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The Great War? Blame the kaiser

Part 1 of 2

August 4, 2014
By Lee Gaillard

On the faded blue French telegram form: "War formally declared; staff can do work; you may prefer be here at this time." Austria-Hungary had begun bombarding Belgrade. Caught on vacation in a Paris suburb at the outbreak of World War I, my grandfather was not able to begin his frantic drive back to Hungary with his chauffeur in their official car until Aug. 3, the day Germany declared war on France; he was allowed through French and German front lines only by the grace of God and a flimsy, handwritten sheet of paper, an "Ordre du Ministre de l'Interieur" requesting a "laissez-passez" for William Coffin, "Consul General des Etats-Unis d'Amerique Budapest, qui rejoint son poste en automobile."



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