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The Dreyfus Affair exposed existing divisions in French Society, or created new ones?
7 years ago

History Question asked by Charlotte

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Like most history questions it isn`t totally clear cut. In an essay you would need to show understanding of the way the legacy of defeat in the Franco-Prussian war and the loss of Alsace-Lorraine aggravated political and social tensions esp for the military elites - frustrated in their need to restore prestige and gain revenge. Jews in general and Dreyfus in particular provided a scapegoat. Added to this was racism towards recent Ashkenazi Jewish migrants escaping persecution in the Russian Empire, usually poor, non-French speaking and far less integrated than the more affluent and long established Sephardic French Jews who also resented them.
New divisions were created by the Dreyfus affair - between emerging democratic and liberal opinion and working class movements on one side and conservative and monarchist sympathisers on the other. Appealing to patriotism but anti-republican, the latter saw loyalty to the military and protection of its values as a higher duty than factual truth, civil liberties or judicial integrity.
These divisions played out in other conflicts and political instability throughout the 3rd Republic, right through to Vichy collaboration with the Nazis in WW2. Petain ditched "liberte, egalite, fraternite" in favour of "travail, famille, patrie".
Answered by [Deleted Member]
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Since the time of the French revolution there have been divisions in French political culture so the Dreyfus Affair `exposed existing divisions`.
Answered by [Deleted Member]
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The Dreyfus Affair aided in dividing French society, however, many of the divisions were already existent. The divisions between left and right wing were in existence (and in fact termed) from the French Revolution. The growing strength of right wing nationalists was evident in their attempts to maintain Dreyfus` conviction and use him as a symbol against perceived German aggression, which would add to the atmosphere of tension in Europe during the early 20th Century, culminating in the outbreak of The Great War. The right wing group also emphasized the role of the army and exemplified the growing influence of the military in nationalistic endeavors.
Another aspect of division was the growing formalization of pseudo-scientific social Darwinism. While the affair was not the starting point of anti-Semitic sentiments in Europe, it was a prime example of the antagonism displayed to Jews in Europe.
Answered by [Deleted Member]
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The Dreyfus Affair clearly exposed the divisions in French society, many people held anti-sematic views at the time. The establishment `stitched Dreyfus up` and sent him to rot in Devils Island even though the evidence was very circumstantial.
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