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Dreyfus: the prisoner of Devil's Island, a full story of the most remarkable military trial and scandal of the age online

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Schwartzkoppen, of the German Embassy, and Major Panizzardi, of the
Italian Embassy, at the French capital, at the time worked together almost
daily, and he quoted a passage from a letter exchanged between them as
follows :

" M. Hanotaux, the sly fellow, is glad at the Embassy's denying. The
Embassy must deny."

In the same document, declared General Eoget, was a name written
twice, and the name, he asserted, was that of Dreyfus. The name of Es-
terhazy, he added, was not found in any of the documents, ntme of which
could be ascribed to him, with the exception of the petit bleu, " which
Colonel Picquart discovered in such an extraordinary manner."

A certain military attache, the general said, later informed Colonel
Sandherr that there was some on'^, who imitated his handwriting perfectly.
The name of Dubois, the witness further said, was found in the correspon-
dence of the military attach^. Dubois, the general explained, was a
" unfortunate " who tried to sell the secret of the smokeless powder used


in the French army. "K," said General Eoget, "no other person can be
found to whom the initial ' D ' can apply, to whom does it then apply ? "

As he made this remark the witness faced about and looked fixedly at
the prisoner, who, however, merely shrugged his shoulders.

"No," continued the general, "the explanations furnished on this point
by M. Trarieux [former Minister of Justice] troubled me somewhat, but
I do not insist."

Here Greneral Roget paused, the excitement under which he was labor-
ing being almost uncontrollable. In a thick, choking voice, he continued :

" And yet in the presence of disinterested testimony like mine, you
will not allow preference to be shown to the evidence of persons who have
benefited by treason."

At this point the general broke down and tears streamed down his

Major Hartmann, a French artillery expert, had exposed before the
Court of Cassation that Dreyfus could not have written the bordereau, be-
cause there were blunders in the terms used, which Dreyfus, also an ex-
pert artillerist, could not possibly have made.

General Roget then repeated the old evidence tending to prove that
Dreyfus alone was aware of the secrets of the new artillery guns, of the
plans for the concentration of troops, and of the contents of the Firing
Manual, He then endeavored to show that Colonel Picquart had recourse
to fraudulent methods, with the intent of incriminating some one other
than Dreyfus, and declared Picquart spent 100,000 francs with the object
of organizing a campaign of surveillance " of an imfortunate officer who
was guiltless." This 100,000 francs, he added, was a reserve accumu-
lated by Colonel Sandherr, by strict economy, from the fvmds at the dis-
posal of the War Office. This reserve had entirely disappeared.

In response to gestures of contradiction from M. Demange, General
Roget admitted the figures quoted were perhaps exaggerated.

The witness next accused Colonel Picquart of suppressing documents
tending to compromise Dreyfus.

As the general was evidently greatly fatigued, Colonel Jouaust sug-
gested that he continue his testimony the following day, August 17th.
The colonel then addressed the prisoner, asking him if he had anything to
say in reply to General Roget.


The prisoner, who, during the time of General Roget's fulmination
agaiQst him, had several times made a movement as if to rise and retort,
but was waved down by Colonel Jouaust, then rose, and, in that voice
which is not agreeable in ordinary times, but, when strangled with emo-
tion as it was that day, had a thrilling effect on his hearers, he cried :

" No, Colonel. It is frightful that, day after day, for hours, I should
thus have my heart, my soul, and my very entrails torn without being
permitted to reply. It is a terrible torture to impose upon an innocent
and loyal soldier. It is a frightful thing ! Frightful ! Frightful ! "

The audience, profoundly stirred, began to applaud, but the applause
was quickly suppressed.

The court then adjourned

As the prisoner passed out in front of the seats assigned to the repre-
sentatives of the press his face was pale but animated. He seemed to be
in a state of great nervous excitement and in a furious temper.

The general impression left by the day's proceedings was unfavorable
to Dreyfus, owing to the absence of such cross-examinations as M. Labori
would have submitted M. Lebon and M. Gu^rin to, and owing to the fact
that General Roget's arguments received no reply.


Chapter XXXII.


The court-martial session of August 17th opened with brighter pros-
pects for the prisoner, as M. Demange, of counsel for the defence, evi-
dently came primed with questions, and subjected General Eoget, who
resumed his deposition on the opening of the court, dealing with the
theft of Esterhazy's letters from Mile. Pays, to a warm cross-examining


General Eoget was unable to conceal his annoyance and anger when
M. Demange scored. The ends of the witness's fingers twitched nervous-
ly, and he frequently turned for consolation toward Generals Billot and
Zurlinden, former Ministers of War, who were seated on the witnesses'
seats behind him. The general also threw glances of savage resentment at
the audience, when, as happened several times, suppressed titters went
round the court-room when M. Demange cornered him.

Finally Eoget became quite red in the face, and answered M. De-
mange in a hollow voice, contrasting strangely with his confident tone of

General Eoget, on resuming hia testimony, criticised the surveillance
established by Colonel Picquart over Lieutenant- Colonel Henry. This
surveillance, he said, lasted several months and included the interception
of letters addressed to Esterhazy. There had also been searches of Henry's
house during his absence.

All these measures, the witness asserted, were carried out without the
authorization of the Minister of War, who was not even informed of them.
Moreover, he asserted, the investigations were carried on at the expense
of the Secret Service Fimd. The witness also objected to Colonel Pic-
quart's methods of watching Mile. Pays.

hx regard to Esterhazy, General Eoget admitted the former was a
gambler and an immoral character. But, he asserted, "while I have


acknowledged his little failings, I nevertheless maintain that he has been
the victim of abominable persecution."

General Eoget next spoke of the arrest at Belfort of Quenelli, a spy,
declaring that Picquart " doctored " the allegations of spying against Que-
nelli, in order to attract to himself the approval of his superiors.

M. Demange asked Colonel Jouaust to request General Eoget to re-
peat the explanations which he had given before the Court of Cassation in
regard to the part played in the affair by Major Du Paty de Clam, where-
upon the witness repeated the tale of Du Paty de Clam's steps to warn
Esterhazy of the campaign said to be organizing against him.

The general said he believed the forged " Speranza " letters were either
written by Du Paty de Clam or instigated by him. Witness said he had
not acted against Du Paty de Clam, because he saw nothing culpable in
what he had done to save Esterhazy.

With reference to the "document liberateur," which was a document
forged in order to secure the release of Esterhazy when he was court-
martialled, General Eoget said he only knew how it reached the Ministry
of War, adding that its disappearance from that ministry was a mystery.
But, he said, doubtless Du Paty de Clam could explain the matter. This

document was the " Cette canaille de D " letter. When, in the autumn

of 1897, the General Staff was using every effort to shield Esterhazy, this
document was secured from the archives and given to Esterhazy by Du
Paty de Clam. Esterhazy made it the subject of a note to the Minister
of War. He said it had been given to him by a veiled lady who had ex-
plained to him that she had stolen it from Picquart, whose friend she had
been. She knew of the plot to ruin Esterhazy, and was overcome with
pity for him. By the scheme of the "document liberateur," Du Paty de
Clam not only desired to implicate Picquart, but also to draw attention to
the " innocent " Esterhazy, who was being " persecuted by the syndicate
of treason." General Billot was completely deceived.

Counsel for the defence here wanted to know how, under such circum-
stances, Du Paty de Clam's intervention in behalf of Esterhazy could be
explained. But the witness could only attribute it to Du Paty de Clam's
"moral conviction of Esterhazy's innocence."

"What I would like to know," said M. Demange," is how an innocent
man like Esterhazy was thought to need this kind of help? " [Laughter.]


"It is certain I should not have done it," said the witness, which
caused renewed laughter.

During the course of his remarks, M. Demange referred to the docu-
ment known as the petit hlett and the erasures in it. The general admitted
the erasures might have been made with the view of giving the document
a suspicious appearance. But, he intimated, Picquart made the erasures
and reinserted the name of Esterhazy after taking the photograph exhib-
ited before the Court of Cassation.

Counsel insisted that the falsification occurred after the petit bleu left
Picquart's hands, and demanded further explanations from the witness.

The general, however, said he was unable to testify as to who falsified
the document, or as to why it was done. But he did not think it was
done with the view of compromising Picquart.

"How was it you knew," counsel asked General Roget, "that 600,000
francs was offered to Esterhazy if he would confess to being the author of
the bordereau? "

"I heard it," the witness replied, "from the Court of Inquiry which
tried Esterhazy, and from Esterhazy himself."

" Ah ! " exclaimed coimsel, " it was Esterhazy who said it. Just so. "

" Why was his residence searched ?" M. Demange then asked, and the
general answered :

" Esterhazy, at one time, had the document containing the words ' Cette
canaille de D ,' and might, therefore, have had others."

"You admit, then," asked M. Demange, "that he might have had
other interesting documents ? "

"When one is conducting an inquiry," said the witness, "one must
expect anything and search accordingly."

"Admitting," counsel then said, "that Esterhazy was the agent of the
Dreyfus family, and that he had agreed to assume, as suggested, the pris-
oner's guilt, how do you explain the fact that Esterhazy upon several
occasions wrote statements calculated to compromise the case of Dreyfus ? "

"With Esterhazy," replied General Roget, "one can never be sure of
anything. [Laughter.] He is such an extraordinary fellow. I do not
know what he may be doing to-day, nor what he will do to-morrow."

These statements of the general convulsed the court with laughter and


seemed to irritate the witness, who was growing nervous under the search-
ing examination of coimsel.

Turning to Dreyfus, General Eoget cried, in a loud voice :
" I know very well that if I was accused of an act of treason which
I had not committed, I should find arguments with which to defend my-

This assertion evoked murmurs, but the general shouted :
" Why does he deny even the most obvious things ? "
M. Demange shrugged his shoulders, and ejaculated, "Ah!"
Dreyfus, however, arose and emphatically denied point blank some
of the general's evidence. He said he never traced on a map any plan of
concentration or mobilization, and never had any knowledge of the details
of these movements, nor of the plan for the distribution of the various
units throughout the departments.

Then came a witness who proved to be a splendid reinforcement for
Dreyfus. It was M. Bertulus, the examining magistrate who received the
late Lieutenant-Colonel Henry's confession of forgery.

In almost inaudible tones, owing to hoarseness, M. Bertulus gave his
testimony, which was a veritable speech for the defence. Coming from a
man of the high legal reputation of M. Bertulus, this evidence raised the
hopes of the Dreyfusards immensely, as it apparently made a deep impres-
sion on the members of the court.

The magistrate had inquired into the charges made against Esterhazy
by his cousin, Christian, and it was expected M. Bertulus would be con-
fronted with General Roget, who so tartly criticised the magistrate at the
last session.

M. Bertulus described how Major Ravary asked his assistance in ex-
amining the secret dossier at the Cherche-Midi Prison, and how, after he
had learned the contents of the documents, he declared to Major Ravary
that there was a flaw in the dossier which would occasion the collapse of
the whole case. Here the witness explained that he meant the petit bleu.
It must be proved, he told the major, that the petit bleu was a forgery,
and was the work of Colonel Picquart, and that as long as that was not
proved the case could not hold.

Continuing, M. Bertulus recapitulated the evidence he had given before
the Court of Cassation, his investigation infeo Du Paty de Clam's connec-











Ex-Minister of War INI. Cavaignac. Ex-1'resident M. Casiinir-P^rier.

Tlie late President,
General de Freycinet. M. F^iix Faure. General Gall if et.


Colonel Henry. M. Deroulfede.

Major Esterliazy.
General Boisdeffre. General Roget.


Herr Schwarzkoppen, Signer Panizzardi,

Attache of the German Embassy.

M. Scheiirer-Kestner,

Ex- Vice President of the Senate.

Colonel Sandherr.

Attache of the Italian Embassy.
General Billot.

Major Du Paty de Clam.


- ^-i^A ^^S^XlGM^'SM'. r'Jff



tion with the " Speranza " and " Blanche " telegrams, and the favorable im-
pression he had acquired of Colonel Picquart's honesty during the course
of the inquiry.

M. Bertulus then related the notable interviews between himself and
Lieutenant-Colonel Henry, on July 18, 1898, shortly before he com-
mitted suicide. This naturally was a painful recital for Madame Henry,
the widow, who was much distressed and wept silently as the dramatic
scene when Bertulus and Henry proceeded to seal up the seized papers
was depicted. The magistrate repeated the whole story with emphasis,
and it had a great effect upon the audience.

After recapitulating his other evidence before the Court of Cassation,
M. Bertulus energetically affirmed his belief in the innocence of Dreyfus.
He declared the bordereau was in three pieces, and not in little bits. He
also said that it did not reach the War Office by the ordinary channels.

M. Bertulus said his belief in the innocence of Dreyfus was also based
on documents in the secret dossier which he had seen. But what, above
all, perturbed the witness was the entire absence of a motive which could
have tempted Dreyfus to commit such a crime. "Without motive," em-
phatically declared the experienced magistrate, " there was no crime. "

This testimony created a profound impression upon his hearers.

"You have been told," said the magistrate, "that Dreyfus is guilty.
For myself, I believe, and believe profoundly, in his innocence. If I
come here to tell you so, you will imderstand that it is because my con-
science tells me that in so doing I am performing a duty, an absolute
duty. The Court of Cassation has declared the bordereau to be the work
of Esterhazy. Now, the Court of Cassation is the supreme authority in
all matters of justice in France ! "

Madame Henry then ascended the platform, and, standing besides M.
Bertulus, she said :

"On July 18th, the day my husband called on M. Bertulus, the colo-
nel, in the course of a conversation that evening, told me he had a friendly
and charming reception. He described how the magistrate advanced to
meet him and held out his arms. I said to my husband: 'Are you sure
of this man? Are you sure he is sincere? I am very much afraid that
his kiss was the kiss of a Judas.'"

There was a great sensation in court at this statement.


"I was not wrong," she continued, amid the breathless interest of the
court; "this man is indeed the Judas I imagined."

Referring to the papers which arrived at the same time as the bor-
dereau, Madame Henrj- said :

"These papers were not all torn in a thousand pieces. I was able to
note that personally. Letters often came entire. M. Bertulus has main-
tained that everything arrived in pieces. That is false."

M. Bertulus said he did not desire to reply to Madame Henry,
adding :

"She is only a woman."

"I am not a woman," exclaimed Madame Henry, furiously; "I speak
in the name of my husband."

" How shall I reply to madame ? " asked M. Bertulus. " She is defend-
ing the name of a dead man and that of her child."

The magistrate then handed the court a letter which he had received
the day before, warning him that it was the intention of Madame Henry
to create this scene and call M. Bertulus a Judas.

After gazing steadfastly at M. Bertulus, who was greatly moved,
Madame Henry descended from the platform and took a seat beside Gen-
eral Zurlinden, and M. Bertulus forthwith left the court.

Colonel Picquart was then called to the witness stand. He protested
most formally against all suspicion of having caused the disappearance of
any document relating to Dreyfus. Documents, he added, had disap-
peared, but he was not connected with their disappearance. He also re-
pelled with scorn the assertion that he had endeavored to put another
officer in the place of the real author of the bordereau.

"It is true," the witness continued, "that the name of Captain Dorval
being mentioned to me as a dangerous man, I had him watched ; and do
3'^ou know, gentlemen, by whom Dorval was denounced? By his own
cousin," continued Picquart, "Major Du Paty de Clam."

Colonel Picquart then next proceeded to reply to the various attacks
made upon him. "These tactics," he said, "are evidently pursued with
the object of lessening the value of my testimony."

The colonel next outlined his connection with Dreyfus at the Military
College, and afterward at the Ministry of War, where, owing to the Anti-
Semite prejudices of the General Staff, he first appointed Dreyfus to a


department where probationers had no direct cognizance of secret docu-

He then described the consternation in the War Ofi&ce when the trea-
son was discovered, and the relief experienced when it was thought the
guilty person had been discovered. It was then the witness discovered
the similarity between the handwriting of Dreyfus and that of the bor-
dereau, and he had recourse to Du Paty de Clam, "who was supposed to
have geographical knowledge." [Laughter.]

Then the witness described what he characterized as the "irregular
steps " taken by General Mercier to accomplish the arrest of Dreyfus.

Eeferring to the dictation test, the witness earnestly and emphatically
affirmed that he saw no signs of perturbation in the handwriting of Drey-
fus on that occasion, and, moreover, shortly afterward Du Paty de Clam
admitted he had not found a fresh charge against Dreyfus.

"Beyond the bordereau," added the witness, "there was nothing against
Dreyfus — absolutely nothing. "

The colonel next declared that in 1894 he did not know the contents
of the secret dossier. But he believed, like all other officers, that it con-
tained frightful proofs against the prisoner. But when he became ac-
quainted with its contents he found that his earlier impressions were en-
tirely wrong.

The witness also declared he was quite ignorant of the confessions
Dreyfus is alleged to have made to Captain Lebrun-Kenault.

Next the colonel examined the bordereau and declared Dreyfus could
not have disclosed part of it.

Regarding the Madagascar note, the witness disputed its value, and
said he did not believe it was a confidential note. He added that if
Dreyfus, in his capacity of a probationer, had asked the witness for the
note, he would have handed it to him immediately. Therefore, he [Pic-
quart] was unable to understand the sentence in the bordereau reading :
"This document was very difficult to obtain."

Colonel Picquart declared he had never seen Dreyfus copy the small-
est document in the War Office. In the opinion of the witness the de-
partment where the bordereau was discovered ought to have been searched
when the discovery was made. This, he explained, was the department
in which Du Paty de Clam worked, and that was the department which


was working on the plan of the concentration of the troops and the Mada-
gascar expedition. He added :

" It was in Major Du Paty de Clam's department that the search
should have been made, or rather in his private room, where he worked
quite alone." [Sensation.]

Du Paty de Clam, continued the witness, had been guilty of grave im-
prudence in having, contrary to the regulations, had confidential docu-
ments copied by simple secretaries, non-commissioned officers, and even
private soldiers, whereas the custom was that such work was done solely
by officers.

Later on the witness said he wondered if it was not to avoid the risk
of punishment that Du Paty de Clam advanced the date of the reception
of the bordereau at the Intelligence Department, so as to make it prior to
the date of his, Du Paty de Clam's, arrival in the Third Department.


Chapter XXXIII.


When the trial of Captain Dreyfus was resumed on August 18th,
Colonel Picquart continued his deposition, which was interrupted the
preceding day by the adjournment of the court. The colonel gave his
testimony in the same loud, fearless tone of voice. He commenced by
declaring that he thought it necessary immediately to reply to General
Roget's veritable arraignment of him while the latter was on the stand.

Picquart then proceeded to discuss the secret dossier as being the
mainspring of the condemnation of Dreyfus.

The colonel practically occupied the whole of the sitting with a mas-
terful presentation of his side of the case. He spoke for five hours, and
his voice at the end of that time began to show signs of fatigue.

His testimony was followed with the closest attention by the members
of the court-martial and by the audience, and during the brief suspension
of the court Generals Mercier, Eoget, Billot, and De Boisdeffre, and other
witnesses sauntered together up and down the courtyard of the Lycee or
gathered in little groups, animatedly discussing Picquart's evidence, which,
although it contained but few facts, was so cleverly placed before the
tribunal and was spoken so effectively that it could not fail to repeat the
impression he had made the day before.

Dreyfus naturally drank in all the witness's words, which came as a
balm to the wounds inflicted upon him by Generals Mercier and Roget;
and the prisoner frequently and closely scanned the faces of the judges, as
though seeking to read their thoughts.

Before resuming his deposition. Colonel Picquart said :

" For the moment I shall confine myself to the following explanation :
The Quenelli case occurred between May 30 and July 17, 1896, at
which period, on account of a family bereavement, I was able to pay very
little attention to my official duties. In my absence, Colonel Henry acted


for me. Moreover, I devoted most of the month of July to a journey of
the Headquarters' Staff, which also prevented me from attending to my
ordinary duties. I was, therefore, able to give only very intermittent at-
tention to the Quenelli case. Besides this, Quenelli was a returned con-
vict, who had contravened a decree of expulsion and had been caught red-
handed in another criminal act. He was, at first sight, a not particularly

Online LibraryW. (William) HardingDreyfus: the prisoner of Devil's Island, a full story of the most remarkable military trial and scandal of the age → online text (page 13 of 35)