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Dreyfus Affair Research Papers

Dreyfus Affair research papers examine the issue of treason and Captain Dreyfus. Paper Masters will custom write a research paper that looks at all the facts of the case and explicates why Dreyfus was accused, then cleared, and how the entire case came about.

The facts of the Dreyfus Affair are somewhat confusing, but the implications are clear:

  • In 1893, French Captain Dreyfus was falsely accused of being a German spy, court-martialed, convicted, and sent to Devils’ Island. 
  • Almost immediately, evidence demonstrating his innocence surfaced. 
  • In 1899, a second trial also found Dreyfus guilty. 
  • It was not until 1906 that Dreyfus was exonerated.
Dreyfus Affair

Dreyfus Affair - Syndicate of Treason

But in many ways, the damage had been done.  In addition to his accused crime (treason), French society unleashed an attack on Dreyfus’s other “crime,” that of being Jewish.  Newspapers and politicians began screaming about “Jewish treason” in France.  The French public, in general, accepted anti-Semitic claims that the French Jews were actually “cosmopolitan aliens,” ready to betray France.  Those who were convinced of Dreyfus’s guilt spoke of a larger “Syndicate of Treason,” also called the “Jewish Syndicate.”  This Syndicate was behind the attempts to free Dreyfus, raising huge sums of money to bribe judges, journalists, witnesses, and officials .

Bernard-Lazare was the first intellectual to speak up in defense of Dreyfus.  In 1896, he wrote “A Judicial Error,” maintaining that Dreyfus’s arrest, condemnation and continued imprisonment were entirely due to antisemitism.  Lazare’s conclusion was that because of such hatred in society, Jews could not assimilate, but should make the most of their cultural distinctiveness.  His views influenced the emerging thoughts of Theodor Herzel, who founded the World Zionist Organization in 1897.  For Lazare, the Dreyfus Affair was a battle for all Jews.

Zionism and Dreyfus Affair

French Society at the end of the 19th century was supposed to be the most enlightened and tolerant of Jews.  If, as the Dreyfus Affair, made clear, Jews were not safe from persecution even there, then how was it possible to live as a minority among Gentiles in any nation?  “Anguish over this question resulted in the Dreyfus Affair’s giving twentieth-century Zionism its single most powerful impetus before the advent of the Third Reich”.

Theodor Herzel was the Paris correspondent for the Vienna Neue Freie Presse, and covered the Dreyfus Affair.  This led him to write Der Judenstaat in 1896, “Zion’s principle manifesto”.  Herzel finally defined the notion that assimilation was impossible for Jews, for no one had tried to assimilate harder that Alfred Dreyfus.  Herzel was personally moved by the Dreyfus Affair, and transformed himself from an obscure journalist into the intellectual founder of the State of Israel.  The two events are directly linked through the person of Herzel, who might never have awakened Zionism if not for the anti-Semitic backlash that shook France in the 1890s.

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