28/7/1914 Sensational developments in Paris

The Caillaux trial reaches its conclusion. Henriette Caillaux had shot and killed the editor of Le Figaro, after the paper published a series of attacks on her and her husband, the leader of the Radicals. Now a jury acquits Madame Caillaux. The news convulses Paris and is a far bigger talking point than the international crisis.

For Joseph Caillaux the news is bittersweet. He had hoped to form a government with the French socialists, one that would pursue a rapprochement with Germany and downgrade the unnatural alliance between republican France and imperial Russia. Given the current international situation, this is now impossible.

France’s president and prime minister are still in transit from Russia. The political leadership at home is somewhat paralysed without them. Nevertheless, Adolphe Messimy, the war minister, and Joseph Joffre, chief of staff of the army, meet Russia’s military attaché. They assure him that France will fully support Russia and honour her treaty commitments.

Through the foreign ministry, Messimy and Joffre also send a message to France’s ambassador in St. Petersburg. They tell Paléologue that if hostilities break out, he must enjoin Russia to invade East Prussia as early as possible, notwithstanding the slow pace of Russian mobilisation.

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