Armand Mercier du Paty de Clam (1853 - 1916)

Du Paty de Clam



The main accuser of Captain Dreyfus in 1894-and an unremitting anti-Dreyfusard-Armand Mercier du Paty de Clam was born in Paris on 21 February 1853.

He attended Saint-Cyr in 1870, and was promoted to lieutenant in 1874 and captain in 1877. He was assigned to the first bureau at the General Staff Office in 1879, then to the third in 1887, where he was made a major in 1890. Entrusted with the preliminary investigation after the discovery of the bordereau, he became convinced of Dreyfus's guilt through dictations that analyzed as an amateur graphologist, and after six questionings. His report would guide the enquiry of Major d'Ormescheville to such an extent that, in 1913, the Radical deputy Maurice Violette would speak of his "particularly deplorable role (…) He was, unquestionable, the criminal craftsman of a detestable work."

Involved in the transmission of the secret dossier to the first court martial, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in March 1897. However, as the co-author of two forged telegrams designed to compromise Picquart, his career was destroyed after the suicide of his accomplice Henry. Made "inactive through deprivation of office" on 12 September 1898, he was retired as a matter of course on 26 February 1901. In March 1904, the Court of Cassation compelled him to turn over to the proceedings his comments on the secret documents given to the judges in 1894.

The one who Dreyfus called "a grim deceiver" then filed suit for slander against the War Ministry with respect to the comments on his service record. In return for withdrawing his suit, he was reintegrated into the territorial army as a lieutenant colonel on 6 January 1913.

The War Minister Millerand was forced to resign after having authorized this, and Jaurès denounced du Paty de Clam pretensions of making "insidious and vile slanderers (…) out of those who had exposed him." Nevertheless, La Petite République stated "in a time of danger, a guilty man should not be deprived of the right to redeem his faults." He was suspended from his new position by presidential decision on 13 February 1913. At the outbreak of the First World War, in August 1914, he requested a post at his rank "as close to the front as possible." Twice wounded, he was made an officer in the Legion of Honor on 23 November 1914, and transferred to the territorial army to head up a training center. As a major at the Epinal garrison, he was deemed "unfit for any service" in October 1915. He died in Versailles on 3 September 1916, and the inscription on his death certificate notes that he "died for France."

When one of his children became General Commissioner for Jewish Questions in February 1944, Le Cri du Peuple noted that he was "the son of a soldier who, during the Dreyfus Affair, only followed orders and his conscience [and who] had to endure the hatred and vengeance [of the Jews]." Due to his "strange passive serenity" in his role as the head of the CGQJ until 17 May 1944, charges against the son of du Paty were dropped at the High Court of Justice on 19 June 1947.