Édouard Drumont (1844 - 1917)

Édouard Drumont


Journalists & intellectuals

An ardent anti-Dreyfusard and the principal propagator of anti-Semitism in France under the Third Republic, Edouard Drumont was born in Paris on 3 May 1844.

Employed by the department of the Seine, he wrote for Louis Veuillot's paper L'Univers as well as for Émile de Girardin's La Liberté, before publishing works of history like his maternal uncle Jean Buchon. In 1886, his popularity was assured with the two volumes of Jewish France. Tens of thousands of copies were sold in more than 120 editions, and his works constituted a breviary of hate.

In 1892, Drumont founded the anti-Semitic daily La Libre Parole, where he railed against the MPs who were compromised in the Panama ScandalThe Panama Scandal
In 1892, legal proceedings were started against various elected officials who had financed newspapers and padded their election funds with money from a company that had been set up to dig a canal in Panama. Ferdinand de Lesseps, who had created the Suez Canal, owned the company. Clemenceau and other members of Parliament were compromised and lost their seats in the 1893 elections.
, and where he campaigned against the presence of Jewish officers in the army. On 1 November 1894, his paper ran a front-page story about the arrest of a Jewish traitor at general staff headquarters. As Joseph Reinach wrote; "the clerical milieu" was "overexcited by reading Drumont's murderous prose." The day following the first conviction, the headline in La Libre Parole read "Out of France, Jews! France for the French!" Its editor-in-chief congratulated himself that his books about the Jewish peril had kept the country safe from falling into the hands of the enemy "at the moment of a war, led by the Dreyfuses and the Reinachs, laying in wait in all of the important departments."

An anti-Semitic candidate, Drumont was elected depute from Algiers in May of 1898, and unsuccessfully demanded the repeal of the Crémieux decreedécret Crémieux
In 1870, Adolphe Crémieux, Justice Minister following the collapse of the Second Empire, passed a law that conferred French citizenship on the Jews in Algeria
. He failed in his attempts at reelection in 1902. In fact, as Pierre Birnbaum remarked in The Anti-Semitic Moment, the hatred did not result in a Saint Bartholomew's Day for Jews: "we do not know how many mayors, prefects, sub-prefects and police commissioners who, ever-present all across France, managed to check, break and turn aside anti-Semitic violence."

Although Drumont failed to obtain a seat in the Académie Française in 1909 and died forgotten in Paris on 3 February 1917, his words about "the disconnected Semites" whose belongings would be seized provide a sinister foreshadowing of the policy of the General Commission on the Jewish Question that would be developed by the French State in the years 1940 to 1944.