Tuesday 1 September 2015


In high school history class, my teacher taught us about a famous letter "J'Accuse" written by Emile Zola for the French paper L'Aurore, dated January 13, 1898.  There was something about a crumpled up piece of paper in a garbage can used as evidence to convict Alfred Dreyfus of treason against the French government.  Zola accused the government of framing Dreyfus simply because he was Jewish.  The real traitor, Ferdinand Esterhazy was later tried and acquitted.  Dreyfus was exiled to Elba where he wasted away.  Thanks to Zola's letter, pressure was mounted against the French government and Dreyfus was eventually released.  However, the damage was done; Dreyfus died shortly thereafter.  The event became known as "L'Affaire Dreyfus" and the term "J'Accuse" has since been used to denote outrage.

Here is an excerpt from J'Accuse:

"Here, then Mr. President, are the facts which explain how a miscarriage of justice could be made; and the moral evidence, the financial circumstances of Dreyfus, the absence of reason, his continual cry of innocence, completes its demonstration as a victim of the extraordinary imaginations of Commander du Paty de Clam, of the clerical medium in which it was found, of the hunting for the "dirty Jews", which dishonours our time."

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