The entire secret military file that was used to wrongly convict Jewish soldier Captain Alfred Dreyfus of spying for Germany in 1894 has been posted online by the historical department of the French Ministry of Defense, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The voluminous files on the case were archived in 1906, but they had never before been published in their entirety. They have now been scanned, transcribed and made accessible to the general public without cost on the Internet. The dossier was never given to Captain Dreyfus or to his lawyer.
The files contain more than 470 documents, and another 84 folders and envelopes, some of which have annotations.
The Dreyfus trial in 1894 (Photo: Gettyimages)
According to the historical service, the documents include items like investigative notes, witness statements, letters, documents stolen from foreign embassies, reports about some important figures, and information about “homosexual liaisons between certain actors in the affair.”
Even when new evidence emerged in 1896 pointing toward the guilt of another officer, military leaders who were eager to protect the army’s reputation suppressed the evidence and concocted forged materials to convict Captain Dreyfus again.
A letter from the collection
The case was widely denounced as a miscarriage of justice, most notably in “J’accuse,” an open letter by Émile Zola published on the front page of the newspaper L’Aurore in 1898.
Captain Dreyfus received an honorable discharge after his exoneration. He volunteered to serve again in the French army at the beginning of World War I, and finished the war as a lieutenant colonel of artillery.
Among the dozens of foreign correspondents covering the Dreyfus trial, which featured strong themes of anti-Semitism, was Theodor Herzl, who was then a reporter for the Vienna New Free Press.
Two years after founding the Zionist Organization, now called the World Zionist Organization, Herzl wrote in 1899 that the Dreyfus case was what made him a Zionist.
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