(see previous post in this series: August 6 — Charles Inman Barnard)
Friday, August 7, 1914. — This is the sixth day of mobilization. Steady rain during the morning. Temperature at five P.M. 16 degrees centigrade.
Disembarking of British troops in France has begun, and the greatest enthusiasm is reported from the northern departments. I went to see the Duc de Loubet this morning and met there Mr. De Courcey Forbes, who told me that the French mobilization was working like clock-work two days ahead of scheduled time. He said that about a hundred Germans and Austrians had been arrested as spies. They were tried by court martial at eleven o’clock yesterday morning, and fifty-nine of them, who were found guilty, were shot at Vincennes at four o’clock the same afternoon.
It subsequently turned out that these spies had not been shot, after all, but had been imprisoned and kept in close confinement.
When Baron Schoen left the German Embassy in Paris, he was treated with great courtesy and escorted by the Chef de Protocol, M. William Martin, to the railway station, where he was provided with a special train de luxe with a restaurant car. Upon the arrival at the frontier, the Germans actually seized and confiscated the train! Reports of French families returning from Germany show that not only individual Frenchmen but French diplomatists and Russian diplomatists have been greatly insulted in Germany, especially in Berlin and Munich.
Contrast with this the attitude of a crowd which I saw to-day watching about a thousand Germans and Austrians tramp to a railway station, where they were entrained for their concentration camp. They marched between soldiers with fixed bayonets ready to protect them. But the crowd watched them almost sympathetically, with not an insult, not a jeer.
The mobilization in France has caused an extraordinary increase in the number of marriages contracted at the various Paris town halls. From morning till night the mayors and their assistants have been kept busy uniting couples who would be separated the same day or the next, when the husband joined his regiment. At the bare announcement of the possibility of war, the marriage offices at the town halls were literally taken by assault. As there was no time to be lost, arrangements were made by the chief officials to accept the minimum of documentary proofs of identity in all cases where the bridegrooms were called upon to serve their country. The other papers required by the law will be put in later.
The statistics of the first five days of the mobilization show that one hundred and eighty-one marriages were performed a day as against the ordinary figure of one hundred and ten. In the suburbs the increase is even greater, and a notable fact, both in Paris and outside, is that the largest number of marriages took place in the most populous districts. In the eleventh arrondissement the ordinary figures were trebled. All wedding parties wear little French, English, Russian, and Belgian flags.
General Michel, Military Governor of Paris, has issued an order formally forbidding any one to leave or enter Paris either on foot or in any kind of vehicle between the hours of six at night and six in the morning.
At a meeting of the executive committee of the American Ambulance of Paris, it was announced that more than thirty thousand francs had been received, exclusive of the sums obtained by the women’s committee, and apart from the promises of larger subscriptions.
Up to yesterday morning twelve physicians and surgeons and twice that number of nurses had volunteered to assist the regular staff of the American Hospital in the work of caring for wounded French soldiers. Among the physicians and surgeons who have volunteered are Doctor Joseph Blake, of New York; Doctor Charles Roland, formerly a surgeon of the United States army; and Doctor George B. Hayes, of Paris.
The women’s committee held a meeting at the American Embassy, when further subscriptions were received, that brought the total amount obtained by this committee up to eighteen thousand francs.
The executive committee now consists of Mrs. Laurence V. Benet, Mrs. H. Herman Harjes, Mrs. Potter Palmer, Mrs. Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Mrs. George Munroe, Mrs. Edith Wharton, Mrs. William Jay, Mrs. Tuck, Mrs. C.C. Cuyler and Mrs. Elbert H. Gary.
~ ~ ~ Charles Inman Barnard, from his book Paris War Days: the Diary of an American (Boston: Little Brown & Co, 1914).