Antisemitism and the Dreyfus Affair
The Semite is money-grubbing, greedy scheming, subtle, sly; the Aryan is enthusiastic, heroic, chivalrous, disinterested, frank, trustful to the point of naivetÃÂ©. The Semite is an earth-dweller scarcely seeing beyond his present life; the Aryan in a son of the sky ceaselessly preoccupied with superior aspirations. The one lives in reality, the other in the ideal. The Semite is by instinct a merchant. He has a vocation for trade, a genius for all matters of exchange, for everything giving an opportunity to deceive his fellow man. The Aryan is a farmer, poet, monk, and especially soldier; war is his true element, he goes to meet danger joyously, he braves death...In sum, all which is for man an excursion into unknown regions, an effort to enlarge the terrestrial domain, is absolutely beyond the Semite, and especially the Jewish Semite. He can live only as a parasite in the middle of a civilization that he has not made.
This was an extreme, but not uncommon view in France around the time the Dreyfus affair broke out. It was taken out of on of the best-selling, most widely read books of nineteenth-century France, La France juive. These sentiments, brought along by the Franco-Prussian war and immigration, were what caused the Dreyfus Affair to be such a controversy. There was a marked increase in nationalism, an unprecedented love of, and interest in, the Army, and an anti-Semitic revival. If Dreyfus had not been a Jew in the army, the Affair would have been no more than a minor controversy, as many cases after him were. He also might not have been convicted. Anti-Semitism along with chance was the main reason Dreyfus was arrested.
Alfred Dreyfus was born in Mulhouse, on October 9, 1859 to a family of Alsatian Jews.