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The support of Zadoc Kahn and the Reinach brothers

The support of Zadoc Kahn and the Reinach brothers

The chief rabbi of France and the Affair

At an 1892 funeral service for French Jewish soldiers, Zadoc Kahn stated that the African Expeditionary Corps was "the noble, living image of this great army, which is the honor and pride of France." Kahn, the grand rabbi of France, officiated at the wedding of Alfred and Lucie Dreyfus in 1890; he supported the family and testified as to the morality of the accused before the court martial. He denounced the press that suggested, starting in November, an excommunication ceremony for the "traitor," but was not given permission to visit the captain after his conviction. Despite his civil servant status and the reservations of the consistory, he stated in 1896 that, "Judaism has no reason to be ashamed of either its past or its present, and this should be stated frankly and courageously." He led a small committee against anti-Semitism that worked for the defeat of anti-Semitic candidates.

The involvement of the Reinach brothers

Salomon Reinach, an archaeologist and member of France's Institute, defended the idea of total Jewish integration into the French state. An alumnus of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, he was one of the first to be alerted by a fellow normalien, the philosopher Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, who was Dreyfus's cousin by marriage. He told his brother Joseph, who was Gambetta's private secretary.
Joseph Reinach had been the editor of La République française since 1882; as deputy from the Lower Alps starting in 1889, he defended the idea of a colonial army, but became one of the staunchest Dreyfusards. In early January 1895, he did not hesitate to tell the Prime Minister that one day "the struggle of truth against the axiom of guesswork" would begin. Edouard Drumont's spiteful anger was particularly acute against Joseph, "the little Jew from Hamburg […bearing] all of the defects of his race," the "false Frenchman, the classic German Jew, the typical invasive Jew." On the other side of the benches, a socialist manifesto warned the working class: "don't sign up in any of the clans in this civil war of the bourgeoisie! (…) Between Reinach and de Mun, keep your freedom (…) everything is hypocrisy, everything is lies." Joseph Reinach lost the legislative elections in 1898 and did not win back his seat until 1906, after his publication of the first volume of his seven-volume work, History of the Dreyfus Affair.
Théodore Reinach was a Hellenist and numismatist, and the founder of the Union Libérale Israélite. He would have preferred to counter the anti-Semitics with "the silence of contempt," but he supported his brothers and won a Republican seat in the 1906 elections, remaining as a deputy from Savoie until 1914. Two of his children would be deported during World War II, one of whom would perish at Auschwitz along with his entire family.