Caricature Maps of World War I

Leviathon Map

Around 1870, maps that featured regional stereotypes, animals, symbolic imagery, and mythical and historic figures associated with particular countries became a popular way to express prejudices, humour and political commentary. The rise of the serio-comic map caricature genre reached its peak of popularity at the beginning of World War One. The humorous propaganda maps stirred nationalistic fervour, mocked and belittled enemies and even served as a tool for students to learn their geography. In many of the maps below you will see that the more distorted or grotesque depictions are saved for the least favoured nations while the home side is of course rendered as normal or heroic. The style declined in popularity as the war dragged on and film and posters became the more dominant media of propaganda. The Leviathon map that you see here is a modern attempt by an artist to re-create the caricature maps of the WWI era.

To look at each part of the map close up and compare it with the details below provided by artist Keith Thompson, go to the Leviathon Map at and click on each nation. This is how Thompson describes his map:

While these types of maps were humorous in many ways, they also showed the dark side of war. Let's look at several of these maps created before, during, and after World War I.

Map #1 - The Insane Asylum, 1915by Louis Raemaekers; Amsterdam, Senefelder [pub.] Louis Raemaekers (1869-1956) was one of the most famous cartoonist/caricaturists of WWI. He crossed the border from Holland into Insane Asylum Map, 115Belgium to witness first-hand the atrocities of the advancing German army. He subsequently chronicled the brutality of theses forces in his cartoons which drew the wrath of the Germans. They forced the Dutch authorities to put the illustrator on trial for jeopardising the neutrality of the Netherlands (he was eventually acquitted). A reward was offered by the Germans for Raemaekers' arrest and he escaped to Britain where he continued to skewer the German army in his drawings. He produced a thousand cartoons during the war and gained world wide acclaim from their syndication.

Map #2 - European Revue - Kill that Eagle, 1914 by J. Amschewitz; London, [Pub. by "Geographica"] An identical map (but with more text) was published in Germany in 1914. This satirical map of Europe is 'a document proving the perfidy of Albion'. Whilst German assets and blood fight for the fatherland, England regards the war merely as business by saying sneeringly: 'Business as usual' [..]. The map reproduces the English original exactly. The few words are transposed into German for better understanding.

Kill that Eagle Map 1914

Map #3 - Humorous Map of Europe, 1914 by K. Lehmann-Dumont [Leutert & Schneidewind, Dresden]

Map #4 - "Hark, Hark, the dogs do Bark", 1914 by Walter Emanuel [London, G.W. Bacon & Co.] The Dogs of War are loose in Europe, and a nice noise they are making! It was started by a Dachshund that is thought to have gone mad - though there was so much method in his madness that this is doubtful. [NOTE FOR THE IGNORANT: The German for Dog is Hund. The English for German is Hun. Dachshund means badger-dog - and he is sometime more badgered than he likes.] Mated with the Dachshund, for better or for worse, was an Austrian Mongrel. By the fine unwritten law of Dogdom big dogs never attack little dogs. There are, however, scallywags in every community, and, egged on by the Dachshund for private ends, the Mongrel started bullying a little Servian. And the fat was in the fire, for the little Servian had a great big friend in the form of a Russian Bear, and he stood up for his pal. And that was what the Dachshund wanted. He hoped that a big row would ensue, and in the confusion he intended to steal a bone or two that he had his eye on for some time. He got what he wanted -- and a little more. For the Russian Bear had friends too. There was a very game little Belgian Griffon, and there was a great big French Poodle, a smart dandified fellow, and there was a Bulldog. Rather a sleepy chap this last one, and the Dachshund despised him because he was not always yapping and snaring. But the Bulldog has a habit of sleeping with one eye open, and, when he is roused, he grips and won't let go.

The Hark, Hark the dogs do Bark World Map, 1914Dachshund started by attacking the Belgian Griffon, as being the smallest, and mauled the poor creature cruelly, but was quite unable to kill her. And he was mistaken as to the others. He found that the dandified Poodle could fight, and that the Bulldog had not lost the knack of not lettinggo, and that Russia, after all, was a Rusher, and soon the Bear idea made the Dachshund tremble. And even the little Servian gave the Austrian Mongrel some nasty bites, and so did a neighbour of his named Monty. The Dachshund now began to look round for friends, but they seemed strangely scarce. He had relied on an Italian Greyhound, a thoroughbred, named Italia, but Italia dissembled her love in the strangest way, and asserted that War was a luxury which she could not afford just now. All the same Italia loaded her gun, and who knows but what it may go off and whom it may go off and, whom it may hit -- for accidents will happen in the best regulated families.

The Dachshund, to his annoyance, found only one friend, and that was a dog of Constantinople. The Dogs of Constantinople are quite well known for being fond of offal. Meanwhile the rest of the European Happy Family looked on, and who shall say how the row will spread? There's the Greek with his knife ready to take a slice of Turkey; there are the Balkans determined not to be baulked of their own little ambtions; there's the Spaniard fond of Bull fighting so long as he is not a John Bull; there's the Portugee just spoiling for a scrap; there's the Swiss suffering from cold feet; there's the Dutchman, who keeps smiling with difficulty -- still some nice meaty bones may come his way, and in any event he may be relied upon to play the game and not to be a Double Dutchman.

And, up North, the Norwegian, the Swede, and the great Dane all have their eyes well skinned. All this, and more, may be seen depicted above. Search well and you may find many things. But not Peace. Peace has gone to the Dogs for the present -- until a satisfactory muzzle has been found for that Dachshund. Meanwhile the Dachshund's heart bleeds for Belgium -- and his nose for Great Britain."

Map #5 - Satirical Map of Europe in the World War, 1914 by E Zimmerman [Hamburg, W. Nolting]. The Russian bear sprays insect repellant on the Russians and holds out his empty wallet while roaring "hunger." Finland, chained to Russia, tries to cut itself free. The Russian is under fire from Austria and Germany. His (chamber)pot is full of victories. His uniform shows a tear in East Prussia and Lithuania. The Austrian duly scratches the Serbs. Rumania is at the ready. Bulgaria is still wounded from the Balkan War. The Turk awakes, he looks at his harem woman. Norway and Sweden are neutral, Denmark supplies butter. Italy has both feet in one boot and remains neutral. The German pushes Belgium out of the way with the elbow and is at Franzi's head. Bordeaux becomes an asylum for the homeless. The victories of the English and French are false, like the snakes that proclaim them. The Englishman will also soon know what 42ers are, etc. etc.

Satirical Map of Europe in the World War, 1914


Map #6 - Map of Europe in the Year 1914 by W Trier [Berlin] England hides its fleet under the skirt of home, the dog Ireland is at its back. King Oskar of Sweden looks "intently" at Russia. France bravely retreats, while Spain devotes itself to sweet "idleness." Belgium - already has! German and Austria-Hungary strike solid German blows on all sides. Good "will" prevails in Switzerland. |(blacked out)[Italy is loyal until death or victory(?)]| Sicily - volcanic soil, but otherwise quite quiet. Montenegro - a pack of lice. Serbia - a pack of swine! The King of Derazzo. Albania - abandons its people. Greece and Turkey are eager to devour one another. Ferdinand of Bulgaria would also like to have a share. Russia wants to swallow up everything, but will not succeed.

Map of Europe in 1914