W. (William) Harding.

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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necessity of giving him the scheme, and that, in any case, he had better
apply to his own chief, Major Bertin. Dreyfus pretended Bertin would
not impart any information. Day after day he pestered me, so that finally,
having no reason to distrust him, I began giving him explanations.
Dreyfus displayed the keenest interest and took copious notes. "When
later his house was searched these notes were not discoverable. I do not
know what became of them. But it is difficult to believe they were de-
stroyed, considering the importance he seemed to attach to the information
and the persistence shown in procuring it."

After making the above declaration, which he apparently considered to
be weighty evidence of the treachery of Dreyfus, Major Cuignet proceeded
to recoimt in detail the task assigned to him in May, 1898, of classifying
the documents in the Dreyfus, Esterhazy, and Picquart cases. He then said :

"My conviction of the guHt of Dreyfus is based on three grounds:
First, his confession to Captain Lebrun-Eenault ; second, the technical
nature of the contents of the bordereau ; third, the results of the examina-
tion of the secret dossier.

" I will add to these three points the evidence of the expert Bertillon,
[laughter] and, as indirect proof, the means employed by the Dreyfus
family to secure the prisoner's rehabilitation. I protest that a campaign
has been undertaken against justice, truth, and our country."

The major's outburst of heroics evoked cynical smiles and indications
of dissent, coupled with marks of assent from the assembled generals.

Regarding the confessions said to have been made to Captain Lebrun-
Renault, witness said he still believed they were authentic, adding :

" If people do not believe the confessions to Captain Lebrun-Renault,

they will believe no human testimony."
12



178 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

Continuing, the witness reasserted that the bordereau was written by
Dreyfus at the end of August, and, incidentally, the major protested
against Colonel Picquart's insinuations against Du Paty de Clam. He
next returned to the secret dossier of the War Office, from which, he de-
clared, the court was sure to draw important deductions. The witness
then invited the court's special attention to this dossier, in which, he
said, would be found ample proof of the prisoner's guilt.

At this stage of the proceedings Dreyfus rose and interrupted the wit-
ness, shouting:

" That is a manifest lie ! "

After this the witness recited in detail his reasons for the belief that
the agent supplying the information was a French staff officer.

Another document of the dossier, according to Major Cuignet, showed
beyond dispute that the bordereau actually passed through the hands of
Colonel Schwartzkoppen. This, to the witness, established the authenticity
of the bordereau, an examination of which, he pointed out, proved that
Schwartzkoppen and Panizzardi had the closest relations in all matters of
espionage.

Referring next to the dispatch of Colonel Schneider, former Austrian
military attache at Paris, denouncing as a forgery a letter purporting to
have been written by the attach^, in which he was represented as refer-
ring to efforts being made by Schwartzkoppen and Panizzardi to conceal
their relations with Dreyfus, the witness maintained that General Mercier's
statements on the subject were correct, and that the authenticity of the
letter had been proved.

The major dwelt admiringly on the conclusions of M. Bertillon that
Esterhazy had learned to imitate the handwriting of the bordereau after
its publication in the Matin.

At the request of M. Demange, the major's deposition before the Court
of Cassation relating to Henry's motives and Du Paty de Clam's share in
the preparation of the forgery was read. It showed that Cuignet emphat-
ically declared before the Court of Cassation that he was convinced an
investigation would easily show that Du Paty de Clam was the principal
author of the Henry forgery.

"Do you adhere," asked counsel, "to all you said before the full Court
of Cassation ? "



"THAT IS A MANIFEST LIE," SAID DREYFUS 179

This question greatly confused the witness, who attempted to explain
by saying that it was not for him to judge Du Paty de Clam, etc.

M. Demange pointed out that, in spite of the many arguments Major
Cuignet had advanced against Du Paty de Clam, the military judge, Ta-
vemier, threw out the case.

"Now," added M. Demange, "Major Cuignet has advanced as much
against Dreyfus. The court will be able to appreciate the value of his
arguments."

When Dreyfus was asked if he wished to reply to this witness, he
declared he had never asked Major Cuignet for documents except by the
desire of his chief. Major Bertin.

"All the details which Major Cuignet has given on this subject," said
the prisoner, " sprang out of his own imagination, and are due to the same
state of mind which ever prompts unreasoning bitterness against an inno-
cent man."

Amid a buzz of excitement, the name of Major Du Paty de Clam was
called out, whereupon Major Carriere said Du Paty de Clam had been
officially informed that his presence was necessary to the court-martial,
and it was hoped he would be able to come as soon as possible ; but the
Government Commissary had heard nothing from him since this notifica-
tion was sent.

Greneral de Boisdeffre, former Chief of the General Staff of the French
Army, then advanced to the witness-box and took the customary oath to
tell the truth. The general remarked that, in view of the exhaustive evi-
dence already given, he would try to be brief. He hurriedly reviewed
the leakage in the Ministry of War, the discovery of the bordereau, the
arrest and trial of Dreyfus, and the latter's alleged confessions, before the
ceremony of degradation, to Captain Lebrun-Eenault. The witness said
he believed the confessions were genuine. He next referred to Colonel
Picquart's appearance in the Intelligence Department, although the wit-
ness hesitated to appoint him because he thought Picquart too self-confi-
dent and not sufficiently deferential toward his chiefs.

"It has been said," continued General de Boisdeffre, "that a secret
package of papers was shown the judges of the court-martial of 1894. I
positively assert that, so far as I am concerned, I never ordered Colonel
Picquart to convey any envelope to Colonel Maurel-Pries. I may add that



180 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

Colonel Picquart never doubted the guilt of Dreyfus, and never even ex-
pressed doubts of his guilt when he took over the duties of Chief of the
Intelligence Department. The first instructions I gave him were to fol-
low up the Dreyfus affair, and it is well known what was the result of
these instructions."

The witness discredited Colonel Picquart' s statement that the latter
asked him not to mention the investigation to General Gonse.

"General Gonse," said de Boisdeffre, "is a friend of thirty years'
standing. I have always had the greatest confidence in him, and should
certainly not have entertained a request to leave him in ignorance of what
was occurring."

Then the witness briefly referred to the trial and acquittal of Esterhazy
and the latter's threats to proclaim himself a tool of the General Staff, after
which the general alluded to the Henry forgery and M. Cavaignac's
interrogations of Henry.

" You know the result," said he, apparently much moved. "I will not
tell you what I suffered at that moment. As soon as everything was
ended I tendered my resignation, but was asked to withdraw it. I was
told every one could make a mistake. But I replied that while every one
was liable to err, every one had not the misfortune, as I had, to assert to
a jury that a document was genuine, when in reality it was forged ; that
every one ought to stand by one's word, and that when a man happened
to experience such a misfortune there was nothing left for him but to go
away, and from that moment I have held aloof."

Eeplying to the court. General de Boisdeffre admitted that the leak-
age at Military Headquarters continued. After the condemnation of Drey-
fus, he added, it ceased for a year, but in 1895 a paper was discovered
proving the communication to foreigners of a document relating to the
distribution of the artillery, and showing that a foreign government was
perfectly acquainted with the changes made.

General Gonse, who was Under Chief of the General Staff, was next
called to the witness-stand. He explained the motives which influenced
his actions during the past few years, and said he believed he was " ani-
mated by the loftiest aims, namely, the protection of the army against the
criminal attacks made on it from all sides."

In this connection General Gonse dwelt upon the danger to France of



'THAT IS A MANIFEST LIE," SAID DREYPUS 181

the "system of espionage so cleverly organized against her by foreigners,"
and said that, in spite of Esterhazy's statement, it was impossible for him
to have written the bordereau, and still more impossible for him to have
secured the information therein contained. He added that no traces of
indiscretion were discovered during all the proceedings against Esterhazy.

Continuing, the witness deplored the fact that the court-martial of
1894 was held behind closed doors, adding :

" I regard it as a misfortune, as a great misfortune. The witnesses
certainly said much more at the secret trial than they would have done at
a public trial, and the judges had a better opportimity of forming an opin-
ion, even though the public might retain doubts. I deplore it keenly."

General Gonse then denied that Esterhazy had received money from the
Intelligence Department, and describing the " strange behavior of Drey-
fus," and his "frequent acts of indiscretion," the witness begged the court
to summon the secretary of the Minister of War, M. Ferret, who surprised
the prisoner prying into the offices at a time when there was no business
going on there.

The general defended Guen^e, the spy, and referred to another spy as
an "honorable man," whose name he could not give, as having furnished
Military Headquarters with valuable information.

The general then proceeded to defend Du Paty de Clam from the in-
sinuations of Colonel Picquart, and corroborated General Mercier's evi-
dence in regard to the alleged confessions made to Captain Lebrun-Eenault.

Eeplying to M. Demange, the witness admitted he had ordered Colonel
Picquart not to concern himself with the handwriting of the bordereau
when he commenced his investigations of Esterhazy.

"Then," asked M. Demange, sharply, "when you saw his handwritings
were identical with the writing of the bordereau, did that make no im-
pression on you ? "

"Evidently," replied the witness, "the two handwritings had a great
resemblance."

When Dreyfus was asked the regular question he said :

" I will reply directly to the secretary of the Minister of War, who
said he saw me in the offices after service hours. As regards General
Gonse, I am surprised that the general officer repeats dinner-table gossip.
There is known to be insurmountable difficulty in introducing any one



182 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

into the Ministry of War, and it is absolutely impossible for an officer to
bring any one into the Ministry."

To this the general replied :

" No doubt it is difficult, but it is not impossible. The Ministry can
be entered easily enough at certain hours. Dreyfus was in a position to
know that." [Sensation.]

The Prisoner — I will reply to Secretary Ferret, who has told a lie.
What I have to say to General Gonse is that every time a friend came
to see me at the Ministry, even when a French officer, I was obliged to
descend to the floor below, and even members of the Chamber of Deputies
who called on me could not enter the Ministry. It was consequently ab-
solutely impossible under ordinary circumstances for a subaltern to bring
any one into the Ministry.

General Gonse declared that permits could easily be obtained.

At this point Colonel Picquart re-entered the witness box in order to
reply to allegations as to the way he performed his duties. He denied a
number of General Gonse's assertions regarding the arrests which the wit-
ness ordered. Picquart also described the extraordinary methods of inves-
tigation employed in the Intelligence Department by his predecessors.



DREYFUS ANSWERS HIS ACCUSERS 183



Chapter XXXV,

DREYFUS ANSWERS HIS ACCUSERS

The third week of the second trial by court-martial of Captain Drey-
fus began on August 21st and developed sensational features.

Three points stood out prominently in the day's proceedings. They
were Colonel Jouaust's display of partiality, the new attitude taken by
Dreyfus, and the contemptible conduct of the last witness, Junck.

General Fabre, former Chief of the Fourth Bureau of the General
Staff, was the first witness.

He said that in his official capacity he compared the handwriting of
the bordereau with the writing of various officers in his bureau, including
the handwriting of a probationer who had been in the bureau during the
previous year and who had not favorably impressed his comrades. This
probationer, Dreyfus, who was regarded as untrustworthy and insincere in
his pretensions, was, according to the witness, equally disliked by his
comrades and superiors. He was, Fabre added, constantly endeavoring
by all sorts of means to learn the secrets of the plan of concentration of
the Eastern Railway system, and in his anxiety to secure information neg-
lected his duties. His official duties, the witness also said, placed it in
Dreyfus's power to disclose the documents referred to in the bordereau.
The witness could emphatically deny all Dreyfus had said on this sub-
ject. When Major Bertin showed the witness the bordereau the latter
was struck with the resemblance of the caligraphy. Dreyfus was the
only officer who made a bad impression in his bureau, and the opinions
of the Chief of Staff and heads of other departments confirmed the wit-
ness's belief.

General Fabre, in conclusion, declared he was still as firmly con-
vinced as in 1894 that the prisoner was the author of the bordereau.

After M. Demange had pointed out the discrepancies in Fabre's pres-
ent statements and those he voiced in 1894, Colonel Jouaust invited
Dreyfus to reply.



184 DEEYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

The prisoner said General Fabre quite correctly described the work on
which he was engaged when a probationer, especially emphasizing that
he had to keep the dossier relating to the concentration centres on the
Eastern Eailway system posted up. This was not a fictitious task. The
prisoner's reply was made in calm, measured tones, and his frankness
seemed to impress the judges favorably.

Colonel d'Abeville, former Deputy Chief of the Fourth Bureau, related
how Fabre had showed him a photograph of an anonymous note in which
the writer intimated to his correspondent, "evidently foreign to the army,"
that he had confidential documents to communicate. The witness told
Fabre that the documents mentioned showed the writer could only be an
artillery officer, belonging to the General Staff, who participated in the
expedition of the Headquarters Staff in June and July, 1894. The posi-
tion of Dreyfus corresponded with these conditions, and, " to their great
surprise," a striking resemblance was apparent in the writings of Dreyfus
and the anonymous letter.

The witness further declared that only a probationer could possess the
information mentioned in the bordereau. It was not only because of the
resemblance of the handwriting that suspicions were directed at Dreyfus,
but because he was in a position to be acquainted with the documents
enumerated.

M. Demange wished to know why Colonel d'Abeville said in 1894
that he thought it necessary to investigate the officers who participated
in the expedition of the General Staff that year in order to discover the
author of the bordereau.

To this question witness replied that he was induced to do so by the
expression in the bordereau, "I am going to the manoeuvres, " for he con-
sidered the expedition of the General Staff equivalent to the manoeuvres,
although troops were not actually present.

Greater interest in the proceeding was manifested when the name of
the next witness was announced, former Chief of the Detective Depart-
ment Cochefert, who was present when Dreyfus underwent the dictation
test in Du Paty de Clam's office.

M. Cochefert declared he knew absolutely nothing of the Dreyfus case
when the Minister of War, General Mercier, summoned him to a confer-
ence on the subject of the bordereau and the suspicions in regard to Drey-



DKEYFUS ANSWERS HIS ACCUSERS 185

fus. General Mercier, Cochefert continued, asked the witness's advice as
to the procedure which ought to be followed, and introduced him to Du
Paty de Clam. Subsequently, after M. Bertillon's report, the arrest of
Dreyfus was decided upon.

Then the witness proceeded to describe the arrest and the famous
scene of the dictation test, saying that from the first remark dropped by
Du Paty de Clam the prisoner displayed evident imeasiness. Then, con-
tinued the ex-Chief of Detectives, Du Paty de Clam, placing his hand on
the prisoner's shoulder, said:

" Captain Dreyfus, in the name of the Minister of War, I arrest you ! "

At the time of the examination of Dreyfus the witness gained the im-
pression that he might be guilty, and so reported when the Minister of
War asked his opinion.

During this formal examination, Cochefert added, Dreyfus declared
his innocence very violently, and declared that he did not know what
they wanted or of what he was accused.

M. Gribelin, the principal archivist of the Headquarters Staff, was the
next witness. He testified with great volubility, and expressed the opin-
ion that when Dreyfus was arrested in 1894, he was enacting a role by
systematically denying all the charges against him, even the most obvious
and least important things, and in declaring himself ignorant of matters
which should have been known to every officer of the General Staff.

The witness said he had cognizance of Dreyfus's relations with women.
In support of this assertion he mentioned an alleged voluntary statement
made by Mathieu Dreyfus, brother of the prisoner, in the witness's pres-
ence, that he had been obliged to pull his brother from the clutches of a
woman living near the Champs Elys^es.

In regard to the dictation test, the witness recalled Dreyfus's reply to
Du Paty de Clam when the latter pointed out that his hands were shak-
ing, namely: "My fingers are cold."

Replying to M. Demange, M. Gribelin admitted having mixed up Du
Paty de Clam's and Henry's intrigues in favor of Esterhazy. This admis-
sion created a sensation.

It was by order of Colonel Henry, the witness added, that he, Gribe-
lin, put on spectacles and went to the Rue de Douai to hand Esterhazy a
letter, to which the latter was to reply " yes " or " no. " It was also Henry



186 DKEYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

who ordered witness to accompany Du Paty de Clam to Mont Souris Park
at the time Du Paty de Clam masqueraded under a false beard.

The witness thought it would have been much simpler to have sum-
moned Esterhazy to the Ministry of War, especially as it was known
Mathieu Dreyfus was about to denounce him publicly.

M. Demange remarked that the denunciation of Mathieu Dreyfus
could not well have been foreseen when these " romantic interviews "' with
Esterhazy were occurring, considering Mathieu himself had not then con-
templated a denunciation.

M. Gribelin replied that at any rate it was known measures were in
progress against Esterhazy.

M. Demange — Why, then, since it was a question of saving him, were
false beards and blue spectacles resorted to?

M. Gribelin — You had better ask Du Paty de Clam when he comes
here. [Laughter.] Do not imagine it amused me. [Renewed laughter.]

Colonel Picquart, after protesting against the manner in which his
correspondence was tampered with, denied that he had given M. Leblois
the slightest information regarding the secret dossier, and said the only
document of the dossier revealed, and that was not by himself, was the
" Cette canaille de D " document, which had been utilized by the ene-
mies of Dreyfus. There was also the "liberateur" document, which was
delivered to Esterhazy, " who used it to levy the most shameful blackmail
on the Government."

Major Lauth followed. He said that when the bordereau reached the
Intelligence Department Henry was absolutely the only oflficer who knew
the agent who furnished it, and was the only officer known to the agent.
Henry, he explained, had appointments with the foreign spy in question
only in the evenings at eight or nine o'clock, at various places, so it was
imposible for Henry to hand the papers received to Colonel Sandherr the
same evening. Therefore, he took them home and brought them to the
office in the morning. Very often these appointments were kept on Sat-
urday, and Major Lauth believed the packet containing the bordereau was
handed to Henry on Saturday, September 2 2d, and was taken to the office
on September 24th.

"One morning," said Lauth, "it may have been September 24th or
another date, though it cannot matter much, I arrived at the office and



DEEYFUS ANSWERS HIS ACCUSERS 187

was about to enter the room in which I usually work, when Colonel
Henry, who was walking in the corridor, called to me and took me into
his room. Captain Mathen arrived simultaneously. We had scarcely en-
tered when Colonel Henry showed the packet received, and, exhibiting
some pieces he had pasted together, said :

"' It is frightful. Just see what I have found in this packet.'

"We walked to a window, and all three began to read the contents of
a paper, which was none other than the bordereau. We discussed who
could be the author.

" I must add that M. Gribelin entered the room and was informed re-
garding the document. At the same time the bordereau was only shown
to Colonel Sandherr half or three-quarters of an hour later, when he ar-
rived."

Next, discussing the petit bleu, Major Lauth said it reached Colonel
Picquart inclosed in a packet, early in March. Incidentally the witness
mentioned the mission to Nancy on which Henry went, and said that
while he was absent his wife came to the Intelligence Department to ask
for his whereabouts, as she knew nothing of his departure.

"It was the same with all the officers of the department," said Lauth.
" Our families never knew where we were going when we were sent on
a mission, and it was through the department that they corresponded
with us. That proves that things were not conducted in the Fourth
Bureau as alleged by Colonel Picquart, and the officers were not so negli-
gent and careless as he has asserted.

"I declare," said Lauth, "that if, by inspiring or writing it I had a
share in any way whatever in the perpetration of the Henry forgery, I
should have avowed it the day Henry committed suicide. I am not even
now afraid of the razor, nor the rope of Lemercier-Picard, nor even of a
broken-glass omelette. "

At the instance of M. Demange, Colonel Picquart again described the
alterations of the petit bleu, and declared that the last time he saw it, the
day before he started on his mission, the petit bleu was still in the same
condition as when Major Lauth handed it to him in November, 1897.
When Picquart saw it in the possession of General Pellieux, former Min-
ister of War, it seemed to him (Picquart) that the handwriting had been
somewhat modified, and at the Tavernier inquiry he noticed that altera-



188 DREYFUS: THE PRISONER OF DEVIL'S ISLAND

tions of quite a serious character had been made. Ruled lines had been
erased. Moreover, experiments showed the address had been written in
ink made of gall-nuts, while a superimposed word was written in ink
made of logwood.

Replying to the president of the court. Major Lauth said that when
he photographed the petit bleu he did not notice any sign of erasure.

Colonel Picquart said the plate taken by Major Lauth bore no traces
of erasure. The photograph alone had been tampered with.

Colonel Jouaust — Was there an expert examination?

Colonel Picquart — Yes. It was a searching inquiry. Besides, the
dossier in the Tavernier inquiry can be referred to.

Captain Junck followed. He said he was a probationer simultaneously
with Dreyfus, but in another department of the War Office. He saw the
prisoner a great deal, and detailed conversations in which, he alleged,



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 15 of 35)