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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M. des Fonds-Lamothe concluded with declaring that if the prosecu-
tion would follow up the pieces of evidence they would be absolutely
convinced that Dreyfus did not write the bordereau.

The court briefly retired and afterward annoimced that it had been de-
cided to hear the remainder of Major Hartmann's evidence in camera on
September 4th.

The court then adjourned.


Chapter XLVU.


The fifth week of the second trial by court-martial of Captain Dreyfus
began on September 4th, with the largest attendance yet seen in the Lycee.

The session opened very interestingly with the appearance of M. Cer-
nuschi, an Austro-Hungarian refugee.

His letter to Colonel Jouaust, offering his testimony, stated that, hav-
ing been mixed up in political troubles in Austria-Hungary, he had been
obliged to seek refuge in France, where he had a friend who was a high
official of the foreign office of a central European power. This friend, the
witness said, told him that certain foreign agents in France might denounce
him, the first name mentioned being that of Dreyfus. Another officer, a
foreign general of staff, similarly warned him.

One day, the witness said, when he was visiting the latter, he saw him
take from his pocket a voluminous packet containing military documents.
The officer said that in France one could buy anything, adding :

" What is the good of Jews if you don't use them ? "

Being questioned if he asked the name of the traitor in this case, the
witness replied:

" No, because the officer had already said Dreyfus was his informant. "

This answer and the tone in which it was delivered evoked a move-
ment of incredulity among the audience. Major Carriere, representing the
Government, asked that the court hold further examination of this witness
behind closed doors, in view of the diplomatic side of his testimony.

M. Labori then arose and announced that since the prosecution had
summoned the aid of foreigners he intended to make formal application to
have complete steps taken through foreign channels to ascertain whether
the documents mentioned in the bordereau were delivered to a foreign
power, and if so, by whom.


The words of M. Labori created a deep impression, as they made it
evident that counsel for the defence was on the war-path.

The second witness called was M. Andr^, clerk to M. Bertulus, judge
of the Court of Cassation, who received the confession of Lieutenant- Colo-
nel Henry. M. Andr^ deposed that he overheard Lieutenant-Colonel
Henry exclaim :

"Don't insist, I beg of you; the honor of the army must be saved be-
fore everything."

The next important witness was the well-known mathematician M.
Painleye, who began by tearing M. Bertillon's system of argumentation to

M. Painleye exhaustively criticised Mr. Bertillon's cryptographic sys-
tem, citing in support of his conclusions the opinion of M. Henri Poin-
car^, in his opinion the most illustrious mathematician of modern times,
who, in a letter the witness read, examined seriatim the deductions of M.
Bertillon and demonstrated their fallacy, also pointing out miscalculations
made by M. Valerio. Professor Poincar^'s letter fully supported M. Ber-
nard's conclusions.

The reading of Professor Poincar^'s letter having been concluded, M.
Painleye repeated his evidence which had been given before the Court of
Cassation. He vehemently protested against the false versions that had
been published of his conversations with M. Hadamard, in which the lat-
ter was made to affirm the guilt of Dreyfus. On the contrary, the witness
said, M. Hadamard never doubted the prisoner's innocence.

General Gonse intervened at this juncture. He was surprised, he said,
at the importance attached to the evidence of MM. Hadamard and Pain-
leye. There had been, General Gonse asserted, at least fluctuations in
their views of Dreyfus's character, for which Dreyfus's own family were
unwilling to give guarantees.

M Painleye reasserted that both M. Hadamard and himself had always
been satisfied that Dreyfus was innocent.

General Gonse replied, declaring that the whole matter was insignifi-
cant, and insinuated that the faith of M. Hadamard and M. Painleye in
the innocence of Dreyfus must have been strengthened recently.

M. Painleye replied, warmly insisting that he never had any doubt of
Dreyfus's innocence.


The two men then went at it hammer and tongs, M. Painleye facing
General Gonse with his arms folded, and thrust home with his questions
and retorts until General Gonse became red in the face. Then General
Roget joined in the discussion.

As the altercation between General Gonse and M. Painleye was rap-
idly becoming heated, M. Labori intervened. A sharp passage of arms
followed between M. Labori and Colonel Jouaust, leading to considerable

M. Labori asked General Gonse why he had incorrectly reported cer-
tain information he had collected.

Colonel Jouaust refused to put the question, and invited M. Labori to
study moderation.

M. Labori retorted:

"The defence is using its rights with the utmost moderation."

Colonel Jouaust — No, you are not. I beg you not to drown my voice
when I am speaking. Your very tone is wanting in moderation. More-
over, I consider the question unimportant.

There were prolonged murmurs of assent and dissent among the audi-
ence at this declaration by Colonel Jouaust.

M. Labori said he was surprised that General Gonse had included in-
correct information in the secret dossier.

General Gonse — I composed one of the secret dossiers by means of
annexed documents communicated to the ministry ; but the minds of all
the War Ministers were made up before they had any cognizance of these

M. Labori — Does General Gonse assume responsibility for these secret
dossiers to July, 1898?

General Gonse — Yes, I had charge of it.

M. Labori — How happens it, then, that a telegram from the French
Ambassador at Rome, sent by the Foreign Office to the War Office, refer-
ring to payments to Esterhazy by an Italian agent, was not added to the
secret dossier?

General Gonse — There were plenty of others. All were not included,
but only the most important.

M. Labori — Was the information of the French Ambassador at Rome
of less importance than the garbled conversation of M. Painleye ?


Colonel Jouaust — I will not put the question.

M. Labori — Why was information against Dreyfus always included
in the dossier, and never any incriminating Esterhazy ?

Colonel Jouaust — I also refuse to put that question.

M. Labori — All right. I think the question itself fully answered the

M. Labori then asked General Gonse who compiled the secret dossier
in question.

"I did," shouted Commandant Cuignet from the body of the hall.

Commandant Cuignet then came to the bar, and declared that he had
omitted all documents from abroad, "because foreigners were interested
in deceiving us." Several documents of this kind had been omitted,
particularly one reciting a conversation between a foreign sovereign and
a French attach^, in the course of which the sovereign was represented
as saying that what was occurring in France was proof of the power of
the Jews.

"That," added the major, "might be regarded as against Dreyfus; but
nevertheless it was not included in the dossier."

As he made this statement. Commandant Cuignet turned to a brother
officer sitting in the place set apart for witnesses, and smiled with the self-
satisfied air of a man who had made a distinct score.

M. Demange rose immediately to express surprise that the document
in question had not appeared in the War Office dossier.

Major Cuignet — It does not appear there because it was received at the
Foreign Office.

M. Paleologue, intervening, said that the Foreign Office only acted as
an intermediary in that matter.

M. Labori commented with astonishment upon the fact that alleged
fresh proofs against Dreyfus were still spoken of, and demanded that all
proofs be produced at the secret session of the court-martial at which M.
Cernuschi was to be examined.

General Chanoine was asked by Colonel Jouaust if he had any explana-
tions to offer, and replied that his duty was merely to produce the secret
dossier, and that he could not say anything regarding documents outside
the dossier.

The question of the report drawn up by Commandant Cuignet and Offi-


cer Wattines, dealing exhaustively with the secret dossier, was then intro-

General Billot, formerly Minister of War, mounted the platform and
said he was glad that reference had been made to the secret dossier, as it
enable him to protest against the insinuation that he had handed Major
Cuignet a docment from the secret dossier.

"I gave this report," he said, "to M. Cavaignac, the former Minister
of War."

"Then," said M. Labori, "let us have M. Cavaignac's explanation of
what became of the report."

Colonel Jouaust called for M. Cavaignac, but the former Minister of
War was not in the court-room, and an officer was sent to seek him.

Meanwhile the testimony of two minor witnesses was heard.

The proceedings to this point were very exciting, as at one time, when
General Chanoine and M. Paleologue were brought upon the stage to ex-
plain Commandant Cuignet's statements, there were five witnesses at the
bar, all speaking at once and interrupting one another. The testimony
throughout was interspersed with heated scenes between M. Labori and
Colonel Jouaust.

M. Demange during the day read a letter from Rabbi Dreyfus denying
that he had ever heard a number of scandalous statements which, it had
been alleged, were made to him.

Since M. Cavaignac could not be found in the precincts of the Lyc^e,
it was decided to hear him on September 5th.

M. Mayer, who is on the staff of the Temps, testified that the spy
Gu^nee informed him that the War Office had indisputable proof of the
guilt of Dreyfus, and mentioned a snapshot photograph representing Drey-
fus conversing with a millitary attach^ at Brussels.

After a brief recess of the court-martial Dr. Peyrot deposed that he
met M. Bertulus, judge of the Court of Cassation, at Dieppe after the ar-
rest of Lieutenant- Colonel Henry, and that M. Bertulus narrated to him
the dramatic scene in his ofl&ce with Henry. M. Bertulus was very jubi-
lant over Henry's arrest, and said he was convinced that, if Henry were
detained, everything would be known in due time.

A commissary of the secret police, named Tomps, was then called by
the defence, and it was admitted at the end of the proceedings that he


proved indirectly a strong witness for Dreyfus and a correspondingly dam-
aging witness for the General Staff. His evidence brought out a glaring
instance of duplicity on the part of the staff office in suppressing docu-
ments which must weaken its own case.

Commissary Tomps was called to the General Staff office to investigate
a case of espionage, and naturally had consultations and close relations
with officers of the bureau.

The commissary began his testimony by paying a high tribute to
Lieutenant-Colonel Picquart's correct attitude and uprightness in the
Dreyfus inquiry, while other officers sought to undermine him by
insinuations. Lieutenant-Colonel Henry, the witness asserted, tried
to induce him to attribute to Picquart the communication of the bor-
dereau to the Matin, in which journal the bordereau was first pub-

M. Tomps, who was also a special commissary of the railway police,
deposed that he photographed the bordereau by order of Colonel Sandherr.
He had not manipulated the plate with a view to concealing marks upon
the document. Wlien the facsimile of the bordereau was published Lieu-
tenant-Colonel Picquart ordered the witness to discover who had supplied
the photographic copy. While engaged in the investigation of this matter,
Lieutenant-Colonel Henry upon one occasion approached the witness and
clearly evinced great uneasiness at the successive revelations in the Drey-
fus matter. Henry told the witness that the revelations could only have
emanated from an individual who had the documents in his hands.
Henry, the witness testified, added:

" They can only emanate from our office, where only Picquart, Lauth,
Gribelin, or myself could have revealed them. I am sure that neither
Lauth, Gribelin, nor myself have been so indiscreet. You would do well to
discover who is responsible."

M. Tomps detailed successive steps in his investigations, showing how
Lieutenant-Colonel Henry and Major Lauth had brought pressure to bear
to make him implicate Lieutenant-Colonel Picquart, and their angry
threats when the witness's report did not suit them. They accused the
witness of being influenced by some one.

Replying to M. Demange, M. Tomps said that he had only once
mixed up Esterhazy in connection with the report. Esterhazy had been


seen at a foreign agent's residence, which had two exits, and he had other
suspicious relations. Witness had found corroboration of this.

Answering a question of M. Labori, M. Tomps further detailed Lieu-
tenant-Colonel Henry's pressure upon him with a view to having the com-
munication of the bordereau to the Matin ascribed to Lieutenant-Colonel
Picquart. Witness did not know if the leakages at the War Office con-
tinued after Dreyfus left.

Then Commissary Tomps came to the most important portion of his
testimony, which led to a restricting of his revelations. The witness was
asked if he had ever investigated the Paulmier affair, which was as fol-
lows :

Paulmier was the valet of Colonal Schwartzkoppen, the German mili-
tary attache at Paris, and it was alleged that he saw on Schwartzkoppen's
desk documents signed by Dreyfus. The General Staff had declared that
an effort would be made to get at the truth of this story, but Paulmier
disappeared, and therefore, although the General Staff could not prove the
story, it could not be disproved.

To a question regarding this case, Commissary Tomps replied that he
had not investigated the affair, whereupon M, Labori suggested that M.
Hennion, sub-chief of the Political Police, who was now in Rennes super-
intending the precautions for the safety of witnesses, may have been in-
trusted with the inquiry into this case.

Colonel Jouaust called to Hennion, who was present in the court-room :

" Come here and testify. "

M. Hennion ascended the platform and took the oath. He declared
that he did investigate the case, and actually found Paulmier, who told
him there was not a word of truth in the whole story. He never saw any
paper bearing the name of Dreyfus. Thereupon M Hennion had furnished
a typewritten report on the subject, stating that Paulmier never saw, or
said he had seen, such documents.

M. Labori immediately called attention to the fact that the General
Staff had suppressed M. Hennion's report in favor of Dreyfus, and only
declared that the report had been received representing Paulmier as un-
traceable. M. Labori also pointed out that the Headquarters Staff had
alleged that the detective only reported that Paulmier had disappeared,
and that his address was unknown. Probably, M. Labori suggested, the


gentlemen at Headquarters merely misunderstood the report of the detec-

Commandant Cuignet and Captain Junck then arose and insisted that
only a report that Paulmier could not be traced had been received at the
office of the General Staff.

M. Hennion replied, reiterating that he had forwarded a report to the
General Staff, giving Paulmier's emphatic denial of the whole story.

M. Labori asked Commandant Cuignet and Captain Junck where the
report was that they said had been received by the General Staff stating
that M. Paulmier could not be foimd. The officers interrogated were
obliged to admit that they were unable to find the report.

M. Labori much regretted that this report could not be found, and
added, amidst much excitement:

" But this is always the case. It is always impossible to get at the
bottom of interesting incidents owing to documents being missing."

Major Lauth reappeared with the view of refuting the evidence of M.
Temps. Lauth declared that no one in the Statistical Section dreamed of
suspecting Picquart when the inquiry was ordered as to how the Matin
secured the bordereau. Suspicion attached rather to a civilian clerk who
was on friendly terms with Tomps.

After Commissary Tomps had replied, the court retired to deliberate on
the subject of holding another secret session.

When the members of the court returned Colonel Jouaust announced
that there would be a sitting in camera on September 5th.

The name of Mr. Serge Basset was then called. Mr. Basset is the
London correspondent of the Matin, who furnished the Esterhazy inter-
views, and MM. Labori and Demange pointed out that Esterhazy's confes-
sions were too important to be discussed at the fag-end of this session.

Upon suggestion of counsel for the defence, the court therefore ad-


Chapter XLVIIL


Maitke Labori telegraphed personal appeals to Emperor William and
King Humbert to grant permission to Colonel Schwartzkoppen and Major
Panizzardi, German and Italian military attaches in Paris in 1894, to
come to Rennes to testify at the trial of Captain Dreyfus. The appeals
were couched in eloquent terms, invoking the assistance of their majesties
in the name of justice and humanity.

The demand of Maitre Labori that the court-martial should issue proc-
ess, subject to the approval of the two sovereigns, came like a thunderbolt
on September 5th. The step was fraught with momentous consequences,
as it afforded Emperor William an opportunity again to assume his
favorite role of arbiter of the destinies of the world.

Colonel Jouaust told Maitre Demange at the close of the session that
if he received official notification that Colonel Schwartzkoppen and Major
Panizzardi were coming to depose he would be prepared to adjourn the
trial pending their arrival.

A remarkable circumstance, and one that was significant of the rela-
tions between the two eminent advocates who are conducting the defence,
was the fact that Maitre Labori telegraphed the German Emperor and the
King of Italy on his own initiative, without consulting or advising Maitre

The Minister of War, General the Marquis de Gallifet, on September
5th sent orders to the generals and other military witnesses to leave
Rennes and return to their respective posts within two hours after the
conclusion of the depositions, and not to be present during the pleadings.

M. Cernuschi, the political refugee, who appeared before the court-
martial on September 4th, as a witness for the prosecution, was not exam-
ined by the court during the time it sat behind closed doors on September
5th. The examination of the secret espionage dossier, mentioned by Cap-


tain Cuignet at the sitting of September 4th, occupied the great part of the
secret session of the court.

When the open session of the court-martial began Maitre Labori sub-
mitted a preamble and motion in the following terms :

" As I had the honor to announce on September 4th, I beg to submit
to the court-martial the following conclusions :

" May it please the court, in view of the fact that at its sitting on
Monday, September 4th, the president of the court-martial, by virtue of
his discretion and power, called as a witness Eugene de Cernuschi, a
former lieutenant of cavalry in the Austrian army, residing at 37 Rue
Chambon, Paris, who represented, notably, that Dreyfus had been signal-
ized to him not only by the chief of a department in the foreign office of a
central European power, but also by an officer of the Headquarters Staff
of another central European power, as an informer in the service of foreign
nations ; and, considering that the intervention in such circumstances of
a former officer of a foreign army against the French officer renders neces-
sary that the defence abandon the reserve they have hitherto imposed upon
themselves, and move for the communication to the court of the docu-
ments enumerated in the papers called the bordereau, all of which com-
munication to the court will be of such nature as to prove in a striking
manner the innocence of the accused with regard to allegations which can-
not entirely or immediately be refuted except by official documents, I
therefore move that the Government Commissioner request the Govern-
ment to ask the power or powers concerned through diplomatic channels
for communication of the documents enumerated in the paper called the
bordereau. "

After reading the preamble M. Labori proceeded to inform the court
that he did not intend to develop conclusions which in themselves were

"I am well aware," said counsel, "that we are face to face with a pe-
culiarly delicate situation ; but as I have no control over decisions of the^
court with regard to the conclusions I have the honor to submit, I beg to
state that I have notified the Government Commissioner to name Colonels
Schwartzkoppen and Panizzardi as witnesses whom I consider it necessary
to call before the court-martial at Eennes if they are willing to testify he-
fore it. I beg to point out that it is only now and for exceptional reasons


that we are obliged to have recourse to the testimony of foreign officers.
I add that in view of present circumstances there is nothing in this course
that can cause anxiety. It is in conformity with precedent. The mo-
ment is very near when truth and light are about to break forth, showing
the innocence of the accused."

Major Carriere, in objecting to M. Labori's request, said :

"We cannot prejudge the issue of a trial in the conclusions submitted
by M. Labori. One point seems to be extremely delicate. These conclu-
sions amount to a request that the court instruct tlie Government Com-
missioner to ask the French Government to submit to a foreign govern-
ment, though diplomatic channels, a request for the production of
documents which are peculiarly non-diplomatic and possess little official
character. Therefore this mission imposed upon the French Government
is of a very delicate kind. I do not know if the Government Commis-
sioner is qualified to perform such a function. Certainly the diplomatic
point of view seems to me morally and materially impossible. I cannot
conceive of one government addressing to another such a request. I think
the end now in view cannot be attained. The defence, which has .power-
ful means behind it, might obtain these documents in a semi-official
manner, but I think there are reasons to believe the Government can-
not undertake such a mission. I make all reservations, then, in this

" As regards notification to me of the names of Colonels Schwartzkop-
pen and Panizzardi, I see no reason why the gentlemen should not be ex-
amined by the court if they care to attend. The court will determine
what course will be taken with regard to the request presented by the de-
fence concerning documents to be obtained abroad. This seems to me
beyond our jurisdiction. The court will judge. I beg the president to
retire with the judges to a private room and decide tlie question. "

M. Paleologue, the representative of the Foreign Office, supported
Major Carriere's views. He said :

" I understand perfectly the importance the defence attaches to the pro-
duction of the documents enumerated in the bordereau, seeing that the
whole case turns upon them. But even if the request of the accused ap-
pears to be based upon logic and justice, it seems inadmissible from a
diplomatic point of view. Considerations of the highest order are op-


posed to the Government's taking the initiative it is requested to take
with regard to a foreign power."

Colonel Jouaust then said that the court would announce its decision
in this matter later.

Serge Basset, the first witness called, testified that the Matin sent him
to London on five occasions to interview Major Esterhazy, who furnished
a mass of interesting information concerning the Headquarters Staff.
Esterhazy declared that he was not the author of the bordereau, though

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 23 of 35)