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Alfred Dreyfus and his family
Lucie, the unwavering spouse
A mother in turbulent times
Lucie Hadamard grew up in Chatou, the daughter of a wealthy diamond dealer and his wife Louise. On 21 April 1890, at the age of 21, she married Alfred Dreyfus and gave birth to two children: Pierre, who was born on 5 April 1891 and Jeanne, born on 22 February 1893. After her husband was arrested on 15 October 1894, she endured a search of her house, telling no one but her mother. On 1 November, having been given permission by the Army, she told Alfred's brother Mathieu Dreyfus. Though she left her husband's defense strategy in her brother-in-law's hands, she became a "devoted and heroic companion" to the captain.
She visited her husband in various Parisian prisons starting on 2 January 1895, then on the Ile de Ré on 14, 15 and 21 February of that year, and then in the military prison at Rennes upon his return from exile. During his deportation, her long and frequent letters provided Alfred with powerful moral support; they brought comfort to him, as did the knowledge that his children were kept from knowing about what had happened.
Even though they were censured and sometimes delivered in the form of copies, the couple's correspondence were, in the words of Vincent Duclert, "an element for surviving imprisonment and injustice, a final link with civilization and loved ones." Lucie also made sure that her husband was supplied with food, books and reviews. She listened to the innocent man's cries, and took the steps that he recommended.
He wanted her to act so that he could be "given the key to this horrible mystery: nothing in our tragic situation will change as long as the sentencing is not reviewed. Think, therefore, and act in order to solve this enigma." Lucie was waiting in Rennes when her "darling Fred" arrived on 1 July 1899; beginning the following day, she visited him daily and was present at the entire trial before returning to Paris after the second conviction "so pale, so courageous, and so gently sad."
A commendable citizen
In 1895, Lucie Dreyfus, who had taken refuge at her parents' home in Paris, gave up on the idea of traveling to Guyana and moved to Vésinet. As her husband's legal guardian, she obliged to represent him legally. She was involved at every step that led to the first annulment. On 18 September 1896, she signed a petition to the Chamber of Deputies that denounced "the negation of any sort of justice" represented by the conviction "on a charge that the prosecution produced unbeknownst to him, and which thereafter could not be discussed either with him or with his lawyer." Although she symbolized the committed woman, the bourgeois patriarchy ensured that she was confined to a side role; "her courage and dignity" were admired, which were recalled with "a pity that was tantamount to admiration."
It was only during World War I that Lucie was able to develop her personal charitable activity, and she was awarded a State nursing diploma in 1933. It was therefore without any hesitation that, from 1894 to 1899, she allowed her brother-in-law Mathieu to lead the campaigns to clear her husband's name.
Lucie Dreyfus arrives in Rennes