The nice building where the main entrance now leads to a super-market – and where one of the side entrances lead to a rather newly, by David Lynch, opened club (“Silencio”), used to be the successive homes of some leading newspapers. We are rue Montmartre which with the neighbor streets used to be the “Wall Street area” of Paris (see previous post). Before the present building, there was a market here and even before that, a cemetery where Molière was buried, before he much later was brought to the Père Lachaise Cemetery (see previous post).
The building is especially known for a specific event linked to the enormous “Dreyfus Affair”, a political scandal which divided French opinions in the 1890s and the early 1900s. Captain Alfrèd Dreyfus was erroneously condemned for treason with the (German) enemy in 1894 and sent to solitary confinement in French Guiana. It was later made clear that all the accusations were false, inspired by anti-Semitist feelings, false documents… What really started to make things change was an article written by Emile Zola, published January 13, 1898, by the newspaper which then occupied the premises, “L’Aurore”. Emile Zola presented his manuscript to the owner and the editor of “L’Aurore”, Georges Clemenceau, and it was published - addressed to the French President, Félix Faure - on the front page the following day. Emile Zola was prosecuted for this article, condemned and spent some time in England to avoid imprisonment.
There is a lot to be said about Emile Zola. I have posted about his involvement in what was to become the impressionism (here), about his tomb at the Montmartre Cemetery (here), which was his place of rest before he was brought to the Pantheon (see previous post). ... but if you really want to learn something about him, especially about the author he was, you could go here.
Georges Clemenceau had also a rich life between being a medical doctor, journalist, politician, Prime Minister, a major voice designing the Treaty of Versailles after WWI…, nicknamed “The Tiger”, “Father Victory”…. Again, if you wish, go here for further reading.
Alfred Dreyfus could return to France after five years, but it took considerable time and several trials before he was completely exonerated. He spent his last years in the building you can see below (17th arrdt.) and his grave is at the Montparnasse Cemetery (see previous post). To read more about him, you can go here.
Neighbour to the previous newspaper building is a bar, a restaurant, which those days used to be full of journalists, printers…
The bar, “Le Croissant”, became famous in 1914, when a leading French politician, Jean Jaurès, was shot down here. He was killed July 29, 1914. The day before, what was to become WWI had opened with the Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia. The day after, the German Empire started to mobilize and three days later France did the same…
Jaurès was well-known as a pacifist and antimilitarist (and pro-Dreyfus), one of the leaders of the socialist movements. He was also the founder – in 1904 - and until his death the boss of the daily socialist newspaper “L’Humanité”. (“L’Humainté” still exists, but is since 1920 the official voice of the Communist Party.) He had made a lot of efforts to avoid the war. It was a time of mixed feelings, pro-war, anti-war. The man who shot him down, while he - after having finished his job at the nearby newspaper – enjoyed his dessert, was a young pro-war nationalist.
Also Jaurès was brought to the Pantheon - ten years after his death. If you want further details about Jean Jaurès, you can go here.
Today, the bar is still there. It’s an ordinary bar, but you can find a plate on the wall and, inside, some “souvenirs” in a glass-case.