Jean Jaurès (1859 - 1914)

Jean Jaurès



Jean Jaurès was born in Castres in the department of Tarn on 3 September 1859. His book Les Preuves passionately proclaimed Dreyfus's innocence, and he was the one who crafted the launch of the second review.

The son of a textile merchant, Jaurès graduated first in his class from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in 1878, and passed the competitive examination to become a philosophy professor in 1881. He taught at the Lycée d'Albi and then, in 1883, at the Toulouse College of Arts. He was elected a Republican deputy from Castres in 1885.

An ardent Dreyfusard from 1897 onwards, Jaurès addressed the Chamber of Deputies in 24 January 1898, asking that the country be given "the whole truth, and not a mutilated and incomplete truth." For Jaurès, it was a "question that affected every citizen's right to protection." He denounced the appalling suspicions, and questions of race and religion: "towards a Jew as towards any other person, we have the right to demand that legal guarantees be observed."

At the Zola trial in February of the same year, he denounced "the sacred words of national defense and national honor, prostituted to cover over procedural maneuvering" and hailed Zola as "the man who tore away from the General Staff this grievous and arrogant irresponsibility, where every disaster for the country is being unconsciously prepared." The price for his commitment was a loss in the legislative elections, but his convictions remained steadfast.

In 1903 he returned to the battle by denouncing "the monstrous legend" of the document annotated by Wilhelm II, a story kept alive by Henry and a "jurisprudence of murderous slander reaching into the very roots of the life of the nation." Alfred Dreyfus thought his speech was admirable and "of piercing logic"; it launched the rehabilitation process.

He founded the daily newspaper L'Humanité in 1904, and as the left's leading light, he used it to defend the idea of a "new Army." He was assassinated on 31 July 1914 by Raoul Villain, who would be acquitted of the crime in 1919. He was interred in the Pantheon in 1924, at the time of the Cartel des Gauches. In announcing, in 1964, that his ashes would be "watched over by Justice," André Malraux made a clear link between his entry into the Pantheon with his role in the Dreyfusard struggle.