During the summer of 1914 great parties were held at Peterhof and Krasnoe Selo on the occassion of visits from the English and French Fleets. With the French fleet, the President of France, M. Poincaré arrived in Petersburg.

After the assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand, they began to talk about the possibility of war; however such rumors did not create any upset in the Imperial Family. Upset began to appear in their demeanor, though, during the visit of M. Poincaré in July. After a luncheon, we learned that the President had gone back to his ship to return to France. It was the suddenness of his leaving that created the upset I mentioned. (During a reception at the French Embassy in the afternoon after the guests had left, I stayed by myself in the small salon next to the Great Hall with the President of the Council, M. René Viviani, who I had known for many years in Paris. We talked about Paris, I gave him details about people and things in Petersburg, and we were preoccupied, like everyone else, with the "preparations" in Vienna and Berlin. I asked Viviani where things stood, would a war be avoided or not? "What would you have me tell you Semenonov? Up until this morning, for months, something irreparable has not yet happened. But I do not know of anything to tell you about what might happen tomorrow morning, or even tonight for that matter." I understood the rest. What we did not know, though, was the agitations had already begun, in the factories and workshops, by German agents, to provoke the general workers' strike. -E.S. ed. note in original).

The War was officially announced at Krasnoe Selo to the generals and the officers, as well as the young men who had finished military school and were promoted to officers. A gala dinner closed this ceremony at Krasnoe Selo.

Returning to Peterho the next day, the Emperor received ministers and military men of the responsible offices. After the Council was rejoined by the Emperor, it was announced officially that Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievich had been named Commander in Chief.

In August, the Emperor make a trip across all of the mobilized military districts. During the period when the Grand Duke was Commander in Chief, the Emperor, from time to time, went to Baronovichi, where Stavka was located. The Emperor also visited the fortress at the same time.

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