How might a map of divided Europe look years after Brexit? Recently I received a beautiful 63 year old echo of an early cold war/ late WW2 Europe in the form of a fabric map. You can buy your 2016 versions here.
It was a 1:2 million scale 1944 escape and evasion map, reproduced by Ordnance Survey in 1953. The update, on Rayon fabric, is an augmentation of the original war time escape and evasion map with a heavy orange overlay to depict the division of the continent between super powers and allies.
It’s amazing to think that originally this double sided map, covering the whole of Germany and its neighbours with France on the reverse, would have been printed on parachute silk and used by thousands of British PoWs and operatives in occupied Europe as a key part of the success in the continent’s liberation. Just from the Italian PoW camps, 40 000 troops were repatriated to Great Britain thanks to the use of this type of map, normally hidden in the most imaginative of ways.
The 1953 reproduction is a stunningly clear print. A result of war-time investment in the most powerful of all uniting and dividing objects. The map. My constant pawing at it means it’s probably seen more wear in the last 7 weeks than in its previous 63 year existence (I treat my fabric maps very roughly indeed… it’s just habit!). It still looks (and smells) as if it was printed yesterday.
Central Europe is criss-crossed with orange lines roughly dividing Germany and Austria into US, French, British and, of course, Russian zones. Ominously right at the North Eastern Extreme “USSR” first appears on the map above a broad orange line and overwriting Lithuania. History, we know, re-unified much of central Europe against the ebb and flow of the “Iron Curtain” of Russian influence. Perhaps recent dalliances in the Crimea and Georgia are a sign of how these orange lines may move again against a weakened post-Brexit Europe? How might this shape the fabric map of 2079?
This week we launch our European Capital’s Maps in collaboration with Lush. But, together with Harper Collins we are now launching the latest version of these Atlas Scale maps at 1:2.5 million scale. Who knows how those borders may look in another 63 years’ time? Buy a map that will stand the test of time. Use it for your holidays and then, one day, pass it on to someone who’ll wander at the ebb and flow on a map of divided Europe.