The Dreyfus Affair in France Essay

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The Dreyfus Affair in France The Dreyfus Affair began in 1894 with the unjust conviction of Alfred Dreyfus, a French Artillery Officer, for the crime of treason. The Affair was to last 12 years, and some historians would argue that it split the country in two.[1] The case of Dreyfus was to create such intense public opinion, that some believe few modern French figures have been more controversial.[2] Feelings of Nationalism and anti-Semitism would keep the Affair closely related to the French passions. The Press would play a large part in influencing the feelings relating to the case; helping to condemn Dreyfus as well as later increasing awareness and support in favour of him. Questions would…show more content…
So it would be fair to say that there were political divisions apparent at the start of the Affair. What the Dreyfus Affair was able to do, however, was force these parties to become either a Dreyfusard in support of Dreyfus, or an Anti-Dreyfusard. Johnson tells us that anti-Semitism, Nationalism and Christian democracy were all feelings which the right possessed at this time, and hoped that these would gain the backing of the general public. Unfortunately this did not happen and the ideologies had no impact on their electoral fortunes[3]. What the Dreyfus Affair did, Johnson says, is give the right a new sense of direction and coherence, it gave them something to rally around. The actions of the Dreyfusards and the issues which they raised polarised the objectives of the right and gave them a new ideology based in Nationalism[4]. The right were joined in one belief, that Dreyfus was guilty and deserved to be imprisoned. The opponents to this belief were Dreyfusards. This group was consisted mainly of Radicals, Republicans and Socialists. The Socialists, who had previously disagreed with the Republicans and Radicals, became unified with them. The Republicans, Anderson tells us, believed that justice, humanity and liberty were beliefs worth defending[5]. They also saw the exploitation of anti-Semitic and
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