Thursday, July 31, 2014

1914: Day by Day Cartoons: Posy Simmonds

Twelve British cartoonists and graphic artists have responded to the events that happened across the world as the world was heading to war one hundred years ago.

Shadow Play by Posy Simmonds

31 July 1914

The British cabinet is still split over what to do. They can’t agree on whether Britain has obligations to help the French. Its ambassador Paul Cambon is certain it does. Britain’s failure to act is encouraging Germany to go to war with France and Russia. The Foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey ‒ who still hopes to preserve the peace ‒ insists that Britain is completely free to act as it wishes:

Sir Edward Grey:

‘We cannot give any pledge at the present time. The commercial and financial situation is exceedingly serious; there is danger of a complete collapse that would involve us and everyone else in ruin; and it is possible that our standing aside might be the only means of preventing a complete collapse of European credit, in which we should be involved.’

1 August 1914

In Whitehall the decision makers find the rapidly deteriorating situation on the Continent anything but entertaining. Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia and France are all mobilising their armies. Germany issues an ultimatum to Paris and St Petersburg ‒ unless it receives assurances it will declare war this afternoon. Despite this, Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary is still resisting pleas for support from France … At 11pm on 4 August Britain declares war on Germany.

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