The map presented in this critique is a propaganda map whose creation is credited to one Walter Trier of Berlin, crafted in the dark days leading to the outbreak of the First World War, possibly sometime between the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary on June 24, 1914 and the Italian declaration of neutrality on August 1, 1914.
Some sparing concessions towards cartographic standards are made. Lost in the scenery are markers representing major capitals and cities of Europe. Bodies of water and nations are identified and marked. The outlines of national boundaries and coasts, though not intended to provide an infallible representation of the landscape, nevertheless convey to the mind of the casual observer a sense of shape with which to associate the European theater. Being a tool of propaganda, a map of this sort is typically far less concerned with painstaking accuracy of fact than it is with raising the morale of its intended audience and demonizing the enemies of the state. Using the prevailing states of political affairs as a foundation, the end result is necessarily a product of spin and embellishment.
Here then is seen the creative aspect of cartography in full force, a striking example of the possibilities of artistic expression, albeit in such a loose and unorthodox sample. The cartographer and his sponsors wish to use caricature to magnify the righteousness of their cause even as they demean and demonize the character of their foes. Laid out for the beholder to see is the heady nationalistic pride of the Germanic folk, placing front and center the valor of combined German and Austro-Hungarian arms beleaguered by a host of hostile entities, ranging from the decidedly unassuming in the Serbians, depicted here as swine, to the menace of the Russian’s yawning maw threatening to devour the sons of Berlin and Vienna.
For a 21st century observer, there is little this map offers save for a quaint glimpse at the mindset of Germans facing the prospect of war and a smirk or two at the comical, antagonizing depictions of their rivals. Considering the times and circumstances that this map was made in, however, it would have served considerable utility. To the man on the street, it gives awareness of the enemy and pride in the Fatherland, and to the state, a means to raise an army of hearts and minds.