Joseph Reinach (1856 - 1921)

Joseph Reinach (2)



The first Dreyfusard deputy, Joseph Reinach was both participant and historian in the Affair. He was born in Paris on 30 September 1856.

The son of a German banker, Reinach was private secretary to Prime Minister Léon Gambetta in 1881-82, and took over from Gambetta as the editor of La République Française. As deputy from the Lower Alps starting in 1889, he was aware quite early of the Dreyfus secret, having been alerted by his brother Salomon, an archaeologist who had been told by a fellow alumnus of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Lucien Lévy-Bruhl, a cousin of Dreyfus by marriage.

Although he did not manage to obtain an open trial for Dreyfus, after the captain's conviction, Reinach stated that one day, "the struggle of truth against the axiom of guesswork" would begin. He took his place among the first ranks of the Dreyfusards, along with his two brothers, Salomon, a member of the Academy of Inscriptions and Literature, and Theodore, a member of the Institute and future professor of the Collège de France.

Reinach wrote articles and tracts, in which he demonstrated the influence of anti-Semitism in the Affair. He suffered the defiance of the left, who advised 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." Despite the insults heaped upon him by Drumont, who denounced the "false Frenchman, the classic German Jew, the typical invasive Jew." He fought tirelessly, all the while gathering the elements that would fill the seven volumes of his History of the Dreyfus Affair.

In September 1897, after having met with Lucie Dreyfus, he attempted to make the deportee understand that the vice-president of the Senate supported his cause, but ran up against the refusal of Lebon, the Minister of Colonies. Placing Lebon in the ranks of the "young Republicans of the moment," he wrote: "they are ambitious, but they have no more faith." In March 1898, he publicly campaigned for Lucie Dreyfus to be allowed to join her husband, and was excluded from the Army reserves for having denounced the Henry forgery in Le Siècle.

In the fall, despite the loss of his seat in the Chamber of Deputies, he took part in putting pressure to allow Dreyfus to be notified that a review proceeding was underway. As soon as he was free, Alfred Dreyfus met with Reinach and, in his notebooks, described him as "one of the most intelligent and courageous men of these times."

Joseph Reinach regained his seat in Parliament as a deputy from the Lower Alps from 1906 to 1914, while his brother Théodore became deputy from the Savoie. He was a columnist for Le Figaro during the First World War, in which his son Adolphe, Mathieu Dreyfus's son-in-law, died. He himself died in Paris on 18 April 1921.