What was the relation between Petain, Vichy France and the Dreyfus affair?

What was the relation between Petain, Vichy France and the Dreyfus affair? After reading Louis Barthas account of the Great War, France appears to me as a country split in two main factions, the anti-semitic conservative faction to which the most part of officer corps belonged and the socialist faction. I can see the Dreyfus affair as a reflection of this division and certainly the antisemitic politics of Vichy France raises suspicions of being related. Could you explain more about this topic and what happened after the German defeat? Was this split related to the chaos between the French government and the military that provoked the French defeat? Was de Gaulle related to any of this factions? No wonder that after reading Barthas I have no sympathy whatsoever to the French officer corps and I consider them as the main responsible off the defeat, after all their arrogance generated a great mistrust to the military amongst french population which prevented their politics to assign more resources to the army.


Interesting question. While France did have a Prime Minister who happened to be Jewish before the war. (stating this as a lot of people just saw themselves as French first and foremost )

I couldn’t find any information of Petain on Dreyfuss. I suspect that after his exoneration they rather not wanted to mention it and still rather blamed innocent people for their own stupidity.

For the French society the Dreyfuss affair made it painfully clear that no matter how much you assimilate and become a good French man, if you happen to be Jewisch you are still the enemy. Kind of similar to Fritz Haber in Germany who developed poison gas and therefore as one of a very few Jews became an officer. In the end he died fleeing to Palestine.

This documentary from Moriah films shows how devastating the affair was and showed a lot of people that the French Republic was fractured and partly very anti-Semitic. In a sense it convinced people that France was becoming a dangerous place for people who happen to have the wrong faith. (and that Germany was not alone in becoming a dangerous place).

Here a documentary by Moriah films by the Human Rights Group Simon Wiesenthal Center. They have a lot of award winning films. This one is free to watch :slight_smile:

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