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Alfred Dreyfus (Mulhouse, Alsace, October 9, 1859 – Paris, Isle of France, July 12, 1935) was a French military man known for the Dreyfus Case.
He was born in a wealthy family of Jewish origin dedicated to the manufacture of textiles, which left Alsace when this region was annexed by Germany after the Franco-Prussian War (1871). In 1872 he opted for French citizenship and decided to pursue a military career, with the desire to see Alsace reintegrated in France.
In 1882 he entered the École polytechnique, determined to undertake a military career, reaching the rank of artillery officer. He ascended to captain in 1889; in 1890 he entered the War College and in 1893 in the Army General Staff in the French Ministry of War, at which time false accusations of espionage arose against him -the famous Dreyfus Case-, which kept him away from the Army and imprisoned in the Isla del Diablo, located 11 km off the coast of French Guiana (South America), for the crime of high treason. The island was an inhospitable prison, of a tropical climate hardly tolerable. In 1906 he was exonerated and reinstated in the Army with full honors, retiring with the rank of commander.
In 1914, as a lieutenant colonel, he took command of a resupply unit in the course of the First World War. After peace, he returned to retirement until his death in 1935, at 75 years of age.
The Dreyfus case and anti-Semitism
The Dreyfus case had as its origin a judicial error, on a background of espionage and anti-Semitism, in which the victim was Captain Alfred Dreyfus, of Jewish-Alsatian origin, and who for 12 years, from 1894 to 1906 , shocked the French society of the time, marking a milestone in the history of anti-Semitism.
The revelation of the scandal in I accuse (J’accuse), an article by Émile Zola in 1898, provoked a succession of unprecedented political and social crises in France that, at the time of its apogee in 1899, revealed deep fractures that underlay the Third French Republic. He deeply and durably divided the French into two opposing camps, the dreyfusards (supporters of Dreyfus) and the antidreyfusards (opponents of Dreyfus). It also revealed the existence in French society of a core of violent nationalism and anti-Semitism spread by a highly influential press. The case became a modern and universal symbol of iniquity in the name of reason of State.
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