The Mystery Surrounding The Dreyfus Affair Essay

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The Mystery Surrounding The Dreyfus Affair Essay, Research Paper The Mystery Surrounding the Dreyfus Affair by Mitchell Fishbein A.P. European History Mr. Ascuito April 4, 1999 The Dreyfus affair was the result of many unfortunate circumstances, not the planned premeditated intervention of the French Army. It was the outcome of reasonable suspicion, acted on by contempt, some circumstantial evidence, and instinctive prejudice. However, the intentional army coverup, and shady courtroom procedures, were responsible for suppressing important evidence and keeping an important French Army officer incarcerated in hellish conditions. Alfred Dreyfus was born into a wealthy Jewish family on October 9, 1859 in the town of Mulhouse located in the province of Alsace, under French rule.

However the Dreyfus family moved after the Franco-Prussian War in order to remain French citizens. Dreyfus choose a Military Career, and entered the E cole Polytechnique in 1878. As a young officer, Dreyfus was competent and hardworking, although not brilliant or popular. In 1889, Dreyfus attained the rank of artillery captain, and was assigned as a trainee to the general staff. On July 20, 1894, a French officer, Marie Charles Ferdinand Walstin-Esterhazy, offers to sell secret French military files, to the German military attache, Lieutenant Colonel Max von Schwartzkoppen. Esterhazy left a note, or bordereau as it came to be known, for the German attache in his mail box, but it was retrieved by a French agent. It ended up in the hands of Colonel Sandherr, who torn it to pieces,

to make it appear that Lt. Col. Had Schwartzkoppen read the letter and torn it up. The cleaning maid retrieved the evidence. Typically, Lieutenant Colonel Hubert Henry would be in Paris, and this treasonous information would have gone straight to him, but that day he was on leave. Colonel Henry, was a friend of Esterhazy’s, might have recognized the similarity between the two hand writings, but be as it may it was the first of several unfortunate circumstances that, resulted in Dreyfus’s conviction. This was, supposofly, not the first evidence of French treason. Another note was found written by the Italian attache to Paris, Lieutenant Colonel Panizzardi, to Schwartzkoppen. In this letter, Panizzardi referred to an agent by “Scoundrel D.” Officers frantically searched the

files of officers that might have access to some of the highly classified material mentioned in the letter. They quickly came across the name of Alfred Dreyfus. This would be the second unfortunate circumstance. The coincidence that Alfred’s last name started with the letter D. Dreyfus’s writing samples were scrutinized by Major Marquis Du Paty de Clam who was indecisive. Major Marquis, summoned a handwriting expert from the Banque de France, who was equally uncertain. On October 15, 1894, Dreyfus was summoned by Major Du Paty to appear at headquarters, wearing civilian clothes. Major Du Paty dictated from the bordereau, and Dreyfus was order to write it down. Dreyfus did so calmly, except for some shaking due to the coldness of the autumn day. Major Du Paty became infuriated

by his calmness, and believed it was a facade to conceal his guilt. Dreyfus was immediately arrested for treason, by Minister of War General Auguste Mercier. Dreyfus instinctively pronounced his innocence. Later Major Du Paty de Clam offered him a gun to commit suicide, but Dreyfus would not, saying that he would live to prove his innocence and vindicate his honor. The third unfortunate set of circumstance was the fact that Alfred Dreyfus was a Jew, and not a popular officer. At age thirty six Dreyfus was of medium height, with brown hair, and a toneless voice, and distinguished only by his rimless pince-nez eyeglasses. Dreyfus’s lack of friends and odd appearance left him in a vulnerable position. Dreyfus was stiff, cold, and almost unnaturally correct. His demeanor, the