The Story of The Caillaux Affair

Jack Beatty at Lapham’s Quarterly:

Of the millions of bullets fired in 1914, only two changed history: the bullet fired on June 28 in Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip’s Browning automatic that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and the bullet fired on March 16 in Paris by Henriette Caillaux that killed Gaston Calmette. As premier in 1911, her husband had by back-channel negotiations defused a war-charged crisis with Germany, grounds for believing he could have worked his magic again three years later, when he would have all but certainly been elected premier again—but for the bark of Henriette’s Browning. Months before the war, anticipating that Caillaux, then the finance minister, would soon be premier, Belgium’s ambassador to Paris assured Brussels: “Caillaux’s presence in power will lessen the acuteness of international jealousies and will constitute a better base for relations between France and Germany.” That was heresy in “official Paris,” where “everybody that you meet tells you that an early war with Germany is certain and inevitable.” Months into the war, the Kölnische Zeitung stated, “If Monsieur Caillaux had remained in office, if Madame Caillaux’s gesture had not been made, the plot against the peace of Europe would not have succeeded.”

more here.