Tuesday, 2019-11-19

For the Soul of France: Culture Wars in the Age of Dreyfus by Frederick Brown

This is an excellent and entertaining view of the war between Republicans and their opponents in the years between 1870 and World War 1. It reminds the reader of the virulent anti-Semitism of French discourse at the time.

As an example, Lt. Col. Henry was instrumental in framing Alfred Dreyfus. He literally forged evidence to “prove” Dreyfus’ guilt. When he was arrested and committed suicide in prison, he was hailed a hero. A subscription was started to finance a lawsuit bought by his wife against Joseph Reinach for libel. A journalist collected the testimonials in a book, and the statements from that book, excerpted in a footnote, are among the most chilling in the entire book:

“From an antisemitic merchant in Boulogne-sur-Mer who hopes that the Hebes are blown away, above all Joseph Reinach, that unspeakable son-in-law and nephew of the Panama swindler one of whose victims I am.” “From a cook who would rejoice in roasting Yids in her oven.” “Long live Christ! Love live France! Long live the Army! A curate from a little very antisemitic village.” “One franc to pay for the cord that hangs Reinach.” “Joan of Arc, help us banish the new English.” “Two francs to buy a round of drinks for the troopers who will shoot Dreyfus, Reinach, and all the traitors.” A resident of Baccarat wanted “all the kikes” in the region—men, women, and children—thrown into the immense ovens of the famous crystal factory. Another contributor longed, prophetically, for the day that a “liberating boot” would appear over the horizon.

In these days where the ideas of sange et terre are making a resurgance, it’s instructive to look back on a time where the Right expressed itself in its true voice.