The mobilization of the Dreyfusards

The mobilization of the Dreyfusards

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Dreyfus is innocent. Defenders of law, justice and truth.

© Contemporary Collections

Publication date: November 2004

Historical context

The twists and turns of the Affair

The arrest and conviction of a French Jewish officer, Alfred Dreyfus, in December 1894, following the discovery of an anonymous bordereau containing secret information intended for Germany, seemed to close this banal story of espionage. This scandalous decision only stirred up the antagonistic passions which had sparked off the Affair and prompted supporters of the revision of the Dreyfus trial to mobilize to stir public opinion in its favor.

Image Analysis

The mobilization of the Dreyfusards

The publication of Zola's manifesto, "I accuse ...! ", in Dawn on January 13, 1898, a real time bomb directed against the army and the government which had participated in the conviction of an innocent person, served as a prelude to the gathering of the Dreyfusards, eager to increase their audience within the public, as As evidenced by this poster, published in 1898 in the free supplement to the newspaper The century, favorable to the revision. Under the title "Dreyfus est innocent", it presents photographs of "defenders of law, justice and truth", framed by the inscriptions "Vive la France!" ", " Long live the Republic ! "," Long live the Army! "And" Down with the traitors! ". Low-profile individuals rub shoulders here with great intellectual and political figures of the time: belonging to the first category, Bernard Lazare, Jewish writer, and Scheurer-Kestner, vice-president of the Senate and Alsatian like Dreyfus, were among the first to give a national impact to the Affair; in the second category, let us quote the presence of Georges Clemenceau, famous polemicist, founder of the newspaper Dawn, that of Émile Zola, whose public commitment in favor of Dreyfus led to condemnation and exile, that of Jean Jaurès, a socialist thinker who was actively involved in the Affair from 1897-1898, and that of Joseph Reinach, Jewish servant of the State and convinced republican who concentrated on his person all the anti-Semitic hatreds of the time. At the center of this gallery of portraits sits the bust photograph of Lieutenant-Colonel Picquart, dressed in military uniform, whom his conviction of Dreyfus' innocence prompted to rise up against the staff wishing to stifle the case.


The two France

The presence of slogans such as “Vive la France! "On this poster and the existence of another similar poster, that only the title" Dreyfus est un traître "and the notorious anti-Dreyfus portraits -  the Minister of War Cavaignac and three generals - distinguish from the previous one, highlight two phenomena: on the one hand, the important role played by the press in the debate between Dreyfusards and anti-Dreyfusards, who used the newspapers as platforms to disseminate their opinions; on the other hand, the will of the two camps to organize themselves and the conviction of each of them to embody France on their own, a conviction all the more deeply rooted as the divisions between the political parties did not really allow to establish a line of demarcation between Dreyfusards and antidreyfusards. While the former fought in the name of the universal ideals of truth and justice, the latter, driven by virulent nationalism and anti-Semitism, relied on two powerful institutions, the Army and the Church, to defend the values ​​of order and authority.

  • Dreyfus Affair
  • army
  • Zola (Emile)
  • Clemenceau (Georges)
  • hurry
  • Third Republic
  • public opinion


Pierre ALBERTHistory of the pressParis, P.U.F., coll. "What do I know? », 1993 (7th ed.). Pierre BIRNBAUMLes fools of the Republic. Political history of the Jews of Gambetta State in Vichy Paris, Le Seuil, 1992. Jean-Denis BREDIN The Paris Affair, Fayard-Julliard, 1993 (new ed. ). Madeleine REBÉRIOUX The Radical Republic. 1898-1914 Paris, Le Seuil, 1975. Michel WINOCK Nationalism, anti-Semitism and fascism in France Paris, Le Seuil, 1990.

To cite this article

Charlotte DENOËL, "The mobilization of the Dreyfusards"

Video: Laffaire Dreyfus - V. Duclert