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From the Monitor's archives: Germany invades France, declares war on Russia

One hundred years ago, Europe's major powers picked their respective sides in World War I, as Germany mobilized in support of its ally Austria. The Christian Science Monitor reported as it happened.

Mikhail Klimentyev/Presidential Press Service/RIA Novosti Kremlin/AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin (fifth from l.), and guests walk past the monument to the Heroes of the World War I during an an opening ceremony on the day of the 100th anniversary of its beginning in Victory Park on Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow on Friday.
The Christian Science Monitor, ProQuest
Page 1 of the Aug. 3, 1914, edition of the Monitor. The story about Germany's invasion of France appears on the far right.

This article originally ran in The Christian Science Monitor on Aug. 3, 1914. As of that date, what was to become known as the Great War or World War I was already underway. Austria had declared war on Serbia just a few days before over the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, to which Russia, a Serbian ally, responded by mobilizing its own forces. On Aug. 1, Germany, an ally of Austria, in turn declared war on Russia and mobilized its own forces.

The greatest concern to France and Britain, both Russian allies, was Germany's designs on Belgium. Belgium declared its neutrality on Aug. 1, but Germany was eyeing its territory as a way to perform an end run around French forces along the French-German border. By flanking the French through Belgium, Germany could overwhelm the French military quickly and then turn its forces eastward against Russia.


British Government to Announce Its Attitude in House of Commons Today — Luxembourg Is Taken


Special Cable to the Monitor from its European Bureau

LONDON (Sunday, midnight) — The political situation is bad, but not hope­less. In spite of everything the British cabinet is continuing its exertions to stop the war though the sudden move­ment of German troops has made this difficult.

Curiously enough whilst Austria is actually negotiating at St. Petersburg, Germany has declared war against Russia and has thrown her troops across the French frontier. The fact, there­fore, remains that while a state of war exists between Germany and Russia, without any overt act, Germany has vio­lated French territory without declaring war.

The truth is that in accordance with her recognized strategical policy Ger­many is endeavoring by a supreme effort to crush France before the enormous Russian forces can be brought into action.

At 9 o’clock Sunday morning the French ambassador informed [British Foreign Secretary] Sir Edward Grey that German troops had violated the neutrality of Luxembourg by occupy­ing the principality during the night. As both France and the United Kingdom are guarantors of this neutrality in con­junction with Germany herself the notion really constitutes an act of war and the position of the British cabinet is made peculiarly difficult.

Germany’s Object

The object of Germany is obviously, by crossing the Luxembourg frontier be­tween the French fortresses of Montmédy and Verdun, to get in the rear of the fortified zone stretching from Ver­dun to Nancy. With this object she has violated the neutrality of Luxem­bourg and has crossed the frontier and is in full march on the forts at Longwy. Simultaneously she has approached and fired on the custom house at Delle, close to the Swiss border.

The neutrality of Belgium is not immediately threatened but whilst the French have voluntarily announced their respect for it, the Germans have refused any such guarantee.

The British fleet, of course, has been fully mobilized for the late review so the country is not entirely unprepared. The raising of the bank rate to 10 percent has finally stopped the drain of gold and the financial position is as­sured.

Naval Reserves Called

Monday, 9 a. m.—There is no change in the situation since midnight. As a precautionary measure the naval reserves have been called out. Beyond that noth­ing will be known of the action of the United Kingdom until the government statement is made this afternoon in the House. Violation of the Luxembourg neutrality has undoubtedly made the situation very serious as far as the United Kingdom is concerned and the premier’s statement is awaited with considerable anxiety.

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