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Commander Alfred Dreyfus

Commander Alfred Dreyfus

A reinstatement with limited effect

Eleven and a half years passed between Captain Dreyfus's demotion and his appointment as a squadron leader. After more than four years in a Guyana prison colony, citizen Dreyfus, pardoned but not cleared, would fight for nearly seven years more to reclaim his honor and to be reintegrated into the ranks of his beloved Army. Between his arrest and his appointment as squadron leader under the terms of a law voted by the Chamber of Deputies on 13 July 1906, 4,276 days passed. The years that Dreyfus spent in detention would not be counted, which dashed any hope that he would achieve the rank of general.
Dreyfus was appointed artillery commander for the district of Saint-Denis on 15 October 1906, and made several attempts to rectify this by approaching Council President Clemenceau and the War Minister General Picquart. However, both men-who had not admitted the real strategy of the presidential pardon-thought that they could not go back on a vote that was already several months old.

A career destroyed by "tragic error"

Having lost the hope that he would become a general, Alfred Dreyfus requested retirement on 26 June 1907. On 4 October 1907, "a victim to the end," Dreyfus noted that he drew comfort "in thinking that the iniquity that [he had] so intensely suffered will have served the cause of humanity and developed feelings of social solidarity." A decree on 25 October 1907 made him eligible for a pension: for 30 years, 10 months and 124 days of service, he was granted an annual sum of 2,350 francs.

Called up at the beginning of World War I on 2 August 1914, he wrote to his friend the marquise Arconati-Visconti: "And now take heart! Germany deserves a good clean-up." He served in the artillery staff office of the entrenched camp in Paris, and then in the artillery depot of the 168th division. Commander Dreyfus was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the reserves in the fall of 1918, and was made an officer in the Legion of Honor by Clemenceau in July of 1919. Racist descriptions of his facial features faded away-his nose was described as long in 1882, and by 1894 it had become hooked. In his service records from 1906 and 1922, however, it became long again, and then average! A retired artillery officer "who had been kept from his path in life by a tragic error," Alfred Dreyfus died at his Paris home on 12 July 1935, "without ever having become embittered," according to his daughter Jeanne. He was buried at the Montparnasse Cemetery on Sunday, 14 July 1935.


Dreyfus on 21 July 1906

Group of officers during World War I. Dreyfus stands at the upper left.