September 29, 1902

The League of the French Fatherland was not composed only of people who wished to overthrow the French government just before 1900 as it included Republicans who wanted to restore order after the great tensions of The Dreyfus Affair. It could not be held together, and it dissolved. This “League” attacked Emile Zolá for internationalism and left-wing conspiracy which was pacifist. The League included lots of intellectuals that were anti-Dreyfusards and the army, the church, the aristocracy, and the wealthy joined in. Zolá, we must remember, favored the workers and his work denounced the poor living conditions and wages and benefits of the workers.

There was no Moms 4 Liberty in those days, but housewives threw out their dish water at Zolá and his children as they passed by in the streets. Zolá’s wife was an anti-Dreyfusard so they were divided politically. So maybe the Moms 4 Liberty should dissolve?

The police looked the other way in those days, favoring people who protested against Zolá. This kind of behavior has existed throughout time and continues to manifest itself as people fight for someone or for their cause. The book about Zolá that I recently finished, the historian mentioned that the police could have been involved in the death of Zolá and I have also read that a worker confessed to stuffing his chimney causing Zolá to asphyxiate. There was a thorough investigation at the time and amazingly his wife survived the poisoning.

Then we get to the vigil where Alfred Dreyfus and Colonel Picquart (the heroic whistleblower) attended. Alexandrine, the wife of Zolá, did not wish Dreyfus to be there. And Picquart was the great whistleblower whose presented the first evidence of the conspiracy.  This was amazing history taking place where people who could have been killed because they fought for social justice for a Jew attended. There wasn’t even a demonstration against Dreyfus or Zolá on this occasion.

An estimated 50,000 people followed the hearse through the streets and thousands lined the streets.

Alexandrine Zolá also did not want Anatole France to speak about The Dreyfus Affair at the event and that he did. So Madame Zolá, who was too weak to attend the event herself, did not get her way. Anatole was at times a strong critic or adversary of Zolá, but on this occasion he spoke strongly and clearly telling the audience that “Standing up against the most prodigious accumulation of outrages that stupidity, ignorance, and cruelty ever raised, his glory has reached an unapproachable stature. We rejoice in it; has honoured his country and the world by a great literary achievement and by a great act.”

Unfortunately, I have been misspelling the town Médan as Médans in my articles. The home of Emile Zolá is home to the Dreyfus Museum.