French Put Emile Zola on Trial for Libel for Exposing Dreyfus Affair

French Put Emile Zola on Trial for Libel for Exposing Dreyfus Affair

Emile Zola's J'accuse
Source: Wikipedia

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Emile Zola stands trial for libel for writing J'Accuse, an open letter published the previous month. In J'Accuse, Emile Zola accuses the French government of illegally imprisoning Alfred Dreyfus for treason. According to Zola, the only reason Alfred Dreyfus was charged and convicted was because he was a Jew.

Emile Zola will be found guilty later this month, sentenced to jail and removed from France's Légion d'honneur. To avoid jail, Zola will flee to England and remains there until the current French government collapses.

The efforts of Emile Zola and other French intellectuals causes the trial to become a public scandal, creating so much pressure for the French government that the coverup cannot be maintained, eventually leading to Alfred Dreyfus being exonerated and reinstated.

The polarization between supporters of Alfred Dreyfus (Dreyfusards) and anti-Semitic opponents (anti-Dreyfusards) will impact French politics for decades. Nazi collaborators and Vichy government ministers, for example, will be primary anti-Dreyfusards and their families.


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