The new museum, inaugurated on Tuesday in the Parisian suburb of Medan, features at least 500 artefacts, including photographs, court documents and personal items from the 8-year ordeal that ended in 1906 with Dreyfus’ exoneration. false accusations of espionage and convictions.
Some of the documents are displayed on the walls of the main space of the Dreyfus Museum, hung on giant texts naming concepts such as “Justice,” Treason “and” Innocence “. Also on display are copies of anti-Semitic cartoons that were published in mainstream newspapers in France as part of the Dreyfus trials.
The Dreyfus Museum is part of the Zola House, a cultural institution dedicated to preserving the memory of Emile Zola, the famous French writer who, although not a Jew himself, played a key role in the conduct. of opposition and protests against the injustice done to Dreyfus.
Zola had lived in the building where the institution that bears his name is located. The Zola house had been closed for renovation for over a decade and is reopening with the addition of the Dreyfus Museum.
Zola’s role in the Dreyfus Affair was immortalized in 1898, when he wrote an influential article titled “J’accuse” or “J’accuse”. The open letter criticized the persecution of Dreyfus, allegedly for spying on France for Germany; the captain, writes Zola, was prosecuted and convicted on the basis of little evidence because he was Jewish. After the article was published, Zola was tried for libel and fled the country, living his last years in exile.
This photograph taken on October 26, 2021 shows the Dreyfus Museum, in the Emile Zola property in Medan, near Paris. (Ludovic MARIN / SWIMMING POOL / AFP)
In 1899, Dreyfus was pardoned by the French president and released from prison, and in 1906 a military commission officially exonerated him.
The trial had broad implications for the next century of Jewish thought: Theodor Herzl, who many consider the father of modern secular Zionism, covered the trial as a journalist and later described it as a watershed moment in his ideological evolution from an assimilationist Jew to a Zionist.
Zola House and the Dreyfus Museum will open to the public on October 28, CNews reported. The renovation of the Zola House and the opening of the museum cost at least $ 6 million, largely from government grants, according to CNews. The Dreyfus Museum was originally scheduled to open in 2019, but a series of setbacks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, have delayed opening.
Museum and institution director Louis Gautier told CNews that the new space “will show and tell the story, but also ask questions on vital issues of tolerance, otherness, human rights, women’s rights, separation of Church and State and the contract between the republic and its citizens.