Explain why the Dreyfus Affair polarised France?
The Dreyfus Affair that begun in 1894 and continued through till 1906 ultimately resulted in the separation of church and state in France. The accusation that Alfred Dreyfus committed treason by selling military secrets to Germany caused a divide within the French community by pitting the Dreyfusards against the anti-Dreyfusards. It was essentially a campaign against the Jewish community in France and how they were disloyal to France and her people. It was eventually found that the evidence that Dreyfus was convicted on was false and was a ploy by the army to bolster its support for court-martialling Dreyfus. It was this point that caused much of the contention and caused his wife to continue her crusade to have her husband freed from life imprisonment on Devil's Island.
One of the main issues of contention is that the press was freed from censorship, which caused the press to exaggerate the initial story.
It should also be noted that many of the news publication had anti Semitic feelings and were using the fact that Dreyfus was Jewish to bolster the anti Semitic agenda. Edouard Drumont used his publication La Libre Parole to pressure the army and hasten the trial of Dreyfus. It is clear that the press was using the Dreyfus trial to their advantage by circulating false information to get support and profit from the rapid selling of newspapers. As is seen today when a story is in the press that is going to trial the public are manipulated by what is in the newspapers as was the situation in 1894. The press used their power to manipulate the public into supporting the army, which did work for a time but after his wife Madame Dreyfus campaigned to have her husband retrialled...