French Artillery Officer
(October 09, 1859 - July 12, 1935)
Alfred Dreyfus was born into an Alsatian Jewish family in late 1859. The family moved to Paris after the Germans seized Alsace-Lorraine in the Franco-Prussian War. Having watched Prussian soldiers march across his homeland as a youth, he joined the colors as a young man. Dreyfus was a brilliant young officer who quickly rose in the ranks. By the 1890s, he was a captain assigned to the French Army's General Staff headquarters.
In 1894, French counter-intelligence learned that sensitive artillery information had been passed to the German military attache in Paris. Suspicion fell on Dreyfus and he was arrested on charges of treason. In December of that year, the captain was convicted of espionage and sentence to military degradation and life imprisonment on Devil's Island. To the public, it became apparent that the conviction was based on trumped up charges and perjured testimony. The case tore France asunder.
The Dreyfus Affair pitted Dreyfusards against military nationalists, those who wanted to restore freedom to a wrongly convicted man against those who would rather he rot in French Guiana than expose crimes committed by the military in its effort to obtain a conviction. After five years of public pressure Dreyfus was tried a second time in Rennes. The case against him was clearly exposed as fraudulant yet he was convicted a second time. After a passionate campaign by French intellectuals such as Emile Zola, Dreyfus was pardoned by the President in September 1899. In 1906, he was formally exonerated by a military tribunal. He returned to the service and fought in the First World War against the sons and grandsons of the men who invaded his childhood home.
Hermann-Paul was a devoted Dreyfusard who covered the trial in Rennes as an illustrator for Le Figaro, the slightly right of center Parisian daily. His depictions of the trial were clearly sympathetic toward the accused. His final drawing, after the guilty verdict, depicts a gallant profile of the captain with the caption "Innocent."