About the MuseumIn Europe we can find many Jewish communities, however French Judaism is perhaps the largest and most magnificent. The history of the community includes ups and downs in the attitude of French government and society towards them. The Museum of Art and History of Judaism (Musee d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaism) is very interesting, moving and stimulates thoughts on the question of who is a Jew in general and who is a French Jew in particular. It is located in the Marais district of central Paris, on Temple Street.
In 1986 Jacques Chirac, then mayor of Paris, designated a building that once served as a luxurious private hotel for a museum dedicated to French Judaism. As early as 1948, there was an active museum in Paris dedicated to Jewish art. Many of its collections were transferred to the new museum.
Content of the MuseumThe museum, which opened in 1998 after five years of preperation of the building, contains a dignified and enlightening display of Jewish history in the city. It presents an impressive collection of works of art by the Jews of the city. Among others you can enjoy the works of Chaim Soutine, Marc Chagall and Chaim Lifshitz, alongside a collection of Judaica objects and antique Judaica items. There is also a new piece by Christian Boltanski commemorating the Jewish occupants of the building who perished in the Holocaust.
In the 19th century, three floors were added to the building that housed the museum, which were later removed in future renovations. Then they divided it into small apartments where Jewish families from Poland, Romania, and the Ukraine were housed. During the Nazi occupation, the Paris police deported them to the Drancy concentration camp, from which they were transported to extermination. 13 of the residents of the house did not return, and the museum now remembers and mentions them.
From the top of the building to the ground is the installation of Christian Boltanski, known as the "Inhabitants of the Hotel St.-Anien, 1939." This work records the names of the inhabitants of the house, whose commemoration was reconstructed in the form of mourning notices used in Eastern Europe. Sometimes, in addition to the name, the place of birth and profession are also listed, such as marking the tragic amputation of an untold story.
The museum has a large library that focuses on Judaism and the history of the Jewish people in Europe and in Israel.
About the Dreyfus AffairThis historic affair gets a lot of attention in the museum. The Dreyfus Affair was an anti semitic plot that took place in France in 1895. During that period, Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jewish artillery officer with the rank of captain, was charged with betraying his country and spying for Germany. This was after the French army intelligence revealed a letter sent to the German Embassy in Paris detailing secret military documents. Although no concrete evidence was found against him, Alfred Dreyfus was suspected of sending the letter and was prosecuted in a military court. Not only was there no evidence against him, in order to reach a verdict in the trial, the prosecution presented false evidence that had not been submitted to the defense. Dreyfus strongly rejected the charge of espionage, but the false evidence convinced the judges of his guilt and they ruled that he was guilty of treason. He was sentenced to life in prison on the Island of Demons off the coast of French Guiana.
After the conviction and imprisonment, there were quite a few people who tried to prove Dreyfus's innocence. The French public was deeply interested in the affair and even divided into two rival camps. With the accumulation of many suspicions about the falsification of evidence, a retrial of Dreyfus was held on August 8, 1899. In view of the harsh conditions in the prison, his physical and mental condition was already difficult and he was again found guilty. Due to "mitigating circumstances," was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Ten days later, he received a pardon from President Emil Luba and was released from prison.
It was only in 1906 that the court acquitted him of all charges and cleared his name, finally Dreyfus returned to the army as a major.