France, Friday, 31st July
12.30 P.M. Viviani wires Paul Cambon the false rumour that German reservists are being called up and German troops are advancing on the French frontier. Viviani wants Cambon to impress upon the British the Germans are being aggressive not the French.
Afternoon Shortly before a cabinet meeting Joffre sends Messimy a note saying every 24 hour delay in France putting its covering forces in position means a loss of 10 to 12 kilometres of French territory. He is unwilling to carry this responsibility. He claims Germany is secretly mobilising.
Afternoon In response to Joffre's latest statement the cabinet allows the positioning of covering forces by train but reservists are still not to be called up.
Afternoon In two telegrams from Berlin an hour apart, Jules Cambon reports (1) the German ambassador in St Petersburg has said Russia has decided on general mobilisation, and (2) Germany has declared the "State of Imminent Danger of War" in response to Russian general mobilisation and will ask Russia to demobilise failing which Germany will mobilise.
Afternoon Schoen has an appointment with Viviani at 7.00 P.M. Viviani consults Poincaré as to what he should say. He expects to be asked about France's intentions. They agree they will put off the answer until the next day and say only France will look after its own interests.
7.00 P.M. Schoen calls on Viviani and tells him of the German ultimatum to Russia that if she does not demobilise Germany will mobilise, and for Germany mobilisation means war.
He wants to know what France will do in a Russo-German conflict. He wants an answer within 18 hours.
Viviani says he has no news of Russian general mobilisation, only of precautionary measures. He will not give up hope of avoiding the worst. He promises to give Schoen an answer by 1.00 P.M. the next day. [More]
Evening Viviani telegrams Paléologue summarising the meeting with Schoen. He asks the ambassador to report "as a matter of urgency" on Russian mobilisation. He also says "I do not doubt that the Imperial Government, in the overruling interests of peace, will on its side avoid anything which might open up the crisis". [More]
Evening Izvolsky reports French government's "firm resolve to fight" to St Petersburg.
8.30 P.M. A very brief message from Paléologue sent that morning announcing Russia has declared general mobilisation finally arrives in Paris.
Evening On learning of Schoen's announcement that Germany will mobilise if Russia doesn't demobilise, Joffre tells Messimy that France must mobilise at once.
Late evening The cabinet meet again. They have Paléologue's telegram confirming Russian general mobilisation. They discuss Joffre's demand for immediate mobilisation and agree to wait until 4.00 P.M. the next day.
This is the latest time at which the announcement can be made if 2 August, the earliest practicable date, is to be the first day of mobilisation. The Cabinet are also keen to be seen as responding to German action rather than initiating military measures.
During the meeting Viviani is called out of the meeting to see Bertie. The British want to know if the French will respect Belgium neutrality. A little later Bertie wires London that the French government is resolved to respect Belgium neutrality.
1.00 A.M. next day Izvolsky forwards a message from Messimy to St Petersburg asking the Russian General Staff ".... to confirm the hope of the French General Staff that all .... efforts will be directed against Germany and that Austria will be regarded as a negligible quantity".
Brief French reaction to Russian mobilisation measures and Paléologue's role [More]