On 8 January 1918, the US President Woodrow Wilson made public his famous ’14 points’. The right of nations to self-determination was a salient feature of these points, but was only realised to a limited degree.
In 1915, the Allied powers in Europe – Great Britain, France and Russia – had agreed that if Italy entered the war on their side, she would in return be allowed without hindrance to annexe the Tyrol south of Brenner, Trieste, Istria, the northern Dalmatians, Rhodes and Kos.
This promise was indeed consistent with the contemporary practice of power politics, but it was clearly at odds with the new principle of the right to self-determination which was at this time being introduced.
In 1919, at the end of World War I, Europe was territorially redesigned. Four great empires bit the dust, and their rulers disappeared: the Romanov dynasty in Russia; the Hapsburg dynasty in Austria-Hungary and the Hohenzollern dynasty in Germany.
Only the reduced states remained, now as republics: Soviet Russia, Turkey, Austria, Hungary and Germany.
On the other hand, a number of new states emerged in Central and Eastern Europe: Poland was resurrected after more that a hundred years of non-existence, and Czechoslovakia arose as a completely new state. An independent West Ukraine existed for a short transition period, and the three Baltic States appeared on the scene.
At the same time, Finland became an independent country for the first time ever, and in the Balkans Croats and Slovenes were each given their monarchy. Finally, in many cases, adjustments were made to the borders between existing states, for example between Denmark and Germany.