Vichy France for 710

Topics: France, Antisemitism, Refugee Pages: 8 (2294 words) Published: February 4, 2015

Title: Assimilation and anti-Semitism: Jews in France from 1890-1939

Name: Joseph Kelly

Student Number: 11170843

Name of Course: HI 439

Name of Course Convenor: Dr. Gearóid Barry

Word Count: 2223

Due Date: 07/10/2014

To begin to look at the complex issues arising from the divisions created in France due to xenophobia, we need to go back to the formation of the French republic. When French citizens overthrew the monarchy they were adamant that France would be tolerant of all of its citizens regardless of their political or religious views. Thomas Paine’s Rights of man and citizen (1789) was intended to be the basis of France’s political outlook, ‘no one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.’1 This statement is crucial in understanding why the French government was so tolerant of immigrants and asylum seekers at times of overpopulation. To get at the root of anti-Semitism in France we need to look at why Jewish people were regarded with such an anxiety. The crash of l'Union Générale in 1882 was attributed to German-Jewish bank owners in a desperate attempt to deflect the poor management of share prices on the stock exchange which ultimately led to a crash in share prices. This type of propaganda was a feature of the French media who seemed determined to use the Jews as a scapegoat for all of Frances problems. Georges Valois a French journalist had influential right-wing theories of the Jewish race and publicly described them almost as a plague that was the ‘plunder of all nations, and their eventual destruction,’2 By the late Nineteenth Century the rights of man which the French republic was founded on would be tested in the trial of French-Jewish army Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Dreyfus was the first Jewish man to reach the rank of Captain in the French army, and was accused of giving French military information to the German embassy in Paris. After receiving a life sentence with little evidence against him, the whole of French society would be divided with regards to public opinion on injustice, and it appeared that, because Dreyfus was a Jew he received such a harsh sentence considering the sentence given to the real culprit of the crime, Ferdinand Esterhazy who only received ten years. With the contrast in level of punishment given between Esterhazy and Dreyfus, the issue of religion came into question, Dreyfus was thought of by right wing supporters as a foreigner based on his religion, and it seemed ‘citizenship was not defined by law, but by ties of blood and links to the soil.’3 What the Dreyfus affair exposed was the divisions that existed beneath the surface of French society. While the Dreyfus affair was ongoing, there was a series of terrorist attacks carried out by foreigners in France which only heightened the weary opinion of the French towards immigrants and foreigners. Between 1891 to 1894 there was eleven bombs set off in Paris, killing nine people. René De La Tour Du Pin a Catholic Philosopher commented in the popular and influential vers un ordre social chrétin that ‘both Jews and immigrants were to be treated as dangerous foreigners’4 in response to the terrorism. Du Pin’s theories highlighted that Dreyfus was just one example of the Jews willingness to be a traitor when they could profit financially from...

Bibliography: Burgess, Greg, ‘France and the German Refugee Crisis of 1933,’ French History, Vol.16, No.2, 2002 30/09/2014 10:59
Burgess, Gregg, ‘Refuge in the Land of Liberty. France and its refugees, from the revolution to the end of asylum, 1787-1939,’ Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2008
Marrus, Michael. R, ‘European Jewry and the Politics of Assimilation: Assessment and Reassessment,’ The Journal of Modern History, Vol.49, No.1, 1977 30/09/2014 14:48

Kalman, Samuel, ‘Reconsidering Fascist Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia in 1920’s France: the Doctrinal Contribution of Georges Valois and the Faisceau,’ French History, Vol.16, No.3, 2002 30/09/2014 10:32
Sowerwine, Charles, ‘France since 1870 Culture, Society, and the making of the Republic,’ Second edition, 2009, Palgrave Macmillion, U.K
Whyte, George R, ‘The Dreyfus Affair: A Chronological History,’ Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008
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