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Journal Articles Romanian Review of Political Sciences and International Relations Year : 2018

Prelude to the Marne


. In August 1911, the French General Dubail went to Russia to tighten the relations between France and its ally, in the context of the Moroccan crisis. He was received by the Czar and his top advisors. The Russian Army would take the offensive once the front line troops were in place. It would throw itself against East Prussia on the 16th day. From now on, the Russians too saw the offensive as the sole key to success. In July 1912, it was the Russian superior officers’ turn to visit France. General Gilinski, the Army Chief-of-Staff, conversed with General Joffre, the newly designated generalissimo, towhom he promised a Russian offensive the 15th day after the mobilization. In September, the Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolayevich, taking leave of his hosts after the maneuvers of Poitou, invited General Joffre to Russia for the grand Russian maneuvers the following year. To accompany him, Joffre chose collaborators from all the armed forces. Joffre did not want to let his action to be dictated to him, even by his allies. Nicholas II accepted the composition of the mission on June 18th, 1913. Haunted by the risk of the overrun of French forces by more powerful German armies at the beginning of operations, General Joffre insisted on the necessity of accelerating Russian mobilization to the maximum and launching an offensive as soon as possible with the already operational fraction of the army. This question was vital for France. The invasion of Belgium, said Joffre to Grand Duke Nicholas, had to be considered as the most probable hypothesis. Outside of this fundamental gain, the members of the French mission created or reinforced useful contacts with their Russian comrades. The French influence seemed to grow. However, Joffre also discerned, beyond the exterior expressions of friendship, the existence of a Germanophile party, led by the Minister of War. The future gave reason to Joffre, as the Minister ended by being arrested and judged. Joffre stigmatized also the growing influence of Rasputin, who, it was said, was responsible for naming Sukomlinov and thus, the discredit that resulted for the regime. If Joffre and his companions returned from Russia reassured about the army as a whole, they could also, already, detect, at least among the most lucid, the first signs of the collapse of the autocracy and the beginnings of the revolution. The officers who accompanied the future ‘‘victor of the Marne’’ were also some of the last French to taste the condemned splendor of the Imperial Court of Russia.
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hal-03207198 , version 1 (24-04-2021)


  • HAL Id : hal-03207198 , version 1


Jean-Noël Grandhomme. Prelude to the Marne: General Joffre’s Mission to Russia (August 1913). Romanian Review of Political Sciences and International Relations, 2018, XV (2), pp.215-232. ⟨hal-03207198⟩
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