Georges Picquart (1854 - 1914)

Georges Picquart



Georges Picquart was appointed head of the French military's Intelligence Office on 22 June 1895, and became a Dreyfusard after having identified Esterhazy as the author of the bordereau. He was born in Strasbourg in Alsace on 6 September 1854.

The son of a tax collector who died in 1865, he was a scholarship student at the Strasbourg lycée. He was admitted to Saint-Cyr, where he entered 184th out of 320 in November 1872, just eight months after his mother had opted for French citizenship, as much for herself as for him.

He graduated 5th in a class of 304, and second out of 25 from the Ecole d'Application. He was made a captain in 1880. He served in the second office at the General Staff Office in 1883, where he was see to be "very capable in his functions, which he fulfills willingly." A "daring and capable horseman" who "rides well and vigorously," "tall [1m 74] and with a good physique," he was noted for his "lively intelligence" and his "very upright character."

A professor of topography at the Ecole Supérieure de Guerre in 1890, he returned to the General Staff Office in October 1893, and succeeded Colonel Sandherr as head of the intelligence section, "one of the most important departments, and the most delicate one of all," according to General de Boisdeffre. When he discovered Esterhazy's guilt in 1896, Picquart denounced him, angering his superiors. Although the head of the General Staff Office confirmed that Picquart was "very enthusiastic, very intelligent and very passionate for his department," he lamented that he "sometimes gets carried away by his passion" and added: "I think that there could be serious disadvantages to leaving him at the head of such an important section, which requires (…) a sounder, calmer and more level-headed judgment."

Sent to Tunisia in January 1897, he was brought before a board of enquiry in 1898; by four votes to one, he was declared "discharged for gross misconduct in the service." A presidential decision ratified this disciplinary measure on 26 February 1898. Struck off the rolls two days later, Picquart's pension was liquidated in the amount of 2,208 francs on 9 June of the same year. Imprisoned for several months, he was sent before the Paris court martial, before the case was removed by the Court of Cassation on 3 March 1899. His reinstatement in the army was made possible only by the law of 13 July 1906, and he joined the ranks as of 10 July 1903.

A major general in September 1906, he became War Minister from 25 October 1906 to June 1909; on 15 June 1907, he told Dreyfus that it would be impossible to reconstitute his career, which led to Dreyfus's retirement, "a victim to the end."

Commander of the 2nd Army Corps at Amiens in February 1910, Picquart died after a fall from a horse on 19 January 1914. At his request, he was given a civilian funeral without flowers, wreaths or speeches. At his request, he was given a civilian funeral on 21 March, without flowers, wreaths or speeches. However, the government organized an official funeral service in Paris on 24 March, in the courtyard of the Gare du Nord.