Dreyfus Affair


The two men brought forth grave accusation, Henry said: an
impeachable gentleman of war, warned me there was a traitor
on staff and pointed to Alfred Dreyfus while shouting "he's
right over there."(3) When asked to reveal his source by
Dreyfus's lawyer, the court came to Henry's defense stating
they understood why military men have to kept in secret.
Then General Mercier introduced a man of strange
background, his name was Mercier de Paty de Clam. Clam drew
a fake file on Dreyfus to show him that he was indeed
guilty of treason.
The evidence now, true or false, was enough to send Alfred
Dreyfus to prison for life, he was condemned and degraded
in public. The scene of his conviction was said "it could
make a man sick on sight."(4) His trousers had their
stripes ripped off by the mob, his sword was broken in two
while the mob spat and shouted: "Death to the Jew!" Alfred
Dreyfus was shipped to Devil's Island to suffer the deadly
and harsh conditions, to be tortured on an island from
which he couldn't escape from anyway.
There were still a few minds who believed in Dreyfus's
innocence, such as, his wife and brother; Golgar Demange, a
highly respected devout catholic; and even Captain George
Picquart.(5) George Picquart was one of the main figures in
the unravelling of the Dreyfus affair, he was the officer
asked by his supervisor to look into Dreyfus's motives.
Picquart found many flaws and peculiar things,in his
research and in March 1896 another letter which they called
the "petit bleu," was intercepted by French intelligence.
This puzzled Picquart, an investigation was now to be
ordered on Esterhazv, who's name was found on it.
Esterhazv, a captain of regiment, had been constantly
applying for General Staff Intelligence and he was being
backed by a familiar figure, Major Hubert Henry.
At this time France's state was being questioned, morality
and injustice where the two large issues. The people backed
Henry even if he was lying, because to them it was
patriotic and for the honour of France. No concern was
taken for the injustice which was hurled upon an innocent
man, instead their was talk about a large scale deportation
of all Jews. However, there were non-Jews who were now
questioning the Dreyfus affair of these included men of
power such as government officials. Pressure was being put
on the army to review the case, by George Picquart as well.
Picquart had noticed something very peculiar about the
"Petit bleu" and when he realized it was the hand writing
he immediately called handwriting experts to confirm this,
who did agree with him. He then approached General Gonse
and to a great dismay found that he was being shut out and
told to keep silent about it. But Picquart was of a
different type of man, he wanted justice to be done, so he
went to the papers to be heard. Now this brought on Mathieu
Dreyfus, Alfred's brother, who accused Esterhazy as the
author of the Bordereau. Esterhazy demanded he be
court-martialled and he was along with Picquart, both sent
to prison.
Another person took on the challenge now, on the day of
January 13th a Republic Novelist by the name of Emile Zola
wrote the article "J'accuse,", "I accuse" revealed Paty du
Clam as a forger. He was charged for writing this, fined
3,000 francs, and put in prison. Emile Zola was a strong
believer in the innocence of Alfred Dreyfus but on the
other end of the scale was the new War Minister by the name
of Godefroy Carvaignac believed that Dreyfus was guilty to
the fullest degree. On July 17, 1898, he gave a speech in
the Chamber stating that Dreyfus Affair was finally
finished. He also brought out a document declaring them as
proof of Dreyfus's guilt. The forged document contained
Dreyfus's name written by the attache.
The next changing step in the affair was the appointment of
a young officer to look into the forgery accusations,
Captain Louis Cuignet had to re-examine the file on Dreyfus
in order to be sure that nothing had been forged, but to
the surprise of the one who appointed him, Cavaignei
Cuignet, found some interesting results. After all was said
and done, Alfred Dreyfus was acquitted of his charges with
a full pardon, he also regained his position in the army as
well as Picquart, and Henry commited suicide.
Throughout history there has been many cases of similar
feeling that have caused injustice as a result of the
instances. We have seen it in Modern history and ancient
history with blacks facing cruel and unfair treatment in
South Africa and the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela; the
persecution of and extermination of Jews in the second
World War by Adolf Hitler. These can be paralleled to the
Dreyfus case in question. However, one case of Modern time
that can be considered the closest on a social level, in my
opinion, showing the feeling of a State towards a person,
was the Donald Marshall case. Donald Marshall was an Indian
native in Nova Scotia who was accused of murdering an old
man, like Dreyfus he was presumed guilty from the beginning
due to the anti-Indian mentality. The Dreyfus Affair has
tarnished the face of France's history, and has been
carried through the ages. I believe that it should be a
lesson to mankind on the subject of racism in the world. 

Man has been known to develop emotions and feeling toward
people of another breed, culture or race. They have proved
this through history over and over, and as they say history
repeats itself, it still exists in societies today. There
will always be some injustice in the world that might never
be overcome. The subject to be examined in this essay will
show the injustice and a result of anti-semantic feelings
on France, and it will prove that the Dreyfus Affair was a
result of anti-semitism. 


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