The extraordinary acquittal of he who murdered Jean Jaurès


Next month will mark the 100th anniversary of the assassination of France's revered socialist leader Jean Jaurès, an icon and figure of reference for the French Left. Among the various works published in tribute to Jaurès on the centenary of his death, a book published last month focuses upon the largely ignored and extraordinary outcome of the trial of his killer, acquitted by a jury despite assuming full responsibility for his act, which he carried out alone and in front of numerous witnesses. The story of the trial, held shortly after the end of World War One, is also that of the political and social atmosphere prevalent in France after the 1918 armistice, when Jaurès' pre-war, outspoken pacifist stand had become regarded by some with hateful contempt. Michel Deléan reports.

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Jean Jaurès (1859-1914) is arguably the most revered of any left-wing politician in France, remembered as one of the country’s greatest orators, and a passionate and tireless campaigner against injustice.