WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — It may have started 100 years ago, but World War I has left a lasting imprint on the social, economic and political landscape around the globe. The war started July 28, 1914 when Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand a month earlier.
Many historians are marking the war’s beginning to raise awareness about the changes seen today. One of them is Purdue historian David Atkinson, who stopped by News 18 This Morning to discuss what was once called “the war to end all wars.” The conflict eventually involved more than a dozen countries on four continents, including the United States, which remained neutral until 1917.
“The [war] pulled the United States out of minor power status into the first rank of international powers,” said Atkinson. “If you also look at the collapse of empires around the world, four major empires were collapsed as a result of this war.”
Atkinson also pointed out that Americans view the war very differently from Europeans, who paid the highest price. In total, the war claimed about 35 million lives.
“Americans were reluctant at the time to engage in this conflict, and they were reluctant after this conflict to continue that [superpower] role,” Atkinson said.
The war ended with an armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.