a drastically different direction.
The Suggestion Came In The Wake Of World War I
Militarism, alliances, nationalism, imperialism, and assassinations had made up the MANIA that created World War I, and Europe was ready for something different. Germany had been defeated, and the question remained of how to re-structure Europe in the aftermath. The overall goal of this process was to create a lasting peace in Europe, although each of the powers at the table came in with other agendas of its own. Given that it’s called World War I, and not just “The World War,” it should be obvious just how successful these plans for peace actually were. However, multiple unofficial plans for European peace were created, including one with an absolutely mind-boggling map attached to it.
The Author Isn’t 100% Identified, But There’s A Likely CandidatePhoto: Cornell University – PJ Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography / Cornell University / CC BY-SA 3.0
The map and proposal in question came from an anonymous source, although scholars are pretty certain they know who created it. The author, listed as “P.A.M.” only, left a note that says, “I have informed a Notary of my name, profession and role as author and editor of this work of peace, and it will be announced only when the four principal Nations in the Union have expressed their judgment publicly.” Since that never happened, the author’s name was never revealed. However, the entire 24-page pamphlet was published by Otto Maas, who had a son named P.A. Maas, making it pretty obvious who the secret peacemaker was.
The Author Was Correct To Criticize The Treaty Of Versailles
The “Die Unionisierung Mitteleuropas” map was created by P.A. Maas as a direct reaction to the Treaty of Versailles, which was the official peace treaty that ended World War I and attempted to set Europe up for a peaceful future. In the 24-page pamphlet attached to the map, Mass criticized the Treaty and said:
“the nation states are definitely torn apart, but they are as it were joined together under one roof, by creating sub-regions in which all nations are fused (…), in which racial hatred does not prevail as before, but the love of the people wins out, thus bestowing happiness and blessings on all in that unitary nation.”
Whether his plan was good or not, Maas was definitely right to criticize the Treaty of Versailles. The overly harsh conditions it laid on Germany directly paved the way for the rise of Adolf Hitler and the start of World War II.
The New Map Would Unify Mainland Europe In A Radial Pattern Of Cantons
The “Die Unionisierung Mitteleuropas” plan was definitely of the “start from scratch” variety. P.A. Maas proposed redrawing the map of Europe completely and splitting it up into slices like a gigantic pie. These slices would be called cantons, and they were to be arrayed in a radial pattern as they narrowed and met in the middle. The cantons were equally angled but not equally sized, with some being far “longer” than others. Each of the cantons was to be named after a major city that fell within its borders, like Paris or Brussels. These cantons covered all of what is generally considered mainland Europe, and they showed no preference for the winners or losers of World War I. In fact, the cantons ignored the previously established borders completely.