Remembering J’accuse

“It is a crime to poison the small and the humble,

to exasperate passions of reaction and intolerance,

while taking shelter behind the odious antisemitism…”

J'accuse

A day like today in February 07 1898 the Émile Zola was brought to trial for libel for publishing J’Accuse in the L’Aurore a literary, liberal, and socialist newspaper published in Paris, France   J’accuse is in my opinion one of the most important historical essays ever written because it brought to public opinion an honest and objective critic against the ruling elite’s injustices.

In his letter, Zola addressed President of France Félix Faure, and accused the government of antisemitism and the unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus, a French Army General Staff officer sentenced to penal servitude for life for espionage.  Further, “Zola pointed out judicial errors and lack of serious evidence. The letter was printed on the front page of the newspaper, and caused a stir in France and abroad. Zola was prosecuted and found guilty of libel on 23 February 1898. To avoid imprisonment, he fled to England, returning home in June 1899.”

Zola’s intention was that he be prosecuted for libel so that the new evidence in support of Dreyfus would be made public (“Correspondence Between Emile Zola and Imprisoned Alfred Dreyfus”. Shapell Manuscript Foundation.) The case divided France deeply between the reactionary army and church and the more liberal commercial society and its ramifications continued for many years. On the 100th anniversary of Zola’s article, France’s Roman Catholic daily paper, La Croix, apologized for its antisemitic editorials during the Dreyfus Affair. As Zola was a leading French thinker, his letter formed a major turning-point in the affair.

Zola’s powerful letter included a direct conversation to the President of France to whom he address as a honorable and rightful man,

And it is to you, Mr. President, that I will proclaim it, this truth, with all the force of the revulsion of an honest man. For your honor, I am convinced that you are unaware of it. And with whom will I thus denounce the criminal foundation of these guilty truths, if not with you, the first magistrate of the country?

And by doing this, he requested the President to be truthful to Justice.

Lets have this letter as a memory of which is our truthful right and obligation as citizens of our States.  Let us remember that We MUST always Accuse the wrongdoers and Demand justice to prevail.

Audio (French) – J’Accuse – Lettre ouverte d’Emile Zola

Access to the French Original version available here via Archive.org

Here you can find the English translation of the letter: “I Accuse…!” By Émile Zola

Today January 27 is International Holocaust Memorial Day

Let us never forget,

“Selektion” on the Judenrampe, Auschwitz, May/June 1944. To be sent to the right meant slave labor; to the left, the gas chamber. This image shows the arrival of Hungarian Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia, many of them from the Berehov ghetto. The photographer was Ernst Hofmann or Bernhard Walter of the SS. Image by Yad Vashem.

Holocaust Memorial Day Documentary

Tribute to holocaust victims – We shall never forget!

Paper: Eugene Kulischer, Joseph Schechtman and the Historiography of European Forced Migrations

Map of Jewish Migrations

Yesterday I had the honor of attending a lecture organized by the Centre for Area Studies titled “Migration and Transnational History” with Prof. Dirk Hoerder as lecturer.

Prof. Hoerder is the author of one of my favorite books: Cultures in Contact: World Migrations in the Second Millennium (Comparative and International Working-Class History). The book is an encyclopedic historical treaty that reviews the story Global Migrations in the last 1,000 years.

Today’s paper is related to two other great specialists in Migrations: Eugene Kulischer and Joseph Schechtman whose works are among the most relevant for the study of Migrations and Globalization.

About the Article:

This article deals with two prominent figures in the historiography of twentieth-century European forced migrations: Eugene Kulischer and Joseph Schechtman. Their studies, although published between 1946 and 1962, are still among the standard works on the subject and are as yet unsurpassed in their scope and breadth of outlook, despite the flurry of new publications on the subject after the opening of East Central European archives after 1989. In this article I strive to explain how and why they were able to accomplish such a scholarly feat, paying special attention to their biographies which I have tried to reconstruct, using, for the first time, not only their own writings but also personal testimonies from their students and disparate archival sources located in the United States and Israel. I also discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their works by comparing them with more recent works on the same subject. This is, to my knowledge, the first attempt to reconstruct on the basis of archival evidence the lives and works of the two most important historians of a phenomenon whose impact on the overall history of Europe (and especially of its East Central part) is now generally recognized.

Continue reading: Eugene Kulischer, Joseph Schechtman and the Historiography of European Forced Migrations from Journal of Contemporary History recent issues by Ferrara, A.