Adolphe Crémieux

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Adolphe Crémieux, painted by Jean Lecomte du Noüy (1878)

Isaac Moïse Crémieux , known as Adolphe Crémieux (born April 22, 1796 in Nîmes , † February 9, 1880 in Paris ) was a lawyer , politician , representative of the Consistoire central israélite and journalist .

After the February Revolution of 1848 and during the Franco-Prussian War 1870-71 Crémieux was Minister of Justice of the provisional government. In the Third Republic he was a member of the National Assembly from 1872 to 1876 and a senator from 1875 to 1880. He is known as the initiator of the Décret Crémieux , through which the Jews of Algeria received French citizenship in 1870. From 1863 until his death he was President of the Alliance Israélite Universelle .


Adolphe Crémieux in attorney's robe, lithograph by Faustin Herr, 1840

Crémieux was born in Nîmes in 1796 as the son of a Jewish silk merchant. During the first Napoleonic Empire, he completed his law degree in Paris. He then returned to his hometown in 1817, where he first attracted attention as a lawyer by defending victims of political reaction (including the “ White Terror ”) and religious discrimination (especially against Jews).

In 1830 Crémieux began his work in Paris at the Cour de Cassation , where he made a name for himself as a lawyer for insurgent republicans, the Gazette de France , but also a minister of the deposed King Charles X. as a defender of individual liberties.

Commitment to Jewish emancipation

In addition, he vigorously campaigns for the interests of the Jews inside and outside his homeland. First of all, his involvement in the Consistoire central israélite , the umbrella organization of French Jewry, should be mentioned here . In 1843 he was elected its president. In view of the Damascus affair (1840), a particularly popular case of an anti-Jewish ritual murder accusation , Crémieux not only appeared as an advocate for Judaism by launching a press offensive against the chimera of Jewish ritual murder. Together with Moses Montefiore, he also traveled to Egypt himself to campaign for the release of the accused Jews from Damascus with Muhammad Ali Pasha , who also ruled Syria at the time. He also used his stay in Egypt to found two schools for the local Jewish population.

Furthermore, he fought for years against a discriminatory legal practice that forced French Jews to take a special oath in court, the “ More Judaico ”, until it was finally abolished in 1846. Another aspect of his pro-Jewish commitment is the assumption of the presidency of the Alliance Israélite Universelle in 1863. This new type of association had made it its business to protect Jews all over the world.

Political career until 1870

Crémieux (bottom, center) as a member of the Provisional Government in 1848

Crémieux moved into the Chamber of Deputies of the French Parliament in 1842 as a representative of the constituency of Chinon . This was the first big step in his political career. In the course of the 1840s his criticism of the political system of the July monarchy grew . So he took part in the pre-revolutionary banquets of 1847/48.

His political career reached a high point on the occasion of the February Revolution of 1848 : after the fall of the monarchy, he was appointed Minister of Justice of the Provisional Government. In this function, he suspended the repressive " September Laws" of September 9, 1835, thereby rehabilitating the freedom of the press and freedom of assembly . In the course of the further political unrest that led to his brief arrest (1851), he was forced to withdraw increasingly from politics and devoted himself to his legal work.

At the same time, Crémieux was involved as a Freemason, he reached the 33rd and highest degree according to the Scottish rite in 1866 and took over the chairmanship of the Suprême Conseil de France in 1869 . Towards the end of the Second Empire, he returned to political life in France: In 1869 he was elected to the 3rd constituency of Paris, where he sat in the opposition faction of the Republican Left . In 1870 he voted against declaring war on Prussia .

Third Republic

After the abdication of Napoleon III. Crémieux was appointed to the provisional government of national defense under Louis Jules Trochu on September 4, 1870 , in which he briefly served again as Minister of Justice. In this position he declared a general amnesty for all political offenses, abolished the political oath and removed some judges from their office. In October 1870 he temporarily took over the functions of Interior Minister and Minister of War and mobilized the National Guard. He also initiated the Décret Crémieux . This law granted French citizenship to the approximately 35,000 Jews in the French colony of Algeria .

In the first election after the proclamation of the Third Republic , Crémieux first lost his mandate in February 1871, after which he also resigned as minister. In October 1872, however, he was re-elected to the National Assembly as a member of the Algiers department. He joined the Union républicaine group around Léon Gambetta , which sat on the far left in parliament. Crémieux voted for President Adolphe Thiers , against the Conservative government of Albert de Broglie and for the Constitution of 1875. In December 1875 he was elected Senator for life.

Crémieux died in Paris in 1880. He was buried in a state funeral on the Cimetière Montparnasse with his wife, née Silny, who had died that same month.


Admiration for his lived humanism , which was firmly anchored in the ideals of the French Revolution of 1789, was shown to Crémieux by the writer Heinrich Heine , among others . He wrote of Crémieux's behavior during the Damascus affair in 1840:

"Mr. Cremieux, the famous advocate, who at all times devoted his generous eloquence not only to the Jews, but to the oppressed of all confessions and all doctrines [...] is probably the only one in Paris who took an active part in the cause of Israel. "

Web links

Commons : Adolphe Crémieux  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Simone Mrejen-O'Hana: Isaac-Jacob Adolphe Crémieux, Avocat, homme politique, président du Consistoire central et de l'Alliance israélite universelle. In: Archives Juives , Volume 36, 2003/2, pp. 139-146.
predecessor Office successor
Michel Pierre Alexis Hébert
Michel Grandperret
Minister of Justice of France
February 24, 1848 - June 7, 1848
September 4, 1870 - February 19, 1871
Eugène Bethmont
Jules Dufaure