The Prewar Jews of Paris by www.jurgenmarechal.nl





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Uploaded on Aug 3, 2010

Prewar Jewish Life in Europe

1. The Prewar Jews of Paris -- Representing the History of Jews in France

The French Revolution was a turning point in the context of Jewish history in Europe. In theory Jews were now equal citizens, but the implementation of 'Liberty, Equality and Fraternity' seemed to be difficult. During The Napoleonic period the Jews were questioned about their loyalty to France. The Jews were not trusted in France as we will see in the Dreyfus Affair. Napoleon issued The 'Infamous Degree' in 1808 restricting Jews (till 1818) economic activity and their freedom of movement. Anti-Semitism during the 19th century urge toward Jewish solidarity and cooperation between the two major Jewish Organizations in Paris, Consistoire and Alliance Israelite Universelle. But Isaac Adolphe Cremieux's career (1796 -- 1880) demonstrated the success achieved by an emancipated Jew, well acculturated in French society, and still highly involved in Jewish affairs.

The war between France and Germany changed the position of the Jews in France. France lost witch created political instability, and a rise in radical rationalistic trends among the public. Anti-Semitic newspapers began to appear. "The French Revolution had been a so-called plot of the Jews, who were allied with the Freemasons." This changed atmosphere erupted in 1894, Alfred Dreyfus, an officer in the French army, was accused of treason and put on trial. Accused because he was the only Jew in the general staff. Officers of the general staff threatened to resign if Dreyfus was acquitted, and Anti-Semitic riots took place in different parts of the country. The count unanimously found Dreyfus guilty of treason and sentenced him to life imprisonment. On January 5, 1895, Dreyfus was public demoted in a degrading ceremony, during which he continued to proclaim: "I am innocent".

It was more then a case of treason. France was divided between liberalism of the French Revolution versus extreme nationalism, Anti-Semitism and political conservatism. August Maurice Barres emphasized in his writings the importance of the French national heritage. Emile Zola on the other hand (article: J 'accuse) fought for the values of the French Revolution and for a retrial. Finally in 1906 Dreyfus was reinstated in the army with his ranks and honors.

It was a shock for many Jews that in France, homeland of liberty and the great revolution this affair took place, particularly when the Jewish victim was completely assimilated. For the Jews of France the 'happy end' of the Dreyfus affair was the ultimate proof that emancipation and integration in French society was indeed the right way.

In the Interwar Period many Eastern Jews immigrated to Paris. The Jewish youth movements flourished in France but the Jewish community in Paris was afraid for new Anti-Semitism. The newcomers were viewed as people in need for acculturation. Leon Blum became the first Jewish (and socialist) prime minister of France (1936 -- 1937). He became involved in French politics as a result of the Dreyfus Affair. Paris had become the largest Jewish community in Western Europe, third in the world after New York and Warsaw.


I claim nothing. This is merely educational fair use.

Jewish Life in Europe: 1. The Prewar Jews of Paris - Representing the history of the Jews of France by www.jurgenmarechal.nl

I claim nothing. This is merely educational fair use.

Educational fair use:

"the fair use of a copyrighted work (...) for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright"

But I claim nothing, All trademarks, works and images used are properties of their respective owners. If I violate any form of copyright please contact me and I will give credit.

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