1/8/1914 France mobilises

France has still not ordered general mobilisation. This is causing General Joffre great annoyance. With the drums of war beating ever louder, the the army chief of staff sees the failure to mobilise as leaving his country in the gravest danger. He speaks to Messimy, the war minister, threatening to resign if mobilisation is not ordered. Joffre is invited to put his case to the cabinet, where his views attract no opposition. But they agree to wait until news of Russia’s response to Germany’s ultimatum arrives.

The French have one piece of good news from Camille Barrère, their ambassador in Rome. Italy has somehow found itself allied to Germany and Austria-Hungary but Antonio San Giuliano, its foreign minister, reveals to Barrère that the country will not back its allies if war breaks out. Joffre sends an order to ship north the troops assigned to cover the Italian frontier.

Viviani gives an evasive response to a query from Germany’s ambassador as to whether France will remain neutral in the event of war between Germany and Russia. “France will act according to her interests,” he says.

Returning to the meeting of the cabinet, Viviani finally accepts the need for mobilisation. The orders are issued at 3.45 pm and the first placards announcing the move appear on the streets of Paris at 4.00 pm.

Meanwhile, in the streets there are patriotic demonstrations and reports of attacks on German and Austro-Hungarian businesses.

Dramatis Personae

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