Dreyfus, the French Judas (Christophe Stener)

Dreyfus, the French Judas (Christophe Stener)

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TheDreyfus Affair was the main topic of editorial staff for twelve years. "The Jew sells", he ensures strong circulation. The Jewish France of Edouard Drumont produced 62,000 copies in the first year (1886) and had 200 reissues; Le Petit journal d'Edouard Judet, nicknamed "Judas-Judet" by the designer Couturier, claims to be the most read newspaper in the world with 5 million copies in 1899 and regularly makes its headlines with the twists and turns of the Affair while claiming to getting tired of it...

... In the battle to win public opinion, blackened paper finds reinforcement in the press image. The caricature no longer illustrates the news but interprets it, amplifies it, and distorts it. Propagandist, it becomes a major media of a "hot press" (Zola). Great pencils take part in this war with non-speckled charcoal, Vallotton, Forain, Caran d´Ache, Ibels and so many others because visual load is also a very profitable business. The designers republish their sketches in almanac form, publish limited series in the form of signed postcards which are collected at a high price, very great painters like Manet hang them on the walls of their workshops.

The Third Republic won by anti-Semistism

France, on the eve of the Affair, was humiliated by the shameful defeat of Sedan, in a Republic reluctantly suffered by a part of conservative Catholics, threatened by the adventurism of a (Boulanger in 1888-1889, Déroulède in 1899, Boulanger yesterday, the army, the only bulwark against the German enemy and protector of institutions, is sanctified, becomes untouchable. The spy rages on. The struggle of secular Republicans to supervise the teaching activities of religious congregations crosses at the time and became law in 2001 (associations) and 2005 (separation of Church and State) The active support of Freemasonry for the Republic of Ferries, Gambetta and Jaurès, published atheism of the Grand Orient of France, make it the declared enemy of the Church of Rome by the encyclical humanum genus (1884).

The anti-Judaism taught in the seminaries becomes virulent anti-Semitism of a section of the lower clergy; a country priest who paid his contribution to the subscription launched by La Libre parole to come to the aid of Commander Henry who committed suicide after confessing his smithy, the "false patriotic" (Maurras), indicates to pray "to have a bedside bed in skin of youpin ”. The Panama scandal (1889) which implicates several Jewish businessmen including Baron Jacques de Reinach, great-uncle and father-in-law of Joseph Reinach, journalists, politician, ardent Dreyfusist and columnist of the Affair, constitute the ingredients of the anti-Semitic expression in the anti-Dreyfusard image.

The anarchist plots of a Ravachol, the serial murders of a Cowherd, the resurgence of Saint-Barthélemy, hostility to the German enemy, but also English which humiliates France to Fachoda (1898), internationalism socialist of a Jaurès, the workers' strikes, constitute as many political ingredients that the cartoonists associate in their graphic loads. All these hatreds will aggregate, to precipitate in the chemical sense, in the fantasy of the vast and composite "Syndicat Dreyfus" coalition of Jews, Freemasons, atheists, Protestants and socialist internationalists, all bad French.

The war of images

The revelation in October 1894 by Le Figaro of the accusation brought by the General Staff of the Armed Forces resounded like a "divine surprise" for Edouard Drumont and all the revanchist nationalist right which for years predicted the betrayal of a Jew, advocates the exclusion of Jewish officers from the army stirs up the spy of a France obsessed with German danger to the point of throwing itself into the arms of the Tsar.

In the war of images, the religious metaphor, and, in particular, the invocation of "Judas! »As an allegorical insult in the imaginary vocabulary, is, in the eldest daughter of the Church marked by two thousand years of" education of hatred "(Jules Isaac), of Christian anti-Judaism, a vindictiveness carrying obvious meaning although multiple: Jewishness, treachery, cupidity, felony, hypocrisy, infidelity, relapsing. The nationalist verb turns the supposed betrayal of Alfred Dreyfus into a new deicide that of Christian France, that of Mary, that of Vercingetorix, that of Joan of Arc.

That Dreyfus is Alsatian and that his family left Mulhouse to opt for French nationality, that he chose the military career to take back Alsace and Lorraine, that he be rich and therefore not corruptible, that he is Jewish very assimilated, whether he is tall, blond and with blue eyes, it does not matter, he is Jewish. A Jew, "I should have known! »Declares Jean Sandherr, head of the Statistics Section of the General Staff, the French anti-espionage since 1894 during the initial error of graphological expertise which will become a stubborn state lie which will last twelve years (1894 -1906)? The cartoonists claiming to tell the story, revealing the ins and outs, are knowingly deceiving their readers. Many are those who sign under pseudonyms, Caran d´Ache, the founder with Forain of the magazine Psst…! for example ; some of the artists have remained unknown to us, such as Lepneveu, author of the Musée des horreurs series.

The syllogism "Dreyfus betrayed - Dreyfus is a Jew - All Jews are traitors" can be read within two years as a logical palindrome. "That Dreyfus is capable of betraying, I conclude from his race" doctrine Maurice Barrès. The antonomase Dreyfus-Juif-Traitre is for the reader of the Petit journal, the best-selling newspaper in the world with five million copies claimed in 1899, a newspaper directed by 'Judas-Judet' (Couturier) not to demonstrate but a evidence.

Dreyfus, the French Judas

The cartoon will decline the meanings of the insult "Judas!" ": Treachery, of course, but also deicide by the evocation of the Cross, avarice as the motive for felony by the representation of the thirty denarii, hanging as a just punishment for perfidy, damnation.


Drawing by Chanteclair in La Libre parole of 10 November 1994 titled "A propos de Judas-Dreyfus": Drumont holds at the end of tweezers a Dreyfus, a runt wearing a German helmet with a point, while the Army keeps watch in the background . The betrayal of France is worth that of Jesus in the eyes of nationalists.

Lepneveu draws with this map n ° 6 from the Musée des horreurs Dreyfus as a hydra pierced by an army saber designating him as "the Traitor". Animal caricatures are very popular with anti-Dreyfus cartoonists: Zola is a pig, Jacques Reinach a monkey called a “Jewish ball”, a play on the novel Boule de suif by Maupassant.

The hanging for him and for all his associates of the Syndicat Dreyfus is claimed by this drawing by Lemot in Le Pèlerin of January 23, 1898: In the foreground Dreyfus, Zola and some other members of the “Syndicat Dreyfus” attached to a sign marked “Affaire Dreyfus »On a pillory from which they receive screams, fruits and vegetables from a threatening crowd of bourgeois, students and worker. In the background Hanged Judas. In heaven Jesus. Caption: "We should have remembered, however, that the profession since the inventor himself presents serious inconveniences."

The thirty denarii

Heidbrinck in Le Rire, January 5, 1895, draws the traitor Dreyfus with his hands tied behind his back, the sword broken from his degradation on the ground, turns away in shame from a crowd of women, old people and children who conspire and frighten him with a cannon aimed at them from the hole in the wall (that of the defense of France that its treason caused). Caption: "- What is Dreyfus? - This is the man who for thirty pence wanted to make all the women of France widows, to make small children cry tears of blood and to deliver his comrades in arms to the bullets of the enemy. "

BOBB entitles this drawing from La Silhouette of September 20, 1896, "From Judas to Dreyfus". Dreyfus, on vacation on Devil's Island, is served refined dishes by a caretaker. On the table an envelope sealed like that of the famous treason slip. Judas with the long Semitic nose and rags, in a sabir supposed to mock the speech of the Alsatian Jews exclaims: "La foilà painin la brogrès!" Auchour’tui a ponne bedide of rejection that overcomes the pien-being! My demps it was 30 teniers! "We know that the conditions of Dreyfus' confinement on Devil's Island were anything but idyllic, watched night and day, put in irons at night.

VIGNOLA in Le Pillori of November 18, 1894, title '"Judas!" an image showing a France in Gallic armor and helmet and a lion defending themselves from the businesses of Captain Dreyfus holding a purse marked "thirty deniers".

Forain draws in the magazine Psst…! February 5, 1898, a Prussian handing a check for 300,000 marks to Dreyfus shown as an expeditionary with the caption "History page - House of Alfred Dreyfus, Judas et Cie - Founded in 33 AD".

The kiss of Judas

The hypocritical kiss given by Judas to make the troops who came to arrest him in Gethsemane recognize him inspires variations. In this 1904 "Kiss of Judas" by ORENS, General André who had reopened the revision file and came across the files affair is shown hanging on Dreyfus's neck, which he kisses on the forehead. Dreyfus is lanky, wearing huge slippers, a long red nose; in his pocket a piece of paper marked "Retraite", the one that the captain restored to his rights will be able to obtain (and which he liquidated in 1906) with the rank of Commander. .


This drawing by Lemot which appeared in Le Pèlerin, January 30, 1898 shows a Jew and a Freemason in front of a Calvary, a church in the background. The Freemason said to the Jew: “Well! boss, are you happy… Are they all right in the House? "" Pooh! Dreyfus, the magistracy and the disoriented Parliament, the dirty army ... I don't care, that's just a pretext ... I will only be really happy when I have brought down that enemy! Answers the Jew who clenches his fists. For the Catholic daily, it is the ruin of the Church that the Judeo-Masonic plot is aiming for, nothing less. The figuration of the Calvary is an obvious evocation of the deicide caused by the fault of Judas Iscariot, fault of which all the Jewish people are, according to the Catholic doxa then complicit.


The first two press cartoons on the Affair appeared in La Croix on November 7 and 16, 1894, under Lemot’s pencil. The first drawing of November 7, 1894, is presented as follows: "The pen is now giving way to the pencil, and the sketch opposite will say more quickly and more eloquently what we could write". He associates the act of Dreyfus with the kiss of Judas who betrayed for money, here unbeknownst to the throne of France wearing as insignia the fleur-de-lys, occupied by a woman who, according to the religious precepts in force in the Maison de la Bonne Presse, can only be Mary, the mother of Christ.

On the horizon, an army approaches, skirting a hill bristling with conifers, evidently symbolizing the Vosges. In the background, Judas kisses Jesus. "In La Croix of November 16, Dreyfus appears before a draped female figure enthroned on a pedestal asking:" Traitor! What do you have to say ? "And Dreyfus replied:" Didn't you know that I was Jewish and not French? "

BOBB in The Silhouette of January 13, 1895, protests with "The expiation ??? Against the sweet penalty of relegation by showing Dreyfus smoking a cigar in a hammock when the fate deserved was that of Judas in the background, hanged, holding the purse of thirty dollars. It should be remembered that Dreyfus was deprived of any family visit, watched day and night in his hut of a few square meters and put in irons at night.

Lenepveu, in this map n ° 34 from the Museum of Horrors entitled “Popular Amnesty”, claims to deal with the death of Judas.


Dreyfus will go, like Judas, to the underworld for his treason according to Royer published in The Illustrated Journal of January 1895 which shows France holding the scourge of justice, accompanied by an angel holding a sign marked "Judas", followed by French soldiers , chasing Dreyfus whose uniform was torn during his degradation and who, hiding his face in shame, holding a purse in his hand from which coins are escaping, descends towards hell.

Anti-Semitic antonomasis

The entire Jewish community in France is suspected of complicity with "the traitor Dreyfus". Whether Zola, Jaurès or Gambetta are not Jews does not change anything, anti-Semitism runs in both directions, like a palindrome: "Dreyfus - Traitor - Jew".

"Judas defended by his brothers" is the title of this drawing by Charles Huard (?) Published in La Libre parole illustrée of November 14, 1896 showing Jews distributing Bernard Lazare's writing A judicial error under the eyes of a policeman who let himself be corrupted by an Englishman, an allusion to the supposed alliance of the Jews with the English because they were enemies of France (Fachoda…).

A "paper shoah"

The term might sound strong, but the anti-Semitic press pogrom calls were explicit. Dreyfus, on his embarkation from La Rochelle for Devil's Island, and Zola, on leaving the tribunal which had sentenced him to prison for his article "I accuse" narrowly escaped lynching; an attempt was made to assassinate Me Labori, defender of Dreyfus during the Rennes trial; Dreyfus was also revolverized during the transfer of Zola's ashes to the Pantheon. In France, Jewish shops are devastated, synagogues attacked, in Algeria the populace reinforced with Arab henchmen recruited by agitator Max Regis kill Jews.

Charles Aubert's song illustrated by a French Zouave kicking a Jew holding a purse spreading his coins and whose refrain is "Very sweet hope." We will master them at home / We no longer want filoux / Down with the Youtres! Now is the time / Hunting as it should be / Kicking the ass / All those fuckers! "

The anti-Dreyfusard press rejoices in the burns in effigies of Zola and Dreyfus, calls for the Jews to be driven out of France, shows mass executions. The ogre Drumont is mocked eating Jew noses or heads or roasting Jew. Jules Guerin’s newspaper L’Antijuif published a poster in 1899 "If the Jews Bring War" showing a firing squad shooting a line of Jews and calling for the French army to help. "A final paper solution", an image that foreshadows that of Einsatzgruppen SS.

The reader will find in our work Dreyfus, the French Judas - Anti-Semitic Iconography of the Affair over three hundred anti-Semitic drawings of the Affair.

If the Affair washed the socialist left of the temptation of anti-Semitic perversion, it developed a fund of iconographic topoi from which the far right and Nazi National Socialism would draw. The resumption of a CARAN d´ACHE drawing from 1898 on the front page written in 1939 by Lucien Rebatet of Je suis partout and the caricatures of Philipp Rupprecht alias Fips in Der Stürmer by Julius Streicher illustrate this spiritual and imaginary connection. "The Dreyfus Affair is only one episode, but the most significant, of a civil war which still lasts" wrote François Mauriac in 1962.

I am everywhere the title "The Jews and France" in 1939 takes up in one a drawing by CARAN D’ACHE published in 1898 in Psst…!

"The belly is still fertile from which the filthy beast arose" Bertold Brecht, Arturo Ui 1941

This article is an excerpt from the book:

- STENER Christophe, Dreyfus, the French Judas - Antisemitic religious metaphor, BOD, 2020. 20 color pages reproducing 30 caricatures.

Forthcoming :

- STENER Christophe, Dreyfus, le Judas français - Anti-Semitism of the Iconography of the Affair, BOD to be published 2020, 350 pages, 300 caricatures reproduced and commented on
- STENER Christophe, Antisemitic iconography of the life of Judas Iscariot, 5 volumes, BOD, 2020 and 2021
- Books available from the publisher, your bookseller and on Amazon, Fnac, BOD.

Christophe STENER isFormer student of the National School of Administration andProfessor at the Western Catholic University.

Video: Alfred Dreyfus Documentary Full video