The boundaries of the successor nation-states were complicated by a number of issues.
Poland had a major problem in 1814-15.
The collapse of the three powers that partitioned Poland at the end of the 18th century gave rise to unparalleled opportunities for a Polish state.
It was impossible to include large numbers of non-Poles in the new Polish state.
In border areas where Poles mixed with other populations, it was difficult to distinguish.
In Poland, as in many other areas of central and eastern Europe, trying to establish universally acceptable borders around coherent, homogeneous, and viable nation-states revealed itself to be a fool's errand.
The Paris Peace Conference treaties had to face realities on the ground that they had little leverage over.
The peace treaty between the two nations in March 1921 resulted in an uneasy Russo-Polish border that lasted until 1939.
There were large territories with non-Polish majorities.
The Polish Corridor was agreed to by the Paris Peace Conference on the northwest of the new Polish state in order to assure Polish access to the sea, leaving East Prussia separated from the rest of Germany and creating a free city.
Many Germans living in the area of the Polish Corridor moved out when they were told they had to accept Polish citizenship.
The larger issue of how to reconcile the principle of national self-determination with the principle of providing natural, defensible frontiers was touched on in the Polish Corridor issue.
Establishing borders would allow the new states to prosper.
The borders of Czechoslovakia, the newly created state to Poland's south, epitomized the dilemma of state creation even more than was the case with Poland.
Although the name implied a unification of two related peoples, the Czechs and the Slovaks, each speaking related Western-Slavic tongues, Czechoslovakia also contained around 3 million German speakers.
There were pockets of German settlements throughout the new state.
The Sudeten Germans were never part of the German Reich, but they did not like being a minority in the new Czechoslovak nation-state.
The majority of German-speaking areas along the western border with Germany should have been given the option of being included in the new German republic.
The Czech leaders wanted to keep the Sudeten border areas because they were economically productive and because the mountains along the German border could be used for military purposes in the future.
The shape of Czechoslovakia was peculiar, stretching from central Germany to eastern Europe.
The new state included large numbers of Ukrainians at its far eastern tip, as well as Poles on the northeast, Magyars on the southeast, and Jews in most urban areas.
It was odd that the new nation-state of the Czechs and Slovaks resembled a prewar multinational state.
NonCzechoslovak minorities made up 45 percent of the population of Czechoslovakia.
The idea of a single Czechoslovak nationality was artificial.
The Slovaks, a mostly peasant people, had been ruled by Hungary, while the Czechs, a more urban and economically advanced people, had been part of Austria.
The idea of a unified Czechoslovak people was established in the constitution of the new state because the Czechs alone did not constitute a majority.
The large percentage of Germans was awkward because they were more educated and economically advanced than the Czechs.
During the interwar years, the German minority loudly complained of discrimination by the Czechs.
Yugoslavia was an artificial combination of peoples who had some linguistic affinities but little common historical experience and even less mutual affection that was based on Wilsonian principles.
The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was first named in Yugoslavia in 1929.
The Serbs dominated this new state, generating resistance and resentment from non-Serbs, especially the Croats, who thought of themselves as culturally more advanced.
Before World War I, the borders and political nature of any future SouthSlav state were uncertain, but the issue of South-Slav nationalism had a lot to do with it.
There were disagreements with neighboring states over where the borders should be drawn.
The Serbo-Croatian language was a weak foundation for Yugoslav unity.
The Croats used the Latin alphabet and the Serbs used the Cyrillic alphabet.
The Slovenes were part of the Austrian half of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, while the Croats were part of the Hungarian half.
There were similar differences in the populations of the rest of the state.
Bosnia-Herzegovina has a lot of ethnic identity, languages, and religions, and many of its citizens have been part of the Ottoman Empire.
The former provinces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire made up Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia.
The new borders of Austria and Hungary made it impossible to apply Wilsonian principles and create viable states.
Both Austria and Hungary had poor economic prospects.
Austrian Germans lost their leading role in the empire and saw a brighter future with the new German republic.
A new German state larger than the German Reich of 1914 would have been created if the victor nations at Paris had allowed such a union.
The Paris Peace Conference tried to establish borders consistent with what the majority of the people in the area wanted, but it was not always possible.
The idea of giving the Alsatians the option of voting on rejoining France was rejected by the French.
If Germany had not seemed under a cloud in 1919, many would have preferred it.
The people of the new Hungarian state had a bigger sense of grievance than the Germans did.
The Hungarian state was cut down to around 8 million inhabitants, and it lost hundreds of thousands of Magyar-speakers along its borders with Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.
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