Essays Review Dreyfus Affair and Its Causes

“The Flight of A Republic: The Dreyfus Affair,” By Wilhelm Herzog. Europa Verlag.

Zurich.

The Europa Verlag has published a new description of the Dreyfus Affair.

In the first part of this work, Wilhelm Herzog treats in a number of essays with the basic problems of the famous case and gives portraits of the leading personalities involved. He decribes the cultural and economic causes of the affair and also deals with anti-semitism in France at about 1900.

The second part of the book describes the events in chronological order. Here Herzog reveals the very roots of the tragedy. The affair did not start on October 14, 1894, the day of the Dreyfus arrest, but from 1870, when a spy psychosis took hold of France. The book aptly compares the obvious similarity between the French nationalism of 1900 and present-day German nationalism. There are, of course, clearly discernible differences, between the France of yesterday and the Germany of today. But Herzog has written his book, mainly in order to reveal what these differences teach. He wants to show that a brave fight for the truth, for justice and law which suffered tremendously owing to the sentence passed on Dreyfus, saved the French Republic. If Germany had had political and cultural leaders, willing to sacrifice themselves in the same way, the country would not have been desecrated by Hitler.

But Germany did not know the higher political moral, and the unwaveringly consequent attitude, by which French public life always distinguished itself. Germany had neither a Zola, a Clemenceau nor a Jaures, who turned the personal tragedy of a Jewish officer into a fight for truth.

They made it the basic problem of the French Republic and showed that the honor of the nation was at stake. They were ready to go to prison and to be exiled in order to lead the truth to victory. Their readiness to sacrifice themselves brought about the virtual disappearance of anti-Semitism from French public life.

Captain Dreyfus was the first Jewish member of the French General Staff. After he was rehabilitated, other Jews were able to hold high posts in the French army and during the World War many were entrusted with important commissions. Out of the Dreyfus affair Mr. Herzog shows, equality for the Jews in France was achieved.

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