Although many French liberals claimed forgery was involved in the Dreyfus Affair and that he was wrongfully convicted, those in favor of his conviction were motivated by anti-Semitism, military honor and the desire to protect the French monarchy and French people from liberal ideas and instead promote conservative ones.
During the second half of the 19th century the French people went through an identity crisis which was exemplified through the trial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Although those who favored his conviction would claim objectivity and impartiality, their real motives were the preservation of conservatism, the promotion of anti-Semitism and French national honor.
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French society had an undercurrent of anti-Semitism that had festered for centuries and it came out clearly as a motive for the prosecution of Captain Dreyfus. This anti-Semitism was especially strong in the Catholic Church as can be seen in the official newsletter of the Jesuit Order in France, Civilita Cattolica, which claimed that Jews controlled much of France’s wealth and were “never loyal citizens.” (Doc 3). It is not surprising that a Jesuit newsletter would print such biased articles given the anti-Jewish bias of the Jesuits over the centuries of European history. The anti-Semitism in the Church was also seen by French government employees such as the French Envoy to the Vatican who wrote that the Vatican “pitied” France because it “allows itself to fall into the hand of … Jews.” (Doc 8). This first-hand impression of the Vatican provides a reliable account of the Vatican’s views on French Jews because the author would have no basis to falsify this impression and instead ensure that the French government has an accurate account of how the Vatican views France. Even in the military, anti-Semitism was apparent such as the views of General Pellieux who wrote to his mother that Jews carry “immorality and dishonor to the limit” and that he knows Dreyfus is guilty. (Doc 10). The General’s view is a biased one as his first and foremost concern of someone so high up in the French military would be to protect the honor of the military and not hesitate to stereotype and scapegoat Dreyfus because he is Jewish.