The Vault

This 1914 Children’s Map Depicts World War I as a Massive Dogfight

Click on the image to reach a zoomable version. 

University of Chicago Press

Excerpted from The Curious Map Book by Ashley Baynton-Williams. Out now from the University of Chicago Press. 

When the first world war started in 1914, most commentators thought that the war would be of short duration, and this was reflected in the relatively light-hearted caricature maps issued in the first months of the war. By the second year, when the true scale of the conflict became apparent, such propaganda maps took on an altogether darker tone.

Hark! Hark! The Dogs Do Bark!, published by G. W. Bacon, depicts the principal protagonists as dogs. The stereotypes are as familiar today as then: the British bulldog, the French poodle, and the German dachshund. Serbia, however, is depicted as wasps, stinging the Austrian mongrel. North of the British Isles is a puppet master in naval garb (sometimes said to be Winston Churchill, at the time first lord of the admiralty) who is gradually moving Royal Navy ships on station to blockade Germany by sea.

Walter Lewis Emanuel (1869–1915) contributed the descriptive text outside the lower border; he was a famous English humorist, known for his contributions to the magazine Punch and for a series of anthropomorphic dog books such as The Dogs of War (published in 1906 and reprinted in 1913), which was illustrated by the artist Cecil Aldin (1870–1935). Emmanuel’s text reads:

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 in Hun. Dachshunds means badger-dog – and he is sometimes 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 ones. There are, however, scallywags in every community, and, egged on by the Dachshund for private ends, the Mongrel started bullying a little Servian. And then 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 had his eye on. 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 […] The Dachshund, to his annoyance, found only one friend, and that was a dog of Constantinople. …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 ambitions; 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… All this, and more, may be seen depicted above. Search well and you will 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.

It is interesting to note that a German copy of the map was published in Hamburg early in 1915, presumably in an attempt to highlight and discredit the perceived self-interest of British war aims. It is also interesting to speculate on the market for such a map, originally sold for a shilling (5p); the image is child-oriented, and it may be that the map was aimed at parents and schools as a tool to explain the background to the conflict. When handled in the house or classroom, the maps would have been easily damaged, which explains their relative rarity today.