Friday, August 01, 2014
French socialist leader Jean Jaurès is assassinated. He is shot at the Café du Croissant by Raoul Villain, a 29-year-old who dislikes his opposition to war. In the morning the newspaper Sociale had suggested that Jaurès be nailed to the wall at the same time as the mobilization bulletins. Villain also intended to kill Joseph Caillaux if he wasn’t caught while killing Jaurès, but he was. He will be held without trial until 1919, when he will be acquitted (his lawyers argued he merely wanted to ensure that France would win the war and mistakenly thought Jaurès would have opposed it) and Jaurès’s widow ordered to pay the costs of the trial. Eventually Villain will settle in Spain, where he’ll be murdered early in the civil war, evidently by Republicans who had no idea who he was, because irony.
Russia orders full military mobilization (the previous “partial” mobilization wasn’t that partial anyway, because the military had no plans for such a thing).
Austria orders full military mobilization in response to Russia ordering full military mobilization.
Germany declares a state of war, or a state of impending war – at any rate something war-ish but a step below declaring war (I guess the Germans have as many words for types of war as Eskimos do for snow). Also declaring whatever-this-is: Bavaria, which has to do so separately because of something in Germany’s weird constitution. The kaiser issues a statement calling Russian mobilization an act of “unpardonable disloyalty,” which seems like an odd choice of word until you remember the kaiser and the czar are cousins (in fact, Tsar Nicholas had scotched an order for general mobilization on July 29 after receiving a telegram from the kaiser, one of the famous “Willy” and “Nicky” telegrams)(which were in English, by the way). Wilhelm makes a speech from the window of his palace: “A fateful hour has fallen for Germany. Envious people on all sides are compelling us to our just defense. The sword is being forced into our hand.” Again, he’s still claiming to be trying to avert war. Mostly through bluster, as was the custom.
One odd way in which Germany prepares for war: Prince Oskar, Kaiser Wilhelm’s fifth son, gets married a month earlier than planned.
Germany signs a secret treaty of alliance with Turkey.
Austrian destroyers nearly capture Montenegro’s royal yacht, but it speeds away to Corfu.
The German ambassador to Russia, the Graf von Pourtales, asks Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov if Russia would refrain from war if Austria promised not to annex any of Serbia. Sazonov, who probably recognized what Pourtales was trying to slip past him – that Austria’s allies Romania and Bulgaria would do the carving up of Serbia – says that Russia would not permit Serbia’s “execution”.
The Jewish Chronicle (London) opposes Britain joining the war: “Why should England send the flower of her manhood to defend Russian interests, to sustain an effete and barbarous autocracy on its tottering throne?” (Why indeed? On a somewhat blurred page of today’s NYT I misread a subheadline as “Czar Has Culled 4,000,000 Men” – and I wouldn’t put it past him.) An editorial in the liberal Daily News argues, “If we crush Germany in the dust and make Russia the dictator of Europe and Asia, it will be the greatest disaster that has ever befallen Western culture and civilization.”
Similarly, George Bernard Shaw, in a letter in the Daily Citizen, says “The alliance between the revolutionary Government of France and the reactionary Government of Russia is a monstrous and unnatural product of cosmopolitan finance.” However, he says, “If war is madness, we should have thought of that before. It is no use piling up armaments and blustering for years and then, when the first shot is fired, suddenly joining the Quakers. We have made our bed and must lie on it.”
The NYT thinks that the rules of war will keep this whole thing civilized. There won’t be attacks on civilians, looting, bombing of undefended towns or buildings, shooting of surrendering soldiers, abuse of POWs, or unusually cruel weapons. The Times admits that none of that was true during the two Balkan Wars, but “The Balkan States are not fully civilized. War provokes savagery, but a war involving the great Powers would be fought with due restraint.” So that’s okay then.
The Women’s Social and Political Union calls off the militant campaign, due to the international situation.
Headline of the Day -100: “Hit By Gore With Cane. Blind Senator Smashes Stick Over Former Critic’s Head.”