Throughout Jewish history, there have been many events that have helped evolve the Jews as a nation. The exodus from Egypt, the destruction of the Temple, the Spanish Inquisition of 1492 and the Holocaust have all had profound effects on the Jews. One event which many people may not link which an advancement of Jewish history is the Dreyfus Affair of 1894. The Dreyfus Affair acted as a sort of watershed in Jewish history as many different thoughts, feelings and emotions were emitted from the Jews as well as for the Jews. From Alfred Dreyfus as an individual to the Affair itself, this long and unfortunate experience in essence opened the doors for a Jewish homeland.
Alfred Dreyfus was born on October 9, 1859 in Mulhouse, Alsace to a family of Alsatian Jews. His family roots in Mulhouse and Alsace had been established for several centuries. His father Raphael Dreyfus had set up a small cotton mill, to which he soon added a textile factory. His business prospered enough to secure his family a more-than comfortable upbringing. Raphael married Jeanne Libmann and the couple had 13 children. Only seven of those children – four boys and three girls – survived infancy, and these seven grew up in a comfortable, respected lifestyle. The Dreyfus family – as a result of their wealth – were very well respected around France. In 1870, in the midst of the France-Prussian war, the Dreyfus family was forced out of Alsace and took refuge in Carpentras. It has been said that "the sight of French troops traversing Mulhouse… determined his military destiny" (Bredin 12). In 1871 with the Treaty of Frankfurt, Raphael chose French citizenship for him and his children who were minors and then left Mulhouse to settle in Basel, Switzerland. In 1873, Raphael and Jeanne decided to send Alfred to boarding school in Paris, however he had a hard time adapting and soon returned home to his family. Over the next few years, Alfred t…