Most painful territorial losses

May 2014
17,726
SoCal
#1
Which territorial losses were arguably the most painful for the country that was losing territory to swallow?

Personally, I could think of:

-Danzig and the Polish Corridor: Germany whined and complained a lot about its loss of this territory even during the Weimar era--in fact, up to the point of Germany launching a years-long trade war against Poland: German–Polish customs war - Wikipedia
-Alsace-Lorraine: France felt that a part of its soul was ripped apart when it lost Alsace-Lorraine in 1871. This issue served as a perpetual poison in Franco-German relations up to WWI.
-The territories east of the Oder-Neisse Line: West Germany refused to recognize the Oder-Neisse border with Poland until 1970--and even that recognition was provisional and was only finalized in 1990 after German reunification.
-Vilnius and Lviv: Poland was unhappy about the loss of the Kresy in general (even though it was generously compensated with former German territory in the west), but the loss of Vilnius and Lviv might have been especially painful for Poland given that these cities had huge Polish populations before WWII.
-Algeria: France ultimately voted to let Algeria go by a huge margin (75%-25%, I believe), but it nevertheless previously fought a years-long war against the Algerian FLN in order to prevent Algeria's secession from France. Also, the pieds-noirs were especially hurt by France's decision to withdraw from Algeria--hence them resorting to terrorism near the end of the Algerian War and even trying to assassinate De Gaulle.
-Ukraine and Belarus: After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia didn't reconcile itself to the loss of Ukraine and Belarus for an extremely long time. For instance, it was still hoping for a reunion with both of these countries as late as early 2014.
-Kashmir: Not a territorial loss per se since Pakistan never actually controlled all of Kashmir, but Pakistan's failure to conquer all of Kashmir back in 1947 significantly poisoned Indo-Pakistani relations for the next seven decades.

Anyway, what other painful territorial losses were there throughout history? For the record, I want this thread to focus on recent history, but nevertheless please feel free to talk about history further back in time as well if it relates to this topic.
 
Likes: Rodger
Jun 2014
5,837
US
#2
Cuba was probably a loss for Spain. The Ottoman empire losing the oil rich fields of the Mideast was costly. And how about Britain losing control over many parts of its empire? Mexico lost California.
 
Likes: Futurist
May 2014
17,726
SoCal
#3
Cuba was probably a loss for Spain.
Spain seems to have gotten over it quickly, no?

The Ottoman empire losing the oil rich fields of the Mideast was costly.
And yet Ataturk never tried to reclaim these territories. The last Ottoman Parliament never declared it a goal to recapture most of the lost Arab territories:

Misak-ı Millî - Wikipedia



And how about Britain losing control over many parts of its empire?
Doesn't count, unfortunately. I want only territories that were officially a part of the mother country for this scenario.

Mexico lost California.
Yep, it certainly did. However, I didn't include it in my list because I don't think that Mexicans dwelled too much about this loss--did they?
 
#4
There are a few examples that dip into the real of current politics and are post-1991 so I will not mention them.

In history we have Britain losing the 13 Colonies. Spain losing Gibraltar (A small territory but strategically vital.) along with the rest of its European holdings. France losing its First Colonial Empire and Sweden losing its Baltic territories in the Great Northern War.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jan 2014
2,031
Santiago de Chile
#8
Denmark when it lost Schleswig-Holstein (Lost 1/4 of it's metropolitan territory and 1/3 of its population), never recovered in many ways from that, country had to settle with not being able to be a European power of any sort. Would also add the loss of Scania (southernmost Sweden) for Denmark. In The case of Chile the waiving of any rights over what is now Argentine Patagonia while not a painful loss at the time (the land was viewed like Alaska at the time of Seward's folly) it has proven over the course of the last 100 years or so to not be our most brightest strategic move. Chile waived claims there so that Argentina wouldn't open another front during the War of The Pacific 1879-1883.
Speaking of that war it is absolutely certain that Peru and Bolivia remain embittered (Bolivians more than Peruvians) over their large territorial losses during that conflict, Chile gained a lot from that (Copper, Nitrates, and rumor has it that area now has massive amounts of Lithium). Those lands have fueled half our economy for over a century in my opinion, hast to hurt our neighbors. Bolivia is still fighting for the land back in international courts.
 
Likes: Futurist
May 2014
17,726
SoCal
#10
Well, you mentioned Vilnius in the OP. Polish control of the city was also a big blow to Lithuania.
Oh, absolutely! Technically speaking, it wasn't a loss for Lithuania since Lithuania never actually controlled Vilnius during the 20th century before 1940. However, Yes, it certainly poisoned Polish-Lithuanian relations in the interwar era.

For that matter, I think that Colombia's loss of Panama is pretty significant considering that Colombia didn't actually recognize Panama's independence until 1921.

Not really the consequences of the 1898 war were very profound in Spain and had impact in the 20th century until the Civil War.

There is even the designation of generation of 98: Generation of '98 - Wikipedia
Thanks for the correction!

Anyway, though, were Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam officially a part of Spain like northern Algeria was officially a part of France?

I see Sweden's loss of the Eastern Half of the Realm in 1809 is conspicuously missing ;)
Swedes sure missed that Finnish food, eh? ;)

Denmark when it lost Schleswig-Holstein (Lost 1/4 of it's metropolitan territory and 1/3 of its population), never recovered in many ways from that, country had to settle with not being able to be a European power of any sort.
Yeah, that makes sense. Denmark eagerly demanded the return of northern Schleswig after the end of WWI.

Would also add the loss of Scania (southernmost Sweden) for Denmark.
Was Scania also a heavily populous region full of commerce?

BTW, fun fact: Swedish nationalists are currently the strongest in Scania.

In The case of Chile the waiving of any rights over what is now Argentine Patagonia while not a painful loss at the time (the land was viewed like Alaska at the time of Seward's folly) it has proven over the course of the last 100 years or so to not be our most brightest strategic move. Chile waived claims there so that Argentina wouldn't open another front during the War of The Pacific 1879-1883.
How would Argentine entry into this war have affected it?

Also, I figure that I might as well ask this question while we're on this topic--what do you think would have happened during this war had US President Garfield survived? I know that he and his Secretary of State Blaine wanted to mediate an end to this war without any Chilean territorial annexations.

BTW, what natural resources does Patagonia have?

Speaking of that war it is absolutely certain that Peru and Bolivia remain embittered (Bolivians more than Peruvians) over their large territorial losses during that conflict, Chile gained a lot from that (Copper, Nitrates, and rumor has it that area now has massive amounts of Lithium). Those lands have fueled half our economy for over a century in my opinion, hast to hurt our neighbors. Bolivia is still fighting for the land back in international courts.
That makes sense. Bolivia was especially hurt by this war due to it losing its only access to the sea. :(