Dreyfus “at Rennes” Vanity Fair antique print published 1899. Original chromolithograph of Alfred Dreyfus sat before his accusers at his trial for treason before the court-martial at Rennes, in France.
The Dreyfus Affair (French: l’affaire Dreyfus,) was a political scandal that divided the Third French Republic from 1894 until its resolution in 1906. The affair is often seen as a modern and universal symbol of injustice, and it remains one of the most notable examples of a complex miscarriage of justice and antisemitism. The major role played by the press and public opinion proved influential in the lasting social conflict.
On January 13, in 1898 French author Emile Zola published J’Accuse, a letter accusing the French government of a cover-up, and antisemitism, in the Alfred Dreyfus case. Dreyfus, a Jew, had been convicted of treason in 1894 for selling military secrets to the Germans and had been sent to Devil’s Island where he spent nearly five years. As a result of Zola’s letter and evidence from the head of counter-espionage accusing another French major of the crime a retrial was ordered in 1899. However, further charges were laid by the prosecution and Dreyfus was again found guilty and sentence to a further ten years imprisonment. Dreyfus was nevertheless pardoned and set free. In 1906, after a long campaign to clear his name, Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army.
He served his country during the whole of the Great War, ending his military service with the rank of lieutenant-colonel.
He was promoted to the rank of Officier de la Légion d’honneur in November 1918. He died on 12th July 1935. His funeral cortège passed the Place de la Concorde through the ranks of troops assembled for the Bastille Day national holiday (14 July 1935). He was interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris.The inscription on his tombstone is in Hebrew and French. Translated to English it reads:
Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Dreyfus
Officer of the Legion of Honour
9 October 1859 – 12 July 1935