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The captain's affair

The captain's affair

A new request for an investigation

After spending several months with friends in Switzerland, Alfred Dreyfus returned to Paris, where he was spared neither death threats nor persistent rumors about damning pieces of evidence, such as the so-called bordereau with annotations written by the German emperor. On 26 December 1900, on the eve of the promulgation of the amnesty law, Dreyfus wrote to Waldeck-Rousseau: "I retain the right of any man, which is to defend his honor and to make the truth be heard. I have the right, therefore, Mr. President, to ask you for an investigation, and I have the honor of seeking it." The government took no action because, in the words of President Méline of 4 December 1897 - " 'There is not now and there cannot be a Dreyfus Affair' has quite clearly become, on 22 May 1900, 'There is no longer a Dreyfus Affair' ."

As Charles Péguy remarked in 1910, "between the Dreyfus Affair itself and the second Dreyfus Affair, there was a long dead calm, a silence, a complete solitude. All this time, we did not know if the affair would start up again, ever." The captain stubbornly proclaimed that his innocence was absolute: "I will pursue until my last breath the legal acknowledgement of this innocence through review." While the nationalists won a number of mayoral elections in the spring of 1900, the DreyfusardsDreyfusards and Dreyfusists
The generic term "Dreyfusards" was used to describe those who supported the review of the 1894 Dreyfus trial; this included those who defended the concept of a fair trial and critics of the way that military institutions were run. Young intellectuals, Jews, anti-clerics, radicals and socialists opposed anti-Dreyfusards who, often unconditionally, supported the Army, respect for authority and the Nation. After the pardon, those won continued to support the Captain in his quest for rehabilitation were distinguished from those who felt that, by agreeing to withdraw his appeal in exchange for being pardoned after his second conviction, Alfred Dreyfus had ceased to be the symbol of the innocent man unjustly persecuted.
split based on their positions on the pardon and the amnesty. With regret, Alfred Dreyfus broke completely with Colonel Picquart and Fernand Labori. As the Dreyfusard historian Gabriel Monod observed, "the ranks of the little army of militants thinned; the cohesion of its leadership and its leanings continued to weaken." Refusing the idea of a committee that did not include his brother Mathieu, Alfred Dreyfus stated that he took complete responsibility for the decisions that had to be made.

The desire for an act of Justice

"Although the pardon that followed my conviction could have been an act of humanity, what I need is an act of justice." This reflection, written in one of his notebooks, is similar to the spirit in which Dreyfus wrote Five Years of My Life, the story of the five years between his arrest and his departure from Rennes. Dedicated to his children, the book was published on 1 May 1901, but did nothing to change the author's legal status. On 11 June, Henri Mornard advised him not to submit his case to the Court of Cassation using a sworn statement made by Esterhazy before the French Consul in London, even though in it Esterhazy confessed to having written the bordereau. A year later, Mornard's displayed the same hesitation when his client submitted seven pieces of evidence to him; in Mornard's view, only the annotated bordereau had a decisive value, but he remarked that "at present, we do not have decisive proof." Vincent Duclert noted "the silence of public opinion, the indifference of those in power, the weakness of the dossier and the persistence of the ethical effects of iniquity"; nevertheless, the victory of the left created the hope that the question could be re-launched in Parliament. Dreyfus was pleased at the appearance of the second volume of History of the Dreyfus Affair, even though he found Joseph Reinach "too lenient for those adversaries devoid of all good faith and any scruples." Mornard gave him an additional reason to hope: the recent retort by Councilor Bard, who said that staying with the solution of the pardon "would be a failure of Justice."


Citizen Dreyfus

Five Years of My Life with a dedication to Jaurès