The Mystery Surrounding the Dreyfus Affair

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,…

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