You are here :
Home /
The aftermath of the Affair /
From eyewitnesses to historians /
Lieutenant colonel Alfred Dreyfus

Lieutenant colonel Alfred Dreyfus

A soldier in the Great War

When it came to George Picquart's reinstatement, the Chamber of Deputies had voted to give him the rank of brigadier general, and counted the period of his discharge as time served. This was quite different from the fate of squadron leader Dreyfus-his years of deportation and legal struggles were not at all taken into account. The impossibility of his achieving the rank of general officer led Alfred Dreyfus to request retirement in 1907. Since he had not spent two years as squadron leader, he received a captain's pension, but resumed his military career during World War I. At the staff office of the retrenched Paris camp, and later in the artillery depot of the 168th division, Dreyfus thought of himself as an officer like any other. His appointment as lieutenant colonel in the reserves was followed by a promotion to the rank of Officer in the Legion of Honor in July 1919, following a letter to President Clemenceau. However, in the early 1930s, he was denied a veteran's card for not having spent enough time in the front lines. Although four of his nephews gave their lives for France during the Great War, up until Dreyfus's death-and no doubt even after-the Army did not consider him cleared of the Affair.

A servant in the cause of humanity

"The iniquity that I suffered so intently shall have served the cause of humanity, and shall have developed feelings of social solidarity." This belief soothed Dreyfus's retirement. Nevertheless, he was no doubt surprised in 1908 when a jury acquitted Louis Grégori, a journalist who had shot at him during the transfer of Zola's remains to the Pantheon. Yet to his daughter Jeanne, he never seemed embittered, and he never told his grandchildren about his deportation; he wanted to be a man at peace.

He and his wife lived a bourgeois existence in the Rue de Logelbach, aided by two servants. One of these would later state that Dreyfus was quiet and kind, and that his wife would pay the servants' wages even when they were sick-at a time when social security did not exist. Shortly after the Paris City Council renamed the road that crossed his street after his old adversary Henri Rochefort, Dreyfus moved to a building in the Rue des Renaudes. This was where he died on 12 July 1935. On the 14th, he was buried in a modest grave in the Montparnasse cemetery. His name is inscribed at the top of the slab, leaving room for the names of his wife and those of his two children, who would join him between 1945 and 1981. Beneath a "Here Lies" written in Hebrew, three simple lines state:

9 OCTOBER 1859 - 12 JULY 1935


Commander Dreyfus circa 1917

Tomb of the family of Alfred Dreyfus

"The 20th of July 1906 was a wonderful day of redress…"