On October 15, 1894, Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish artillery captain attached to the French General Staff, was arrested on charges of having betrayed his country by selling military secrets to the Germans. He was convicted of treason by military court-martial and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island, but over the next 12 years a small group of human rights supporters was able to clear him and identify the real traitor, and Dreyfus was pardoned. The most sensational case in French history, it pitted national security interests against individual rights, exposed the anti-Semitism that permeated France, and influenced the course of Europe as it rumbled toward the first of two world wars. This work provides the first comprehensive examination of this incident for students, including a narrative historical overview, essays on major aspects of the event, lengthy biographical profiles of the key players, the text of important primary documents contemporary to the time, a timeline of the event and list of French Presidents and Ministers of War during the Affair, a glossary of terms, and a bibliography of print and electronic sources and films suitable for students. This is an ideal resource for student use.
Leslie Derfler, the foremost American authority on the Dreyfus Affair, puts the Affair in historical and social context for the reader. In addition to an historical overview, other essays examine the French political context before Dreyfus, the issue of anti-Semitism in the Affair, the Socialists' position, and how historical perceptions of the Dreyfus Affair have shifted over the last hundred years. Lengthy biographies of key players enrich the reader's understanding of the role of the protagonists and antagonists in the Affair. A wide range of primary source documents, from Alfred Dreyfus's diary descriptions of the torment he suffered on Devil's Island to Emile Zola's famous J'accuse! letter accusing the Army high command and the French government of conspiring to hide the truth and protect the guilty party, bring to life the emotional content of the Affair. A selection of rare photographs and newspaper illustrations and cartoons provides a valuable visual component.