3.00 P.M.: The President has no right to address the National Assembly and Poincaré’s speech is read out for him in both houses. It stresses the defensive nature of French policy and claims France represents liberty, justice and reason. He calls for a union sacrée. In the Chamber of Deputies the entire assembly gets to […]
Posts Tagged “France”
Morning: Poincaré is worried that the British have made no commitment to send the BEF to France. He writes to King George requesting him to send British troops to cover the French left flank as the Germans attack through Belgium.
French President writes to King George requesting him to send British troops to cover the French left flank as the Germans attack through Belgium. President’s speech to the National Assembly stresses the defensive nature of French policy and calls for a “union sacrée”.
6.00 P.M.: Schoen delivers and reads out the German declaration of war on France to Viviani. It contains false accusations that the French have carried out bombing raids on Germany. Schoen asks for his passports and leaves.
6.00 P.M. GERMAN AMBASSADOR DELIVERS DECLARATION OF WAR ON FRANCE.
Afternoon: Poincaré starts preparing his message to the National Assembly. He wants to say “at last we can release the cry, until now smothered in our breasts: Vive L’ Alsace Lorraine” but ministers persuade him that such a declaration will be bad for foreign opinion and make the war appear as one of revenge. He […]
2.00 P.M.: The cabinet agree a proclamation of a state of emergency. The National Assembly now has to meet within forty-eight hours.
French declare a state of emergency.
11.00 P.M.: Izvolsky receives news from St Petersburg of the German declaration of war on Russia and immediately goes to Poincaré to ask how France will respond. Poincaré does not want to declare war on Germany. He prefers Germany to declare war on France so as to appear as peaceful as possible to the French […]
4.00 P.M.: Telegrams announcing general mobilisation are dispatched across France and MOBILISATION GENERALE notices posted up outside main Paris post offices. France mobilises one hour before Germany.
Morning: The cabinet decides to issue the mobilisation order.
Morning: Viviani is called out of a cabinet meeting to see Schoen who has called at the Quai d’Orsay to get the answer to the German question asked the day before whether France will remain neutral. Schoen repeats the question several times and Viviani finally answers that France will look after its own interests.
Morning: The cabinet meet with Joffre present. He repeats his argument that the Germans are well advanced secretly mobilising.
8.00 A.M.: Joffre sees Messimy and claims that Germany will be entirely mobilised by 4 August “even without the order for mobilisation having been issued”. (This is nonsense.) He again threatens to resign if mobilisation is not ordered by 4.00 P.M.
French Chief of the General Staff threatens to resign if mobilisation is not ordered. In response to his question of the previous day the French Prime Minister tells the German ambassador that France will look after its own interests in a Russo-German conflict. French order general mobilisation (one hour before Germany).
Brief: French reaction to Russian mobilisation measures and Paléologue’s role [More]
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”.
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.
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 […]
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.
8.30 P.M.: A very brief message from Paléologue sent that morning announcing Russia has declared general mobilisation finally arrives in Paris.
Evening: Izvolsky reports French government’s “firm resolve to fight” to St Petersburg.
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]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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: 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.
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.
French Chief of the General Staff tells French Minister of War that every 24 hour delay in mobilising means a 10 to 12 km loss of French territory. He says Germany is secretly mobilising. (This is not true). German ambassador tells the French Prime Minister of the German warning to Russia that if doesn’t stop […]
Morning: Telegram to Paul Cambon explains cabinet’s decision to leave part of French territory undefended. “In doing so we have no other reason than to prove to British public opinion and the British government that France, like Russia, will not fire the first shot”.
9.30 A.M.: French cabinet meets. Their main concern with Russia is not to stop Russian military preparations but to ensure Germany cannot blame Russia for provoking war.They agree covering troops take up positions but on condition no train transport is used or reservists called up and most importantly, troops are to approach no closer than […]
Before 9.30 A.M.: After Ignatiev, the Russian Military Attaché, asks Messimy how to translate into military terms Viviani’s recommendation to Sazonov, Izvolsky wires Sazonov saying “the French Government has no intention of interfering in our military preparations but thinks it extremely desirable, in view of the further pursuance of negotiations for the preservation of peace, […]
7.00 A.M.: As a result Viviani wires Paléologue saying “France is resolved to fulfil all the obligations of her alliance,”“but …. in the interest of the general peace …. in taking any precautionary measures of defence Russia should not immediately take any step which may offer Germany a pretext for a total or partial mobilisation […]
Very early morning: Viviani and Messimy wake Poincaré and discuss this important news with him.Viviani thinks Sazonov is giving a very wide meaning to any assurances that Paléologue may have given him.
2.00 A.M.: Izvolsky realises the importance of this message and immediately has its contents communicated to Viviani and Messimy.
2.00 A.M.: Izvolsky has a message from Sazonov sent before the Tsar changed general back to partial mobilisation.It explains Germany has warned it will mobilise if Russia does not stop her military preparations. “As we cannot meet the German wish, all we can do is to speed up our armaments and reckon with the probable […]
Russians tell the French they can’t agree to the German request to stop military preparations and as war is likely the best thing is to speed up armaments. They thank the French for their support under the Franco-Russian alliance. French Prime Minister thinks the Russian Foreign Minister is giving a very wide meaning to the […]
Evening: Joffre asks Messimy for authorisation for French covering forces to take up their positions on the French border with Germany.
Afternoon and later: Izvolsky sends Sazonov several telegrams about events in France.He mentions the attitude of the French press which is very pro-Russian and the very warm welcome given to Poincaré on his return from the French visit to St Petersburg.He also reports that after the cabinet meeting Viviani told him of the determination of […]
During the cabinet meeting: As the meeting starts Viviani is called out to see Schoen who has a message from Bethmann.Though France is at liberty to take what measure it believes necessary, continued military preparations will mean that Germany will have to declare a “State of Imminent Danger of War”. Viviani says the French preparations […]
Late afternoon: The French cabinet meets chaired by Poincaré. They discuss the situation and decide to hold daily meetings.
11.15 A.M.: Izvolsky informs the French government Russian partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary will shortly be announced. This is not the consultation the Franco-Russian alliance requires. Also, it creates no immediate alarm because Jagow has told the French ambassador that mobilisation against only Austria-Hungary would not cause German mobilisation.
8.00 A.M.: The French Presidential party returns to France. They dock at Dunkirk and go by train to Paris. At the quayside and at stations on the way they are met by large cheering crowds. The French public are reacting to the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war on Serbia which the Presidential party now hear about.
French Presidential party returns to France. Russian ambassador informs the French that Russia is about to announce partial mobilisation. Russian ambassador wires Russian Foreign Minister. The French press is very pro-Russia and the President has received a very warm welcome on his return to France. French Chief of the General Staff asks for authorisation for […]
North Sea: Viviani wires Paris his approval of the British proposal for mediation by a four-power conference and of Bienvenu-Martin’s reply to Schoen that Germany should exercise restraint in Vienna.
French Prime Minister wires Paris his approval of the British proposal for an ambassadors’ conference.
Paris: The French military urge their counterparts in St Petersburg that if hostilities break out to immediately take the offensive in East Prussia despite the slowness of Russian mobilisation.A Russian attack in the east will draw German forces away from the expected big German attack against France in the west. They know German military strategy […]
Paris: The French cabinet agrees further precautionary military measures including the recall of troops from Algeria and Morocco and full protection of railways.
Paris: Szécsen calls on Bienvenu-Martin with the official Austro-Hungarian explanation of its reaction to the Serbian reply. Austria-Hungary has to take strong measures. In response to Bienvenu-Martin’s question he admits there might be a declaration of war, or the crossing of the frontier. He wires Vienna saying that the Austro-Hungarian attitude is giving the impression […]
Paris: Izvolsky returns to Paris. He sends a telegram to St Petersburg saying Bienvenu-Martin and his colleagues understand the situation and are determined to give Russia full support and avoid the slightest hint of a difference of opinion.Later he gets a telegram from Sazonov who is concerned with what Bienvenu-Martin said to Schoen on the […]
Paris: Bertie writes to Grey. He is sure the French government does not want to fight and they should be encouraged to put pressure on the Russians not to assume the obsolete attitude of defender of all Slav states. It will lead to war.
Baltic Sea, midday: Viviani wires instructions to Paléologue which ask him to tell Sazonov that France “…. is ready, in the interests of the general peace, whole heartedly to second the action of the Imperial Government”.Viviani’s words “in the interest of general peace” indicate he is aware of the risks inherent in Poincare’s policy of […]
Baltic Sea: They hear of Paléologue’s message to Paris that Russia has decided to order partial mobilisation if Austria-Hungary threatens Serbia with military force and secret military preparations are underway.Up to this point Poincaré did not realise that any military measures were underway.If mobilisation is ordered troops will concentrate on the border with Austria-Hungary but […]
Baltic Sea: The Presidential party agrees to return to Paris as quickly as possible. The journey will take two days.
French Presidential party at sea sends message to St Petersburg saying France will support Russia. French Prime Minister adds “…. in the interests of peace”. French cabinet agree precautionary military measures including recall of troops from Algeria. French military remind their Russian counterparts if war breaks out Russia must give priority to attacking Germany and […]
Day and evening: Adolphe Messimy takes the first French military measures of the crisis. Following the news of the recall of German officers from leave he orders the recall of French officers.As more negative news comes in during the evening he orders the recall of other ranks from harvest leave and initiates security restrictions on […]
Evening: Paris advises Presidential party, somewhere in the Baltic Sea, to abandon the state visits to Denmark and Norway and return home as soon as possible.
Evening: Berthelot tells Sevastopula he thinks the successive German demarches at Paris have the object of intimidating France and inducing her to put pressure on St Petersburg.Austria-Hungary and Germany “are aiming at a brilliant diplomatic victory but not at war at any price, although in the extreme case they would not recoil from it”. “He […]
Evening: Schoen calls on Berthelot to suggest making a joint press statement saying Germany and France are “acting in an identical spirit of peaceful co-operation” to find ways of preserving peace, and head off negative newspaper comments.Berthelot says the suggested statement is misleading. The real situation is dangerous. He tells Schoen he thinks Vienna would […]
Shortly after: Schoen telegrams Berlin saying Bienvenu-Martin personally “is most willing to exercise a quietening influence in St Petersburg now that, by the Austrian declaration that no annexation is intended, the conditions for doing so had been created”. He could not make a formal statement because he must first consult the absent French Prime Minister.He […]
5.00 P.M.: Schoen sees Bienvenu-Martin to ask if France is willing to advise Russia to keep out of the conflict as Vienna has said it will not annex Serbian territory.
During the day: French Ministry of War hears from the French military attaché in St Petersburg that the Russians have decided to mobilise in the military districts of Kiev, Odessa, Kazan and Moscow if Austria-Hungary attacks Serbia.Russia is secretly making the preparations in all military districts including Warsaw, Vilna and St Petersburg facing Germany. The […]
German ambassador asks if France is willing to advise Russia to stay out of the conflict as Austria does not intend to annex any Serbian territory. French Minister of Justice says he personally is willing to do this but he must consult the Prime Minister. Senior official tells German ambassador he thinks Austria is acting […]
Stockholm: Viviani telegrams Paris saying France should work with Russia and Britain and if Austria-Hungary insists on taking part in an investigation on Serbian territory to call for a conference similar to the 1904 Rome conference to combat European anarchists which would widen the inquiry to include other Powers.They decide to continue with their Swedish […]
Paris: Bertie reports to London that he has told Bienvenu-Martin that in democratic countries such as England and France war could not be made without the support of public opinion and public opinion in England would not sanction a war in support of Russia if she went to the aid of Serbia.As a private individual […]
Paris: A French newspaper publishes news of Schoen’s “demand” for localisation of the conflict. The newspaper says this amounts to saying “Leave Austria to crush Serbia or you will have to reckon with Germany”.Schoen calls on Berthelot to protest against this leak and its interpretation. Berthelot assures him the French government has had nothing to […]
French Presidential party in Stockholm. They get report Germany is insisting the dispute between Austria-Hungary and Serbia is localised. They decide to continue with the Swedish visit.
Stockholm, morning: On reaching Stockholm Poincaré and Viviani get report of what the German ambassador said in Paris the previous day. They realise if Germany is insisting the dispute between Austria-Hungary and Serbia is localised, then Germany is supporting Austria-Hungary.
Paris: Vesnić sees Berthelot. Berthelot gives only his personal opinion that “Serbia should try to gain time”. It should also offer “immediate satisfaction” on most points, ask for proof of the Austro-Hungarian allegations and offer to submit the dispute to great power mediation.
Paris: Schoen calls on Bienvenu-Martin to explain the German view especially the need to keep the conflict local. In view of the various alliances any foreign intervention would have “incalculable consequences”.Bienvenu-Martin has been joined by Philippe Berthelot, the deputy head of the French Foreign Ministry. He repeats his view that Austria-Hungary can make legitimate demands […]
Paris: Szécsen calls on Bienvenu-Martin to explain the note to Serbia. He says it is an act of self-defence. Though Bienvenu-Martin makes critical comments calling the note “virtually an ultimatum” containing demands that would probably be “unacceptable” he gives a sympathetic impression.Szécsen reports to Vienna Bienvenu-Martin thinks “energetic action” by Austria-Hungary “can be understood” and […]
Paris: In the absence of Viviani the French Foreign Ministry is in the hands of Bienvenu-Martin, the Minister of Justice. He has no diplomatic experience.
Baltic Sea: Poincaré, Viviani and Margerie are at sea on the battleship France bound for Stockholm. Communications are difficult.As agreed with Sazonov, Viviani sends instructions to the French ambassador in Vienna to urge Berchtold in a friendly way to act with moderation and restraint in making any demands upon the Serbian government.Through fragmentary messages they […]
German ambassador calls on French Minister of Justice (who is acting for Foreign Minister while on state visit) to tell him Germany believes the conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia must be kept local. In view of the alliances any intervention would have “incalculable consequences”. French Minister of Justice tells the ambassador he thinks Austria can […]
French President and Prime Minister on state visit to Russia. See Russia.
See next day:
French President and Prime Minister on state visit to Russia. See Russia.