|Books IX - The Dreyfus Affair and Anti-Semitism
In 1907, Henri Robert, a leading French criminal barrister said: "Alcoholism is the chief cause of the increase in
criminality. Absinthe is the enemy". As a scapegoat, absinthe was a perfect choice to the extent it was even
drawn into the anti-Semitism debate of the time - many of the larger absinthe producers (including most
importantly the Veil-Picard family that owned Pernod Fils) were Jewish, or of Jewish origin.
Fresh from the Dreyfus Affair, it was not surprising that Edouard Drumont, editor of the virulently anti-semitic
La Libre Parole, called absinthe a "tool of the Jews". One absinthe distiller even labelled his bottles "Absinthe
Anti-Juive" with a sub-legend "France aux Français".
The Dreyfus Affair was a political scandal which divided
France for many years during the late 19th century.
It centered on the 1894 treason conviction of Alfred
Dreyfus, a Jewish artillery officer in the French army.
Dreyfus was, in fact, innocent: the conviction rested on
false documents, and when high-ranking officers
realised this they attempted to cover up the mistakes.
The writer Emile Zola exposed the affair to the general
public in the literary newspaper L'Aurore (The Dawn) in a
famous open letter to the Président de la République
Félix Faure, titled J'accuse! (I Accuse!) on January 13,
1898. In the words of historian Barbara W. Tuchman, it
was "one of the great commotions of history".
The Dreyfus Affair split France between the Dreyfusards
(those supporting Alfred Dreyfus) and the
Anti-Dreyfusards (those against him).
Click on the image to see an enlarged version (813KB).
|The anti-Druyfusard journal Psst...! featured
regular contributions by Forain and Caran d'Ache.
The text of the cover illustration from this 1898
issue reads: "Si le pain manque, l'absinthe est
Click to enlarge.
|The anti-semitic newspaper La Libre Parole
campaigned against absinthe, and particularly against
those distilleries in Jewish hands. This 1901 issue
approvingly describes the fire that destroyed the
Pernod Fils factory.
Click on the image to see an enlarged version (763KB).
The Libre Parole article
on the Pernod fire.
Click on the images to
see enlarged versions.
Anti-semitic agitation in Montmartre as a result of the Dreyfus Affair.
|The Dreyfus Affair in the popular illustrated journals of the day.
Click on the images to see enlarged versions.
Monnot is not recorded as a
Jewish name in France, and so
it seems likely that the Star of
David on this label is a Masonic,
not a Jewish symbol.
Click on the image to see an
|This website and all its contents Copyright 2002- 2008 Oxygenee Ltd.
No pictures or text may be reproduced or used in any form without written permission of the site owner.
|Move cursor over the link bars to see contents.