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Alfred Dreyfus and his family /
The support of family and friends /
The family mobilizes

The family mobilizes

Unwavering solidarity

In 1895 and in the years that followed, those with the last name of Dreyfus were given the right to change their names either by adding their given names-hence the appearance of names like Gaston-Dreyfus and Louis-Dreyfus-or changing them altogether-Bickart and Lantz were two examples, and a certain Captain Paul-Émile Dreyfus became Captain Deslaurens. Throughout this time, Alfred's family and that of his wife remained united, even when they failed to get the papers to print "even a line against the slanderous gossip" and when they felt dishonored "for the sole reason that they were of a different religion than the majority of the nation."
Henriette's son was asked to write to his uncle: "He needs all of our affection, and he deserves it above all." Jacques and Léon Dreyfus-mill owners like their brother Mathieu-sought support among Alsatian industrialists, but they also traveled to Paris like their sisters and their brother-in-law Joseph Valabrègue. To Henriette, Joseph described Lucie's faith in her husband's honor, "so complete, so vast that it does us good"; it was in the Valabrègues' house that Alfred would spend his first days of freedom in the fall of 1899.
The family sent letters to Guyana, even after learning the terms of his confinement from Alfred's first letter; he was unable to write to them all: "my brain cannot go on and my despair is too great."

Support after the pardon

After his brother's pardon, which he actively championed due to Alfred's health, Mathieu accompanied his brother from Nantes to Carpentras to their sister's house. Everyone experienced a lull, a pause in the long series of sufferings that had been shared by all (from Dreyfus's diary). The time had faded when, on Devil's Island, the desperate man had feared that his family and friends were not fighting for him strongly enough.
Leon and Mathieu took part in the 1903 meeting that preceded the speech by Jaurès, by means of which the process of rehabilitation really got underway. It is clear, however, that it was Mathieu who remained the closest to Alfred. Early in 1900, Alfred, who was the younger, described the unbreakable ties that bound him to his older brother, bonds that were formed in their adolescence in Paris and, above all, in those five devoted years "the greatness of which no words can describe."