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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Dreyfus Case ("l'Affaire Dreyfus")

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Memorable trials of Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, officer in the French army, in 1894 and 1899, involving political complications and convulsions of the highest importance, rending France into two sections, and attracting the attention of the whole civilized world for nearly two years. As probably the best-known "cause cé lè bre" of modern times, which involved the fate of ministries, and even of presidents of the French republic, it deserves full treatment in these pages, as the Jewish aspects of the case were from first to last its leading feature.

Origin of the Case.
I. The virulence of the passions aroused by the case was indirectly the result of the spread of Anti-Semitism in France, due partly to the failure of the Union Gé né rale— a Catholic banking establishment which aimed at superseding Jewish finance— in 1885, and partly to the publication of Drumont's book "La France Juive" in 1886. But the case itself was more immediately the outcome of the continuous attack made upon the presence of the Jews as officers in the French army by Drumont and others in the journal "La Libre Parole," founded with the help of the Jesuits in 1892.

The Bordereau, upon Which Dreyfus Was Convicted (Continued on following page).
The articles of the "Libre Parole," which denounced the Jewish officers as intriguers and future traitors, led a Jewish captain of dragoons, Cré mieufoa , to declare that he resented as a personal insult the slanderous assault made upon the body of Jewish officers. He fought a duel, first with Drumont, then with Lamase, under whose name the articles had appeared. It had been agreed that the report of the proceedings should not be made public. The brother of Cré mieu-Foa, following the advice of Captain Esterhazy, one of the Jewish captain's seconds, communicated the report to the "Matin."

Cré mieuFoa and Mayer Duels.
The Marquis de Morè s, who had been chief second of Lamase, and was a well-known anti-Semite and famous duelist, held Captain Mayer, chief second of Cré mieu-Foa, responsible for the inadvertence. Though totally innocent of any part in the matter, Mayer accepted a challenge from the marquis. The duel was fought on June 23, the Jewish captain being mortally wounded at the first attack he died a few days after the duel. Owing to the sensation that was caused by this event, the "Libre Parole" thought it wise to stop the campaign against the Jewish officers until further orders. But the desired result had been obtained anti-Semitism had received its baptism of blood.

The Bordereau, upon Which Dreyfus Was Convicted .

The Intelligence Department.
II. Among the military services reorganize after the war of 1870 was that of the Intelligence Department (the secret service), which had as one of its principal occupations to watch the German embassy. The ambassador, Count Mü nster, owing to an affair involving the German military attaché , had promised on his word of honor that for the future his attaché s should abstain from bribing the French officers or officials. But it was known at the Intelligence Office that the new attaché , Colonel Schwarzkoppen, probably without the knowledge of the ambassador, continued to entertain paid spies, being in direct correspondence with the War Office in Berlin. According to indications furnished by a former Spanish military attaché , Señ or Val Carlos, Schwarzkoppen and the Italian military representative, Colonel Panizzardi, had come to an agreement to exchange the results of whatever discoveries they might make and to keep an eye on this plotting the Intelligence Office succeeded in securing the help of a charwoman employed at the German embassy, a Madame Bastian, who collected carefully all the scraps of paper, torn up or half-burnt, which she found in the waste-paper baskets or in the fireplace of Schwarzkoppen's office, put them all in a paper bag, and once or twice a month took them or had them taken to the "section de statistique." There the pieces were carefully fitted together and gummed.

By this means it was ascertained that since 1892 certain secret information concerning the national defenses had leaked out. Some large plans of the fortress at Nice had been given up by an individual who was alluded to in one of Schwarzkoppen's notes as "that scoundrel D— " (ce canaille de D — ). The fragments of another memorandum of Schwarzkoppen conveyed the idea that the German attaché had found an informant who pretended to bring him the documents just as issued from the War Office. There was therefore a wolf in the fold Val Carlos was certain of it.

The Bordereau.
During the summer of 1894 there arrived at the Intelligence Office a document which was far more alarming than any which had preceded it, and which was credited to the German embassy. This was the anonymous letter which has since become celebrated under the name of the "bordereau." This letter, written on so-called "papier pelure" (thin foreign notepaper), ruled in squares and almost transparent, was torn from top to bottom in two places, but was otherwise intact. The writing was upon the two sides of the first page. According to the official version, which was long believed to be the true one, the paper had arrived by the usual means, through Madame Bastian but the appearance of the document, which was hardly torn, makes this story unlikely. It would appear from other disclosures that the letter was taken intact from the letter-box of Colonel Schwarzkoppen in the porter's lodge at the embassy, and brought to the office by an agent named Brucker, who had formerly acted as a go-between for Madame Bastian and the Intelligence Office. The documents which the letter announced as being sent off did not reach the War Office and the envelope of the letter has never been produced. Here is the text of this famous document:

"Being without information as to whether you desire to see me, I send you nevertheless, monsieur, some interesting information, viz.:
    "1. A note concerning the hydraulic brake of the 120, and the way this gun has worked.

    [The reference is to the hydropneumatic brake of the gun called "120 court." It was a heavy field-piece, recently brought into use the mechanism of the brake which overcame the recoil of the gun was a profound secret.]
    "2. A note upon the ' troupes de couverture' (some modifications will be carried out, according to the new plan).

    [The troops called to the frontier at the commencement of mobilization are referred to. They were destined to "cover" the concentration of the rest of the army hence their name. The "new plan" is the plan No. xiii. adopted in 1895.]
    "3. A note concerning a modification in the formations of artillery.

    [Most likely the "formations de manœ uvre," which were just about to be altered by the new regulations.]
    "4. A note relative to Madagascar.

    [The War Office was preparing an expedition destined to conquer that island.]
    "5. The proposed ' manuel de tir' of field-artillery (March 14, 1894).

    "This document is exceedingly difficult to get hold of, and I can only have it at my disposal for a very few days. The minister of war has distributed a certain number of copies among the troops, and the corps are held responsible for them.

    "Each officer holding a copy is required to return it after the maneuvers.

    "Therefore if you will glean from it whatever interests you, and let me have it again as soon as possible, I will manage to obtain possession of it. Unless you would prefer that I have it copied in extenso, and send you the copy.

    "I am just starting for the maneuvers."

Date of Writing and of Delivery.
This communication was clearly written during the month of August, 1894, at the latest. For the "manuel de tir" for field-artillery is the ré sumé of the methods designed to regulate the actual firing of ordnance on the battle-field this actual shooting, of course, never takes place during the grand maneuvers in September, but only during the "é coles à feu," which begin in May and finish in August. It is these "é coles à feu" that the writer incorrectly designates as "maneuvers," and it is probable that the word has the same meaning in the last sentence of the letter.

The Search for the Handwriting.
It seems evident that the bordereau was handed over to Major Henry, who, with Major Cordier, was then assisting Colonel Sandherr, the head of the Intelligence Office. According to General Mercier, the letter in question arrived at the office with other documents whose dates ranged from Aug. 21 to Sept. 2 it is probable that Henry kept it in his possession a considerable time, which makes it the more surprising that he did not recognize the writing— in no way disguised— of one of his former fellow soldiers, Major Esterhazy. It was not until Sept. 24 that he spoke concerning the document to his fellow workers and to his chief, Colonel Sandherr, who immediately apprised the head of the staff, General de Boisdeffre, and the secretary of war, General Mercier. The feeling was intense. The informant of the German military attaché was a French officer still further, they concluded from the tone of the letter that he was a staff-officer. Nothing justified this last supposition. On the contrary, the wording of the bordereau, technically and grammatically incorrect the difficulty which the author had in procuring the "manuel de tir" (which was distributed freely among the staff) the small importance which his correspondent appeared to attach to his disclosures, often leaving him for a considerable time "without information"— everything would have shown to unprejudiced minds how unreasonable it was to attribute the bordereau to a staff-officer. Nevertheless, this fixed idea, this "first falsehood," suggested perhaps by the previous warnings of Val Carlos, was accepted without discussion so that from the very commencement the investigations were started on a false scent. At first no result was obtained from an examination of handwritings in the bureaus of the department. But on Oct. 6 Lieutenant-Colonel d' Aboville suggested to his chief, Colonel Fabre, the idea that the bordereau, dealing as it did with questions which were under the jurisdiction of different departments, must be the work of one of the officers going through their "stage" (i.e. , staff-schooling), they being the only men who passed successively through the various branches to complete their military education moreover, as, out of the five documents mentioned, three had reference to artillery, it was probable that the officer belonged to this branch of the army. The circle thus limited, it only remained to consult the list of the "stage" officers on the staff who had come from the artillery. While looking through it, the two colonels came to a halt before the name of a Jewish officer, Captain Dreyfus. Colonel Fabre, in whose office he had been during the second quarter of 1893, remembered having given him a bad record on the report of Lieutenant-Colonel Roget and Major Bertin-Mourot Dreyfus had given these gentlemen the impression (upon the most superficial grounds) of being presuming and overbearing, of neglecting the routine of service to go into matters which were kept secret. Fabre and D' Aboville immediately began to search for papers bearing the writing of Dreyfus by a strange fatality it showed a likeness to the writing of the bordereau these officers, inexperienced and prejudiced, mistook a vague resemblance for real identity.

Alfred Dreyfus.
III. Alfred Dreyfus, born at Mü lhausen in Alsace on Oct. 10, 1859, was the third son of a manufacturer, Raphael Dreyfus (native of Rixheim in the Haut-Rhin), who managed an important spinning-factory at Mü lhausen. He had three brothers (James, Matthew, and Lé on) and three sisters. When France lost Alsace by the treaty of Frankfort, the Dreyfus family, like many others at the same period, divided into two parts. The eldest son, James, remained alone at Mü lhausen to manage the factory the others chose to take up their abode in France, and soon settled in Paris. Alfred entered the Polytechnic School, the training-school of French officers, in 1878. He left there a student-officer of engineers, then passed through the Ecole d' Application at Fontainebleau, and afterward through the garrisons of Le Mans and of Paris, where his reports showed him to be the best lieutenant of his section of field-artillery. Promoted captain (second in command) in 1889, he remained for some months at the School of Pyrotechnics at Bourges the following year he married Lucy Hadamard, daughter of a wealthy diamond-merchant, and passed with success the difficult examination for the Ecole Supé rieure de Guerre, which he entered with the number 67. There he felt his ambition awaken, worked with tremendous ardor, and gained a considerable number of ranks. At the examination on leaving the school (1892) his friends expected to see him rank among the very first, and, consequently, be attached to the general staff. However, one of the members of the jury, General Bonnefond, under the pretext that "Jews were not desired" on the staff, lowered the total of his marks by making a very bad report he did the same thing for another Jewish candidate, Lieut. E. Picard. Informed of this injustice, the two officers lodged a protest with the director of the school, Gen. Lebelin de Dionne, who expressed his regret for what had occurred, but was powerless to take any steps in the matter. Notwithstanding all drawbacks. Dreyfus graduated ninth, a fact which opened the doors of the general staff to him.

Appearance and Character.
From the end of 1892 to September, 1894, Dreyfus went through his "stage" in the Staff Office, receiving excellent reports on all hands, except from Colonel Fabre. From Oct. 1, 1894, he went through a "stage" in a body of troops, the Thirty-ninth Regiment of the line, in Paris. His personal characteristics, little fitting him to command, and his slightly foreign accent, combined to prejudice people against him he had also a rather haughty demeanor, associated little with his military companions, and appeared rather too self-confident. But his comrades and superiors, without being much attached to him, recognized his keen intelligence, his retentive memory, his remarkable capacity for work he was known as a well-informed officer, a daring and vigorous horseman, with decided opinions, which he knew how to set forth skilfully and to uphold under discussion. In short, he was a brilliant and correct soldier, and seemed marked out for a glorious future. Added to all this, he possessed a comfortable private fortune (which brought him an income of $5,000 or $6,000 a year) soundly invested in his brothers' business he was without any expensive vices, if not without failings, and was leading a settled life. It is difficult to imagine what motive could possibly have incited him to the vile traffic of which he was destined to be suspected.

His patriotic sentiments were those of a soldier and an Alsatian emigrant— that is to say, fervent almost to Jingoism. He had also come under the influence of the Boulangist movement, which, for many of his equals, meant revenge on Germany.

Only the most rabid anti-Semitism could have originated the idea that this Alsatian Jingo was a traitor. Even the wording of the bordereau, if read calmly, should have shown the absurdity of this supposition for no artilleryman could have committed such gross blunders in expression. And how could Dreyfus in August or September, 1894, possibly have written, "I am just starting for the maneuvers," since that year none of the "stage" officers went to the maneuvers, having been officially advised by a circular on May 17 not to do so?

Action of Mercier.
Without pausing to consider these conclusive objections, Fabre and D' Aboville hastened to communicate their "discovery" to General Gonse, deputy-chief of the staff, and to Colonel Sandherr, an anti-Semite of long standing, who exclaimed, "I ought to have suspected it!" General de Boisdeffre, informed in his turn, told the story to the secretary of war. General Mercier had held this office since December, 1893. Brought face to face with the bordereau, his main idea was that whatever there was to be done must be done quickly, because, if the affair came to be known before he had taken any steps in the matter, he would be reproached for having shielded a traitor. This fear, and also the unavowed hope of being able to pose, by the capture of the new "Judas," as the savior of his country, decided his plan of action: once started there was no turning back— he was forced to go on to the bitter end. For the sake of appearances, however, he sought the opinion (Oct. 11) of a small council formed of the president of the cabinet (Charles Dupuy), the minister of foreign affairs (Hanotaux), the keeper of the seais (Gué rin), and himself.

The Experts in Handwriting.
The council only authorized him to proceed to a careful inquiry he ordered an examination by an expert in handwriting. The matter was entrusted to Gobert, an expert of the Bank of France, who had been recommended to him some days previously by the keeper of the seals. With great conscientiousness Gobert pointed out the striking differences between the writing of the bordereau and that of the documents which were given to him for comparison, the "personal folio" of Dreyfus, from which his name had been erased but the dates left, so that it was easy to identify him from the army list there were some letters which struck the experienced eye at once, such as the open g (made like a y ) and the double s made in the form fs , features which were to be found only in the bordereau. Gobert concluded (Oct. 13) "that the anonymous letter might be from a person other than the one suspected." This opinion, too discreetly worded, was pronounced "neutral " a second inquiry was called for, and this time a functionary was chosen whose qualifications for the task were doubtful— Alphonse Bertillon, head of the "service de l' identité judiciaire" at the Prefecture of Police, whom Gobert had already entrusted with certain photographic enlargements of the bordereau. This improvised graphologist, to whom the guilt of the suspected man was spoken of as certain, as established by other irrefutable signs, sent in his report the same day. His inference was as follows: "If we set aside the idea of a document forged with the greatest care, it is manifestly evident that the same person has written all the papers given for examination, including the incriminating document." Sheltered by this opinion, Mercier no longer hesitated to order the arrest of Dreyfus, of whose guilt he had been persuaded from the first. The arrest was conducted in a melodramatic fashion, according to the plans of Major Du Paty de Clam, who, as an amateur graphologist, had been initiated from the very beginning in all the details of the affair.

The Arrest.
Dreyfus was ordered to appear before the minister of war on the morning of Oct. 15, in civil clothes, under pretense of an "inspection of the ' stage' officers." He went without suspicion in answer to this summons. Introduced into the bureau of the head of the staff, he found himself in the presence of Du Paty and of three persons, also in civil dress, whom he did not know at all they were Gribelin (the archivist of the Intelligence Office), the "chef de la sû reté ," Cochefert, and the latter's secretary. While awaiting the general, Du Paty, pretending that he had hurt his finger, asked Dreyfus to write from his dictation a letter which he wished to present for signature. The wording of it was most extraordinary it was addressed to an unknown person, and asked him to send back the documents which had been lent to him by the writer before "starting for the maneuvers" then followed the enumeration of these documents, taken word for word from the bordereau. Du Paty had flattered himself that the culprit— and he had no doubt that Dreyfus was the culprit— on hearing this list, which put, so to speak, his crime before his eyes, would burst out with an overwhelming confession a loaded revolver lay on a table to allow him to execute justice upon himself.

Asseverations of Innocence.
Things did not turn out quite as Du Paty had expected. Dreyfus, strange as the missive was, wrote tranquilly on under the major's dictation. There was a moment, however, when Du Paty, who was closely watching him, fancied he saw his hand tremble, and remarked sharply upon it to Dreyfus, who replied, "My fingers are cold." The facsimile of the letter which has since been published shows not the least sign of disturbance of any kind in the writing, hardly even a slight deviation of one line. After having dictated a few more lines, during which, he himself owns, "Dreyfus entirely regained his composure," he ceased the experiment, and placing his hand heavily on the captain's shoulder, he cried with a voice of thunder: "In the name of the law I arrest you you are accused of the crime of high treason!" Dreyfus, in his stupefaction, hardly found articulate words to protest his innocence. He pushed away indignantly the revolver offered to him. He allowed himself to be searched without resistance, saying: "Take my keys, examine everything in my house I am innocent." Du Paty and his associates then held a summary examination without showing him a single document, they were content with assuring him that a "long inquiry" made against him had resulted in "incontestable proofs" which would be communicated to him later on. Then he was given into the hands of Major Henry, who had heard all that had taken place from the next room, and whose mission it was to deliver him over to the military prison of Cherche-Midi. In the cab that took them there, Dreyfus renewed his protestations of innocence, and asserted that he had not even been told what were the documents in question, or to whom he was accused of having given them.

At Cherche-Midi Dreyfus was turned over to the governor of the prison, Major Forzinetti, who had received orders to keep his incarceration a profound secret, even from his chief, General Saussier— an unheard-of measure. Apparently, the minister had still some doubts as to the guilt of Dreyfus, and did not wish to publish his arrest until the inquiry should have furnished some decisive proofs.

The Search for Proofs.
IV. The conduct of the inquiry was entrusted to Major Du Paty de Clam. Immediately after the arrest he went to the house of Madame Dreyfus, told her of it, and ordered her, under the most terrible threats, to keep the matter secret, even from her brothers-in-law. He then devoted himself to a minute search of the rooms, which furnished no incriminating evidence whatever: no suspicious document, not a shred of "papier pelure" (foreign notepaper) was found— nothing but accounts regularly kept and testifying to a mode of life in accordance with the resources of the household. A similar search made in the house of M. Hadamard (Dreyfus' father-in-law) ended in the same failure.

Du Paty repeatedly visited Dreyfus in prison. He made him write standing up, seated, lying down, in gloves— all without obtaining any characteristics identical with those of the bordereau. He showed him loose fragments of a photograph of that document, mixed up with fragments and photographs of Dreyfus' own handwriting. The accused distinguished them with very little trouble. Du Paty questioned him without obtaining any other result than protestations of innocence broken by cries of despair. The suddenness of the catastrophe, and the uncertainty in which he was left as to its cause, reduced the wretched man to such a terrible state of mind that his reason was threatened. For several days he refused to take any food his nights passed like a frightful nightmare. The governor of the prison, Forzinetti, warned the minister of the alarming state of his prisoner, and declared to General de Boisdeffre that he firmly believed he was innocent.

Not until Oct. 29 did Du Paty show the entire text of the bordereau to Dreyfus, and then he made him copy it.

The prisoner protested more forcibly than ever that it was not his writing, and regaining all the clearness of his intellect when faced by a definite accusation, tried to prove to his interlocutor that out of five documents mentioned in the bordereau, three were absolutely unknown to him.

He asked to see the minister: consent was given only on condition that "he start on the road to a confession!" In the mean time writing-experts had proceeded with further examinations. Bertillon, to whom the name of the prisoner had now been revealed, set to work again. To explain at the same time the resemblances and the differences between the writing of Dreyfus and that of the bordereau, he supposed a most intricate system: Dreyfus, he thought, must have imitated or traced his own handwriting, leaving in it enough of its natural character for his correspondent to recognize it, but introducing into it, for greater safety, alterations borrowed from the hands of his brother Matthew and his sister-in-law Alice, in one of whose letters they had discovered the double s made as in the bordereau! This is the hypothesis of "autoforgery," which he complicated later on by a supposed mechanism of "key-words," of "gabarits," of measurements by the "kutsch," of turns and twists.

Renewed Examination by Experts.
Bertillon's provisional report, submitted on Oct. 20, inferred "without any reservation whatever" that Dreyfus was guilty. Mercier, ill-satisfied with this lucubration, had the prefect of police appoint three new experts, Charavay, Pelletier, and Teyssonniè res Bertillon was put at their disposal to furnish them with photographic enlargements.

Pelletier simply studied the bordereau and the documents given for comparison, and concluded that the writing of the bordereau was in no way disguised, and that it was not that of the prisoner.

The two others, influenced by Bertillon, declared themselves, on the contrary, in favor of the theory of identity. Teyssonniè res, an expert of no great repute, spoke of feigned writing. Charavay, a distinguished paleographer, judged the prisoner guilty, unless it was a case of "sosie en é critures"— a most extraordinary resemblance of handwriting. He also spoke of simulation to explain away the palpable differences. On Oct. 31 Du Paty finished his inquiry, and handed in his report, which, while bringing charges against Dreyfus, left it to the minister to decide what further steps should be taken in the matter.

The Parisian Press.
But at this moment General Mercier was no longer free to decide the press had come upon the scene. On Oct. 28 Papillaud, a contributor to the "Libre Parole," received a note signed "Henry"— under which pseudonym he recognized without hesitation the major of that name "Henry" revealed to him the name and address of the arrested officer, adding falsely, "All Israel is astir."

The very next day the "Libre Parole" narrated in carefully veiled words the secret arrest of an individual suspected of espionage. Other newspapers were more precise on Nov. 1 Drumont's special edition announced in huge type the arrest of "the Jewish officer A. Dreyfus" there was, it declared, "absolute proof that he had sold our secrets to Germany" and what was more, he had "made full confession." All this was very awkward for General Mercier he was in a corner. If ever he had had the idea of dropping the case, it was too late now he would have hazarded his position as a minister by doing so. He summoned a council of the ministers, and, without revealing any other charge than that concerning the bordereau, declared that the documents mentioned in the memorandum could only have been procured by Dreyfus. The ministers, most of whom now heard the story for the first time, unanimously decided to institute proceedings. The papers were at once made over to the governor of Paris, who gave the order to investigate (Nov. 3).

No sooner had the name of Dreyfus been pronounced than the military attaché s of Germany and Italy— to whom it was new— began to wonder if by chance he had been in direct correspondence with the War Office of either country. They made inquiries at Berlin and at Rome, and received answers in the negative. In his impatience, Panizzardi had telegraphed in cipher on Nov. 2: "If Captain Dreyfus has had no intercourse with you, it would be to the purpose to let the ambassador publish an official denial, in order to forestall comments by the press." This telegram, written in cipher, and of course copied at the post-office, was sent to the Foreign Office to be deciphered. The first attempt left the last words uncertain they were thus translated: "our secret agent is warned." This version, communicated to Colonel Sandherr, seemed to him a new proof against Dreyfus. But a few days later the real interpretation was discovered, of which Sandherr himself established the accuracy by a decisive verification. From that time it became morally impossible to bring home to Captain Dreyfus any document which would infer that the traitor was in communication with Panizzardi.

Judicial Inquiry.
The judicial inquiry had been entrusted to Major Bexon d' Ormescheville, judge-advocate of the first court martial of the department of the Seine. He failed to discover a single new fact. The comrades of Dreyfus, feeling that things were going against him, remembered, or thought they remembered, that in his past conduct he had shown certain signs of immoderate curiosity, of "strange action." One officer was sure that he had lent him the "manuel de tir" for several days, but that was in July, whereas the bordereau was now believed to have been written in April! An agent named Gué né e, charged by Major Henry with the task of inquiring into the question of his morals, picked up in different bars and café s a collection of tales which represented Dreyfus as a gambler and a libertine, whose family had been obliged several times to pay his debts. But another inquiry by the Prefecture of Police showed the inanity of these allegations: Dreyfus was unknown in gambling-houses, and Gué né e's informants had confused him with one of his numerous Parisian namesakes! The alleged treason was without support without any visible motive without precedent of any kind without psychological or moral probability the accusation rested solely on a scrap of paper which two experts out of five had refused to recognize as having been written by Dreyfus.

Public Opinion.
But public opinion had already condemned him. The press, misinformed, magnified the crime notwithstanding the semi-official notes that reduced it to an unimportant communication of inoffensive documents, it was understood that Dreyfus had delivered up the secret of mobilization, and thereby exposed the system of national defense. All the treachery that had remained untraced, all the arrests of French agents abroad, were laid at his door. People were indignant that the penalty of death for political crimes (and treason was considered as such) had been abolished by the constitution of 1848 even death seemed too light a punishment for such a wretch. The only excuse that they found for him was but a further insult: it was his race which had predisposed him to commit an act of treason, the "fatalité du type."

The yellow press, which let loose its fury against Dreyfus, in the beginning did not spare the minister of war. It was looked upon as a crime that during a fortnight the arrest had been kept a secret, doubtless in the hope of being able to hush up the affair he had been in league with "the Jews," he was still negotiating with them! Mercier was not the man to brave these attacks. In the same manner as the arraignment had been imposed upon him by "La Libre Parole," he understood now that the condemnation of Dreyfus was for him simply a question of political life or death convinced or not, he determined to establish the man's guilt at any cost. On Nov. 28, in defiance of the most elementary usages, he declared in an interview with the "Figaro" that Dreyfus' guilt was "absolutely certain." Then, aware of the defects of D' Ormescheville's "proofs," he ordered that a secret dossier should be prepared by collecting from the drawers of the Intelligence Department whatever documents concerning spies could more or less be ascribed to Dreyfus. This dossier, revised and put into a sealed envelope by Mercier himself, with the cooperation of Boisdeffre and of Sandherr, was to be communicated only to the judges in the room where they held their deliberations, without either the accused or his counsel having been able to take cognizance of it or to inquire into the allegations— a procedure worthy of the Inquisition.

As soon as it had become known that Mercier had decided to go to the bitter end, there was a change in the language of the demagogues regarding him. "He has certainly done something for his country," they said. "One must be for Mercier or for Dreyfus," proclaimed General Riu. And Cassagnac, who, as a personal friend of Dreyfus' lawyer, maintained some doubts as to his guilt, summed up the situation in these words: "If Dreyfus is acquitted, no punishment would be too severe for Mercier!"

The Trial.
Thus stated, the question went beyond the intelligence and the courage of the military judges there could be no doubt about the issue. The report of Major d' Ormescheville, handed in on Dec. 3, was prejudiced and illogical out of a heap of "possibilities" and numberless insinuations, he vainly tried to deduce a proof of some sort. Edgar Demange, whom the Dreyfus family had chosen as their lawyer, accepted this task only on the condition that the perusal of the papers should convince him of the emptiness of the accusation he was convinced. His absorbing idea was to obtain a public hearing he promised on his honor not to raise, in that case, any delicate questions which might lead to a diplomatic contest. The brothers of Dreyfus and certain statesmen made urgent application in the same direction. All was in vain. The private hearing having been decided on in the minister's own mind, as being required by "state policy," he announced this conviction to the president of the court martial such an announcement was equivalent to an order.

The case began on Dec. 19 at Cherche-Midi, and lasted four days. Seven judges, not one of them an artilleryman, composed the court the president was Colonel Maurel. From the start the commissary of the government, Major Brisset, demanded a secret trial. The protests of Demange, who endeavored at least to make it known that the accusation was based on a single document, were overruled by the president, and a secret trial was unanimously agreed to. In the court-room there remained, besides the judges, only the accused and his attorney, the prefect of police Lé pine, and Major Picquart, entrusted with the duty of giving an account of the proceedings to the head of the staff and to the minister. The case dragged along with hardly any incident worthy of remark. The "colorless" voice of Dreyfus, his unsympathetic appearance, his military correctness bordering on stiffness, weakened the effect of his persistent denials. On the other hand, the "moral proofs" would not bear discussion. Du Paty got entangled in his description of the scene of the dictation Bertillon brought forward a revised and much enlarged edition of his report, the supposed defense of Dreyfus being represented in the form of a strange fortress, of which each bastion was an argument on hand writing! The only testimony which produced any impression was that of Major Henry. After his first statement he asked to be recalled. Then, in a loud voice, he declared that long before the arrival of the bordereau an honorable person (meaning Val Carlos) had warned the Intelligence Department that an officer of the ministry, an officer of the second bureau, was betraying his country. "And that traitor, there he is!" With his finger he pointed out Dreyfus. And when the president asked him if the "honorable person" had named Dreyfus, Henry, not drawing back even from a false oath, stretched out his hand toward the crucifix and declared," I swear it!"

The last hearing (Dec. 22) was devoted to the public prosecutor's address and to the pleading of Demange, who strove for three hours to prove that the very contents of the bordereau showed that it could not be the work of Dreyfus. In his reply, Brisset, abandoning the moral proofs, was satisfied with asking the judges to take their "magnifying-glasses." A calm listener, Major Picquart, imagined then that the result was very doubtful unless help came from the secret dossier. This dossier was given up, still sealed, by Major Du Paty (who was ignorant of the exact contents) to Colonel Maurel, and the latter immediately entered the room where the judges were deliberating on the case, and communicated it to his colleagues. The recollections of the military judges being rather vague on the subject, it has not been possible to reconstitute with certainty the substance of the portfolio. It is known, however, that it included at least the document "canaille de D . . ." (a commonplace initial which it was absurd, after Panizzardi's telegram, to attribute to Dreyfus), and a sort of military biography of Dreyfus, based on, but not identical with, a memorandum from Du Paty, who had been told to make the various documents of the secret dossier coincide with one another. This biography represented Dreyfus as a traitor by birth, having commenced his abominable calling on his first entry into the service at the school at Bourges it would appear that he had delivered up to the Germans the secret of the melinite shell!

Among the other papers of the secret dossier may be mentioned the fragments of Schwarzkoppen's note alluding to an informant who pretended to take his knowledge from the ministry, and, according to Commander Freystaetter, the first and false interpretation of Panizzardi's despatch! After judgment had been pronounced the dossier was given back to Mercier, who had it pulled to pieces, and later on destroyed the biographical notice. But, contrary to instructions, Major Henry reconstituted the secret dossier, added to it Du Paty's explanatory note (which last was destroyed by Mercier in 1897), and locked it in the iron chest where Picquart afterward found it. Allusion has been made several times (since 1894) to a second dossier, "ultra-secret," which was composed of photographs of papers stolen from, and then given up to, the German embassy namely, seven letters from Dreyfus, and one said to be from the Emperor of Germany to Count Mü nster, naming Dreyfus. If such a dossier was ever in existence, it certainly contained nothing but a mass of ridiculous forgeries.

The conviction of the judges, already more than half decided by the experts and by Henry, could not withstand this new assault. Dreyfus was unanimously pronounced guilty the sentence was transportation for life to a fortress, preceded by military degradation. Upon hearing this decision, which was communicated to him by the clerk of the court, the unhappy man, who firmly believed that he would be acquitted, stood as if struck by a thunderbolt. Taken back to prison, he was seized with a fit of despair, and begged for a revolver. Forzinetti, who had not lost faith in his innocence, succeeded with great difficulty in calming him. More than that, the heroic and touching letters from his wife made him accept life as a duty he owed to his own family.

V. The appeal of Dreyfus to the military court of revision— a simple formality— was rejected on Dec. 31. The same day the condemned man received a visit from Du Paty de Clam, who had been sent by the minister of war with the mission to declare to Dreyfus that if he would only begin to make a confession, and reveal exactly the nature of his indiscretions, he might obtain a mitigation of his sentence. Dreyfus answered that he had nothing to confess, nothing to reproach himself with, not even the smallest attempt at holding out a bait he only asked that the investigations might be continued so as to discover the real criminal. Du Paty, somewhat moved, said to him on going out: "If you are innocent, you are the greatest martyr of all time." Dreyfus wrote an account of this interview to the minister he finished with these words: "Once I am gone, let them go on searching it is the only favor I ask."

The Degradation.
The military degradation took place on the Champ de Mars on Jan. 5. Dreyfus drank the cup of bitterness to its very dregs. During the parade of "execution" he preserved an attitude wholly military which shocked some of the onlookers. But when General Darras had pronounced the accustomed formula, he cried out in a loud voice: "You are degrading an innocent man! Long live France! Long live the army!" He repeated this cry while the adjutant on duty was tearing off his stripes and breaking his sword, and again while passing before the crowd, which was shrieking that he should be put to death, and before the journalists, who yelled at the new Judas.

If the unanimous verdict of seven judges dissipated the doubts that might have existed among a portion of the public, the reiterated protestations of the condemned man were of a nature to make them spring to life again. The report was then spread about that he had made a confession. While waiting for the parade, locked up with Lebrun Renault, the captain of gendarmerie on service, he was supposed to have said: "The minister knows that I am innocent and that, if I have given up any documents to Germany , it was only to get more important ones in return before three years are over the truth will be known." This tale had its origin in the obscure or unintelligent account which Lebrun Renault had rendered of his conversation with Dreyfus in reality, the latter had merely related his interview with Du Paty and once more protested his innocence. Lebrun Renault himself, in an interview which he granted to some one at a ball at the Moulin Rouge, related, in the words of Dreyfus, the origin of the bordereau, but of confession not a word. However that may be, this idle talk, changing as it passed from lip to lip, greedily welcomed by the newspapers, made the staff uneasy, because it brought into the case the German embassy, which just at this time was showing signs of indignation. In short, General Gonse called on Lebrun Renault and took him successively to General Mercier and to the president of the republic, Casimir-Perier, who severely reprimanded him, and imposed upon him absolute silence for the future.

Germany Concerned.
In the mean time serious complications with Germany were expected. The German government, once assured by Schwarzkoppen and by the War Office at Berlin that Dreyfus was utterly unknown to them, had thought it a matter of honor to protest publicly against the statements in the newspapers which persisted in bringing Germany into the case. Several times after the arrest of Dreyfus semi-official notes of protest had been inserted in the different organs of the press Count Mü nster, the German ambassador, denied to Hanotaux that Germany had taken any part in the affair. These declarations, politely received, left the French government absolutely skeptical, for it knew from a positive source the origin of the bordereau.

Capt. Alfred Dreyfus.
(From the statuette by Caccia.)
A note from the Havas Agency (Nov. 30) put the foreign embassies out of the case but the press continued to incriminate Germany, whereupon, at the beginning of December, Mü nster, by the express order of the German emperor, invited Hanotaux to call at the embassy and repeated his protestations. The report was spread abroad that Germany had demanded and obtained the restoration of the documents which established the traitor's guilt! Provoked by the persistence of these attacks, the German embassy inserted in the "Figaro" of Dec. 26 a fresh notice denying formally that it had had with Dreyfus "the least intercourse, either direct or indirect." And as this notice also seemed to have little or no effect, the emperor telegraphed to Mü nster on Jan. 5 to go personally to Casimir-Perier and say, "If it be proved that the German embassy has never been implicated in the Dreyfus case, I hope the government will not hesitate to declare the fact." Otherwise, it was given to be understood that the ambassador would leave Paris. This despatch, communicated by Mü nster to Dupuy, who was then temporarily engaged at the Foreign Office, had the appearance of an ultimatum. The president of the republic up to this time had known very little of the details of the case, and had been kept by Hanotaux in complete ignorance of Mü nster's previous communications but now he had the contents of the legal documents shown to him. After having read them, he granted to Mü nster the audience which had been requested. Then, considering honesty to be the best policy, he asserted very frankly that the criminal letter had been taken from the German embassy, but that it was not an important document and that nothing proved that it had been "solicited."

Resignation of Casimir-Perier.
After having referred the matter to Berlin, Mü nster consented to the drawing up of a note by the Havas Agency which once more put all the embassies out of the case, and terminated the incident (Jan. 9, 1895). Mercier did not long enjoy his triumph. On Jan. 15, under pretext of a ministerial crisis, in which his friends abandoned him, Casimir-Perier handed in his resignation as president of the republic the mysteries and the unpleasantnesses of the Dreyfus affair had not a little to do with hastening this determination. At the congress called together to elect a new president, printed ballots were passed about in favor of General Mercier one handbill even set him down as the savior of the republic for having had the traitor Dreyfus condemned in spite of all difficulties. He obtained three votes! Ribot, entrusted by the new president (Fé lix Faure) with forming a cabinet, did not appeal to an assistant so compromising as Mercier the office of minister of war was given to General Zurlinden.

Two days later, during the night of Jan. 17, in bitterly cold weather, Dreyfus, dragged from the prison of La Santé , was transferred by rail to La Rochelle, thence to the island of Ré , into a military reformatory. The populace, recognizing him, followed him thirsting for his blood an officer struck him stoical, he forgave his tormentors, whose indignation against such a traitor as he was supposed to be he understood and shared.

At Ré , as at La Santé , he was authorized to receive a few visits from his wife, but the authorities managed, by the most minute precautions, to make them as short and as painful as possible.

A law passed ad hoc had just instituted as the place of transportation for political crimes the Iles du Salut off French Guiana, instead of the peninsula of Ducos (New Caledonia), where, it was said, supervision was difficult it has been suggested that in reality vengeance was being taken upon Dreyfus for his obstinate refusal to confess his crime. The notice drawn up by the War Office for the use of his guardians denounced him as "a hardened malefactor, quite unworthy of pity." This word to the wise was to be only too well understood and carried out. On the evening of Feb. 21 the unhappy man, taken hurriedly from his cell, was embarked on the "Ville de St. Nazaire," which was to carry him across the Atlantic to a place of exile.

Devil's Island.
VI. The Iles du Salut, where Dreyfus was landed on March 15, compose a small archipelago situated twenty-seven miles off Cayenne, opposite the mouth of the River Kuru. Notwithstanding its name ("salus," health) it is a most unhealthy region. Incessant heat, continuous rain for five months of the year, the effluvia arising from the marshy land are sufficient to undermine the strongest constitution. The smallest island of the group, Devil's Island, which had until Dreyfus' arrival been occupied by a leper hospital, was destined to be his abode. On the summit of a desolate rock, far from the few palm-trees on the shore, a small hut of four cubic yards was built for him night and day an inspector stood guard at the door, with strict orders not to address a word to him. In the daytime the prisoner was permitted to exercise until sunset in a small rectangular space of about two hundred yards, near his hut.

Treatment in Prison.
Madame Dreyfus had asked permission to follow her husband to his place of exile the wording of the law seemed to point to it as her right nevertheless, the ministry refused her even this favor, alleging" that the rules to which the condemned man was subject were incompatible with it. Dreyfus had therefore no company except that of his jailers. The governor of the islands, although distrustful, showed at least some humanity but the head warder Lebars, who had received instructions from the minister to enforce harsh measures, went even beyond his orders. Badly fed, especially at the beginning of his term of exile, obliged to do all sorts of dirty work, living by day among vermin and filth, and by night in a state of perpetual hallucination, Dreyfus, as was to be expected, soon fell a prey to fever. The doctor interfered and obtained an amelioration of the rules. Dreyfus himself, clearly convinced that it was his duty to live, fought energetically against the lethargy which forced itself upon him. To keep up his physical strength he compelled himself to take regular exercise to prevent his intellect from getting dulled he had books sent to him which he read and reread, wrote out ré sumé s, learned English, took up his mathematical studies again to employ the long hours of leisure that still remained he kept a diary. He could correspond with only his own family, and even to them might refer only to domestic matters. His letters, examined by the administration, were one long cry for justice. Sometimes he begged his wife to go, leading her children by the hand, to entreat for justice from the president of the republic. He wrote himself to the president, to Du Paty, to General Boisdeffre, without receiving any replies. Little by little the horrible climate did its work. Fever consumed him from never employing it he almost lost the power of speech even his brain wasted away. On May 5, 1896, he wrote in his diary: "I have no longer anything to say everything is alike in its horrible cruelty." His gentleness, his resignation, his exact observance of all rules had not been without making an impression on his jailers several of them believed him innocent no punishment for rebellion against discipline was inflicted on him. Early in Sept., 1896, the false report of his escape was set afloat by an English paper. This rumor was really circulated by Matthew Dreyfus in the hope of shaking up the sluggishness of public opinion and to prepare the way for the pamphlet of Bernard Lazare demanding a fresh hearing of the case of 1894. Although contradicted at once, the rumor roused public opinion. Rochefort and Drumont proclaimed the existence of a syndicate to free him, published some false information about the rules that the condemned man had to obey, affirmed that with a little money it was the easiest thing imaginable to accomplish his rescue. The colonial secretary, André Lebon, took fright. It did not matter that these tales were absolutely without foundation, that the prisoner was of irreproachable conduct to make assurance doubly sure, he cabled instructions to the governor of Guiana to surround the outer boundary of Dreyfus' exercising-ground with a solid fence, and in addition to the sentinel at the door to post one outside. Until this work was finished, the prisoner was to be secured day and night in his hut, and at night, until further orders, he was to be subjected to the penalty of the "double buckle": gyves in which the prisoner's feet were shackled, and which were then firmly fixed to his bedstead, so that he was condemned either to absolute immobility or to dreadful torture. This order, barbarous and, moreover, illegal, was strictly carried out, to the equal astonishment of Dreyfus and of his warders. For twenty-four sultry nights the wretched man was upon the rack for two months he was not allowed to stir out of his disgusting and suffocating hovel. When the cabin was opened once again it was encircled by a wall which hid even the sky behind this wall his exercising-ground, hemmed in by a wooden fence over six feet high, was no more than a sort of narrow passage from which he could no longer see the sea.

The poor victim was now utterly depressed. On Sept. 10, 1896, he stopped keeping his diary, writing that he could not foresee on what day his brain would burst! His family was no longer allowed to send him books. The letters of his wife were forwarded to him no longer in the original hand, but in copies only. On June 6, 1897, a sail having been sighted during the night, alarm-guns were fired, and Dreyfus, startled in his sleep, saw his keepers with loaded rifles ready to shoot him down if he made one suspicious movement. In August the authorities ascertained that the heat and moisture in his stifling hut were really unbearable, and had the man transferred to a new cabin, larger than the first, but quite as dismal. A signal-tower was erected close by mounted with a Hotchkiss gun. Happily for Dreyfus his moral fortitude, after a temporary eclipse, had recovered its strength and from Jan., 1898, the letters of his wife, although containing no particulars, roused his hopes by a tone of confidence which could not be mistaken. Eventful incidents had taken place during those three awful years.

Matthew Dreyfus.
VII. The family of Dreyfus, faithful to the charge he had left them when he went away, had not ceased their efforts to discover the real culprit. Matthew Dreyfus undertook the direction of these researches he worked with an untiring devotion, an affecting zeal, and a fruitful imagination that was not always seconded by sound judgment. The primary elements of a thorough inquiry were lacking the Staff Office, far from seconding his efforts, had him jealously watched intriguers set traps for him he felt that he was spied upon at his first false step the new law of espionage— a very strict and extremely elastic one— would find an excuse for getting him out of the way. As for the politicians whom he tried to interest in his cause, the greater part refused to enter into the question, or, intimidated by the minister of war, gave up the search after the very first investigation. The only threads he had to guide him were some of his brother's notes and a copy of the indictment that had been deposited abroad. He knew, further, from Dr. Gibert of Havre, to whom Fé lix Faure had confided the matter, that Dreyfus had been condemned on the evidence of a secret document, which had not been shown to the counsel for the defense. This information was corroborated by some remarks made by certain of the judges of 1894. One of them spoke of the case to an old lawyer named Salles, who repeated the conversation (on Oct. 29, 1896) to Demange. Before that Hanotaux had confided to Trarieux, and Trarieux to Demange, that the conclusive document contained the initial of Dreyfus' name (meaning the paper "canaille de D . . . "). Matthew Dreyfus started with the idea, plausible but false, that this document really had reference to the author of the bordereau, and that the initial was not fictitious and from that idea arose his persistent search for an officer the initial letter of whose name was "D." He followed up several clues, none of which bore any result. The light was to come from an altogether different quarter.

Colonel Picquart.
Not long after the condemnation of Dreyfus the Intelligence Office had changed its chief. Sandherr, incapacitated by general paralysis, had resigned his post simultaneously with his assistant, Cordier (July 1, 1895) Major Henry, who aspired to the position although he did not speak a single foreign language, was not appointed Sandherr's successor but in his stead Major Picquart, who had been ordered to report the debates in the Dreyfus case in order to send an account of the proceedings to the minister and to the chief of the staff, received the appointment. He was a young and brilliant officer, of Alsatian origin, hard-working, well-informed, with a clear intellect, a ready speech, and who, moreover, appeared to share all the prejudices of his surroundings he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel on April 6, 1896, and was the youngest officer of that grade in the army. Immediately upon his arrival at the office he reorganized the service, which the prolonged illness of Sandherr had caused to be neglected. He required in particular that the paper bags in which Madame Bastian continued to collect the waste papers from the German embassy, and which she brought to Major Henry, should pass through his hands before being confided to Captain Lauth, whose work it was to piece and paste them together. These bags, however, never brought anything of importance to light, though they showed that the leakage of secret information had not ceased since the condemnation of Dreyfus.

The chief of the staff, Boisdeffre, on transferring the service into Picquart's hands, had declared to him that in his opinion the Dreyfus affair was not definitely settled. They must be on the lookout for a counter-attack from the Jews. In 1894 they had not been able to discover a motive for the treason there was therefore every reason for continuing the researches to "strengthen the dossier."

The "Petit Bleu."
In the month of March, 1896, Henry, much occupied by the state of his mother's health and by different matters he had to attend to in the country, made only short and infrequent visits to Paris. One day he sent Madame Bastian's paper bag— particularly bulky on this occasion— to Picquart without even having had time to glance at it. Picquart, likewise without inspecting it, passed it on to Lauth. Some hours afterward the latter came back much affected, bringing to his chief a pneumatic-tube telegram (commonly known as a "petit bleu"), the fragments of which he had found in the bag pasted together, they contained the following words:

To Major Esterhazy, 27 Rue de la Bienfaisance,


Sir : I am awaiting first of all a more detailed explanation [than] that which you gave me the other day on the subject in question. Consequently I beg you to send it to me in writing that I may judge whether I can continue my relations with the firm R. or not. C.

The writing of this note was disguised, but the place it came from left no room for doubting that it emanated from Colonel Schwarzkoppen the office possessed another document, known to have been written by him, and signed with the same initial "C." The "petit bleu" had not been sent by mail apparently, after having written or dictated it, Schwarzkoppen reconsidered his determination and had thrown the note into the waste-paper basket, taking care to tear it up into very small pieces— there were more than fifty of them he had foreseen neither the tricks of Madame Bastian nor the patient industry of the Intelligence Department.

"It is fearful," said Captain Lauth on delivering it. "Can there possibly be another one?"— meaning another traitor among the officers. Picquart could share only the same impression but determined upon avoiding the indiscretions and the blunders which had been committed in 1894, he resolved to undertake personally a secret inquiry before spreading abroad the news of his discovery. He put the "petit bleu" away in his strong-box, and shortly afterward had photographs of it taken by Lauth, in which he strove to remove the traces of the rents.

The object of this precaution, which was afterward laid to Picquart's charge as a crime, was both to render the reading of the photograph more easy and to prevent the officers (necessarily numerous) who would handle these photographs later on, from guessing immediately the origin of the document.

Major Esterhazy.
VIII. Picquart began by getting information about the personality of Major Esterhazy, to whom the "petit bleu" was addressed. To this end he applied to his friend Major Curé , one of Esterhazy's fellow soldiers. The details he gathered through this source were not creditable to Esterhazy.

Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, born in Paris on Dec. 16, 1847, belonged to an illustrious Hungarian family, a branch of which had established itself in France at the end of the seventeenth century, and the head of which had organized there a regiment of hussars. His great-grandmother had an illegitimate son, who was brought up under the name of Walsin, but who, after she had acknowledged him during the Revolution, took the name of Esterhazy and settled as a merchant at Nimes. Two of the sons of this man followed a military career with distinction, and both became generals of division during the Crimean war. One of these two (Ferdinand) was the father of Major Esterhazy. Left an orphan at an early age, after some schooling at the Lycé e Bonaparte in Paris, Ferdinand Esterhazy disappeared in 1865. In 1869 he was found engaged in the Roman legion, in the service of the pope in 1870, in the foreign legion, which his uncle's influence enabled him to enter with the rank of ensign he then assumed the title of count, to which it is claimed he was not entitled. At this time came the war with Germany. There being a dearth of officers after the catastrophe of Sedan, Esterhazy was able to pass muster as a French lieutenant, then as a captain, and went through the campaigns of the Loire and of the Jura. Though set back after peace was declared, he still remained in the army. In 1876 he was employed to translate German at the Intelligence Office then, under various pretexts, at the War Office. He never appeared in his regiment at Beauvais, and for about five years led a life of dissipation in Paris, as a result of which his small fortune was soon squandered. In 1881 he was attached to the expedition sent to Tunis, and did nothing whatever to distinguish himself in it employed later in the Intelligence Department, then in the native affairs of the regency, on his own authority he inserted in the official records a citation of his "exploits in war," the falseness of which was recognized later. Returning to France in 1885, he remained in garrison at Marseilles for a long time. Having come to the end of his resources, he married in 1886 but he soon spent his wife's dowry, and in 1888 she was forced to demand a separation. In 1892, through the influence of General Sa

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Dreyfus Case ("l'Affaire Dreyfus")'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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Dreyfus, Abraham
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