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World War 1: Tomorrow marks 100 years since Europe plunged into the war to end all wars.

we are still living with its appalling legacy in Ukraine and Gaza 

Exactly 100 years ago tomorrow, Britain stumbled into a war that would change the face not just of this country but of the whole of Europe, for ever.

Its consequences would spread far beyond the continent where it was fought, initiating almost a century of upheaval, revolution, bloodshed and conflict unimaginable to the Britons who cheered when we decided to fight the Kaiser on August 4, 1914.

It is no exaggeration to say that the effects of the Great War are still being felt. It isn’t just that so many families remember great uncles or grandparents or great-grandparents who lie in what Rupert Brooke called ‘some corner of a foreign field’.

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The conflict in Ukraine and the bloody wars in Syria, Iraq and Gaza all have their roots in a war that destroyed the empires that constituted the old world order, and which began a century ago almost to the day.

Ukraine’s troubles were born from the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires, and the horrors of the Middle East from the fall of the Ottoman Empire. These two conflicts have conspired to make the world more dangerous than since the height of the Cold War in the early 1960s, and are direct legacies of the bloodbath which the nation commemorates the centenary of tomorrow.

How we reported the outbreak of war in a special 7am special edition

How we reported the outbreak of war in a special 7am special edition

The Great War threw history off its supposed course of progress and enlightenment. It recalibrated the world. It destroyed empires, undermined the power of those who survived, fomented revolutions, broke class systems and social orders, and created a new superpower in the shape of America.

It also sowed the seeds of totalitarianism, causing an even more murderous war 20 years later, and divisions between east and west that remain painfully apparent today.

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