1 page | SMC 512
- Theodor Herzl
BackgroundCaptain Alfred Dreyfus, convicted of treason, falsely, in a 1894 trial which split all France into two camps - Dreyfusards and anti-Dreyfusards - for twelve tumultuous years; convicted of treason, falsely, in an 1899 re-trial, but days later granted a presidential pardon; exonerated, finally, in 1906, and awarded the Legion of Honour - here thanks a radical French Senator, Leopold Thezard, for his support.
Senator Thezard, who was also a Professor of Law at Poitiers University, published a legal analysis of the French government's rejection of Lucie Dreyfus' request to join her husband in the March 24, 1898 edition of Le Petit Temps. Lucie had, following Alfred's conviction in 1894 asked permission to join her husband in exile, in accordance with existing French law; repeatedly, she was ignored and refused. As was true throughout the Dreyfus Affair, when it came to anyone or anything Dreyfus, the law (in this case, of law of 23 March 1872) was subverted, and justice denied. Lucie Dreyfus would not be re-united with her husband until he received a "pardon", in 1899, on the grounds of poor health.
That Dreyfus' health was deliberately wrecked in a hellish internment on Devil's Island; that he was interned at all, in a hellish subversion of justice when groundlessly charged and then convicted, twice, of treason: had all to due with one root cause. He was a Jew and, assimilated or no, a convenient scapegoat for a gentile traitor, an anti-Semitic army, and a government, fed by ancient undercurrents of vicious bigotry, all-too willing to embrace a form of ultra-nationalism which, some half century later, would find its full-expression in the Vichy government.
The Dreyfus Affair, in which "Enlightened" France's dormant anti-Semitism sprang virulently to life, served notice to Jew-haters and Jews alike. Bigots saw they could get away, for a dozen years anyway, with hysterical anti-Semitism and violence - and Jews, however assimilated, that they were not safe in Europe. This last message was read first, and most clearly, by the Paris Correspondent for the Viennese The New Free Press, a sometime-playwright named Theodor Herzl. What the Jews needed, he would soon write, was a State of their own.
Zionism was born.
ANS on Calling Card Signed (“A. Dreyfus”), with three lines in autograph, in French, with his printed name and address, sextodecimo, 101, Boulevard Malesherbes [Paris], November 9, 1905. To Professor of Law at Poitiers University and Senator, Leopold Thezard.