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The Dreyfus Affair, by Piers Paul Read. Bloomsbury. London 2012, ISBN 978-1408801390
The Prague Cemetery, by Umberto Eco. Harvill Secker 2011, ISBN 978-1846554919]
Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jewish officer, was jailed for spying at the end of the 19th century. His case divided France, and ended with resounding victory for Dreyfus’ supporters. Consequently, Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstalled in the army. Now, a hundred years later, he has made a comeback. His story is about to become a film directed by Roman Polanski. A brilliant British Catholic writer, Piers Paul Read, published a 400 page book called The Dreyfus Affair, written by the superb pen of a master in search of the truth. Some pages in The Prague Cemetery by the ‘intellectual bestseller’ writer Umberto Eco deal with it as well.
Why does this story still attract writers and readers? So many people were and are arrested for security offences, quite a few of them unjustly, and suffer long prison sentences or worse. Dreyfus spent four years on Iles de Salut in French Guiana (a picture on the left), not far from Guantanamo, where hundreds of security prisoners languished for a decade (and some still do). Eighty thousand convicts (including the Papillon) went through the Guiana penal colony; so why is Dreyfus still important?
According to PP Read, this case was important because it was used against the Catholic Church. Although ostensibly the Church was not involved, the victory of the Dreyfusards was turned into a profound defeat of the Catholic Church. Perhaps an innocent man was saved, but Christian France was surely lost. The France of Henry James was gone and buried, and a new order came to France, with the media taking the place of the Church in guiding the masses, and moneyed classes taking over the nobility. This defeat of the Church was a milestone in what was described as Kali Yuga by Rene Guenon, the French traditionalist (he was 10 when Dreyfus was arrested).
The question of Dreyfus’s guilt or innocence was a minor point of little relevance, in comparison with the consequences of the case. He was a precursor of the long line of human rights’ martyrs produced by mass media, all these refuseniks, dissidents, wrongly arrested spies and what-not. Some of them were guilty and some were innocent, but each case attacked the sovereignty of the state and its traditional structures, at the same time strengthening the Empire and its Right to Protect, equipped with the latest weaponry. Dreyfus’s case was also supported by England (the US of the time) and helped to entrench pro-British elements in the French establishment.
Read provides the reader with a Catholic perspective. Although he gives a detailed and honest presentation of the Dreyfus affair, it is not central to his narrative in the same way that the fate of Catholicism in France is. He discusses what happened to the Catholic Church and its flock in France in these fateful years and has written a very important book for the modern reader precisely for this reason.
Piers Paul Read’s narrative begins with a broad picture of the persecution of Catholics in 19th century France. What? Catholics were persecuted? We all know that Catholics persecuted Jews; some savants know that the Catholics were hunted in Elizabethan England, but few are aware of the persecution of Catholics in modern times because it has been hidden from the general public’s view by the twin peaks of the Inquisition and the Holocaust. Or at least it had been until the appearance of Read’s book.
Read tells of terrible persecution during the French revolution, when priests were drowned in droves (it was called “patriotic baptism”), and believers stripped naked, tied together and flung off the boats in what they called “republican marriages.” Monks and nuns were executed en masse. Many priests were interred in “floating Bastilles,” these predecessors of the US prison-ships, or transported to West Africa, “the Guantanamo of its time,” where they quickly died of diseases. This persecution abated only under Napoleon.
This is more or less known. Less known is that this persecution did not cease after the Republic was restored; it simply changed its form. Believing Catholics were not beheaded at the Place de la Concorde, but they were barred from any advancement in their careers, which were thwarted by the Protestants and Jews who formed the anti-Catholic bloc, not only due to their hatred of the Church but in order to defend their own perceived interests. Read writes:
In 1879 a government in which six out of ten members were Protestants… passed laws banning Catholic clergy from teaching in either state or private schools, [though] Jewish and Protestant children continued to receive instruction in their faith… The higher strata of the old bourgeoisie were excluded from power for being Catholic or Royalist or both. The gap they left was filled by Protestants and Jews.
A Jewish prefect could with impunity observe Passover, but a prefect who was openly zealous in observance of Easter might find himself under violent attack. “Taking Easter communion under the Third Republic was an affirmative, even a courageous act; government employees who did so were unlikely to be promoted.”
This is the historical background of Dreyfus Affair according to Read: Catholics were denied positions of influence in French society by Protestants and Jews. Catholics were identified as Royalists, while anti-Catholics were Republicans. “Each side had its bogeymen. For the anti-Dreyfusards, it was the Syndicate, the secretive network of world Jewry, for the Dreyfusards it was the Catholic Church, in particular the Jesuits”. Thus the struggle around Dreyfus was not so much about an individual injustice, but about the fate of France. The case was used to purge the Catholics from their last positions in the Army and to intensify the attack on the Church.
Read ponders upon the reasons of hatred to the Church. His explanation is rather weak. In the eyes of public opinion, the Catholic Church was associated with the ancien regime. People were often against the church as the priests tried to forbid girls to dance and would ask intrusive personal questions during confession. He mentions the anti-Catholic attitude of the Jews, but offers no opinion to what extent it influenced events.
Monique Delcroix, author of Dreyfus-Esterhazy (2010, in French) considers the Freemasons the chief enemies of the Church as well as the chief beneficiaries of the anti-Church campaign. Dreyfus Affair led to takeover of France by Freemasons, she says. PP Read does not dwell much on them, though he mentions that Freemasons organised an anti-Catholic cleansing in the Army. He also mentions that the Pope frequently referred to Freemasons as the enemies of the Church being led by Jews. Indeed the Freemason who indulged in depicting the Church as “a black crow sitting on the head of the Gallic cock and tearing his eyes out” happened to be a Jew…
For me, it was surprising to learn that by the beginning of Dreyfus Affair, Jews weren’t persecuted; it’s the Catholics who were underdogs while the Jews were already the top dogs in France. The Catholic position only worsened with its conclusion. The Church was out-manoeuvred, and despite the deep religiosity which still existed in the provinces, the voters always elected an anti-religious government. Read notes that if women were entitled to vote (they weren’t) the result could have been different.
Read describes the defeat of the Church in rich detail. After the 1903 elections, an even more radically anti-Catholic government was democratically elected, and it expelled the priests from the schools and the nuns from hospitals. Nuns worked for free; others had to be paid, but hatred of the Church was stronger than greed. Churches were robbed, monasteries besieged, and repossessed. It is a sad story, which should be learned in order to understand the 20th century and its oppression of the believers virtually everywhere, from Russia to France and from Turkey to Mexico, the world-wide advent of Kali Yuga.
Geopolitics of the Affair
Read, a Catholic, is a good source for understanding the geopolitical aspect of the Dreyfus Affair. He notes that England, the foremost Protestant power, was traditionally anti-Catholic, and so it supported the French Jews who certainly were hostile to the Church. England was as powerful and influential in those days as the US today. Britain then, as the US today, was promoting Kali Yuga for the world.
England made a lot of mileage from the Dreyfus Affair; just like the US now, the British mobilised “the international community” against disobeying France. Anti-Dreyfusards were anti-British, pro-Dreyfusards were for Britain, so it made sense. Interestingly, English Catholics and even non-Catholic Anglo-Irish like GB Shaw were not carried away by pro-Dreyfus propaganda. So, the Anglo-Jewish alliance (which transformed into Jewish-American Entente of our days) began many decades (if not centuries) before the Balfour declaration.
A precursor of Dreyfus affair was the Damascus Affair of 1840, where some Jews were accused of killing a Catholic priest for his blood. In order to save them, prominent and powerful French Jews colluded with England (and English Jews) and undermined France’s positions in Syria. France was humiliated; the pro-French Muhammad Ali was forced to leave Syria and Palestine; and the country reverted to the Ottoman rule.
Many Frenchmen were shocked to realize that French Jews preferred the interests of their brethren in Syria to the interests of their own country. We are not so surprised, because the activity of the Jewish lobby in Washington has accustomed us to the fact that many Jews indeed are ready to sacrifice the interests of their own country for the sake of their Middle Eastern brothers and sisters. For the citizens of 19th century France, this came as a painful surprise. “A victory for the Jews was perceived by many French patriots as a defeat for France, a defeat in which French Jews collaborated with France’s enemies.”
This story is told by Read, as well, but he sees this mainly as a British, rather than a Jewish, victory: Britain decided to protect the Jews, while France protected Catholics and Russia defended the Orthodox. Read is not looking for any theological explanation of Jewish-British connection: he thinks this was opportunism according to the principle of “Britain has no friends, Britain has interests.” British gunboats rather than Jewish pleas chased Muhammad Ali out of Syria and Palestine, as the ruined walls of Acre attest even today.
Regrettably, Read’s narrative omits the most colourful figure of the Damascus Affair, that of Sir Richard Burton, the great British orientalist, translator of the 1001 Nights and Kama Sutra, the British consul in Damascus in 1870s, who was convinced of the truthfulness of the accusations and produced a book on this subject. Still unpublished, his manuscript is tantalizingly kept under lock and key in the coffers of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
The Dreyfus Affair is an interesting and well-told story, full of colorful personalities which allows the reader to trace the origins of the defeat of the Catholic Church in France, a defeat which is especially relevant to the US Catholics.
The Jewish Angle
For me, the Dreyfus case was an integral part of the Zionist education I received. His “unjust trial” supposedly moved Theodor Herzl to Zionism. In the words of a Jewish historian: “In the ordinary course of [Herzl’s] duties as a correspondent he witnessed the degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus of the French General Staff, who had been sentenced on a trumped-up charge of high treason and exiled to a living death on Devil’s Island solely because he was a Jew.” So Dreyfus begot Herzl, and Herzl begot the State of Israel.
I was taught (and perhaps you were, too) that if a Jew was arrested, he’s got to be innocent, and that the real criminals were the anti-Semites. It was good to discover through the medium of Read’s book that Dreyfus was not accused and sentenced just because he was a Jew. There were perfectly good and valid reasons, as valid as in any other security-related case. Read is more than objective, he almost bends over backward to accommodate the Jewish side. Though Read explains the reasons of the judges, he also states (and perhaps overstates) the arguments of the Dreyfus defence team.
It is not that Captain Dreyfus was arrested and sentenced on some flimsy grounds. At this point we should recall the lurid details of the affair. In 1894, the French counter-intelligence had planted a cleaning lady at the apartments of the German military attaché in Paris (the Germans were the greatest enemies of the French anticipating the Great War), and she duly brought home whatever she found in the waste paper basket. PP Read’s writing is full of rich and entertaining details which make this story highly readable. He tells us all about the mustache of the military attaché and about his (bisexual) love affairs and gives the story of the “cleaning lady,” who was quite an accomplished woman and whose greatest accomplishment was that she succeeded in passing for an idiot.
At one point, she brought in a torn piece of paper, which contained a list [“bordereau” in French, as it became known] of military secrets which somebody offered to sell to the attaché. After concluding that the letter could only have been written by a very small group of officers probably connected to the General Staff, the French secret service ran a graphology analysis and concluded that the only person with matching handwriting was an Alfred Dreyfus, a wealthy, well-educated, rather arrogant artillery captain of Alsatian Jewish origin who was on temporary duty on the General Staff. The graphologist came to this conclusion without knowing whose handwriting sample he was asked to examine or whether that person was Jewish.
Among the experts who checked the handwriting was Alphonse Bertillon, the father of modern criminalistics. He confirmed that Dreyfus was the most probable culprit. Albert Lindemann (in his concise The Jew Accused, with just 70 pages relating to Dreyfus) remarks that “[Dreyfus] was one of a small number who had access to [that] kind of information,” and “of that small number, he was the only one whose handwriting resembled that on the [letter]. In fact, to an untrained eye, the resemblance between [Dreyfus] handwriting and that of the [letter] is striking.”
That would be enough to convict a man even today, but there was other supportive evidence as well. French counter-intelligence turned around an Italian diplomat, and he offered some support for Dreyfus’s guilt. There was also a letter to the German military attaché referring to “this rascal D,” and it was considered to point to Dreyfus.
At the trial, a counter-intelligence officer said that they had evidence they couldn’t disclose, namely, the words of a French mole in a foreign embassy implicating Dreyfus. The defence went into uproar, and demanded full disclosure. They never got it: the officer, Colonel Joseph Henry, said the mole’s name (the Italian Count the French had turned) was too sensitive to disclose. PP Read thinks that this precluded a fair trial. However, this is a common feature of security-connected trials in Israel, where the defence – as a rule – is not allowed to view classified evidence. Ditto in terrorist trials in the US, as we learned from the Guantanamo Papers released by Wikileaks: the accused had no idea what they were being accused of.
Nowadays, the accused must consider himself lucky to be tried at all: there are people in Israel, in the US and elsewhere, who spend years in prison on suspicion of security offences but with no evidence admissible in court. In the world of spies and counter-spies, real hard evidence rarely comes up; they have to act upon their suspicions. If they have to go to court, they are as likely as not to falsify evidence and lie.
Alas, it is not unusual to be wrongly suspected or accused of a “security offence.” In Israel, thousands in prisons are only suspects who never have been charged with an offence. What is unusual is to get out of this intact. Read (and other writers) mention that Dreyfus’s accusers forged documents and lied in order to improve their case. Here again, it would make sense to add that it is not unusual for police to invent details, plant evidence, and lie in order to make their case stick. The accusers of Dreyfus were neither better nor worse than our contemporary policemen and security officers. Dreyfus’s defenders also lied and falsified as much as they could, says Lindemann.
We do not know for sure whether some papers were complete forgeries. Colonel Henry was accused of that, arrested, and promptly cut his throat in jail. Mysteriously, the razor he used neatly folded itself after he had slashed his throat with it. To this day no one knows who visited him an hour before his alleged suicide, for the record of the visitor was removed. His alleged admission of the crime was never signed. In his last note, Henry claimed that he had copied, but not forged the letters – as was common before the advent of Xerox photocopiers. While copying he added some details he knew or thought he knew from another source, as copyists of bygone days regularly used to do. Monique Delcroix wrote that “the episode of Colonel Henry is one of the most mysterious in this case. I have not managed to figure it out.”
If Dreyfus didn’t write the incriminating letter, then who did? It has been claimed that the letter was written by another officer, Charles-Ferdinand Esterhazy. He denied the charge and claimed that he had been offered an enormous bribe of 600, 000 francs to take the fall for Dreyfus. Esterhazy, who was tried and found innocent, said that he had communicated with the Germans on the orders of his commanders in order to mislead them. Read notes that Esterhazy, who apparently did communicate with the Germans, never betrayed any real information and never thought that Dreyfus had been sentenced for his, Esterhazy’s, misdeeds. This Esterhazy was a make-believe spy who simply supplied the Germans with open source coverage of the French newspapers and magazines; “chickenfeed”, in spies’ parlance. So Read implies, possibly there was no crime to start with – provided the bordereau was penned by Esterhazy.
This is not perfectly clear: perhaps Esterhazy was not the most efficient German spy, but he certainly was very close to the Jews. He seconded a duel of honour between a Jewish officer and an anti-Semite, on the side of the Jew. He corresponded with Rothschild, and enjoyed his patronage. He wrote to the tycoon that he was ostracized by fellow officers because of him siding with the Jews. Naturally it was rumoured that he was bribed to play a fall guy for Dreyfus. Read, while mentioning all these details, thinks there is nothing in it, and that Esterhazy’s letters to Rothschild were inspired by his opportunism. Monique Delcroix is not so sure about irrelevance of Esterhazy’s contacts with the Jewish community.
Was there a case against Dreyfus? Well, yes. Was he guilty? We do not know and probably never will. He was saved from punishment, but so was OJ Simpson.
Can we be certain that he was innocent? PP Read thinks so. If Read had kept an open mind on this question, he would have written a more interesting book. In the end, there was so much outside interference in the case, it is difficult to decide. “At his retrial, the Prime Minister pressured the military prosecutor and even judges to arrive at not-guilty verdict” (Lindemann). The Defence minister also pushed for Dreyfus. Both sides, Dreyfusards and anti-Dreyfusards believed that “an end justifies the means”. Recently Prof Faurisson and his friends, admittedly no friends of Jews, tried to investigate and re-try Dreyfus, but their conclusion was none other than “doubtful.”
GK Chesterton was a strong believer in the innocence of Dreyfus, but he was swayed, not so much by the facts of the case, but by the unanimous pro-Dreyfus position of the British press. While “there may have been a fog of injustice in the French courts; I know that there was a fog of injustice in the English newspapers,” he wrote and added that he was unable to reach a final “verdict on the individual,” which he came “largely to attribute” to the “acrid and irrational unanimity of the English Press.” He was also astonished by the sincerity of all sides: Dreyfus was sincerely certain of his innocence and his accusers were equally certain of his guilt.
Dreyfus’s supporters (including, most of all, his brother) spent millions of francs (as many dollars today) to set him free. There were a few retrials, but every retrial confirmed the conviction. Still, Dreyfus supporters did not relent, and eventually he was paroled. In order to receive parole he admitted his guilt. Read thinks this admission was a forced and a false one, but it brought a storm of feelings among the parties, and some Dreyfusards became enemies of Alfred Dreyfus because of that.
Prominent historians do not think that Dreyfus was sentenced because he was a Jew,
not even Jewish historians: Barbara Tuchman, for one, wrote: “The trial of Alfred Dreyfus… was not a deliberate plot to frame an innocent man. It was an outcome of reasonable suspicion….” Albert Lindemann, the most prominent expert on anti-Semitism alive, concluded: “no evidence has ever emerged of an anti-Semitic plot against Dreyfus by intelligence officers, especially not of a premeditated effort to convict someone they knew from the beginning to be innocent.”
PP Read is quite nuanced when answering the question whether Dreyfus was accused because he was a Jew. He says: though he was not accused because he was a Jew, it is not impossible that if he were not a Jew, his accusers would have been more cautious before deciding his fate. Actually Read’s own writing offers a different explanation: Dreyfus was not accused because he was a Jew; he was accused because he was a schmuck. His stiff manners, his aloofness, his arrogant, non-comradely attitude to fellow-officers, as well as his boasting about his money and connections made his accusers less cautious while deciding his fate. His Jewishness was much less important than his arrogance, for other Jews had great military careers in the French Republic, including positions on the General Staff, and they were not customarily accused of spying.
But philosemites walk where Jews fear to tread. The strongest proponent of the Jewish victimhood theory is Umberto Eco. The Italian writer’s book is as biased as a comic strip and about as subtle as his native Commedia dell’Arte. In his story there are villains and there are victims, and all nuances are ignored.
For Eco, Alfred Dreyfus was framed by villainous Jew-haters who manufactured the letter with the deliberate intention of framing an innocent Jew. They do this simply because they hate Jews, even though they knew no Jews personally. These sentiments worthy of Abe Foxman are interspersed with recipes of old French and Italian dishes, along with some loosely connected bits and pieces of pseudo-historical writing. Jews are conspicuously absent from this book, for Jews, in Eco’s view, are just perpetual victims and objects of hostile fantasy by the Gentiles.
Eco is a flaming conspiracy theorist. There is a Mr. Nasty Guy who hates Jews and who wants to make some money out of his hatred. He does not know any Jews; he never met a Jew, but he was told by his grandparents that one should hate Jews. He incidentally hates everybody: women, the Church, Freemasons, revolutionaries, and conservatives. He marches with Garibaldi in Italy, goes to France under Napoleon III, survives the Commune of Paris and makes a living by forging documents and helping the secret services.
He resurrects the ultimate Conspiracy Theory (familiar to the reader from Eco’s older and better book Foucault’s Pendulum). Bad guys meet in a remote place and decide how they should destroy the world in order to control it. This wandering meta-script has been used by Mr. Nasty Guy for years; the only thing that changes are the individual bad guys, whose identities change according to demand. Sometimes it’s the cardinals; sometimes it’s the Freemasons, and sometimes it’s the Jews. Thus he creates the Protocols, as well.
Eco’s narrative of the Dreyfus Affair is brilliantly simple. A French Intelligence officer Esterhazy meets Mr. Nasty and commissions him to forge a document ostensibly written by a Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus to the German military attaché containing a list of military secrets to be supplied, all that because of his sheer boyish hatred of Jews. (Eco is not aware of Esterhazy’s friendship with Jews). Antisemites are primed to go into action the moment Dreyfus is charged. Nasty is given a sample of Dreyfus’s handwriting and off he goes. And then a comedy of errors ensues: the handwriting sample was really Esterhazy’s. Dreyfus goes off to the Devil’s Island, and the anti-Semites rejoice, until his defenders discover that the handwriting is Esterhazy’s. The anti-Semites then commission more forgeries from Mr. Nasty, but it is too late.
Eco’s book is so improbable that it could be seen as a parody of the Jewish view of history. Despite a wealth of historical trivia, the book lacks substance. His history is made of cardboard; it is a semi-processed mixture of culinary recipes mixed in with a lot of dirt. In Eco’s book, if a Jew is accused, you can bet your bottom dollar that he was framed by vile anti-Semites. I wonder whether the good semiotics doctor was duly rewarded by Messrs. Milken, Rich, Madoff, Pollard et al, for he richly deserves their gratitude.
Jews and anti-Semites
Perhaps the Dreyfus Affair was about the Church; but this is not to say that the Dreyfus affair had no pro- and contra-Jewish partisans. Whenever a Jew is convicted of a crime, people who have a negative view of the Jewish practices do pay attention to the Jewishness of the criminal – just as people who have a positive view are prone to exult in every achievement of a Jew. And Jews certainly were active players in the politics of the time.
Lindemann offers a useful historical background note. The nineteenth century witnessed the rise of Jews, i.e. rapid rise of Jewish influence, wealth, importance, and numbers. Somebody paid for this rise: as in our own day, in the 1850s and ‘60s, free-market policies had a longish run in Europe, and like nowadays, they brought about a stock market collapse, bank bankruptcy, many financial scandals (Enron and Madoff had their predecessors) and eventually a Great Depression, which lasted from the 1870s to the 1890s. Unemployment became a problem then, as now. Liberalism was discredited: it took over a century until people forgot it and ushered in Thatcherism and Reaganomics.
Then as now, Jews were connected with liberalism and financial mismanagement: in many great scandals, including the Panama Affair, they played a major role. They also became quite powerful nationally and internationally, though not as much as some fantasies presume. Lindemann is being cautious when he says: “there are few more prickly issues than that of international power of Jews in modern times, whether one is speaking of the 1860s or the 1980s.”
With rise of liberalism, resistance to Jewish politics began to take organized forms. PP Read draws a portrait of Edouard Drumont, the first modern French anti-Semite: “a widower, shy and self-effacing, a closed personality, very old-fashioned, rather eccentric, introspective, contemplative, scholarly – a kind of secular monk.” Drumont used the Dreyfus affair to spread his message of anti-Semitism, for he believed that France was “occupied by Jews, just like England was enslaved by the Normans under William the Conqueror.” Read could add that Georges Bernanos, a renown French anti-capitalist and anti-fascist Catholic writer, admired Drumont.
Anti-Semitism was (and is) an anti-bourgeois radical movement, and it was not approved of by the upper classes or by senior clergymen. In the words of Le Figaro’s conservative editor, “anti-Semitism is the most dangerous form of socialism; it is a campaign against moneyed classes”. The political achievements of the anti-Semites were rather meager. Still, the ruling bourgeoisie felt threatened by them.
Two camps were formed: anti-Dreyfusards, some of them were radical anti-Semites, while others were Catholics and conservatives, and Dreyfusards, some of whom were Jews, and others, usually anti-clerical republicans. Both could be unpleasant: a typical Dreyfusard was Georges Clemenceau, involved in Panama scandal, identified with British interests; he violently broke strikes and ordered demonstrators to be shot at. Awful, but not worse than an anti-Dreyfusard Charles Maurras who rejected Christ and called for Nietzschean ruthlessness in the Darwinian struggle.
Paradoxically, the Marxists refused to condemn anti-Semitism and were worried that “rehabilitation of one of their class [will cause] rehabilitation of all the Jews among the Panama men. They will wash away all the filth of Israel in this fountain”. This was published in the socialist newspaper La Petite République, and signed by all leading socialists including Jaures.Naturally, vast majority of French people remained oblivious and indifferent to the issue.
Read describes a few interesting personalities on both sides of the divide. Bernard Lazare was a friend of Drumont, (they referred to each other favourably), a Jew very critical of Jews. At a certain point, he reversed his position and began to fight anti-Semitism. He was one of the first Dreyfusards who said that Dreyfus was imprisoned because he was a Jew. His conversion was so complete and sudden that many people who knew him thought he was bought by the Dreyfus family to serve as a liaison with intellectuals.
Emile Zola, the writer who turned the tide with his J’accuse, is depicted as a quite unpleasant man, quarreling with other authors. Goncourt called him “a false, shifty, hypocritical creature, an Italian, yes, an Italian!” Marcel Proust joined the Dreyfusard cause, and his father was so annoyed with that decision that he did not speak to him for a week.
If anti-Semites hadn’t used the Dreyfus case as a pretext to attack Jews, the Dreyfusards would most probably have never come into existence, since practically everybody, including Bernard Lazare and Theodor Herzl, were convinced that Dreyfus was really guilty. The attacks on Jews woke up their fighting spirit, and eventually they won their great victory. Or, perhaps, this was the victory of the Freemasons? Who used whom? This question of “dog and tail” still remains unanswered.