Subject: Text the Franco-Russian Mil. Agreement 1913

This may be slightly more exciting. Again, it is the full text, translated by me, with no comments or abbreviations except for an explanation or two (in brackets). Although not all of it is tremendously interesting, it is perhaps desirable to give it in full since selection may arouse suspicion and it is, of course, the agreement in force in July 1914. The source is the "Documents Diplomatiques Français", 1871-1914, 3 ième Série, 1911-1914,Vol VIII (Paris 1935) No. 79.

Minutes of the Discussions In August 1913 between the Russian and French General Staffs.

(and including the full text, with the contemporaneous commentary, or in French "observations", which is in quotation marks.)

In application of para 1, Article 4 of the Military Convention of 17.8.1892, Generals Jilinski, head of the Russian General Staff, and General Joffre, head of French ditto, held several meetings at St Petersburg and Tsarskoe Selo during August 1913.

Also present were Gen. Laguiche, Military Attaché to Russia, Colonel Count Ignatieff, ditto to France, Colonel Berthelot, French Army.

It was agreed that if any changes were made to the previous Convention, the text should be reprinted in full but noting the changes in the text .

(Each article of the text of the Convention is followed by the corresponding commentary)

Text of the Convention.


France and Russia, being animated by an equal desire to keep the peace and whose only object is to meet the needs of a defensive war, provoked by an attack of the forces of the Triple Alliance on one or the other, have agreed as follows:

"The two chiefs of the general staffs declared by common agreement that the words "defensive war" do not mean a war conducted defensively. They assert the contrary, that it is absolutely necessary for the French and Russian armies to take vigorous offensives and as far as possible simultaneously, according to the text of Article 3 of the Convention."

Article 1

If France is attacked by Germany or by Italy supported by Germany, Russia will use all its available forces to attack Germany. If Russia is attacked by Germany or by Austria supported by Germany, France will use all its available forces to fight Germany.

"Same observations as in the conferences of 1910, to wit, both chiefs of staff are convinced that whatever the circumstances, the defeat of the German forces remains the first and principal objective of the allied armies - plus - in 1913 - all the more so now given the considerable increase in the relative importance of the German forces in the Triple Alliance"

Article 2

If the forces of the Triple Alliance or of one of its members should mobilize, at the first news of the event and with no need for prior consultation, France and Russia will mobilize the whole of their forces and move them as close as possible to the frontiers.

"Same observations as in 1910, 1911 and 1912 but since their parent governments have approved the interpretation of the two chiefs of general staff, it is convenient to set them out as follows. The French and Russian governments having agreed in 1911 and 1912 that German mobilization would oblige Russia and France to mobilize immediately and simultaneously all their forces at the first news of the event and without previous consultation, it would be the same for any act of war by Germany against one or other of the allies. But if Austria or Italy should mobilize partially or even generally, that consultation is indispensable

The underlined phrase has been included to cover the possibility of a suddent attack, before mobilization, to seize some important point."

Article 3

The available forces which must be employed against Germany are, from France, thirteen hundred thousand men and, from Russia, seven to eight hundred thousand. These forces will be committed completely and with all dispatch so that Germany must fight on East and West at the same time.

"We still think Germany will direct the major part of her forces against France, leaving only a minimum against Russia. The 1913 Army Law in Germany will have the effect of speeding up mobilization. Thus the Germans can operate longer against France before having to turn to face Russia. Hence the aim of France and Russia attacking simultaneously from both sides. Joffre declared that the French forces will exceed the stated number by two hundred thousand, that most will be on the eastern frontier by the tenth day of mobilization and that operations will begin on the eleventh day, in the morning. Jilinsky declared that his forces would equal or exceed the number stated, that most would be on the frontier by the fifteenth day of mobilization and that operations would immediately follow. By the end of 1914, mobilization would be two days quicker. The conference discussed the main lines of their planned operations and the need for concentration of force. If the German forces in the east are mostly on the left bank of the Vistula then the Russians should bypass East Prussia to the south and head directly to Berlin otherwise to attack the German forces in that province. Without underestimating the need for Russia to maintain substantial forces against Austria and Sweden, Joffre believes that the defeat of Germany would greatly assist Russia against other enemies. It is the annihilation of the German forces which must be pursued at any price and from the start. Hence the need to speed up mobilization and for concentration.

Railway building is critical and Jilinsky listed improvements since the last conference. Orel to Warsaw - Briansk to Gomel and Loubinetz to Zabinka have been doubled and Brest Litovsk to Zabinka is now four tracks. Great construction difficulties with the Siedlce - Warsaw line so instead now building a new line from Ryazan to Tula and on to Warsaw. Joffre agreed. Examination of the map suggested great gains could be made by doubling the lines 1) Batraki - Penza - Rjask - Bogoslaviensk - Soukhini - Smolensk to Warsaw and 2) Rovno - Sarny - Louninetz - Baranovitchi and 3) Lozovaia - Poltava - Kiev - Sarny - Kovel or the construction of a line Grichino - Kovel.

Offensive operations would also benefit from (not sure "mise à l'écartement" - to do with the guage perhaps) of the Russian lines on the left bank of the Vistula and by more river crossings near Warsaw. More wagons and locomotives, especially powerful ones, are needed.

The essential is to gain a decisive success rapidly. A check to the French will mean Germany can switch forces east but a French success will prevent reinforcement of the German forces in the east. Numerical superiority for the French is of the first importance and as much as possible of the German Army must be detained in the east. Joffre thought it would be well if in peacetime a Russian force sufficient to amount to a direct threat should be maintained around Warsaw. Jilinski said they were planning just that.

Article 4

The general staffs of the armies of both countries will concert their efforts in good time to prepare and advance the execution of the measures set out above. They will exchange in peace time any information which comes to their knowledge of the armies of the Triple Alliance. Means and methods of communication will be studied and prepared in advance.

"No change to the three first paragraphs of the 1912 commentary ie 1. Conferences between the two chiefs of general staff shall be at regular intervals, in principle annual. 2. Or whenever one side wishes it. 3. The minutes of meetings shall be submitted to the parent governments for approval so that the chiefs of the general staffs may rely on the minutes for achieving desirable improvements. 4. Is changed as follows. The exchange of information being only advantageous, it will be regular and frequent. Communication methods in wartime have been improved. The radio stations of Paris- Bobruisk and Bizerta-Sevastopol work well. Bizerta has been strengthened and powerful station is being built near the Black Sea so that communication shall be as easy by day as by night. Following tests between the Eiffel Tower and the naval station at Sveaborg, the latter needs to be strengthened. Cable communication may be made over English cables. This has been agreed with London and can now operate. Cablegrams run by America, Australia and Zanzibar or South Africa to arrive at Odessa. Communications by émissaire = messenger?? organized from France to Russia it was agreed that Russia to France should be similarly organized. "

Article 5

France and Russia will not make a separate peace.

"The French and Russian governments having accepted the interpretation of this article since 1910, it runs as follows. They recognize that Article 5 obliges them not to cease operations or to conclude an armistice individually"

Article 6

The present convention will have the same duration as the Triple Alliance.

"Article 6 remains repealed. In conformity with the diplomatic agreement of August 1899, noted in Chapter 1 of the meeting of 2.7.1900, the convention will have the same duration as the diplomatic agreements now in force and of which it is the complement".

Article 7

All the clauses set out above will remain strictly secret.

"No comment"

Signatures of Joffre and Jilinski. "Read and approved" signatures of Barthou, President of the Council, Pichon, Foreign Minister and Etienne, War Minister. P. c. c. Lt. Col Dupont, General Staff, head of 2 ième Bureau.