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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Establishing the Boundaries of Poland

"Proposed Frontiers of Poland," 1918. Manuscript map. Woodrow Wilson Collection, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress (170.00.00)
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“Maximum Eastward Extension of Polish Nationality,” 1918. Printed map of southwestern Russia from 1866, with emendations. Woodrow Wilson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (170.01.00)
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Establishing the Boundaries of Poland

Prior to World War I, Poland's territory was divided among the empires of Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary. The war reignited Polish dreams of self-determination. President Wilson and his administration wanted to redraw the country's borders based on the dominant language of the people in a given area. However Great Britain feared that approach would give Poland too much of Germany's natural resources and industries in the east. Britain wanted Germany left in a position to pay restitution for the war and to avoid a communist uprising, like the one in Russia.

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