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The Dreyfus Affair Essay

1143 words - 5 pages

During the 19th century, France, especially Paris, had became increasingly industrialized, which caused cramped living spaces, streets filled with dung, and unsanitary living conditions. Also a protist caused a grape famine throughout France, which had ruined one of the main agricultural exports, wine. Anti-Semitism became an uniting cause for the people of France, because they were able to blame the horrible conditions in France on the Jews. In addition, France was recently defeated in the Franco-Prussian war, there was a lot of tension within France. In addition France was under the pressure of rebuilding itself after facing industrial and agricultural hardships. In 1894, Captain Dreyfus was immediately accused of espionage by the German army because he had access to released information and most likely because he was of Jewish descent. On December 22, 1894, Captain Dreyfus was tried in a secret court and unanimously found guilty. Afterwards, he was stripped of his rank in a ceremony, and sent to prison on Devil’s Island for the rest of his life. His supporters demanded a re-trial due to insufficient evidence and the lack of a public trial, he was accused by a military tribunal; however, in the retrial he was pronounced guilty again and sent to Devil’s Island for ten years. In 1899, the President of France absolved Dreyfus, and he was allowed to return to Paris where he continued his military career. Finally, in 1995, the French government recognized Dreyfus as innocent. There were some underlying causes for his conviction due to France being under the stress of agricultural issues and the effects of industrialization. Emilie Zola was a great supporter of Dreyfus who published J’accuse, which accused the government of anti-Semitic acts and the illegal jailing of Dreyfus. This provoked the citizens of France to take sides and increased hostility. Opposing Zola was Drumont, who was an anti-Semitic author that constantly published articles and wrote letters about his opinions on the Dreyfus Affair. During this time the printing press had recently been revolutionized which allowed the ability of news to spread easily and quickly. These consist of Many include: articles published in journals and newspapers, letters among colleagues, and other images used as propaganda such as, posters and images in newspapers. Since 1995, it has been accepted that Captain Dreyfus was innocent of espionage against the French army. However, there are many reasons why he was falsely convicted; most of these reasons support anti-Semitism, which was rampant throughout Europe during the 20th century. During the late 20th century, modern anti-Semitism was fueled by use of Jews as a scapegoat, examples of past anti-Semitism, and the use of Social Darwinism to discriminate against Jews; under these circumstances, during the Dreyfus Affair, these issues caused the matter to become a national “affair,” rather than a military discrepancy. Throughout France,...

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