Marking 100 Years Since The Start Of WWI

Marking the one hundredth anniversary of the start of World War One. We’ll look at lessons learned and our uneasy peace right now.

U.S. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker watches as wounded American soldiers arrive at an American hospital near the front during World War I. (AP Photo)

U.S. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker watches as wounded American soldiers arrive at an American hospital near the front during World War I. (AP Photo)

A hundred years ago today, the world took a massive turn.  The Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, and World War I was on.  Within days, everyone was at war.  Decades of peace exploded into trenches and poison gas, tanks and bombs.  The world was literally remade.  Millions and millions dead.  Borders redrawn.  A century on we still live with the consequences – and some feel global chaos in the air again.  An old, familiar order teetering.  This hour On Point:  the onslaught of World War I, and lessons for an uneasy world right now.

— Tom Ashbrook


Margaret MacMillan, historian and professor of international history at the University of Oxford. Author of many books, including “The War That Ended Peace” and “Paris 1919,” among others.

Sean McMeekin, history professor at Koc University in Istanbul, Turkey. Author of “July 1914: Countdown to War” and “The Russian Origins of the First World War.”

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Guardian: Margaret MacMillan: ‘Just don’t ask me who started the first world war’ — “But why, when it was clear by the spring of 1915 that the war on the western front was hopelessly bogged down, didn’t they stop? ‘When that many people have died and you’ve asked your publics to make these sacrifices, how can you say: ‘Whoops, sorry, we made a bit of a mistake here.””

MarketWatch: 5 things we should have learned from World War I — “This is not some distant and dull historical anecdote. The first World War cost tens of millions of lives. It shattered the old world in Europe and paved the way for Stalin, Hitler, and, in 1939, the second World War. Historians today often call 1914-45 a single crisis spanning 31 years. When it was over, somewhere approaching 100 million people were dead. The wars united modern science and the horrors of the Middle Ages. We are still feeling the effects today.”

Boston Globe: What does World War I mean? A century of answers — “When World War I began 100 years ago, on July 28, 1914, every nation fighting thought it knew why. England, France, and Russia blamed Germany and Austria-Hungary, while the latter blamed the former. Socialists blamed imperialists, pacifists blamed warmongering leaders, and Americans blamed the Old World for succumbing to its usual barbarism.”

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